WWE News: Kenny Omega talks playing second fiddle to AJ Styles in NJPW, his experience in WWE’s developmental territory
According to Omega, AJ Styles is one of the greatest pro-wrestlers of all time.
What’s the story?
New Japan Pro Wrestling superstar Kenny Omega was recently in a conversation with WWE United States Champion Chris Jericho on the latter’s podcast, Talk Is Jericho. Omega spoke to Jericho about being second to AJ Styles during their time together at NJPW and also discussed what he learnt from his experience in the WWE’s former developmental territory, Deep South Wrestling.
In case you didn’t know…
‘The Cleaner’ started wrestling for NJPW way back in 2010 while still being part of another Japanese promotion named DDT Pro-Wrestling. In October 2014, though, Kenny Omega signed a contract with New Japan and made his debut as a member of the highly popular ‘heel’ stable, Bullet Club. At Wrestle Kingdom 9, Omega won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for the first time.
Having lost the title at the Dominion 7.5 in Osaka-jo Hall pay-per-view, he regained it at the Destruction in Okayama event a couple of months later. After Bullet Club leader AJ Styles had wrestled his last match for NJPW early in 2016 where he was partnered by Kenny Omega, the faction turned on Styles and the latter went on to assume its leadership.
The heart of the matter
Omega told Chris Jericho about the time at NJPW when he was asked to play second fiddle to ‘The Phenomenal One’ and instructed to compete against the cruiserweights despite the fact that he could wrestle heavyweights, too. However, he claimed that although he always wanted to be the top guy, he never had any qualms about being second to Styles. ‘The Cleaner’ had this to say:
“There was a time when I was in New Japan, especially when AJ was there, and I was sort of delegated to be, 'you're the cruiser guy, AJ's our heavyweight guy. We know you can wrestle with the heavyweights, we all know that’, but, he says, 'guess what. AJ's here, so AJ's going to be that guy and you're going to be that guy'. So I said, 'okay, completely fine’. I think AJ's one of the greatest of all time, so I had no qualms about kind of being second banana to him even though I wanted to be first banana.”
Speaking about his experience at Deep South Wrestling, which was the WWE’s developmental territory from 2005 to 2007, Kenny Omega said that it made him realise that he needed to make a name for himself before rejoining the company. According to him, he was a ‘nobody’ in the business at that point and feared that they would not acknowledge any different ideas that he had. Omega stated:
‘The experience just kind of reinforced more what I thought already was that I really need to make something of myself outside of here before coming here because, I mean, I was a nobody and I understood that I was a nobody and the guys are going to treat me like a nobody and they wouldn't trust me with anything, any of my different ideas. But I felt that I could be this guy that could make this company millions and millions of dollars, but I first had to prove that I could do that on my own, on my own accord.’
Kenny Omega has already announced his decision to move on from wrestling in Japan when his contract expires on 31 January this year. While all fingers are pointing in the direction of the superstar heading to the WWE, there has been no official word from either party on the matter yet.
Provided Omega agrees to sign on the dotted line with the WWE, one of his earliest feuds in the company may come against WWE Champion AJ Styles, who certainly has some unfinished business with his former Bullet Club mate.
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