Kenny Omega says his brief time training in WWE‘s developmental system made him question himself and if he was truly destined to reach the top of the industry.
Omega is gearing up to face Will Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom 17 on January 4th. This feud between two of the best pro wrestlers in the world has been cultivated over the last year. He claims to be disgusted by the way New Japan has been operated since he left the promotion in 2019
Ospreay has arguably become the top Gaijin (foreigner) in NJPW since Omega’s departure. He claims that he’s carried the torch through the pandemic years. That he and the United Empire is the shot in the arm that New Japan needs.
Long before Kenny Omega established himself as one of the greatest wrestlers of his generation, the former IWGP & AEW champion was still finding his way. He wrestled for Deep South Wrestling, a former WWE developmental territory.
In October 2005, Omega was sent to Deep South Wrestling (DSW), WWE’s then-developmental territory for a tryout, after which he was offered a developmental contract and subsequently assigned to DSW full-time.
Omega spoke with Monthly Puroresu to hype Wrestle Kingdom. He spoke about his time in DSW, and what about it made him question if the wrestling he fell in love with still existed.
Kenny Omega: I never really did think that I had what it took. But the reason I went to the Harley Race camp in Elgin, Missouri was because it was for an opportunity to be implemented into the dojo system of Pro-Wrestling NOAH.
In the end, I was selected by Johnny Ace to go to WWE instead. And I thought, “Well, this is a different kind of opportunity, and maybe this is kind of where my destiny is guiding me towards, so I’m not going to ignore it.”
I did go into the WWE developmental system, Deep South Wrestling at the time, and it wasn’t for me. At that point I had thought maybe wrestling isn’t for me because I was thinking at the highest level, when it becomes more of a business rather than a passion. Maybe it isn’t what made me fall in love with wrestling to begin with.
Monthly Puroresu: You almost felt unsure of yourself. As we all know, even back then as a talent, you felt unsure of yourself going over there.
Kenny Omega: Right. I’ve understood myself going there. I felt unsure of my understanding of the professional wrestling business. I had thought some of the greatest talents, what made them successful was because they were so unique and special athletes in their own way and were in charge of their own character. And all of their wonderful ideas and all of these iconic moments in professional wrestling – you think that they came up with them all. And I think now looking back, I’m sure they did.
But when you go into the developmental system, at least it’s sort of drilled into you, “No, you’re not your own person. You’re our person! And we own you! And you do what we tell you to do!
Monthly Puroresu: They pigeonhole you into thinking, “This is what we think you should be and that’s what you’re going to be.”
Kenny Omega: Exactly. And my worry at that point was if this is what wrestling is, or if this is what it’s become, maybe this isn’t what I fell in love with. Maybe this isn’t my childhood dream anymore. Maybe I just need to consider doing something else. Or just give it up.
On to the Tokyo Dome
Kenny Omega has persevered through many trials and tribulations over the course of his two-decade career in professional wrestling. Over time, he learned that there are alternative options to make it big in the industry. That the WWE wasn’t the be all and end all of wrestling lore.
Be sure to tune in to Wrestle Kingdom 17 on January 4th. Kenny Omega will face off with Will Ospreay at the Tokyo Dome in an early match of the year candidate.