Photo Credit: Courtney Rose, Faceturn Photography
You can do away will all those dreamed-up scenarios of Kenny Omega bursting through the curtains at the Royal Rumble to make his WWE debut. The Cleaner will remain a New Japan Pro Wrestling star, at least until 2019.
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Sean Radican of PWTorch), Omega has signed a new deal that keeps him with NJPW until next year.
His Wrestle Kingdom 12 battle with Chris Jericho had some fans envisioning Omega sliding over to WWE to continue the feud. The fact that the sports entertainment giant has signed NJPW talent like Shinsuke Nakamura and Finn Balor in recent years has had many wonder if Omega is next. The bigger a star Omega becomes, the louder that kind of noise will grow.
But the IWGP United States heavyweight champ has little incentive to make a switch next year or otherwise.
Omega simply doesn’t need the WWE machine. He’s one of the most talked about wrestlers as it is. He’s producing at a Hall of Fame level. He’s headlining major shows and facing elite competition.
And Japan has never seemed like a stopgap for him. Amid all the title wins and Match of the Year candidates, it looks as if he’s having the time of his life.
NJPW OnTheRoad Kenny Omega #1
Heating up in LA w/the IWGP US title tourney!
“It’s no secret that I love the country and Japan has always felt like a second home to me,” Omega told Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated ahead of Wrestle Kingdom 12.
NJPW is no minor-league outfit, either.
Wrestler for wrestler, it has the better roster than WWE. It’s top-level stars regularly deliver at an all-world level. If Omega stays with NJPW, he can continue to work with guys like Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi and Minoru Suzuki.
8.13 両国大会 より、ケニー@KennyOmegamanX の怒涛の攻撃からの苛烈なVトリガーが炸裂！！#G127 ケニー選手の全試合は #njpwworld で！
#njpw #njpwworld https://t.co/WUVuQSz3Sl
With WWE, he may not be mixing it up with near the same quality of opponent.
Omega only has to look at Nakamura’s run on SmackDown so far to justify any hesitation about leaving the Far East. The King of Strong Style has spun his wheels for the most part, with poorly written stories and subpar matches against Baron Corbin and Jinder Mahal.
That’s certainly no upgrade over working the main event at the Tokyo Dome against the likes of Okada.
The buzz around the company continues to grow, too. NJPW has made it clear it wants to expand its reach in the U.S. And it has put Omega at the center of that move. He seems to take great pride in that role.
WWE on ESPN @WWEonESPN
Sunday was a historic day for @njpwglobal & new IWGP U.S. champ @KennyOmegamanX at the G1 Special in USA #G1USA https://t.co/gjZavwDLTu https://t.co/9x8eta40E4
Talking to Harald Math of Sportskeeda, Omega said, “Every performance since I’ve gotten the ball has been an example of the excitement I want to bring as the company’s focus.”
Omega will be no flag-bearer with WWE. Where he lands in its hierarchy would be uncertain.
He could be an NXT talent for a long stretch. He may be an upper midcarder. He may be asked to be comic relief in a tag team with Goldust. Who knows.
Why trade the marquee for a potential midcard position? Why move away from a place that embraces who you are for one that may not? Why try to angle for a WWE paycheck when NJPW can shell out plenty of cash?
Omega is at home. He is a driving force for a surging pro wrestling promotion.
It’s hard to imagine him stepping away from that in 2019 or beyond.
But that won’t stop the speculation. It won’t prevent interviewers from bringing it up. And each time his contract nears expiration, the Omega-to-WWE speculation will rise to the surface once more.
Lead photo by Courtney Rose.