My translation of an interview with Kenny Omega on the official New Japan website published 10/7 2014 here.
As always, my annotations are in , and annotations by the original publication are in ().
Image and original content © 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 Interview: “Who I’m really After is the Champion, Taguchi”
We confronted Kenny Omega, who shockingly announced on October 3rd that he’ll be transferring from DDT to New Japan Pro Wrestling, for an interview!
My performances were good, so why couldn’t I win?
Kenny, first of all, what are your thoughts now that the press conference is over?
Kenny: Hmm. It was harder than the matches (laughs wryly). I couldn’t really speak Japanese in front of the press.
It feels like you’re the most fluent in Japanese among the foreign wrestlers, but today it wasn’t working?
Kenny: Yeah. Whenever there’s pressure like this, I can only think of the English words. When it was my turn (to speak), I was like, how do I say this in Japanese? (laughs wryly). Everything was perfectly organizes in English in my head, though.
So even you were nervous. I think there were a lot of fans, in DDT as well as New Japan, who were surprised [about the announcement].
Kenny: Yeah. I think so too.
Since when have you wanted to make New Japan your main promotion to wrestle for?
Kenny: Probably after this year’s “Best of the Super Junior”. When I remembered my matches, I [thought,] “My performances were good, so why couldn’t I win?” Someone of my ability should be winning, right?
You’re confident you [deserve this].
Kenny: That’s how I feel. I think right now, New Japan is the promotion that best suits me. [So,] even though all of my best matches this year were nice, I wasn’t able to win. Why is that? When everything was over, I felt that I really wanted to have more matches.
Did you feel like you were capable of more?
Kenny: Yes. The series was over, but I felt like I could do more. Nothing to do but wait for next year. But, I [thought,] “I can’t wait anymore. I want to be there right now!”
Right now New Jan isn’t just the King of Sports, it’s the King of Wrestling
Kenny: After that, I continued wrestling for DDT for a long time, in a tag with Ibushi. Ibushi was able to have matches in New Japan while we held the tag belts in DDT at the same time. He’s fulfilling his dream in New Japan as well. But I [couldn’t] leave…
Your desire to leave grew. What did New Japan originally mean to you?
Kenny: Well, whenever I think of New Japan, I always remember the slogan “King of Sports”. DDT is a promotion that gives you free reign. New Japan’s old style is a really serious style, right? But right now, New Japan is different from when I was a child.
Style-wise, it really has changed.
Kenny: I really fit best into the current New Japan ring. There’s American style wrestling [in New Japan], and martial arts style and strong style and such. So for an all-round player [like me], New Japan is the best place.
AJ Styles is here, and so is Sakuraba Kazushi.
Kenny: Yeah, when I think of the old New Japan, I remember (Jushin Thunder) Liger winning the Super J Cup, or the [Best of the] Super Juniors [tournament]. I also remember a time shortly before that when there were a lot of martial arts fighters. However, the current New Japan is completely different. The current New Japan is a place that does the style I like the most. So, New Japan has always been called the King of Sports, but now it’s not just the King of Sports, it’s the King of Pro Wrestling.
Interesting. So to you, New Japan is the King of Pro Wrestling?
Kenny: Yes. That’s what I think.
Many foreign wrestlers have WWE as their goal, though.
Kenny: Yes. But I chose New Japan. Most foreign wrestlers choose WWE. It’s everyone’s dream. It’s almost taken as a given, because everyone watched just WWE on TV when they were kids. I was the same. However, when I was 15, I fell in love with Japanese wrestling, and I wanted to go to Japan.
Your dream was Japan.
Kenny: It’s not like I want to go to WWE after being successful in Japan. And that’s because I truly think that Japanese wrestling is the best in the world. And at the same time, I feel like I’m also the best wrestler.
You’re very confident in that way as a wrestler.
Kenny: Yeah. I would be very happy if all the fans in the world watched my matches and came to understand that New Japan’s wrestling is the best [in the world]! I want to become—what should I call it? New Japan’s weapon.
You mean you want your name to become synonymous with New Japan, that you want to be the face of New Japan, right?
Kenny: That’s right. Like, when people see my matches, [I want them to go,] “This is New Japan!” And it would be nice if they [know] that the only place to see my style is in New Japan.
You want people to say about you that, as long as you are there, New Japan is entertaining.
Kenny: Yeah. So, for now I want to give it my best as a junior. There are some good wrestlers in the juniors in New Japan right now, but I think there isn’t an exciting character like Tanahashi’s in the New Japan junior [division]. That’s another one of my goals. I want to become a Tanahashi or Nakamura among the New Japan juniors.
It would probably be too much too soon if I went to New Japan and the Golden☆Lovers wrestled together
In the press conference, you also stated that for the time being, you weren’t going to join forces and form a tag team with Ibushi Kôta.
Kenny: Yes. Everyone who remembers the Golden☆Lovers probably thinks that it would be nice if we tagged again in New Japan. But, the last time that we tagged in New Japan was several years ago, right?
Yes. You won the Best Bout [award] ([for the match] vs Prince Devitt and Taguchi Ryûsuke) in 2010 as well.
Kenny: At that time, it was [a match for] the IWGP Junior Tag Team [titles]. However, now, I’m doing my best in the junior [division], and Ibushi has just become a heavyweight. It’s better if Ibushi didn’t wrestle as a junior now, and it’s better if I didn’t wrestle as a heavyweight. Our places are just different, you know?
You mean that now is not the time [to tag].
Kenny: Like I said, it’s not like I don’t want to tag. Of course I want to. I want to tag with Ibushi. I want to have a Golden☆Lovers match, but that’s for way, way later…
You mean to say, “Please look forward to this at a later point”.
Kenny: Yes (grins). The DDT fans probably want to see a Golden☆Lovers match as soon as possible. But there are probably also New Japan fans who have never seen the Golden☆Lovers. So it might be too much too soon if I went to New Japan and the Golden☆Lovers wrestled together [immediately].
So you first want to build up the Kenny Omega in New Japan?
Kenny: Yeah, exactly. I want to make an entrance for myself, and show what I myself have to over.
Currently, Taguchi is extremely motivated. He has a new aura about him
Who do you have your eye on within the current New Japan junior division?
Kenny: Hmmm. I don’t want to waste any time, so I’m after the champion. That’s Taguchi. However, even though I want to challenge right away, there isn’t a single match set [for me] yet. If I have to go through the juniors one by one, then I’m going to clear them one at a time.
What do you think of the current New Japan junior division as a whole?
Kenny: I think it was 2010 when I first took part in the Super Jr [tournament]. Everyone has changed since then. For example, the KUSHIDA of 2010 is completely different from the current KUSHIDA. His body is different, and so are his moves. KUSHIDA has continuously gotten better.
His style changed too.
Kenny: When it comes to Taguchi too, the Taguchi of 2010 wasn’t strong enough to get the belt. But now, he’s the champion. He has new moves as well. He has a new Do Don (Do Don the End) and ankle hold as well. I’m going to defeat both KUSHIDA and Taguchi. However, I’m going to defeat one more. Look forward to that.
On 10/3 in Ryôgoku, Taguchi and Desperado will have a title match.
Kenny: Right. Currently, Taguchi is extremely motivated. He has a new aura about him. He really has the aura of a champion. So he won’t just hand the belt over. And Desperado doesn’t really have experiences with big matches.
I think Taguchi is superior [here]. In this year’s [Best of the] Super Junior, you and Desperado fought as well.
Kenny: Yes. At that time, we were both Ibushi’s partners, so there was a meaning to the fight.
It sounds unbelievable now, but Ibushi and Desperado challenged for the Junior Tag Team [belts]
Kenny: That’s why losing against him as [Ibushi’s] partner was so bitter. Even so, we were able to have an extremely good match. We could shake hands after the match too. So, I respect Desperado, but when we have another singles [match], I definitely want to defeat him. I want to have my revenge.
Understandable. We await your success in New Japan eagerly.
Kenny: Thank you! Also. Like, when I was having matches in New Japan, I was always jealous looking at the jerseys of the wrestlers.
The New Japan jerseys! Those red ones?
Kenny: Yes. I also wanted to wear a jersey. During tours and training, when everyone wore those, I would feel like an outsider a lot. No matter how many New Japan wrestlers I was friends with, only I was the outsider. That sucked.
So you first want to wear the jersey. The fans will want you to wear a T-shirt with the Lion Mark, too.
Kenny: Yes. I’m looking forward to that too (grins).
Lastly, a message for the New Japan fans, please.
Kenny: Oh, a message? That’s hard (laughs)…I really want to give it a 100% in New Japan. I’m definitely going to make the junior division interesting, and I’m going to become the top class in New Japan. I want not just the DDT fans from before, but also the new fans who have never met me to cheer for me. I’m going to work hard, no matter what!