It’s not talent that keeps Kenny Omega from being a star in his own company. All he has to do is look backward to get his mojo back.
By Michael Melchor, Executive Editor
That statement will probably send some fans into a rage-filled tailspin, angrily pounding out their responses on a keyboard even as you read this. “But his matches are so good that he broke Dave Meltzer’s rating scale!“
That is absolutely correct. Omega is not lacking whatsoever when it comes to his skills in the ring or even on a microphone. However, it takes more than just talent to be a star. If that were the case, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro and
Kassius Ohno Chris Hero would be household names.
They aren’t and, despite what fans that live in the wrestling bubble would have you believe, neither is Kenny Omega. Outside of the “wrestling bubble,” no one is clamoring to see him on television because he’s not a name at the level of Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, or even his own tag-team champion partner Adam Page at this point.
You may have seen the debate that erupted on Twitter after the April 22 edition of AEW Dynamite about whether or not a “star” like Kenny Omega gave “too much” to an up-and-comer like Alan Angels. There are good merits to both sides of the debate but one of the reasons there was even a debate in the first place is summed up by a quote prominently featured while heading down this rabbit hole:
There is a valid point made here. Presentation is everything. Omega doesn’t feel like a star on the level of some of his compatriots because he hasn’t been featured on that level in his own company.
Much of it may be due to Omega knowing how it may look if he did and doesn’t want to appear as if he’s sacrificing his employees for his own benefit. It is a noble stance, to be sure, but it has a drawback. The longer he stays in the background, the more it looks like he belongs there.
So, where is the benefit, then, in “making a younger guy” when the audience may not believe Omega is that level of a star to begin with? Sammy Guevara had a bigger impact on the career of
Pineapple Pete Suge D.
To be fair, Guevara (who has been positioned better than Omega has on the card with his Inner Circle membership card) had help from Chris Jericho, arguably the single biggest name in AEW. Jericho had also singled out “Pineapple Pete,” who people are noticing partly because a star of Jericho’s caliber also noticed him.
So, to avoid belaboring a point, the question should probably pivot to: if Omega isn’t on that level and we have an idea why, what can be done to correct it?
There is a difference between being the best wrestler in the world and being the biggest star in wrestling. Everyone adores The Rock and reminisces about his prime years in WWE, but he is widely not considered to be the best wrestler in the world at that time.
Does this man Omega should be raising an eyebrow every time he speaks and calling people “candy asses”? Of course not. Omega doesn’t need to steal someone else’s persona – he simply needs one of his own.
The closest thing Kenny Omega has to a ‘character’ right now – a persona that people can latch on to and understand him – is the “Best Bout Machine.” The point has already been made that being the best wrestler and being the biggest star are not the same thing.
Hulk Hogan. Steve Austin. John Cena. Becky Lynch. Each of these megastars were not the greatest wrestlers in the world. It was their personalities that made them household names. A single, easy-to-define characteristic that those performers took and built upon to connect with audiences.
This is what Omega needs to either find or establish. And it can be done within the confines of the existing “Best Bout Machine” persona.
In fact, Omega has already done it once before.
In New Japan Pro Wrestling, Omega was able to break out in the Juniors division – and ultimately as a Heavyweight star as well as an amazing in-ring performer. It was when Omega adopted the cocky persona of “The Cleaner,” the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion that threatened to “clean out” the division.
Fans Japan and North America didn’t care that the good guys kept losing. They cared because Omega was an arrogant prick while he did it and drew them into his story by giving them a reason to care.
The leather jacket. The shades. The broom. The snide, smug sneer he would give everyone. The utter conviction he spoke with when he told everyone he was the best there is at what he does. All of these things helped Omega become a household name. And we haven’t seen any of them in a long time.
While people who swear they know everything about wrestling while not actually participating in it continue to argue with each other about the merits of enhancement talent getting “too much offense,” Omega would do well to remember how – and why – he first started to capture imaginations.
As much as some may hate to admit it, pure wrestling talent alone does not make stars. Personality and giving the fans a reason to want to see you either win or get your ass kicked does. Omega used to have this but put it by the wayside. It’s time to pick it back up and get back on top where he belongs.