Kenny Omega, regarded by some to be the best professional wrestler in the world, will be leaving New Japan Pro Wrestling, he told Tokyo Sports.
Omega, who has been with NJPW since 2010, is under contract until the end of the month and so did not say what he will do next. He did acknowledge, though, that he could sign either with WWE or the upstart promotion All Elite Wrestling.
AEW is a new promotion spearheaded by Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) and funded by Tony Khan, the son of Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan. The promotion takes its name from The Elite, the stable comprised of Rhodes, the Bucks, Marty Scurll, Hangman Page and Omega. Rhodes, Page and the Jackson brothers have already signed with AEW. The company has a press conference scheduled for Tuesday.
“If I go to WWE, the fans there will be pleased, and the fans there will be pleased if I go to AEW,” Omega told Tokyo Sports. “I want to be in a place where Kenny is going to be happy.”
Omega lost the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in a match against Hiroshi Tanahashi at Friday’s Wrestle Kingdom 13, sparking further speculation that his time with New Japan could be coming to an end.
Omega’s stellar work in Japan, particularly his epic trilogy of matches with Kazuchika Okada was praised by critics and helped boost NJPW’s worldwide profile.
Making it to WWE and becoming a major star in the industry’s foremost company is the ultimate goal for many wrestlers, but not necessarily for Omega. The 35-year-old Canadian (real name Tyson Smith), sees value in going his own way.
“WWE was always the be-all, end-all, but now it’s changed so much that you can have your best years without WWE,” Omega told SI.com’s Justin Barrasso last year. “You don’t necessarily have to stress or worry about not having that ‘WrestleMania Moment.’ I used to hear that all the time when I was coming up in DDT. People found a measure of joy by saying, ‘You’ve never walked the ramp on Raw, so who the hell are you?’ I’m hearing a lot less of that. People are realizing the alternative can be just as good, if not better.”