RF Video Shoot Interview with Kenny Omega

This was released in October 2015

The interview was conducted by Rob Feinstein

It runs at two hours and forty-three minutes long

 

Kenny said he was raised in a hockey family and loved to play but was a wrestling fan even more than that. His goals in life as to either be a wrestler or a goalie and when he got older he became more focused on wanting to wrestle.

 

His first introduction to the business was at age 15 when he passed out fliers and doing odd jobs for a local promotion (RCW) in Winnipeg and trained when he was 16, as that was the youngest allowed. His parents signed the waiver but wanted to have him focus on school and he went to college at 18. Kenny said this promotion shut down and even though he had a scholarship for hockey he did not like that lifestyle and would rather have struggled on the Independent scene in Canada than be miserable at University.

 

As a kid, the Ultimate Warrior and the Rockers were his favorite. When he got older he began to appreciate the technical wrestlers who were at a more attainable size for him to reach such as Curt Hennig.

 

On training, Kenny said he basically self-trained as the trainer was eating canned Spaghetti O’s while he was bumping in the ring. He then studied tapes with someone who had a huge collection and would learn that way.

 

Kenny tells a story of how at 17 years old he did a surfer gimmick at a battle royal one day and called himself “Kenny Omega” and the crowd was chanting all sorts of stuff at him such as “Hawaiian Five-Homo” and everyone said he looked like a joke. After that, he talks about how his fandom was dying as he kept doing moves from other people and wanted to find out what made wrestling enjoyable again as he wanted to implement stuff from his life such as video games, TV, and sports to create his own style.

 

He talks about video games and how Capcom will let him test beta versions of games. He says either AJ Styles or himself are the biggest gamers in pro wrestling and that they will make lists for each other when going to retro game shops. Kenny says Virtual Pro Wrestler 2 is the best game of all-time with WWF WrestleFest Arcade the runner up.

 

Back to wrestling, Kenny talks about getting noticed at the NWA Convention. It happened to be in Winnipeg and he was put in a match against Petey Williams. He said the match was good and people were telling him to make it to America and wrestle as Kenny said his goal was to go to Japan. However, he knew guys in America were getting noticed more by Japan and toured the East Coast of America in Boston and met guys like Eddie Edwards.

 

Kenny talks about his experience with TNA. Quinton Michaels, the man who brought him on tour of America, said they were going to TNA and getting the “royal treatment.” Kenny said it never seemed right but he went along anyway. They arrived to Universal Studios and security barely let them through until Jerrelle Clark vouched for them that they were actually wrestlers. Kenny said he didnt even want to do anything because he thought it would just get him heat and got placed in a trailer and did not even bother training and the other guy he was with rolled around on the ring, which was not even put up yet. Kenny then said this he did not want to be part of this embarrassment so he snuck away and went around the park and came back at the end to see an Ironman Match between AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels.

 

He is now asked about getting a Developmental Deal from the WWE. Omega said after the NWA conference he was placed on an email list. One day, he got an invite to attend a tryout camp at Harley Race’s school with the winner receiving a contract for Pro Wrestling NOAH. Kenny said it sounded like a cash grab as you had to pay about $500 but maybe it would get him noticed. He met Bobby Fish and roomed with him there. They were told that after the camp, the best performer would be on the main event of the show Harley was promoting as Kenny said when you got there the entire card was posted around the city, including an advertised main event.

 

Still on the camp, Kenny talked about how Harley Race disliked him off the bat. Harley told the guys how the main group would be there and the second group across the street in the girls ring. Kenny does a killer Race impression by the way. Kenny said a lot of the guys there were not very good at all. Kenny’s name did not get called for the main group but knew something was up and that he was at a much higher level than the others and since guys like Kenta Kobashi were present he wanted to get noticed. Trevor Murdoch, who was a WWE Tag Team Champion at that point, trained the second group and told Kenny to head over and come with him before he straightened things out. After a few minutes, Trevor told Kenny to head across the street and tell Harley he told him to head over. Kenny went to the main group and Harley let him stay then Johnny Ace came in and told everyone what he thought. Johnny singled Kenny out as someone with potential and told the others they looked like wannabes so Johnny offered Kenny a Developmental Deal. Even though he wanted the NOAH deal, Kenny said he would be a fool to pass up on the Developmental Deal and signed.

 

Kenny talked about how it took eight months to get a work visa and that Harley ran another camp and told others how Kenny was disqualified for having an STD. At first, Kenny said it was a positive tryout week and had a goal to finish every drill first and how Bill DeMott was cool too him. Then, when he returned, Kenny said things took a 180 and looking back now he is glad his time was that unpleasant because it helped him deal with being in Japan were he is segregated and isolated due to a language barrier and had to have high quality matches or else he’d get fired.

 

On DeMott as a trainer, Kenny laughs and says he abused his position of power. He then talks about his training methods and how if he was a trainer himself, he’d never train people something he did not understand and would always make sure to train people safely and teach what could help their careers in a positive manner. He said DeMott would do stuff to get guys hurt and the drills did not make you a better wrestler.

 

Kenny points out how after several hours of grueling drills, DeMott would make guys get whipped to the floor and take bumps into the guardrails. DeMott would also make fun of guys who sat out hurt as Kenny said he gets how DeMott was trying to be the tough guy coach but you cant keep getting everyone injured. He then goes on to state if DeMott was the drill instructor type while Dave Taylor would teach the actual wrestling then things might have been better.

 

He is then asked about the rumor of those who went out drinking with DeMott ended up getting pushes and called up to the main roster. Kenny said that was the popular theory at the time as he talks about how hard work should be rewarded and the best should get called up, which would make DeMott look better at the end. He does get guys looking out for the friends and says that is a part of wrestling before saying the way NXT is structured currently is for the best.

 

A typical week training at Deep South would start at 530 am when he woke up then he ate breakfast as that was the only meal he would eat all day. They’d go warm up but DeMott cut it short as he hated warmups and said they should wake up earlier for that as he wanted to do drills. Kenny said you would do drills for several hours then stop to eat only to run sprints afterwards as if you actually ate you would just vomit. Kenny talks about coming in at 215 lbs and by the end of his Deep South run weighed 170 lbs.

 

He talks about how he did not mind being the “fall guy” and would joke around to boost morale and felt the drills were awful so he felt running around the building would be better for him. Kenny said any dream of being on TV vanished as he just wanted to make everyone’s miserable day a bit better as it was a depressing situation for almost everyone. Kenny talked about guys complaining to the office and the result was a camera being put up to capture the training but the camera ended up getting turned to face the wall.

 

On DeMott, Kenny said he would get defensive and that he would endanger the health of the performers with the drills he was doing, citing how everyone was getting hurt. DeMott also said other styles of wrestling was “bullshit” and only what he was teaching was good.

 

He is asked about other guys in Deep South. Kenny said he liked Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins and thought they had a cool look and likes both guys personally. He said that Mike Taylor was technically sound and that Matt Striker was always cool with him. Kenny said MVP was a great talker both in and out of the ring. He puts over Swagger for improving as he really struggled when first training. Kenny said that Jay Bradley would always have new characters for promo practice but he was extremely awkward and he was horrible in the ring despite being groomed for a push. He said that Kevin Matthews was his best friend in Deep South.

 

Kenny requested his release from Deep South. He said that Greg Gagne came down as a guest trainer and put him over as a good talent that had something to give. After he talked with Gagne, who said he would go to bat for him if he came up with characters, Kenny went looking for him the following day but Gagne got fired after being accused of sexual harassment when he accidentally walked into the women’s locker room. Kenny said that both Bill DeMott and Jody Hamilton wanted Gagne out of there and once he was gone, Kenny felt he had no allies and emailed John Laurinaitis to say his heart was no longer in this and he wanted to get to Japan. Laurinaitis told him he had contacts in All-Japan Wrestling and wished him luck. Kenny said he took time off to regain some weight and contacted Laurinaitis, who told him he couldnt get him in as Kenny focused on Jiu Jitsu.

 

On why the WWE never punished DeMott, Kenny said that perhaps they did not want to admit guilt by punishing or firing him but at the end too many people came forward and the company had no choice but to let him go. Kenny then said that DeMott did help make him a stronger person and would shake his hand if he ran into him today.

 

Kenny said that he had received interest from the WWE but when contacted was in the middle of title runs or other stuff in Japan. Kenny did say he would welcome a return to the company and feels what they are doing in NXT is great.

 

He talks about going into MMA for a bit and did some training then he got a full-time job at an airport once leaving Deep South. The local promoter (Premiere Wrestling) got AJ Styles to come in and Kenny was going to wrestle him and retire afterwards. After the match, Kenny said he was blown away by AJ’s athleticism and it reignited his love of wrestling to the point he sought up the top talents across the Independent scene.

 

Kenny puts over Chris Sabin and Amazing Red for coming up to Winnipeg and putting him over then said when Samoa Joe came in his agent, Bill Behrens, did not want Joe to lose but the promoter was adamant on Kenny winning. Kenny said that he didnt care if he won or not and Joe did not have any heat towards him and at the end Joe won.

 

He came to Ring of Honor in 2008 after having a good tryout. Gabe Sapolsky left afterwards and he was not really involved in many feuds but did have some matches but in general it was forgettable. Kenny puts over Chris Hero, Tyler Black (Seth Rollins), Davey Richards, and Cary Silkin for being nice to him.

 

Kenny says Jim Cornette was completely out of touch and that the live crowds were silent and dwindling down to nothing because Cornette had a certain idea of what the business should be like. Kenny then talks some more about Cornette and how he says the stuff (like Kenny should have his throat slit and burned in oil for working a match against a 9 year old girl) he does to get attention and doesnt want to give him any in return.

 

On how he got into PWG, Kenny talks about making a video for the “King of Anywhere” match that was filmed for DDT but it got out and circulated around the world and it got him a shot for the company, which was at the 2008 Battle of Los Angeles. When asked what makes the atmosphere at PWG work, Kenny said its the fans as the building itself is awful and small while the ring itself is also terrible. He was shocked to find out he was winning the 2009 Battle of Los Angeles and says that the booker keeps you in dark.

 

Kenny said he got into DDT when buying wrestling tapes and got a copy thrown into the order they bought to help study. They watched a match in which a monkey was wrestling in a ladder match where you had to grab a banana and the monkey did a crossbody off of the ladder at one point.

 

He talks about teaming with Kota Ibushi in DDT and they got some buzz and ended up really raising their attendance numbers and that got him noticed in Japan and ended up getting him steady work. Kenny went to NJPW with Ibushi as their Juniors Division was really struggling and started to get some buzz there. He even held the Junior Title in AJPW and got to do a heel character. Kenny said the AJPW style was basically a bunch of big moves that lacked soul and passion so he wanted to bring things back to North American style with a clear heel and babyface but that didnt work so he decided to be a heel and work through everything.

 

Kenny is asked about wrestling a 8 year old girl in DDT. He was in Canada at the time and the show was a few weeks away when he was contacted to do something for a Joshi Company. Kenny was first told they never had a match and that she was an 8 year old girl. Kenny first thought if any freak accident happen he would be haunted for the rest of his life but then wanted to show his doubters that he could have a great match and be safe as a worker. Kenny also said he wanted to show people that wrestlers from DDT were not just comedy or garbage wrestlers. The girl came from a fighting background and could do a lot of fancy kicks as Kenny came up with stuff she could possibly do to a larger person and they worked with each other until they got comfortable and had a match.

 

He came back to NJPW then shortly after that joined the Bullet Club. Kenny said he always wanted to be a heel and that there was an opening for a singles Junior wrestler so it was a perfect match for him. On the “Cleaner” name, Kenny talked about it needed to be associated with guns and came up with the Assassin but he did not care for that but after watching a movie about a gun man where that word was tossed around so he kept that. Kenny also wanted to be wacky and come out with a broom for the people who thought the name meant he was a janitor.

 

On the talent he has worked with in New Japan, Kenny really puts over the Timesplitters (KUSHIDA & Alex Shelley). Kenny said he thought Shibata hated him at first as he was a quiet guy who kept to himself but after training together feels they have a mutual respect. Kenny calls Nakamura the most artistic genius in New Japan and could do the same in the WWE if he chose to go that route. He said Okada is amazing and if he has a weakness can immediate go out and fix it as he trains hard. He loves hanging out with Bad Luck Fale & Karl Anderson.

 

Kenny thinks that the NJPW streaming service was a must and very happy they did this. He also says its great for him to study himself and come up with ideas for future matches.

 

He also thinks that NJPW is getting “North-Americanized” and that is for the best when it comes to their health. Kenny said its also helpful to when you return to America.

 

They do get a cut of merchandise sales, although Kenny said that its small.

 

Kenny does not want to go to Ring of Honor and represent NJPW as he does not want to go somewhere where he does not feel wanted. He is open to speaking with anyone though.

 

On a potential WWE return, Kenny laughs a bit before saying he looks at the current roster and sees a lot of guys he can tear the house down with most of them are in NXT. He feels that its the place to be but at the same time has stuff on his checklist in NJPW to accomplish first such as being around when the Bullet Club dissolves and hopes that would leave to a high stakes match with AJ Styles along with closing out his feud with Ibushi.

 

He still keeps in contact with Sami Zayn, who he was really close with during their time in Japan. Kenny said he never spoke with Triple H before, either.

 

His future goal is to wrestle with the heavyweights in Japan and to do the best job he can and if he gets remembered for it then that is an added bonus.

 

Kenny closes this out by thanking his fans and asks them to support all kinds of wrestling, even stuff outside of their borders.

 

Final Thoughts: I thought this was a good interview. Kenny is well-spoken and very passionate about what he does. Kenny does not drink or take drugs so there was not any wild stories to be told here. Kenny also seems like a positive person and is not one to hold grudges.

Its amazing that if not for AJ Styles agreeing to appear for a small Independent show in Winnipeg, Kenny probably would have quit wrestling for good and we would have missed out on his work in DDT and his incredible 2016 run, culminating at Wrestle Kingdom 11.

I would recommend this interview as Omega comes off as likable and knowledgeable.

You can purchase the DVD for $15 or get the Digital Download for $12.99

Next week I will be recapping the Mr. Anderson (Ken Kennedy) YouShoot.

 

 

  • James M. Fabiano

    TBF, Bill has indeed seemed to change…sadly the death of his daughter did that.

  • Kenny_Reigns

    He’s kind of dancing around The Cleaner thing. It’s directly taken from a movie, A Better Tomorrow, where the main character, Ken, is an assassin called The Cleaner and has the exact same look Omega wears to the ring.

    • Brian_Bayless

      I should have specified more but yes, they gave him that from the movie.

      He forgot the name of the movie though.

      • Kenny_Reigns

        A Better Tomorrow. I find it unlikely he forgot because the character is literally called Kenny the Cleaner and the influence of that movie on Asian and American cinema is HUGE. I don’t blame him for not trying to get sued, though.

        • Phrederic

          That and a Sly Stone film too, right?

    • Seeing him dance around with a broom and pretend it’s a microphone is weeeird. Still, better than carrying a shotgun you know he’s not going to use I suppose.

  • Ioan Morris

    Thanks for this Brian. An interesting read.

  • Night

    Great recap, Brian (as always).

    Part of me worries about the future of wrestling in regards to talent from Canada. Canada’s always been a hotbed for wrestling but it’s also a WWE territory (for the most part). With WWE creatively weak and not touring up here as much as it used to, how will young Canadian athletes get inspired to become wrestlers?

    • Kenny_Reigns

      They won’t unless NJPW starts going into Canada.

  • Devin Harris

    Never really heard of this guy but he seems like an ok dude

  • Got Luger’d

    He doesn’t come across as the huge, arrogant dick he came off in recent interviews where he says he’s the best in the world and no one can do what he does…unless it was all kayfabe.

    • MaffewOfBotchamania

      which interviews were these?

    • Danny Omega

      Well, he got six stars from Meltzer, Steve Austin saying that it was one of the best matches if not the best match he has ever seen, and the endorsement of John Cena. So I think he may have a point.

      • Got Luger’d

        I believe Styles has a say in the matter but he won’t because he’s a hell of a lot classier than Omega.

        • Danny Omega

          Disparaging homosexuals is classy? AJ really is a phenomenal worker, but dude is not fucking classy.

    • Down Under Aussie (in Aus)

      Omega is trying to drive up the value of his contract during this negotiation period I think which would explain his recent interviews outside of just kayfabe.

  • MyronB

    Sometimes I worry about Jim Cornette’s mental health.

  • Phrederic

    I like Kenny, but I do think that a lot of the “OMG GREATEST WRESTLER ALIVE” is a bit overstated however.

  • I think I saw him at a Ring of Honor show once, forgot all about it. He’s got a point about Cornette killing the crowds, because I don’t remember jack shit about that show in the way of specifics.

    I also forgot he was the guy who wrestled the little girl. I guess he’s just sorta forgettable to me, I dunno.

%d bloggers like this: