You might not know the name Jake Omen, but this is a man who has done nearly everything possible to make it to WWE.
What happens after years of hard work and dedication leads to rejection? Not once mind you, but twice. What happens when you've sacrificed friendships and relationships, hit the gym, stayed in shape, traveled the world, did all the right things to get noticed and earn an opportunity, and you still have not been able to accomplish your dreams? This is what Jake Omen is currently trying to figure out.
His journey started when he was 17 years old. He knew what he wanted to do from an early age and didn't waste any time getting started.
"In 2004 I was looking for wrestling schools when I was just in high school. And eventually I found one and it wasn't a very good one. But it got me into the business and I was around for a year until somebody told me, 'Hey, you need to go somewhere more reputable.'"
Omen told Sportskeeda Wrestling that he ended up training under Shark Boy for a brief time until a mutual friend introduced him to former WCW/WWE cruiserweight Jimmy Wang Yang.
Yang was running independent wrestling shows out of Cincinnati, OH when he met Jake. It didn't take long at all before Jimmy realized there was something special about Jake Omen.
"I wrestled for Jimmy's company once or twice, and all of a sudden he just grabbed me and was like, 'Hey, you're under my wing now. I see something in you and I know you can make it. You've obviously got the drive. So listen to everything I say.' And that was a 2009. And yea, I've just been listening to everything Jimmy's had to say ever since. I owe him my career, because I was just in a bad indie wrestling holding pattern for a long time. There was a lot of stuff I didn't understand. So I was lucky to have come across him. And now even to this day, Jimmy still gives me just the straight advice and he's just been blunt for over a decade with me."
Eventually, Jimmy's advice led to Omen performing at the right shows and in front of the right people. In 2016, he would meet the man that eventually put the wheels in motion for his first WWE tryout. That man is the current NXT General Manager, William Regal.
Omen says Regal took a liking to him and was very honest with him about his chances of making it to WWE. At the time, there was no chance of Omen getting even a tryout. That news, however, would not derail this young man.
"I was like, 'Alright man, well I have the opportunity to move to Japan for a long time and train there. Like, is that a thing I should do?' And just right away, he lit up and was like, 'Absolutely, you should do that.' So I moved to Japan."
When Omen returned to the United States in 2018, he finally received his first opportunity to audition for WWE. He was one of the 46 people who showed up for this particular tryout, and by the end of it, he was one of only 15 left standing. Unfortunately, his performance did not earn him a WWE contract. At that point, Jake Omen thought his shot to make it WWE had come and gone.
Getting one WWE tryout is nearly impossible. Getting a second one is unfathomable. However, as Jimmy Yang told him, if you put yourself in good situations and work hard, you can get lucky. Earlier this year, Jake Omen found himself in the impossible position of earning a second WWE audition.
Jake Omen was recently rejected by WWE for a second time
This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but a WWE tryout is ridiculously hard. The cardio endurance alone required to make it through just the warm-up is too much even for some collegiate and professional level athletes.
That was most certainly the case at the latest audition where Jake Omen was in attendance. Omen told Sportskeeda Wrestling that once the cardio drills got underway, a football player quit within the hour. Not long after that, an accomplished rugby player also dropped out.
WWE really went the extra mile to bring in roughly a dozen people and by the end of it, only a handful of people made it through. One of them was Jake Omen.
"Due to COVID restrictions, they said it was the smallest tryout they ever had. And they had to break things down a lot differently, and their COVID protocols were pretty awesome. You know, we had to get there a couple hours early, one at a time and outside they gave us rapid tests and everything like that to keep it completely safe."
With a smaller number of potential recruits present, there were fewer people for the coaches and trainers to scout — that meant more eyes on the few remaining individuals who gutted it out over the course of two days.
"There's only a handful of us, which means we're pushing ourselves even harder and trying to impress... Day one, it was a three hour cardio session, two hour cardio session, one hour in the weight room with one of the best strength and conditioning coaches ever. You know, Sean Hayes, who I believe it was with the Houston Texans for a while. Then the next day it was matches and then promos, and then another two hour cardio session. And during that two hour cardio session, they went even harder. So like when your body's already trashed and completely hurt, and then they just keep pushing you because they really just want to see if you have the heart and the drive."
Jake Omen left Florida after his second go-round with WWE feeling extremely confident. Coming from a humble place, he said he felt as though he outperformed most of the other people at the tryout. After all the years, all the miles, all the bumps, and all the sacrifices that he made, Omen finally felt like now was his time. Jake Omen thought he was finally going to get a WWE contract. That was until he got a call a few weeks later.
Unfortunately for Omen, he was told by WWE that there were no opportunities for him. For the second time in his career, and possibly the very last time, he was denied a chance to live out his dream.
When he asked for feedback, Omen was simply told it had nothing to do with his skill or talent.
So what's next for Jake Omen?
Well that's the question, isn't it? At 34 years old, time may be running out for Jake to catch his big break. He's now been wrestling for more than half of his life. His very identity revolves around being a professional wrestler. He lives the life, he lives the gimmick. Omen says he's had full-fledged relationships where they never knew his actual last name.
"I want to say I'm having an identity crisis, but not quite... I don't know what's next. I'm just going to keep working hard and doing what I can, and I'm gonna hope for the best. I've been lucky enough over the last like six years to get to go to 15 countries. I got to live in Japan and get tortured in the dojo over there and just become a fantastic, like a great professional wrestler, because over there they just don't accept anything else."
Recently, Jake Omen returned to his roots, working a show for his friend and mentor Jimmy Yang at JCY Videos outside of Cincinnati, OH. He's also doing his best to pass along his knowledge of the business to the next generation of potential stars.
Omen has taken a few students under his own wing now and is showing them more than just the ropes. He's teaching them what to expect.
"I have a very real candid conversation with all these guys like, 'Hey, this is what it could take, and this is what you could lose. And this is what you can sacrifice. And you might end up paralyzed, or you might end up with a drug habit.'"
There is a romantic side to wrestling too, and Omen is making sure to pass that message along as well.
"Professional wrestling is the greatest business in the world and has given me everything I have in my life. I've seen amazing, beautiful places. Like I've accidentally ended up at the Louvre in Paris where I wasn't supposed to be there. I've accidentally ended up at the world's biggest Buddhist statue in Japan. You know, like those are incredible moments."
Of the five students Jake Omen originally started with, three are still with him. He says one student, in particular, a young man by the name of Blake Wright, has a very bright future. Omen says he'll do everything he can to help Blake live out his dreams, and in return, maybe live a little vicariously through him.
For now, though, Jake Omen is going to continue to chase his own dreams, and maybe one day he'll make it to WWE. You know what they say, right? Never say never.
Make sure to check out the full interview with Jake Omen in the video above to learn more about his journey, his WWE tryout, and to find out his contact information if you are interested in booking him.