Kenny Omega has revealed that NJPW had planned for a huge match against Kota Ibushi at Wrestle Kingdom 12 – before booking the legendary match with Chris Jericho for the show.
The pair have fought many times in the past, in some of the biggest matches Japan has ever seen. Weaving in a storyline that has lasted nearly 15 years, Ibushi vs Omega is also a dramatic, story-driven match that can’t help but get you off your feet and routing for one of these men to win.
Their story really began with their tag team together, known as the Golden Lovers. It portrayed them as a couple in and outside the ring, potentially playing on their real life relationship (the pair are rumoured to be a couple outside the ring, although that has yet to be proven). While Kenny Omega does not talk about his sexuality or real-life relationships, fans have noticed clues in his work to assume something more than friendship with him and Ibushi.
They started teaming together in 2010 and their careers have been intertwined ever since. The only exception to this was when Omega moved to AEW – and during a panel, he explained exactly why he couldn’t ask him friend to join him in this new venture in the United States.
“I knew that I couldn’t ask Ibushi to sign because I knew it was his time, and he deserved it,” Omega said as he teared up. “Anyway, I knew that if I asked for him to come here, that he would. And if I begged for him to come, that he would. But, I knew that his dream before anything that we ever did was to win the IWGP Heavyweight Belt”.
The pair last wrestled in 2018 at the G1 Climax. Ibushi came out victorious during that match, winning after a gruelling 23 minutes and booking his place in the finals of the tournament that he would eventually lose to Hiroshi Tanahashi. Prior to that, the Golden Lovers had not fought in a one-on-one match since 2012 in DDT, and Kenny Omega revealed that the pair almost faced off in January 2018 before Chris Jericho made his shock debut in NJPW.
Speaking to his eventual Wrestle Kingdom 12 opponent on the Talk is Jericho Podcast, Kenny Omega revealed that if Chris Jericho could not make it to wrestle him in the Tokyo Dome, New Japan Pro-Wrestling booker Gedo had planned to “hotshot” Kenny Omega vs Kota Ibushi in a huge match for the company, albeit not conducive to the Golden Lovers storyline that had been weaved over the years.
On the episode dubbed “Talk is Jericho: Alpha vs Omega“, Kenny Omega revealed this about a planned match with Kota Ibushi at Wrestle Kingdom 12.
“There was no concrete plan for me at the [Tokyo] Dome. They really wanted to shotgun me and Ibushi. The idea was ‘Well, Kenny [Omega] has been having some good matches and this would be a really good match so…’ but like, you now me, I don’t want to just go out there. I want a reason. The story is so important and the emotion is even more important than that. “
However, much to the delight of Omega and Gedo (he was quoted as saying ” I want to do that” when asked about the potential matchup), Chris Jericho became available to wrestle at Wrestle Kingdom 12, making one of the highest profile matches in Wrestle Kingdom history. WWE Legend Chris Jericho returned back to NJPW for the first time in two decades to battle fellow Winnipeg native Kenny Omega in a match billed as “Alpha vs Omega”.
Kota Ibushi’s NJPW contract is reportedly up in January 2023 and, if his injury issues subside, it seems likely that he will follow his “Golden Lover” Kenny Omega to AEW to reform one of the greatest tag teams of all time and hopefully put on another legendary singles match, as the pair mature and move forward toward the end of their careers.
Kenny Omega’s match against Will Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom 17 has been voted as the Greatest Match of all time.