Kenny Omega has opened up about taking a gamble on leaving New Japan Pro Wrestling for AEW.
Omega was the guest on Saturday’s edition of The Swerve City Podcast, hosted by fellow AEW wrestler Swerve Strickland.
During the discussion, Omega mentioned that, despite the backing of Tony Khan, he battled with doubts about whether leaving Japan was the right thing to do.
There were a lot of fears and a lot of doubts, and I was at a point where my contract was coming up with New Japan. They really did feel like a home to me and Japan as a country felt like a home to me, so to decide that this is where I was going to commit for the next foreseeable future without knowing if we were going to become a thing — whether we’re going to get a TV deal.
I was thinking, “Man, maybe I’m just flushing it all down the toilet for an unknown pipe dream.” But, as we talked more and more, and things became more serious, things started to materialize right in front of our very eyes.
On his 2019 announcement that he had signed with AEW, he stated:
When I went to that press conference where I’d signed just right before I went out and talked into the microphone, I was like, “Yeah, this really seems like it’s going to be a thing.”
Speaking about AEW’s place in the professional wrestling landscape, he added:
I guess the mission statement was just to create an alternative — some people will say competition — I’ll definitely say “alternative” because I do think there’s a place for everyone’s wrestling tastes, and I’m glad that we can facilitate a certain type of wrestling or a certain type of show that people enjoy watching, or just like to add what we do to their lineup of professional wrestling they consume on a weekly basis.
He mentioned that the initial line-up of talent gave him confidence that the company could succeed:
We had a short crew but we had reliable names. We had myself, The Bucks, Jericho, and we knew Mox was coming down. Cody was there and The Lucha Brothers — we had talent from all around…we had a very international roster of great people that were ready to take the next step and to be on TV and to show what made them special.
Being in that press conference and seeing things kind of come together and just feeling the organic excitement for the people that were there, I sort of felt like, “Okay, this is gonna be alright.”
Recalling his initial talks with Tony Khan, he said:
He was just talking, and I could definitely get a grasp that he was a historian. He knew facts about everything, especially in the ‘70s, the ‘80s, the ‘90s. He knows all the attendance figures, all sorts of things that I wouldn’t even care about. That’s the super ultra fan type stuff.
It’s interesting data to know because he was able to predict the wrestling forecast and all those sorts of things, and why it was actually realistic that we could pull it off.
On Khan’s certainty that they could make a success of AEW, he commented:
I remember him saying, and he seemed very committed, “I’m going to start a promotion whether I can get a TV deal or not. I’m going to find a way to have our product be seen whether I buy my own streaming service or what.”
It was kind of like that timing or never. There was never going to be a time when Jericho is going to be available, JR was going to be available, Mox, myself, The Bucks, Cody, Hangman — people you could actually build a foundation or promotion around. If it wasn’t then it was kind of never.