Kenny Omega has revealed that he got Don Callis his job back in wrestling during his match with Chris Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom 12 – but that he almost lost out on the role to fellow Canadian Lance Storm.
Omega and Callis’ careers have always been intertwined. Don Callis was actually trained – unbeknownst to many – by Kenny Omega’s uncle, the Golden Sheik. While Omega was not close with his uncle, who passed away in 2005, it did give him a tangible connection to Callis, who would later be managed by the star.
When Omega would begin training, he would have Don Callis as his supporter. He helped to train the young Canadian in their shared hometown of Winnipeg (the same as Chris Jericho) and booked him on independent shows as much as he could. He saw something in a seventeen year-old Tyson Smith, who would later be inspired by his favourite Video Games to go by the name Kenny Omega.
“He was seventeen years old, green as grass, but he just moved differently than everyone else. He had an explosion and almost a poetry to the way he moved that just made him different. (I thought) this kid’s got something!”
As Omega would grow in popularity over the years, Callis would slide out of the wrestling business to be forgotten about. While Omega signed for and left the WWE under a cloud, he would move to Japan to make a huge splash in Japan. He became the most beloved Gaijan (foreigner) in New Japan Pro Wrestling history. He had an incredible quadrilogy with Kazuchika Okada and won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in the crowning moment of his career.
However, it would be Wrestle Kingdom 12 where the pair’s careers would once again intersect. Omega noticed that NJPW were looking for a new commentator for their English broadcast. Steve Corino, who had sat on commentary for years, left the company for a role in the WWE, leaving a spot open for a colour commentator alongside veteran broadcaster Kevin Kelly.
However, the little-known fact is that Kenny Omega was the man who got him the job. While many people could assume that he had some hand in it, the Best Bout Machine admitted asking NJPW booker Gedo to hire Callis to man the commentary booth for his iconic bout with Chris Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom 12.
Speaking on the Talk is Jericho episode “Alpha vs Omega“, Kenny Omega explained how NJPW nearly hired Lance Storm after a case of mistaken identity instead of Don Callis.
“We had just lost [Steve] Corino and we needed someone on commentary. I’d always loved the way Don did his commentary – great on commentary, great on the mic and one of the greatest minds in wrestling. His opinion is what he feels and what he feels. Not because he’s a friend but because he’s the best guy for the job.”
“I approached Gedo right away. Gedo loves WWE guys so I sent him pictures of when he was in The Truth Commission. He said “I don’t know that” so i said “Trust me”. Is said “If you need proof of how he talks, he’s doing a podcast now so you could give it a listen. You can get a feel for how he is on the microphone”.
“They said “this is great, we’ll get in contract right away”, so I told Don. The next day, I get an email saying they’d called Lance Storm! [His podcast co-host]. They thought the person I tried to introduce them to is Lance Storm because I said ‘here’s this guy who has in ECW and WWE’ and they though “Lance Storm, he was there!‘”
“Lance Storm was cool and said ‘the person you probably want is Don Callis'”.
Callis impressed on his trial at the show where Chris Jericho debuted to challenge Omega via video. He then sat on commentary for their iconic match at Wrestle Kingdom, before following his friend to AEW to help him beat Jon Moxley for the AEW Championship at AEW Winter is Coming 2020.
However, did you know that Kenny Omega vs Chris Jericho wasn’t originally booked for the show? NJPW originally wanted to see Omega take on long-time friend Kota Ibushi at the event – click below to read more about that.