My translation of an interview with Kenny Omega from New Japan’s official mobile site [actual link has since been deleted]. As always, my annotations are in , and annotations by the original publication are in ().
Original text and images © New Japan Pro-Wrestling Co., Ltd.
Note: pull quotes may differ from actual answers. This is part of the editing in the original.
Kenny Omega became the new Intercontinental Champion after defeating Tanahashi Hiroshi in Nîgata on February 14th. We caught Kenny for an impromptu interview at the ROH Las Vegas show, where his popularity has exploded as well. [We ask him about] the match with Tanahashi, and what the Elite of the Bullet Club is. And he even tackles the topic of Ibushi Kôta!
I’m suddenly in the top group in New Japan, right? I have to admit, it feels good.
So, Kenny. Thank you for taking the time for this interview after your match on the Las Vegas show (2nd day).
Omega: Okay. Ask away.
You beat Tanahashi Hiroshi on the Nîgata show on February 14th, and became IWGP Intercontinental Champion. Please tell us your feelings about that again.
Omega: Hehehe. To put it bluntly, I’m suddenly in the top group in New Japan, right? So right now, I’m in the list of the best three, together with Okada and Tanahashi, right? I have to admit, it feels good. It’s a great feeling (grins).
You’re very satisfied with this result?
Omega: Yes. Before that match in Nîgata, everyone thought that [I] would never get into the top group in New Japan, right? I’m sure the fans thought that Kenny Omega is a top 10 wrestler. I wanted to correct that false understanding. I have changed that with a single match. And all by myself, no less.
Certainly, last year you were Junior [Heavyweight] Champion, and you had a central position in Bullet Club too. But did you yourself feel like this wasn’t quite it?
Omega: Of course. I absolutely did…But, the old Bullet Club—for example AJ Styles, he never said, “I’m the leader”, correct?
Yes. AJ and Karl Anderson both said that Bullet Club has no leader, that everyone is the leader.
Omega: Yes. At the time, the remaining members must have felt uneasy about the future of Bullet Club. So that’s why I thought that this stable needs a leader right now. And then I made my move.
It was surprising when you suddenly proclaimed yourself the leader.
Omega: Hehehe. Well, it might have been left-field for the fans who only watch New Japan. But I want you to look at this from a more worldwide perspective. Who’s the most well-known guy in Bullet Club? The guy with the most talent? The guy who’s had a wonderful career, and had the most sex? It’s me. There’s only me.
You’re brimming with confidence.
Omega: Hehehe. So, now that Bullet Club has entered a new chapter, if it comes to deciding a new leader, I’m the best choice. I’m the guy who’s destined to be the leader. That’s all (grins).
If you compare the title matches in Ôsaka and Nîgata, which one was greater? The fans would know best.
Meanwhile, you defeated the Ace Tanahashi Hiroshi in Nîgata on February 14th, and became Intercontinental Champion.
Omega: Yes. Well, I knew that, no matter how much I went on about me being the leader, that wasn’t enough to make the fans acknowledge me. I needed to defeat Tanahashi in Nîgata and prove my talent in front of the fans. [Make them realize,] “Kenny Omega deserves his position in the top group.” So Nîgata was a situation for me in which I had to get the belt no matter what.
How did the fans react to you winning the Intercontinental belt?
Omega: There were a lot of fans who reacted extremely emotionally. That’s probably because Tanahashi lost…But, I guess you could call it a great success, since I was able to shake up the emotion of the fans quite a bit. Kenny Omega left a big impact in Nîgata. It was even bigger than Ôsaka. Don’t you think? (grins)
In terms of excitement for the entire event, the Nîgata show on February 14th truly saw more fans pushing for it than the show in Ôsaka on February 11th.
Omega: Hahaha! Right? Well, the New Japan office still wants to push the IWGP champion Okada. But, no matter how much they push him, the true fans can’t be deceived. If you compare the title matches in Ôsaka and Nîgata, which one was greater? The fans would know best.
Are you confident?
Omega: Yes. As Intercontinental champion, I’ll keep having the belt, and if I continue having high quality title defenses, all the covers of Weekly Pros and the Tokyo Sports will be filled with Kenny Omega. Then, Okada will have outlived his usefulness. At that time there will be only Bullet Club. I will become the ace of New Japan, the world’s ace. It won’t be long now until that happens, I’m sure of it.
So, with you winning the Intercontinental Championship, will you face Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight [Championship] in the future as well?
Omega: Hehehe. Hasn’t it always been the case that the value of the IWGP Intercontinental belt has steadily kept its prestige? Two years ago, it was even the main event of the Tôkyô Dome (Nakamura Shinsuke vs Tanahashi Hiroshi, January 4th 2014). So, the media and the fans really feel this, right? That the Intercontinental [belt] is the belt that creates Best Bouts.
That may be true, but a lot of that is due to Nakamura Shinsuke’s path of defending it.
Omega: It’s the belt with the highest level of [title] matches. That’s the Intercontinental quality for you. You should know what it means that I won this belt…But, in order to truly become a legend in this country, I probably need to get the most important belt in this promotion one day.
You mean one day, you’ll have to set your sights on the IWGP Heavyweight [belt].
Omega: Yes. However, with this belt, I can prove my talent and worth as much as I want. There will probably come a moment in the future when I should get the IWGP Heavyweight [belt]. When that time comes, I’ll do just that.
The winner of this [year’s] New Japan Cup can choose which belt to challenge for, out of the three [IWGP] belts. Do you think there will be a rematch between you and Tanahashi, provided he wins the New Japan Cup? (This interview was recorded before the beginning of the New Japan Cup)
Omega: Hehehe. I’ve heard this from the fans a lot about this case: “Kenny won because Tanahashi’s shoulder was bad.”
Tanahashi’s injured shoulder indeed must have been a big weak point.
Omega: Pah! If Tanahashi wants to prove that, I don’t mind having a rematch with the guy. If he wants to, he can go ahead and win the New Japan Cup. Well, this year I want to steadily increase my value, and become a legend in this ring. So, not just Tanahashi, but to whoever wins: feel free to challenge for this belt of mine.
The members of Bullet Club are a unit. But there are only three people you can truly call world-class [talent]
Recently, you and the Young Bucks have been calling yourselves the Elite of the Bullet Club. Are you different from the other members like Tama Tonga and Bad Luck Fale?
Omega: Yeah, of course, when we’re fighting in New Japan, us members of the Bullet Club work as a unit. But there are only three people you can truly call world-class [talent]. Have you seen our match (title match for the NEVER Openweight 6 Man Championships, Kenny and the Young Bucks vs KUSHIDA and Matt Sydal and ACH) from the (first day of the) ROH show yesterday?
You guys were even more popular than imagined. I think it’s safe to say you were the most popular guys on the show yesterday.
Omega: Hahaha! It’s as clear as day when you listen to the cheers. Sadly, Fale and Tama Tonga couldn’t do the same, even if they came into this ring. To go even further, not even Doc Gallows or Karl Anderson could do what we do.
You’re quite harsh to your fellow members.
Omega: Hehehe. What the Elite is, is a collective of wrestlers who can wrestle at the topmost level, not just in New Japan, but from a world-class perspective. Whose reactions from the fans are on another level? Who can have the best matches? That’s us three. That’s why only Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson can call themselves “Elite”.
I think you haven’t tagged yet with Fale and Tama Tonga and the others since you became leader. Will you tag with them in the future?
Omega: Of course. It’s not like we’re enemies, and of course there’s the opportunity [to tag with them]. However, our goal is a little bit different than theirs. Fale and Tama Tonga, their priority is to make it in New Japan. But me and the Young Bucks, we want to win not just in New Japan, but in the rings around the world, beginning with ROH. To put it another way, only we three have what it takes to challenge the world. That’s what the Elite is (grins).
Right now, I have not the Junior [Heavyweight] belt, but the Intercontinental belt. This belt is the belt Ibushi could never get.
So, one last . You share a connection with Ibushi Kôta. The other day, he terminated [his contracts with] both New Japan Pro Wrestling and DDT. What do you think about that?
Omega: Hmmm…Well, There’s only one thing I can say about that. It was announced that Ibushi had terminated his double contracts. If he quit because he wanted to run away from me, then I’d be extremely disappointed ([last two words] in Japanese).
Omega: Do you? In our careers so far, Ibushi and I have always competed against each other as rivals, we’ve trained with all our might, we’ve gone to the next level. It was the same when we were a tag team (as the Golden☆Lovers). But by the time I came to New Japan, I could no longer fight Ibushi. That was because I was a junior and he was already a heavyweight.
Indeed, you kept running past each other even though you shared the same ring.
Omega: Yes. To be honest, even as Junior champion I had wanted to fight Ibushi. But now, I don’t have the Junior belt, but the Intercontinental [belt]. Why? Because I’ve climbed up to Ibushi’s level! And, this belt is the belt Ibushi could never get, right?
That’s true. Going by this fact, it’s probably fair to say that you’ve surpassed Ibushi.
Omega: I’ve given 120% of myself in order to come this far. To reach this level. Like I said, if Ibushi said he wanted to quit because he saw what I was doing, then I’d be extremely disappointed [said again in Japanese] in him.
If I were you, I would think that Ibushi would approach me if he saw me right now.
Omega: Exactly. But you’ve never heard me say that I don’t want to fight Ibushi a second time in a singles match. I’d like him to come back to the New Japan ring if he can. And I want him to see how good I am right now with his own eyes. Then he’ll change his mind, I think.
I understand very well.
Omega: Well, right now I’m just waiting for the results of the New Japan Cup. Like I said before, I want to make it known that it’s not Okada, it’s Kenny Omega who’s going to be the best in New Japan. So, I’m waiting for the winner to call me out (grins).