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Kenny Omega on Differences Between Him and Will Osprey: ‘We Look at Business in Two Very Different Ways’
The Elite vs. The United Empire will headline this week Dynamite.
A match like this is a reason to be thankful that AEW exists. Offers a chance to see Kenny Omega and Matt and Nick Jackson of The Young Bucks share the ring with Will Ospreay and Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher of the Aussie Open, a clash of talent from AEW and New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
This is a semi-final match of the World Trios Championship, with the winning team progressing to the finals on Sunday All Out pay per view. This also marks the first time Omega has shared the ring with Ospreay since December 2018.
The distance has increased the tension between Omega and Ospreay. The two took turns throwing insults at each other on social media, and last week they had the chance to do it in person after Dynamite went off the air.
“We look at business in two very different ways,” says Omega. “The way we approach our matches is different and even what we want to leave behind in wrestling is different. We both strive to be the best performers wherever we go, but we do it in very different ways.”
On and off the air, Omega and Ospreay don’t have much in common. In terms of wrestling honors, only one – Omega – has been the IWGP New Japan Heavyweight Champion and winner of the vaunted G1 Climax tournament, but Ospreay genuinely believes he’s the better player. They finally have the chance to do a very physical, compelling brand of magic against each other Dynamite.
“There can be some tense moments between me and Will,” says Omega. “I’d like to test him and I’m sure he’d like to test me. I’d also like to test myself and see if I’m really in a position where I can handle the best. I had one game [since returning from injury] to feel it, which was a very unique scenario. I returned to AEW after a long hiatus and wrestled against three of the best luchador wrestlers in the world in a four-way ring. Usually when I test myself against the top luchadores in AAA, we’re in the six-sided ring.
“I’m still figuring out where I’m at, but I’m going to push myself as hard as it takes to keep up with him — and I’m going to push myself hard enough to send a message to Will Ospreay that he’s just not there yet.”
Asked what Ospreay lacks in his quest to be a top performer, Omega gives a very honest assessment.
“Will has this false self-confidence,” Omega says. “It’s reinforced in part by some people in the wrestling media, like Dave Meltzer, who I think overrates his matches a little bit. I can take the blame for that – I broke [ratings] scale. Since I broke the rock, the grades are all over the place. It’s hard to make assumptions about how good a matchup really is, and that creates division. Once the rating system was something prestigious. Now, should I be proud of a four-star match? Or should I be proud of a five or six? If Will gets something that’s over five and I didn’t enjoy my experience watching the match, do I want that match?
“For Will to put so much into it is a sign of his age, experience and maturity level. If he focused more on where he needs to develop and grow, he would be closer to becoming what he wants to be in wrestling. It’s basically me. He’s just not close enough yet. And I’m still here.”
This is only Omega’s second match since losing the world title to “The Executioner” Adam Page in November. (He subsequently vacated the AAA world title due to injury and underwent knee and hernia surgeries.) His comeback took place two weeks ago on Dynamitewhen he and The Young Bucks defeated Andrade, Rush and Dragon Lee of La Facción Ingobernable in an exclusive World Trios Championship quarterfinal match.
When Omega first became famous in the United States, she was next to Bucks in the ring of honor. They also excelled together in New Japan Pro-Wrestling and their work together and individually helped establish AEW as the world’s premier professional wrestling company.
“I can’t say it’s coming full circle because AEW is such a new thing, but for me and the Bucks, it’s another stop on this giant road map we’ve created as wrestlers,” says Omega. “We’ve already traveled all over the world and although this story may have started in Japan, we’ve already taken our fights to Scotland, to England, to PWG in California.
“And just when we thought maybe we wouldn’t see any more matches between AEW and New Japan, this relationship really continues after Forbidden door. It’s great that talent is interested in coming here, and we have talent that is interested in making a mark there. So it’s great to have Will come with the Aussie Open, which maybe aren’t as well known to AEW fans as they are elsewhere, and people are going to be surprised by this match.”
Even during his time away from the ring, nursing multiple injuries, Omega remains a key part of the company. As Executive Vice President, one of his primary responsibilities is launching AEW’s inaugural video game, Fight forever. As the creative director of the game, Omega was thrilled to learn this Fight forever won the Best Sports/Competition Game category at GamesCom, the world’s largest gaming conference, last week in Germany.
“I was blown away by it,” says Omega. “It was recognized as something fun and the people who left our booth had a very fun experience. That’s what we’re always looking for. And I think we gave just a small taste of what makes the game so much fun. It makes me even more excited when people really start to see how crazy, badass, and fun this game really is.”
There are still many surprises to be revealed Fight forever before the yet-to-be-announced release date. Omega explained that every step is met with extreme care, as the team wants the game to be as close to perfect as possible at launch.
“If people are concerned about the modes, and I’ve heard some weird things like there’s only single matches, I’m happy to say that’s not the case,” says Omega. “We’ll have tag team matches and tag team maneuvers, and the mechanics of those matches will feel significantly different than singles matches. You’ll feel like you’re in a tag match, and we’re working hard to have a variety of match types. This game will not pull any punches. It’s going to be physical, sometimes bloody, and we have a huge number of weapons for everyone to have fun with. The hijinks outside the ring are a lot of fun and there is still a career mode. I hope people have fun with it.
“We’re pretty close to being done. There is still an approval process and we aim to avoid any issues with the game on the web so that people can play competitively online. We really want to make sure that when people try to log into the servers, they can do so without causing any problems.
Omega has too much respect for wrestling fans to release a game that has gameplay issues or was released at retail. The downside to this, of course, is that it means it takes more time to perfect the game.
“The only downside to this is that we live in an ever-evolving sport in pro wrestling,” says Omega. “It’s about the craft itself, and our list is also constantly changing. As more time goes by, we might see a new face that people will be upset about and won’t be in the game. Our roster at launch was pretty much set in stone and we had very limited slots for very special occasions like Adam Cole and CM Punk. Generally speaking, you’ll see a lot of familiar faces from the early years of AEW, many of whom are still here today. It’s important to us to have that original roster from the first year. We are trying to retell this story of how we came to be.
“Now that our game is pretty much done, between now and launch, it’s going to be hard to get anyone new on board. Even if John Cena makes it through the tunnel and down the stage, we probably won’t be able to get him in in time. That’s why we provide post-launch support. It’s never been the game plan to hold back on purpose, but to make sure the fans can be a certain fighter, then they’ll be available as soon as possible.”
No different from his quest to create the best video game possible, Omega is still honing his craft in the ring. Never one to rest on his laurels, he’s looking to put on a memorable run now that he’s back in the ring, producing the kind of content fans will be dying to see.
“I want to express myself in many ways and tell my stories in a very different way,” says Omega. “After suffering through so much rehab and being at a point where I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to come back, I’m proud of where I am now. The standard thing to do after climbing Mount Everest is to celebrate. I felt like getting back in the ring was something to celebrate, but I didn’t want to go back in a traditional way. My goal is to give a unique look at what a comeback story might look like. It’s something new for me, it’s something that’s not really done in our shows and it’s a challenge. I’ve never been away this long. This is uncharted territory, but I refuse to repeat what I’ve already done.
This relentless pursuit of greatness continues on Wednesday night. Omega and the Bucks have the ability to take pro wrestling to a whole new level, and that’s the plan for tonight against Ospreay and his United Empire.
“As a performer, I want to leave behind the full spectrum of performance types and match types,” says Omega. “There are situations where I will be the underdog and situations where I am the favorite. I plan to create something very special in 2022 to 2023.”
(Online) the week in wrestling
- The CM Punk–Jon Moxley match ended as soon as it started last week on Dynamite, with Moxley winning in a squash. This adds intrigue to their apparent rematch on Sunday at All Out, in theory giving AEW a Dynamite rating and a reason to buy the pay-per-view. But it will be interesting to see how Punk’s injured leg is explained to be stronger for the rematch.
- Sami Zayn’s brilliance was once again evident on SmackDown. I don’t know how long their partnership will last, but he adds a whole new dimension to The Bloodline.
- Matt Riddle’s real-life family issues were the focus of this incredibly intense promo between Riddle and Seth Rollins. I feel for the family being part of the highlight of the Rollins joke, but this program was designed to showcase a more serious side to Riddle as he pursues his spot as WWE Champion.
- WWE has new Women’s Tag Team Champions. Fair or unfair to the new champions, this division won’t be right until Sasha Banks and Naomi come back and reclaim the titles.
- There’s more drama behind the scenes in AEW, with Thunder Rosa citing injuries as the reason she can’t drop the women’s title. A new champion will be crowned this Sunday on pay-per-view.
- In addition to the NXT-NXT UK Worlds Collide show on Sunday afternoon, WWE also has Clash at the Castle on Saturday. Drew McIntyre’s title run will be the center of attention, but there’s a part of me that thinks it will be derailed by Carrion Cross.
- The match of the weekend could be Carmelo Hayes vs. Ricochet at Worlds Collide. It is an outstanding platform that shows that Hayes is among the best in the world.
- Kurt Angle played his greatest hits on Raw and, unsurprisingly, there were some highly enjoyable moments.
- Maybe that’s hope for Finn Balor with Triple H in charge of creativity. This promo is the most realistic work he’s done since his turn, showing the kind of fire it takes to be a big star in WWE.
- The NWA held its 74th anniversary show this weekend, which ended with Trevor Murdoch retaining the world title.
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