My translation of an interview with Kenny Omega published in the Weekly Pro magazine on 10/8 2014 (interview held 10/3).
Original content and images © BBM.
As always, my annotations are , and annotations by the original publication are in ().
A Will to Take the IWGP Junior Championship, and an Unwavering Resolve
The Great Challenge
Kenny Omega has decided to terminate his contract with DDT Pro Wrestling and move bases to New Japan Pro Wrestling at the end of October. The reason is a strife to find a new challenge. We asked him about his complex thoughts about everything, including the KO-D Tag Team title match he fought for the future of DDT.
I’m not worried about DDT’s future, or my own
When did you start thinking about the option to move from DDT to New Japan?
Kenny: It was after this year’s Best of the Super Jr in June. The outcome of that was a big bummer. It left me feeling very disappointed in myself, and I wanted to challenge myself in New Japan one more time as soon as possible. Because it seems like I’m no good when it comes to big matches. I lost every big match this year. Directly after the [Best of the] Super Jr, I was eliminated in the first round of the KING OF DDT tournament in Fukuoka on June 14th. I challenged the KO-D singles champion HARASHIMA on July 20th in Kôrakuen, but it was a double knockout. In the KO-D singles (threeway) match on August 17th in Ryôgoku, I lost to HARASHIMA too. The Golden☆Lovers (from here on: G☆L) had the KO-D Tag belts, but in the end, even those belts we lost on September 28th in Kôrakuen. It’s probably an issue with focus, you know. If you focus on a lot of things at the same time, you can’t give it a hundred percent. I want to devote all my power to one thing. So, to make sure there’s no chance I fail, this time I want to focus on winning the Junior [Heavyweight] belt in New Japan.
Was Ibushi Kôta’s double contract an impetus [for you to go to New Japan]?
Kenny: I think Ibushi made the right choice by choosing a double contract with DDT and New Japan. I wanted to choose the same path in order to catch up with him. But me and Ibushi are different people, after all. That’s why in 2011 I went to All Japan and won the World Junior [championship] there. This year at DDT’s Ryôgoku [show], I challenged for the KO-D [belt in a] singles match, instead of tagging with Ibushi. We’re on slightly different paths, but I want to kill it in the New Japan juniors [division], like Ibushi.
In addition to your involvement in New Japan, around the same time, Endô Tetsuya and Takeshita Kônosuke were set as the challengers for the KO-D Tag Team championships, but what were your thoughts behind taunting them this aggressively?
Kenny: What would happen to the future if my wish to go to New Japan got stronger and I left DDT? I was worried about that. I taunted Endô and Takeshita because I wanted them to show me their best. I don’t have any time left in DDT anymore. Me going to New Japan is a done deal. They have the Saitama Super Arena [show] in February next year too. I’m a bit worried about that, unless Endô and Takeshita put in more work (laughs wryly). However, the other day at Kôrakuen, they had a good match. Compared to two years ago, it was completely different.
They really are having a growth spurt.
Kenny: Their bodies are different. They got more and more moves too. I took seven moves in a row in that match. Looks like they practiced a lot (laughs). When they won the belts, the crowd lost it. As soon as I heard the cheers, I felt like DDT was going to be all right. It sucked to have lost, but I was also strangely happy.
I think you took on the role of the bad guy in order to help them improve, but in that one month’s time, did you have complicated feelings towards the DDT fans who love you so much?
Kenny: To tell you the truth, when I saw Takeshita’s performance at this year’s Ryôgoku, something was missing. He lacked self-confidence or something. He didn’t have his usual confidence. But he always has that confidence. It’s like a hunger, or self-confidence, motivation. So I think it might have been that the pressure of a big match was too much. What should I do to make the Kôrakuen match a good match? I went ahead and did rude things, cussed at them a lot. But not because I had become bad. It was in order to have the best match that we could. Of course I was worried about the future of DDT, but on the other hand, wrestling is my job. When I’m in the main event, I want to absolutely win the Best Bout. So, those were the two thoughts I had. I think Ibushi felt the same. We wanted to have a match that wouldn’t disappoint the fans.
I think the fans who watched that match understood your feelings. Your comment after the match that you will leave the future of DDT [to Endô and Takeshita] felt prophetic given the matter at hand.
Kenny: I don’t have a Twitter, but I heard from people around me about a lot of tweets [about that]. But I really wanted to keep the belts. If we had kept the belts, I would have been able to defend them in a DDT ring, even though I went to New Japan. It’s tough for me to find a good balance between two promotions, but if I have a belt, I do my job properly. And with Ibushi as the G☆L we have the best matches. However, when we lost, I thought about a lot of things. About my future, about DDT’s future. What will happen to the G☆L? I was a little bit worried. I think the fans felt something as well looking at my expression. I was overwhelmed with emotion thinking back on my six years in DDT and I couldn’t keep my feelings inside. I was a little bit anxious. Those feelings stuck with me until the DDT popularity vote. I wasn’t the usual Kenny Omega. I’m sorry for making everyone worry, but I really am okay. Next year’s Saitama Super Arena, Ryôgoku are going to go well even if I’m not there, or well, even if I were there [it’d go well]. Now I can truly think about my own future. The G☆L probably won’t be able to tag for a while in New Japan, but on October 26th in Kôrakuen, we’re going to fight together. I want to have a DDT G☆L match there.
I have my sights on the legendary Junior champion
You came to Japan for the first in 2008, but before that, did you want to wrestle in New Japan?
Kenny: Hmm. When I watched the Super J Cup or Best of the Super Jr back then, I thought like, I hope I can be there someday. I can wrestle best with a mix of the current American style and strong style. I think it’s the ring that fits Kenny Omega the best right now. That’s what I felt in the Super Jr this year. I think I can not just win and get belts, but also truly enjoy myself. I’m excited, even if there’s pressure.
Taguchi Ryûsuke is the current IWGP Junior champion. You won against him in the opener of the Super Jr this year.
Kenny: Taguchi is better than me at wrestling. But as an athlete, I’m faster, I’m stronger, and I have more skill. So if me and Taguchi can duke it out, there’s a high possibility that I would win. I have won against every other junior in New Japan too. And also, compared to before, I’m better now than I was. I’m at my peak as a junior now, and I’m in good physical condition. So, this is my time.
Do you mean that it would be easy to win the IWGP Junior belt [from Taguchi]?
Kenny: That’s not it, and when you watch Taguchi’s title matches, he’s different, right? I have defeated him several times in the past, but he wasn’t using the ankle hold back then. The Taguchi now is different from the one that I wrestled. KUSHIDA has submission holds too like the Hoverboard Lock. I want to fight with the evolved versions of the juniors. Of course I want Taguchi’s belt, but I also want to have a match with KUSHIDA. And I also want to settle the score with Desperado, whom I lost against in the Super Jr.
At the press conference, chairman Sugabayashi said that your future [in the promotion] is still a blank slate.
Kenny: I don’t know yet when I’m going to make my debut. But I’m ready. No matter when it is. And I think Sugabayashi understands my goals a hundred percent. That’s why I think he’ll probably have me out there once they need a good junior match. Of course I want to have a good match in my style for the New Japan fans. I want to show them a good match.
Do you have a picture in your head of you’re going to win the belt?
Kenny: It would be nice to have a sudden title match. It will be my first match as a full time member of the roster, even though I have had numerous matches [for New Japan] before. I think everyone already knows what I’m about. But that’s not for me to decide. If I have to start all the way at the bottom, then so be it.
Of course I wouldn’t be satisfied with just winning the belt, I want to have a lot of good title defenses after winning it. Who was the best when the New Japan fans think about the best junior champions? They probably think of Jûshin Thunder Liger, Prince Devitt. It would be great if the name Kenny Omega came up amidst those as well. I want to become a legendary champion. Once I have accomplished that, then comes the next step. I haven’t thought about what’s next yet, though. If I had a partner, I’d like to [win the] Junior Tag Team [titles] too.
Is there someone you’d like to tag with?
Kenny: The only thing in my heart are the G☆L. However, hmmm, I’ve only just joined New Japan, so it’s not going to happen immediately. Around the time when Ibushi signed the double contracts, I tagged with a lot of different guys. BUSHI, Desperado, Naitô. But who should it be?
The juniors are mostly tagging with somebody [already], right?
Kenny: Right. Nobody’s left anymore. When I was in the Super Jr I wanted to tag with Ricochet. Because we were both outsiders. But Ricochet is a Dragongate wrestler. So there’s probably nobody I could tag with.
Taguchi and BUSHI are two who aren’t wrestling in a duo right now…For example, [you could tag with] Nakazawa Michael, or…
Kenny: Nakazawa would be nice. We were in All Japan together. We have a little bit of chemistry together. Either way I want to get a belt soon. I want to succeed in singles action or in tag action as soon as possible in New Japan. I don’t want to waste time while I’m at my peak. So, if it were a tag, I would want someone strong and who I can have good chemistry with as my partner.
KUSHIDA and Alex Shelley are the current IWGP Junior Tag Team champions.
Kenny: They’re both really good wrestlers. In tags or singles. I wanted to wrestle them in DDT as the G☆L. We weren’t able to, but it might happen sometime in the future. I don’t know if Ibushi will ever return to being a junior or I will go on to become a heavyweight, but for now that’s not happening, I think. At any rate, my best choice is always Ibushi.
Are you confident you can find success in New Japan?
Kenny: I think if I can one hundred percent focus, then I’ll be successful. If I can’t, then my true strength and what I think is my true strength are different. I want to know that. That’s maybe the hardest test in a major [promotion]. No matter what kind of awesome matches I had in the Super Jr, a loss is a loss. If I could have focused just on the Super Jr, I would probably have won. I have no excuses that I was unsuccessful in that. Even so, in order to know my true strength and my limits, I chose New as my place to fight.