Kenny Omega knows exactly what he needs in order to win the IWGP championship.
“One more chance,” said Omega.
Omega has made headlines throughout the past week—first for his bold comments that he’s the best in the world, better even than WWE’s best wrestlers, and then for his match against Kazuchika Okada at New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom in Tokyo. Despite a brilliant performance of storytelling and unparalleled in-ring athleticism, Omega revealed that he was heartbroken after the loss.
“Of course,” admitted Omega. “After feeling like I’d evolved to a superior level as a performer, I had so much I’d wanted to show the world. Winning the belt at the Tokyo Dome would have been the greatest end to the greatest one-year run in—possibly—wrestling history. I wanted to roll that directly into a legendary 2017, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
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But after dropping the decision at Wrestle Kingdom, is Omega willing to admit that Okada is better than him?
“That’s a tough question,” Omega told SI.com. “Before the Tokyo Dome I would have easily said no. But now I can’t dispute that he’s been more successful and perhaps the best champion NJPW has ever seen. Of course, there’s more to wrestling than that. I’m a better athlete and a better performer, but I need to carry a company like he has—better than he has—to say that I’m better.”
Omega had the internet buzzing again on Friday when he tweeted that he would be “stepping away from Japan.”
“I’m leaving to consider my future options,” Omega said. “Returning so quickly after a huge loss would be unwise. I’m finding my next plan of attack in wrestling rather than blindly rushing forward just to be in a ring.”
Omega’s comments have triggered an eruption of rumors that he will appear at WWE’s Royal Rumble on Jan. 29. There is precedent, as WWE lured AJ Styles away from New Japan last January and had him make his debut at the Royal Rumble. A pair of Instagram posts from John Cena only added fuel to the fire.
“John Cena is one of the great WWE talents that I respect most,” said Omega. “If I were to end up there, working with someone of his caliber would certainly be a goal and jive with my mission of changing wrestling. I’m glad to be on his radar, but I haven’t made any decisions regarding my future yet.”
Omega—whose match with Okada airs this Friday night on AXS TV with play-by-play from Jim Ross—also confirmed, despite the vicious backbody drop from Okada out of the ring onto a non-prop wooden table at Wrestle Kingdom, he is not on the injured reserve but instead contemplating his future.
“I remember feeling this way once in 2012 after I’d wrestled in the Budokan main event for [Japanese promotion] DDT,” said Omega. “At the time I thought, ‘Never again’, but here we are again. Yes, the backdrop was probably the worst of it. Very scary, but I’m not missing any tours due to injury.”
Omega would not reveal the end date of his contract, but the majority of contracts in New Japan end in January or February, so the Omega-to-WWE-speculation will continue to run rampant for the foreseeable future.
His goal remains to win the IWGP heavyweight championship, and the leader of the Bullet Club is extremely persistent. His Wrestle Kingdom entrance, which was inspired by Terminator 2, was planned out over a year ago.
“I actually had somewhat of a Terminator themed entrance last year,” said Omega. “Due to time, budget, and position of the match, I wasn’t properly able to see my vision through. This year, I had the trust and funding from the company to create the entire production. So with an incredible amount of help from our staff, actors, pro camera crews, Avirex, and great costume designers, the opening ‘scene’ and entrance were created as I’d envisioned.”
As for what is next for Kenny Omega, he promised that his vision of what pro wrestling can and should be will eventually lead the business into a new era of unprecedented success.
“I’ve set a dangerous pace for 2017 but I’ll continue onward to the best of my ability,” said Omega. “I still have more to share with the wrestling world, so let’s change the business together even more in 2017.
“I fear that everyone has taken my words too literally. Yes, I’m out of the country and off of shows, but I haven’t signed any new contracts yet. After such a huge loss, I didn’t want to just hang around and take part in meaningless matches. I’m only interested in changing the business, so I’m thinking carefully about what’s next.”