When AEW Wrestling started, they signed one of the biggest free agent veterans in wrestling in Chris Jericho. However, while Jericho was a great veteran to add to the roster, they needed someone they could build the company around -- a major star with his career still in front of him. That man was Kenny Omega.
When AEW signed Omega, they got the best wrestler in the world not signed to WWE. Not only that, but they secured one of the most exciting main events for their first event Double or Nothing in Omega vs. Jericho II. For those unfamiliar with the man known as The Cleaner, here are 10 things you need to know about Kenny Omega.
10 HE IS FROM WINNIPEG, SAME AS CHRIS JERICHO
While Kenny Omega is often mistakenly referred to as one of the best American wrestlers to ever compete in Japan, that is not really true. Omega is actually from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. While Chris Jericho was born in New York, since his father was a hockey player, he actually grew up in Winnipeg as well.
Crazily, Omega was also an ice hockey player growing up, so the connections with Chris Jericho continued to grow. Now, as 2019 sees both men in the upstart AEW Wrestling, the Canadian wrestling heritage should remain strong as wrestling heads to an exciting new future.
9 HIS FIRST GIMMICK WAS AS AN OTAKU GAMER
Kenny Omega is not just one of the best professional wrestlers in the world but he is also a great video gamer. He and the Young Bucks showed up at the E3 2018 convention to battle New Day in a massive video game battle. However, this shouldn't come as a surprise because Omega has loved video games since he was a kid.
Omega started his career as a 16-year-old in an indie wrestling promotion in Winnipeg called TRCW and his first gimmick was as an otaku gamer. He even used the Hadouken move from the classic fighting game Street Fighter.
8 COMPETED ON NWA'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY SHOW
When people think of Kenny Omega, they think of New Japan Pro Wrestling. There are also those who know that Omega has played a role in Ring of Honor Wrestling, and also hardcore fans who know about his WWE roots. However, Omega was also part of the oldest wrestling promotion in America's huge 50th-anniversary show.
Kenny Omega wrestled at the NWA 50th Anniversary show in 2004 and it wasn't just a basic match. Omega was in a title match at the show and battled Petey Williams for the TNA X-Division Championship -- a match he lost. He later held the NWA Canada X-Division Championship.
7 WAS PART OF WWE DEVELOPMENTAL
After his work in Canada and a stint in World League Wrestling in Missouri, WWE invited Kenny Omega to a tryout with their company. He impressed and in 2005 was sent to Deep South Wrestling in Georgia, which at that time was the WWE developmental territory.
However, things did not go well for Omega there. After just 10 months, he requested his immediate release from the company. Later in interviews, Omega said that he was not happy there and said that Bill DeMott, Jody Hamilton and Bob Holly were the big reasons he wasn't interested in continuing to work for the company.
6 WORKED IN ROH BEFORE NJPW
After his release from WWE, Kenny Omega went back to Winnipeg and competed in PCW again where he wrestled names like A.J. Styles, Petey Williams and even Ultimo Dragon. After also working in Jersey All Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor took notice of the young superstar.
Omega made his Ring of Honor debut in 2008 and lost a series of matches to veteran stars. It was a proving ground and he soon moved up the ladder and even picked up wins over ROH champion Austin Aries. He worked there until 2010 when he started working more in Japanese wrestling promotions and returned recently in a partnership between the companies.
5 WENT TO JAPAN BECAUSE OF KOTA IBUSHI
Kenny Omega was doing a good job working in the United States and Canada but he made a huge decision that was the best of his career. Omega noticed another young wrestler competing in Japan named Kota Ibushi. He sent a tape of his wrestling to DDT Pro-Wrestling and a promo challenging Ibushi and they brought him in for a match.
That was the start of a long relationship as Omega worked with DDT from 2008 until 2014 and New Japan Pro Wrestling from 2010 until 2019. He and Ibushi became close friends and even created a tag team together known as the Golden Lovers.
4 WRESTLED A YOUNG GIRL
If anyone listens to the rants of Jim Cornette, they know that he absolutely hates Kenny Omega. There might be other reasons but the biggest complaint Cornette has is that Omega wrestled a nine-year-old girl in a match. Cornette hates anything that makes wrestling look fake and this was the tipping point.
The girl was named Haruka and this was in DDT Pro-Wrestling in Japan. The match actually ended in a time limit draw, crazily enough. She actually kept wrestling for a year after that before retiring. While Cornette blasts the match, Haruka was a legitimately trained wrestler and had solid potential for her age.
3 HE HAS JAPANESE CITIZENSHIP
Kenny Omega became a massive star in Japan and it looked at times like he was not going to return to North America outside of small appearances. He loved Japan so much that he got his Japanese citizenship to live there as well. On top of wrestling there, Omega took it seriously and learned the language -- something many American stars don't bother to do.
It made Kenny Omega a major star to Japanese fans as well as American fans who followed NJPW. He ended up winning the IWJP Jr. title twice, the heavyweight title once, IC title once, U.S. title once, and three different tag titles. He also held nine titles in DDT Pro-Wrestling.
2 KENNY OMEGA IS STRAIGHT EDGE
When one thinks of a straight-edge superstar, CM Punk comes to mind. Punk even made it part of his gimmick -- no drinking, no smoking, no drugs. Kenny Omega has also said that he is also straight edge, and it is really not a surprise in today's world of professional wrestling.
While wrestlers from yesteryear spent as much time partying or hanging out at bars as they did working out, today's stars are very different. Wrestlers today seem to prefer to hang out and play video games rather than drink and party, and maybe that will allow the wrestlers today to have longer life spans than those who have died young over the past few decades.
1 IS NOW CO-VICE PRESIDENT OF AEW WRESTLING
Kenny Omega finally decided to leave Japan and return to North America in 2019. After almost a decade as one of Japan's top stars, Omega signed a four-year contract and took on the role as one of the co-vice presidents of All Elite Wrestling, alongside The Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes.
Omega will make his in-ring debut as a member of the AEW roster at AEW Double or Nothing on May 25 in a one-on-one match with Chris Jericho, a rematch from NJPW. On top of that, he will also work as an executive in the office, helping to bring in new talent and kickstart what many hope will be the next big thing in professional wrestling.