Imp’s NJPW Adventure
Is Kenny Omega Going To WWE or AEW?
Yesterday news broke that Kenny Omega, The ELITE & KUSHIDA are all set to leave NJPW. There’s some holding hope that the former is just purely a storyline related ‘time off’ similar to the aftermath of his loss to Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 11, but as of today, it’s looking like the now former IWGP Heavyweight Champion is set to leave.
As for the other names, KUSHIDA has done almost everything there was for him to do in NJPW. He’s been one of those wrestlers that perfectly sums up the company’s fighting spirit. You wanted to book a wrestler that encapsulated the essence of New Japan, you booked KUSHIDA.
He doesn’t have any ills either, after Tanahashi asked about things he enjoyed about NJPW or if there was anything he found tough, the Ace of the Junior Division broke down crying. He loved everything, he loves wrestling there’s nothing he wants to do more than be performing in that ring.
There have been rumblings (no pun) linking KUSHIDA with a possible move to WWE, as seems to be a running theme with NJPW’s January departures in recent years. But all we know for sure is that he’ll be honouring and giving his all for the rest of his contract, which like Omega ends on January 31st. So don’t go betting on a Rumble spot for KUSHIDA.
Then with the start of AEW it really isn’t a surprise to learn that Cody and The Bucks in particular were pretty much giving their farewells this past weekend. That’s something I predicted with SirSam on Perfect 10 on LOP Radio last week, given they’re going to be busy as hell starting up this huge venture, to me it made all the sense in the world that they’d pull away from their Japanese obligations.
Plus they are starting their own separate major wrestling company, does make sense they wouldn’t be under the direct employ of another one whilst doing so. Business workings wise, it’s also looking as if NJPW will be continuing to work with ROH and not AEW, which also makes sense given the unknown nature of this new promotion. Hopes are high, fans are excited, the talent behind it are white hot popular, but we still don’t know anything really.
Which then leads to the next question, where next for Omega? With an apparently almost Lesnar money deal from WWE on the table, that surely has to be enticing. However on the other side of things, Omega’s been with The Bucks (and then Cody) for every step of the way for The ELITE. Be it pissing about with an iPhone backstage, or helping put 10,000 butts in 10,000 seats, Kenny Omega’s been right there with them. So why would he leave now? On the eve of the biggest venture/gamble of the lot?
This is why I go back and forth, I’ve said that I cannot see Omega going to WWE unless we were talking Lesnar levels of wages. Well it turns out that’s the exact ball park we’re playing in! Do you take the ludicrous amount of money, or continue to help change the wrestling world? Do you take certainty, or continue to bet on yourself and roll the dice?
At the end of the day, there is nothing we can do as fans but speculate. Any online wrestling personality will tell you that debating this with people is damn enjoyable, because both sides have such strong points. In the end we’ll only really know once the man himself speaks. Schrödinger’s Kenny, until we know for sure, he is in both situations.
However, earlier today the latest episode of Being The Elite was uploaded, the teasing has begun! Early on in the episode Kenny quite casually mentions that he’s lost his phone, come the end of the episode we see a phone face down on the ground, ticking like a clock just as the others’ did with the AEW/Double or Nothing reveal.
The WWE/AEW questions about Omega may have been subtly answered right there. But we didn’t see what date was being counted down to, is it a tad presumptuous to outright call it a definitive that Omega’s bound for AEW? Could they be counting down to the Royal Rumble? Hence why we don’t see the screen. Hell, we could be in a case where nothing’s decided so we’re right back into chilling with Schrödinger’s Kenny.
One thing I will mention, Kenny Omega’s contract runs out the same date as KUSHIDA’s, which is January 31st. So don’t get annoyed if he isn’t a surprise entrant in WWE’s annual reverse battle royal, hard to work for another company when you’re still contracted to another. On the other hand, in wrestling you can never say never.
I am reminded of WWE’s first NJPW raid a few years ago though, acquiring AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in one swoop. Styles debuted at the Rumble, whilst the other three stayed on until the end of their contracts in mid-February. All four honoured their contracts, I’d be VERY surprised if Omega gets his way out of his and debuts for WWE in a similar manner to Styles.
The popularity and status are obviously similar to Styles, but the contract is an entirely different situation that’s in fact closer to that of WWE’s other three NJPW 2016 swoops. So if Omega is WWE bound, I’m warning you now, don’t get your hopes up for the Rumble.
So after all this where is my money on? I’ve gone back and forth, word of the surely impossible to turn down amount of money made me alter my view a little, however I cannot shake Kenny Omega’s statements from the past. He’s a man who’s constantly talked about wanting to change the status quo, not about the money, but about changing the industry.
And AEW is not just another start up wrestling company, their backer is a multi-billionaire, the people running the promotion are Kenny’s best friends of whom he’s been on this journey with from the beginning. Is the money from WWE really enough to leave at the final hour?
If I’m going by previous statements on the industry from the man himself, then no. On the other hand, you’d think that big money would likely result in a big push. That WrestleMania match against AJ Styles would suddenly be a real possibility, something Omega’s said in the past that he’d really like to do. But that was said in a time before ALL IN, a past prior to the idea of AEW being conceived.
Is it really beyond reason to believe Kenny would bet on himself and try to change the industry? Rather than take the WWE money because ‘any smart businessman would’. Anyway, you’ve got to imagine that if WWE are willing to pay that much money to sign you to their roster, then you must be doing something right. Maybe betting on yourself isn’t the stupidest thing in the world.
You’ve got to imagine that major clash of Styles vs Omega is still a dream of his, but the landscape has completely changed since he made that statement. So surely, surely Kenny Omega will continue to join his friends on their journey to change the world… right?
Damn you, Schrödinger’s Kenny!
Email Imp – firstname.lastname@example.org
Imp’s on LOP Radio every Thursday with Perfect 10 Wrestling! On the latest episode he was joined by SirSam to preview Wrestle Kingdom 13 with all the excitement in the world.
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