Many people have Kenny Omega as one of their likely Royal Rumble 2017 surprise entrants, and it’s easy to see why. He’s fresh off a match (against Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 11) that veteran wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer rated as a very rare “six-star” match, and his current deal with New Japan Pro Wrestling expires on January 31. And while he’s not saying yet whether he is definitely heading to WWE as a hot free agent signing from NJPW, much like AJ Styles in 2016, he’s left out some hope that he may be showing up on Sunday at Royal Rumble. Still, he isn’t making any promises either.
It’s been an interesting past few weeks for fans of “The Cleaner,” as Kenny Omega is also known in the wrestling world. With John Cena taking to Instagram to tease Omega’s potential arrival and sites such as OddsShark placing Omega somewhere in the middle in terms of who may win the Royal Rumble match (if he does make it as a surprise entrant), the WWE Universe wants to know if Kenny will be returning to the company for the first time since he was a developmental talent in the mid-2000s.
— WrestlingNewsSource (@WNSource) January 25, 2017
WrestlingNews.co quoted a Q&A session Omega had recently with 4 Front Wrestling, and to no one’s surprise, the first question was regarding his future plans and whether he’s considering joining the WWE. That includes a possible appearance at Royal Rumble 2017, specifically the Royal Rumble match that serves as the pay-per-view’s main event.
“If some of you guys are subscribers to the (WWE) Network and are looking forward to something happening or not happening on the 29th, I’m not sure if I could pull a rabbit out of the hat by that date. That’s all I can say for now. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I’m not saying anything. That might be asking too much at this point and time. That’s literally the most news I’ve given anyone up to this point.”
Regarding his plans for the future in the light of his NJPW contract coming up on January 31, Omega said that he’s “75 percent made a decision” on where he’s going next.
Considering that his New Japan contract ends on January 31 and Royal Rumble takes place two days earlier on January 29, logistics suggest that a rabbit would really need to be pulled out of the proverbial hat for Kenny Omega to fight in the Royal Rumble match, or even make so much as an appearance at the pay-per-view. WrestlingNews.co wrote that Omega is “doing a great job at keeping people guessing,” so there’s a possibility he’s at least been having some talks with WWE. But the publication added that it may still be more likely that he’s at least committed to re-signing with NJPW.
— 411 Wrestling (@411wrestling) January 23, 2017
Wrestling Inc. also quoted former WWE announcing legend Jim Ross, who said in a recent episode of his podcast The Ross Report that it will take a lot to lure Omega to the WWE, such as a lucrative financial deal. A main event push right out of the gate similar to what AJ Styles got in 2016 may also be necessary, Ross added.
“Omega’s the kind of guy that if you’re thinking of hiring, you’ve got to come with the right money offer. And the other C. We talked cash. Now, we talk creative. He’s going to want to know, ‘how are you going to book me?’; ‘how are you going to present me?’; ‘what will be my lot in life on television creative?’ because it starts and ends right there.”
It might not be easy for WWE to sign Kenny Omega, Royal Rumble 2017 appearance or none, and there’s arguably a better chance that he’ll be sticking around in Japan rather than giving WWE a shot. But knowing how “The Cleaner” operates, he’s a man who likes to keep his cards close to his chest, and he’s doing so right now as he teases some possibilities but makes nothing definite with less than a week remaining before his NJPW contract is up.
[Featured Image by New Japan Pro Wrestling]