Kenny Omega is less than a week away from writing a new chapter in wrestling history.
The face of AEW, and its world champion, Omega is in the midst of a story arc where he is on a mission to collect world titles from different promotions around the globe. Already the AAA mega champion, he continues his championship expedition on Sunday at Impact Wrestling’s Rebellion pay-per-view. By dethroning Impact champion Rich Swann, Omega will add a new piece of gold to his collection and draw a significant pay-per-view buy-rate, while also adding intensity to the AEW-Impact crossover.
Yet one integral piece of the equation is missing from that narrative. While Omega is certainly the focus, it takes two to make magic in the squared circle. Omega will benefit tremendously from working with Swann, who is the perfect choice to complement, counterblow and complete this match.
In an industry replete with unique backgrounds, Swann overcame long odds to reach fame. His father was murdered when he was 12. By 16, he had also lost his mother, and then started experimenting with cocaine. Fourteen years later, Swann is thriving, a proven commodity in pro wrestling. An industry with many dangers and obstacles provided him with a lifeline. He is nothing short of world-class in the ring, which has allowed him to elevate himself from a former WWE cruiserweight champion to the reigning, defending Impact champion.
Initially, Swann as champ seemed like a good idea if only for a short stretch. As more and more free agents started to arrive in Impact, which has firmly supplanted Ring of Honor as the third most important wrestling company in America, it appeared the 5' 8" Swann would be an excellent choice for a transitional champion, where he could drop the belt to someone bigger and badder. But instead of following an archaic model regarding the size of a world champion, Impact provided Swann a chance to carry the company, and he has flourished in the role.
Swann’s world title victory against Eric Young in October at Bound for Glory was never supposed to happen. Ahead of the match, he went through a grueling recovery after surgery on his ankle, a procedure that he was told could leave him with a noticeable limp. Somehow, he returned at full strength, and his hot streak continued as he captured the world title and then crafted outstanding matches with Young, Moose and Tommy Dreamer. He has displayed charisma and fire as a babyface champ, standing out as the company workhorse in its most important position.
Both the AEW and Impact titles are on the line in this Omega-Swann bout, and the prevailing opinion is that Omega will exit the ring holding one more championship than when he entered. But this isn’t just a title match for Swann. It represents a proving ground, a chance to show he belongs among the industry’s elite.
“I’m not going to guarantee a win, but I do guarantee you’ll see nothing but fight, heart, determination and fire,” Swann says. “All I’ve asked for is an opportunity, and that’s what I have here.
“This is the biggest match of my career. The focus is on Kenny Omega, and that’s understandable. He’s the ‘Best Bout Machine,’ he’s Dave Meltzer’s favorite wrestler, he’s this seven-star wrestler. Kenny has proven why he deserves this attention. But I’m here, too. I’m also a person that has battled adversity. I was told I was going to have to retire due to an injury, that I might not walk the same again. I’m still here. Now I’m in a match that is almost unprecedented. Two world champions from two different companies, repping two different television stations, and we’re about to blow this industry’s roof off.”
A show-closing victory by Swann would stand out as one of wrestling’s most memorable upsets, a swerve that would cause the entire industry to take notice.
“This is my chance,” Swann says. “I watched Kenny’s Triplemanía match with Laredo Kid, and that was amazing. Kenny showed he can hit the One-Winged Angel anywhere, from the top rope or anywhere else in the ring. That’s the whole match for me, that’s what it comes down to. I need to avoid the One-Winged Angel.
“I’m going to make this different than any match we’ve ever had in our careers. This is an opportunity I won’t let slip. It’s going to be the match of my life.”
Guest commentator Mauro Ranallo will bring a distinct voice to the evening’s pomp and circumstance, and Swann plans to show why he is the face of Impact Wrestling.
“Two world champions, face to face, gold to gold, and we’re going to see who’s the best,” Swann says. “I can’t wait for Sunday. Let’s see who is the real world champion.”
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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.