Kenny Omega recently spoke to Sportskeeda's Jason Parker about Like a Dragon, karaoke, and his role in Like a Dragon: Ishin! (Image via Sportskeeda)

"Almost a training ground for the future that I would end up realizing": AEW's Kenny Omega talks Yakuza, Like a Dragon: Ishin!, and more (Exclusive)

AEW’s Kenny Omega, the Best Bout Machine, is going to be a part of the RGG universe, thanks to his spot in Like a Dragon: Ishin! When the hit action-RPG finally reaches the West on February 21, 2023, he will have a part to play in the action.

Trooper Cards is a new feature in the upcoming remaster of the missing entry in the Like a Dragon series. These are powerful and useful items that Ryoma can use on his journey, and they will provide him with useful benefits in battle.


Taking place towards the end of the Bakumatsu Era of Japan (late 1860s), Like a Dragon: Ishin! is a fictional take on the life and times of Sakamoto Ryoma. One of the most beloved historical figures in Japanese history, he was central in the efforts to overthrow the shogunate. He did not live to see his work bear fruit, but is fondly remembered.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kenny Omega about the Like a Dragon franchise, his role in Like a Dragon: Ishin!, and how it has influenced his professional wrestling career. Omega is one of my all-time favorite wrestlers, and it was a genuine privilege to talk about one of my favorite video game series with him.

Kenny Omega introduces himself and role in Like a Dragon: Ishin!

Q: First of all, thank you so much for taking the time! For Like a Dragon/Yakuza fans who don't know who the Best Bout Machine is, could you please introduce yourself and your inclusion in the Like a Dragon: Ishin franchise?


Kenny Omega: Absolutely. So, for people who don’t know who I am, and I know there will be many, I am a professional wrestler, who has been wrestling for quite some time. I go by the name Kenny Omega, and am currently wrestling with AEW, and you can catch me every Wednesday on the television.

But, that aside, what’s important is that I’m a large, huge fan of the RGG Universe and all the RGG games! In that regard, we are all the same.

As for what they can expect of me, I’ve been given the great honor of being represented in the game as a Trooper Card.

For people who don’t know what those are, what their function will be, they’re cool little assist cards, maybe an attack, or some status buffs or debuffs, that can help you along your journey in Like a Dragon: Ishin. And for us, SEGA and myself, we tried to come up with a very useful tool that will help characters control the space with a large area-of-effect attack.


Just again, it’s less about using Kenny Omega and more about having a fantastic tool in the game that you can use to really kind of keep enemies off your back and really just carve your path through the story mode and all the side quests. I think it’s going to be a very useful tool, and again, 100% free. I think people are going to like it.

  • Card Name: Essence of the One-Winged Angel
  • Description: A strapping fighter who's traveled through space, time, and reality to serve the Shinsengumi. It’s said that his elite skills can summon the stars themselves.
  • Skill: Cuts down foes with the slashes of his angel’s wing.

Q: Despite being set in the Bakumatsu Era, the classic optional mini-games still exist in Like a Dragon: Ishin! Do you have any particular favorites?

Kenny Omega: So, that’s such a good question. I was really hoping I could take part in more mini-games in my short experience with it at TGS, but I was not able to. So actually, every time I play a new RGG game, I think, ‘What minigames are going to come back?,’ and ‘What are the new ones going to be?,’ and ‘Which ones am I going to come out of this particular entry loving the most?’.


And I remember with this most recent Like a Dragon, I ended up loving the Dragon Kart racing. I thought that was incredible. For Lost Judgment, I loved doing all the dance recitals with the dance squad.

Jason: Oh, those were so great.

Kenny Omega: Those were so fun! I’m just like, I love musical rhythm games, so for me, I just loved it. Even the boxing one was really good too. I love doing some boxing. They’re all good! The robots, they’re all really good.

Helping with school activities was my favorite part of the game. So anyways, again, I don’t have an answer for Ishin yet, but I’m very excited because that’s always one of the high points for me, is to play all the mini-games, and to find a new favorite, and just to get whatever cool reward you can get for completely mastering it.

Q: Well, what about karaoke? Do you have a favorite karaoke song in the series? Maybe, maybe you can give me three?


Kenny Omega: Okay, so, of course, Baka Mitai is always gonna be there, everyone likes that one a lot, and I feel like that’s a good one to name. Oh man, okay, let me think. There was another one I really enjoyed and really played a lot of too, it was sung by Kasuga - The future I dreamed of. That was a good one too. Even Like a Butterfly is kind of fun too.

Jason: I think my favorite now is probably Machine Gun Kiss from Yakuza: Like a Dragon.

Kenny Omega: From Adachi? Yeah, very good.

Q: As a pro wrestler, you've had a number of signature moves themed after video games - Flash Stopper, Doctor (Wily) Bomb, You Cannot Escape, but have you ever been inspired by the Yakuza franchise?

Kenny Omega: No, I absolutely have, and I really thought of like, when I look at the fashion in Ryu Ga Gotoku, the Like a Dragon series, I think like, man, I’m not sure how it is that the people that decide the costumes for the characters have such an incredible sense of fashion.


Of course, some of the stuff looks intentionally gaudy, when you’re dealing with the Chinpura-type characters like the Street Punks.

But like, the higher chairs in the Yakuza families always have the most incredible designer suits. I had always wondered, man, at some point in time, not to look like a boss in Yakuza, but just to have a connection to whatever these guys come up with, however these suits are designed. You figure that they’d be based in reality to some degree.

Like, what designer comes up with these suits? What designer has these types of color combinations, has all these accessories, I’ve always wanted to know. I’ve always wanted to reproduce that look. So, because I couldn’t, I’ll just kind of dress “loud and proud,” just via what I have access to, to just look a certain way but uh, yeah, that was kind of how I wanted to represent my love for Yakuza.

And of course, I absolutely love the tattoo art in Ryu Ga Gotoku, so I wish I could have had someone who is that talented, design something that would have been cool for an airbrushed style of wrestling tights. I always thought that would be really cool.


But I wasn’t sure what animal, or what fish, or what living being, what scenery would be good for that sort of design. So everything really got kind of left on the cutting room floor for that. But yeah, those are definitely great, visually speaking, and that’s a style I’ve always thought the RGG universe had incredible options of.

Q: If you could have mocapped/represented one of the Like a Dragon: Ishin characters, which one would it have been and why?

Kenny Omega: Well, I mean, the easy answer and the selfish answer would be “myself.” So, yeah, no, that’s always the main goal from here on in. I love working with the RGG team, I love working with SEGA.


Being a part of this project, and hopefully being a part of future projects, is really a dream come true. So really, you've got to set the bar high. So that’s really the ultimate goal, to someday, somehow, be a character in one of the time periods in the RGG universe. So, here’s hoping.

Q: I didn't find this series until I reviewed Yakuza 4, but where did your love of the Like a Dragon/Yakuza franchise begin? What do you love about the Yakuza series?

Kenny Omega: So what I love about the series is you’re in a world that is very familiar to our own. At the time I discovered Yakuza 1, I had never been to Japan at all. I had only kind of had preconceived notions of what I had seen from documentaries, or from Lost in Translation or whatever, perhaps Japanese dramas that were on television.

So I hadn’t been there, and I only had an idea of what I had seen in movies or TV, even animation or video games. But all that kind of third-hand stuff.

I didn’t even have a family member who had been there to tell me ‘It’s like this.’ So, for me, someone who was an aspiring wrestler, someone who wanted to ply his trade in Japan. Being able to take a trip to the Yakuza universe, the RGG universe, was kind of my way of vicariously living in Japan, and kind of like, almost a training ground for the future that I would end up realizing.


And, I feel that, you know, for a series that takes its world and characters so seriously, its- there’s really nothing else like it.

I- the games that I can list off are few and far between where I want to help everyone. If someone has a problem, I want to help, but I’m just as invested in the main quest. If you want to get silly with it, we have that option. If we want to get horrific with it, we can do that.

If we want to kind of kick back, and play something that’s completely unrelated, we have a ton, a slew of mini-games. So, yeah, I kind of went off on a tangent there. What’s the point I’m trying to get to again?

Jason: Why you love Yakuza as a franchise.

Kenny Omega: I think we pretty much covered that. But to answer your original question, stemming from all that, I was there from the beginning! So when I heard that there was this successor to Shenmue, I went to my Blockbuster, barged down the front door, and said ‘I want this game.’ And I just kept renting it over and over and over until I beat it and cleared everything.


At that point, I kind of knew, I prayed, I wanted this game to do well because I needed there to be a part 2. But I was not going to take it for granted, just in case. Because you never really know! You never know when a new IP will take off or not. Sometimes, they’re just dead in the water.

And I find that this happened with a lot of my favorite series. I was a huge fan of Batman Beyond, a huge fan of Gargoyles. You know, things that got canceled, which I think to this day, are just incredible. So, I was worried, ‘Oh boy, is this going to be a part of the Kenny Omega curse? Is it going to happen again?’

But luckily, it didn’t, and part 2 came out, which I loved even more. And there was a bit of a hiatus for a little bit, and then finally part 3, and part 4, and so on and so forth. I’m just glad the series is thriving, and I think thriving more than ever. It’s so cool to see something I supported for so long, and been a fan of for so long, that it kind of changed its significance for me as a person.


It started off as one thing and evolved into a complete other thing. But I just have that same love that grows and grows for it. And now I’m kind of actually able to get hands-on involved with the project, it’s a lot of fun.

Q: That’s kind of how I feel about Dragon Quest. I’ve been there since Dragon Warrior, and I fell in love with it right away. Though on that note, Ichiban’s adventure is turn-based. And I know a lot of people were kind of worried about that. How was that transition for you? Did you enjoy shifting to the turn-based RPG system?

Kenny Omega: So, I had my reservations as well, because I thought it worked so well as a kind of free-flowing combat. Even though I was very open to the idea, I wasn’t sure how other fans would take to it and wasn’t sure if it would end up hurting the series as a whole. Because as much as I might like something, if everybody else dislikes it, that’s not good.


But for me, personally, as soon as I played it, and got a sample of the combat, and got deeper and deeper into the combat, as I unlocked more abilities, and tried out new jobs, and got the Poundmates, and all that stuff, I thought, ‘You know what? This game is better this way.’

I feel like it was meant to be represented in this way. It’s now my preferred system for the game. And it seems like people enjoyed it too, which is great, and I’m not sure what the future holds, but if it’s the same in future installments? Fantastic. But I still love it.

Whether it’s from here on in, or a one-time thing, again, I like both systems. They both work well. And, I’d say Ishin changes it up a bit with the Trooper Cards, so, that combat feels unique too, and it actually feels more free-flowing. Yeah, I really enjoyed the combat in Ishin, for the small amount of time I had with it at TGS.


All Elite Wrestling's Kenny Omega will be a part of Like a Dragon: Ishin!, when the game comes out on February 21, 2023. He will be featured on the Trooper Card, Essence of the One-Winged Angel.

You can catch Kenny Omega regularly on AEW Dynamite, where he reigns as one-third of the AEW World Trios Champions, as well as on Twitter.

Edited by
Abu Amjad Khan
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