– This Thursday, Kenny Omega spoke to the media via an AXS TV conference call in regards to the upcoming NJPW G1 Special on July7th. Here are some of the highlights from the call:
Sean Ross Sapp, Fightful – What are some of the things that have changed for you, or the things that maybe you couldn’t do before that you can now and vice versa? Things that you were able to do when you were lighter, that you’re not able to do now?
KENNY: Strangely enough, if anything I have increased my training to the degree that there is nothing that I can no longer do. I am not limited whatsoever, maybe I’ve lost a little bit of quickness, but that comes with that extra poundage on your body. What a lot of people don’t know is that during my time as a Juinior Heavyweight, I was actually struggling with a kind of neck injury that was at risk of getting really bad. So I was being really careful during my title run, it wasn’t really the full power Kenny Omega like I’m able to show these days.
So I’m actually a better athlete as a Heavyweight right now.
John Carrol – As you’ve probably seen on Twitter and social media, a lot of LGBTQ people have really latched onto the whole story. How does it make you feel that the whole Golden Lovers thing has become so popular?
OMEGA: I’m really proud of it. I can’t lie, that story was created for us, for myself and Ibushi. The way things work in Japan is that if you’re not aligned with a person, you can’t interact with them in public, you can’t interact with them in the arenas. Ibushi being someone really important to me in real life, we built to that for years and years and it was never given the green light. So for it to finally culminate on that evening in February, and then to actually here such positive feedback and to have the support from all the people, it was really overwhelming.
We hadn’t teamed in years, and if we did team it was primarily in DDT and a lot New Japan fans are very new to wrestling. So to see that kind of support for something that was brand new and a lot of people hadn’t seen yet, it really blew me away.
Emily Pratt, Uproxx – Right after you won (became IWGP Heavyweight champion) you took some shots at Naito and his attitude, and also said that the Japanese talent is not trying as hard as the foreign talent that comes over. Are there any concerns on how that will be received?
OMEGA: Naito is in sort of a way a pseudo Stone Cold Steve Austin anti-hero esque character. And I really don’t appreciate his message, I think it really only works in Japan. In Japan people work 12, 14, 15, 16 hour days and a lot of them live very rough lives. It’s easier to fit in rather than to rock the boat. Naito’s message is to essentially, rather than follow your dreams, rather than trying to try, just calm down and just don’t worry about it.
I feel that that message, in general, only really has legs in Japan. And when you’re trying to be a worldwide company, you can’t make this guy the face of your company. Because not many people on a worldwide scale I think are gonna get behind that, it’s not really a positive message. I don’t like it, I think it’s stupid and even as a general act LIJ is just rinse, wash and repeat. Sure they’re talented, sure they’re great, maybe they have an interesting type of charisma. But they’re very, very local and it’s not the worldwide image that I think New Japan is looking for.
As for the comments at the press conference, I’ve heard people overreact. And the funny thing is, the general feedback from the Japanese community is, “Kenny, you’re right.” So it’s so strange that I’m hearing all these English speaking people, people from foreign countries, telling me that I’m being a racist individual. When all I’m doing is speaking the truth… I mean, you don’t know how hard anyone is working, but I do and I see it every day.
I see it every time I go to the gym, the gym is myself, Michael Elgin, Juice- it’s all the foreigners. You never see any of the Japanese talent at the gym, with the exception of a couple guys. When you’re looking at guys that are eating food and dieting, it’s always the foreigners trying harder. When you’re looking at guys thinking outside the box to create something new and exciting for the brand, most of the time it’s the foreigners. Because they’re hungrier, they want it and Japanese talent is mostly just waiting for their turn.
I’m not saying this is a racial thing whatsoever, it just is what it is, and I couldn’t help but notice that the guys that are absolutely killing it right now are mostly foreign talent. Why is that? I want everyone to do well, I want New Japan as a whole to do well, I want our team to be the absolute best in professional wrestling. I want everyone to want it.
Brain Fritz, – Are there any other people that you’d like to see work with New Japan to help raise their profile?
OMEGA: Yeah, he’s already coming into New Japan to do a little bit of work, but I’m really looking forward to see how Jeff Cobb does. I feel like somebody like Matt Riddle could have a very successful career in New Japan. I mean, he sort of embodies the new strong style that we are searching for in New Japan. I’d love to see him come to New Japan and do well if there’s ever an opportunity.
Nick Hausmann, WrestleZone – At the end of the latest episode of Being The Elite you guys teased potentially facing off with the New Day in some kind of a match. Could you see that kind of rivalry rolling over into New Japan?
OMEGA: Well, the scene was what it was. It was just a, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” All of us want the match, it’s not just us (myself and the Young Bucks), the New Day wants the match bad as well. And we just, through a video game, broke all kinds of streaming records, VOD records. It was just us talking and playing video games. I think we’ve shown that we can draw some serious business between the two of us feuding.
I think at the end of the day, dollars makes sense. And if there was ever a time to ease up on the old school ‘us vs them’ mentality, this is probably the time. I think 2018 is much different than any other year in professional wrestling and we just wanted to show that this is indeed possible. We respect each other, we like each other and we don’t incorporate that same ideology of ‘you guys are there and we’re here so we hate you’.
I think it could be not only real cool and fun for the fans, but when companies are looking at can this make money, the answer is yes. So there’s really no reason for it not to happen at this point.
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