Per the former IWGP Heavyweight Champion himself in a new interview with Tokyo Sport, Kenny Omega is leaving New Japan Pro Wrestling.
In a move sure to send the recent speculation surrounding his future into overdrive, 'The Cleaner' claims he needs to take time off after losing to company ace Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 13, where his IWGP reign ended at 209 days on 4 January.
“There is no real place for me to fit, so it’s best for me not to be in NJPW. I can’t be there working under Tanahashi. I don’t think he’s surpassed me, don’t think he’s better. If we can, I want to face him again. But I need time away, and not just from New Japan.”
Omega isn't scheduled to wrestle on NJPW's next two tours (the CMLL collaboration, Fantasticamania, which kicks off next week, and February's New Beginning). Elite-affiliated wrestlers, Kenny included, were completely absent from New Year Dash!! (NJPW's rough 'Raw after 'Mania' equivalent) on 5 January as well. His New Japan contract expires at the end of this month.
The article continues, stating that Omega will now choose between WWE and All Elite Wrestling. Both have been mentioned extensively over the past few weeks. Vince McMahon's promotion reportedly made a 'fantastic' offer to the Canadian last week, while AEW will be led by Kenny's friends in Cody and The Young Bucks, and although the brand is no more than a logo and a handful of contracts at the moment, they've got the money.
Two intoxicating ideas, but taking Kenny's quote at face value might be a mistake. This is professional wrestling, 'The Cleaner's' skill at working the masses is bettered only by his in-ring virtuosity, and while Tokyo Sport is a serious news outlet, it has been used to push wrestling storylines forward before. November saw them claim Tetsuya Naito walked out in a restaurant meeting with WWE officials just to push his 'tranquilo' persona.
Indeed, this is a deeper, more complicated situation than Omega, NJPW, and Tokyo Sport are letting on, and one with a number of potential outcomes.
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