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This time last year, Kenny Omega was on top of the world as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. After going through a tear for over a year and a half, Omega had firmly established himself as one of the best wrestlers on the planet.
His series of matches against Kazuchika Okada had catapulted him to worldwide superstardom. As the face of New Japan, Omega was the most sought after non-WWE wrestler in the world.
However, the year ended with The Best Bout Machine announcing that he'll be leaving the promotion for greener pastures in 2019. Omega lost the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to Japanese ace Hiroshi Tanahashi in the main-event of WrestleKingdom 13, following which rumors started swirling about where the Canadian-star might head to next.
After a month and a half of constant speculation, Omega was revealed as the newest remember of AEW's roster, in addition to being appointed as one of the company's Executive Vice Presidents, at the Double or Nothing Rally in Las Vegas. This was followed by the announcement that The Best Bout Machine will be facing off against Chris Jericho at AEW's very first event - Double or Nothing.
As excepted, this created a lot of buzz in the wrestling world. Omega's reputation of being one of the most skilled in-ring performers in the world meant that there was an air of excitement surrounding his debut in the company.
His match against Jericho at Double or Nothing wasn't bad but didn't come anywhere near the duo's epic clash at WrestleKingdom 12. In addition to that, Omega's biggest match on American soil was overshadowed by the AEW debut of Jon Moxley. This was followed by high-profile losses against PAC and Moxley at All Out and Full Gear.
There is always the argument of Omega not wanting to project himself as the top guy immediately, given that he holds an executive role within the company, but isn't an active performer being in an executive role a conflict of interest in the first place?
We are not here to pontificate about that, but it has been disappointing to see Omega just another face on the AEW roster when he should've been its first World Champion.
Jericho, as good as he is, hasn't skyrocketed the company's stock. The steadily declining TV ratings and show attendance are a clear indication that Le Champion hasn't moved the needle in a big way.
The company was always excepted to make a big splash, given the buzz, the financial backing, and the creative minds behind it. It was Jericho as the champion (a well-known face) who was supposed to bring in a new audience. But that hasn't been the case, has it?
On the flip side, we have Cody Rhodes, who we think is one of the smartest men in the business today. The American Nightmare has been able to strike a balance between being a top star while holding an executive role. He has been at the center of the company and has firmly established himself as a major star in the company.
One can argue that the company is taking the slow-build process with Omega, but the attention span of wrestling fans these days is so short that they might lose interest in the story arc. We just hope to see The Best Bout Machine as a major player in 2020, because he was one of the biggest reasons why we got interested in AEW at the beginning.