It has been seven years since Kenny Omega turned on AJ Styles at New Years Dash 2016, marking the end of AJ Styles run in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Omega also ousted him as leader of the legendary faction Bullet Club, starting a run that would set the Cleaner on the path to the wrestler of the year award and an IWGP Heavyweight Championship reign.
The attack would prove to be more important than first thought. His betrayal of Styles led to The Phenomenal One signing with WWE, where he became a two-time WWE Champion and wrestled The Undertaker at Wrestlemania.
Meanwhile, Omega and The Young Bucks formed The Elite on the same evening, which eventually led to the formation of All Elite Wrestling. This promotion changed wrestling forever and provided an alternate product that brought many lapsed fans back to the sport.
But it’s biggest contribution was stopping Kenny Omega from retiring from professional wrestling altogether. By staying in wrestling, Omega has put on some of the greatest matches the world has ever seen and produced moments that fans will remember for the rest of their lives. He has put on 20 five-star matches since then and won multiple championships at huge events, like Wrestle Kingdom.
Speaking to Sean Ross Sapp in an interview with Fightful, Kenny Omega spoke about how a neck injury almost ended his career, but the story and opportunity given to him during this angle helped keep him in the ring and inspired the incredible career he would have going forward.
I remember right before we did the AJ Styles turn. But earlier on in the year before, I had a very terrible herniation in my neck. It was the first time I ever had asked for time off in professional wrestling. I lost all power on the right side of my body and I thought that that was it. I thought that I was going to have to wrap it up and maybe I was already sort of winding down. I was able luckily enough to to turn it around. I think one of the greatest things I can ever ask for is being able to decide what time that is. It’d be great if I could, but unfortunately, as wrestlers, and doing what we do, we sometimes don’t have the ability to choose. In a heartbeat, these things can just fade and or they can be taken away from you. So all I’m trying to do is just kind of dip my fingers and toes as much as I as long as I can. I’m making sure that all these things that that I do take on as responsibilities are things that I enjoy outside of wrestling so that, you know, there’s never a dull moment.”
Kenny Omega also revealed in an interview that NJPW had planned for him to wrestle Kota Ibushi at Wrestle Kingdom – click below to read more about it
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.