The rumors of Kenny Omega joining WWE just aren’t stopping as we draw closer to the end of the Canadian wrestler’s New Japan Pro Wrestling contract. And it’s not just the numerous teases John Cena has posted on Instagram, but rather some of Omega’s recent comments on pro wrestling podcasts.
In the aftermath of Kenny Omega’s loss to IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada at NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 11 event on January 4, social media has been abuzz with talk that the 33-year-old Omega may be headed back to North America and joining the WWE. If these rumors are accurate, this would mark Kenny’s first time back in WWE after more than a decade; while he has never appeared on the company’s main roster, he did wrestle for its developmental promotions in 2005 and 2006, before asking for his release, disappointed with his time in the company.
Right after Omega lost a grueling 47-minute match to Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 11, 15-time WWE champion John Cena took to Instagram to seemingly tease Kenny Omega’s WWE arrival. This all began with a photo of Omega himself, and that was followed up by images that included one of South Park character Kenny, and one of video game character MegaMan; Omega’s Twitter handle is “KennyomegamanX,” and he has drawn a lot of influence from video games for his wrestling persona and moves.
With Kenny Omega having announced after Wrestle Kingdom 11 that he needs to take time off to evaluate his future, and reports stating that Kenny’s NJPW contract is up on January 31, “The Cleaner” has been active in the podcast circuit, having recently appeared on Chris Jericho’s Talk is Jericho and Taz’s The Taz Show. On the former podcast, Omega said he left WWE in 2006 to see if he could make his way to the Japanese circuit, but not because he didn’t like the training. In quotes published by Wrestling Inc, Omega explained that he didn’t want to be seen as an inexperienced youngster for an extended period of time, hence his decision to ask for his release.
“That stuff was all fine by me. It was that I felt there was no light at the end of the tunnel, like, I was just always going to be this kid that was treated as this green piece of trash. And, do you know what I mean? And there’s no way to grow from that.”
As for the odds of Kenny Omega joining WWE, he told Jericho that he’s taking things one day at a time, and doesn’t have any specific plans for the longer term as of yet.
“I once had this whole plan laid out of, like, where I was going to go, how it was going to end up, and now, it (has) strangely changed to, like, this day-to-day plan.”
— TAZ (@OfficialTAZ) January 17, 2017
Another Wrestling Inc report quoted Wrestling Observer Radio’s Dave Meltzer, who recently said that based on his sources, Omega may have already re-signed with NJPW, thus putting the kibosh on rumors he may be one of Royal Rumble 2017‘s surprise entrants on January 29. Omega has also been booked for an appearance for Chile’s Wrestling Star promotion on January 28, which would make it even less plausible that he’ll be part of WWE’s first pay-per-view event of the new year. But what about the odds of Kenny Omega in WWE, regardless of when he gets to debut?
Omega mostly played it coy when speaking to former WWE and TNA wrestler/commentator Taz, but he acknowledged how WWE seems to be more welcome to the idea of having him in the company, and possibly giving him a serious push. PWInsider reported on this podcast appearance, summarizing some of the key takeaways and sharing a video of the Taz Show episode in question.
“I’m trying to gauge what my best options are right now. I also have the feeling of, on the Japan side of things, I’ve come so far to almost having a complete career there. Do I end that now to pursue something somewhere else? Now people are talking about me, and now WWE is more receiving of using me in a way I believe I could contribute.”
Talking about what would motivate him to sign a new deal with any wrestling promotion, Omega told Taz that money isn’t the main consideration for him, but rather the possibility of making existing fans happy and convincing lapsed fans to watch pro wrestling again. He also admitted that the success of former New Japan/Bullet Club colleagues AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows in WWE has made him seriously consider joining the company.
At the end of the day, the rumors of Kenny Omega in WWE remain just that, even as Omega said that “no negotiations have ended” at the moment, and that it wouldn’t be a matter of his different potential suitors outbidding each other for his services.