Since parting ways with New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2019, Kenny Omega has established himself as a key component of upstart company All Elite Wrestling both in front of the camera — he’s currently one half of the AEW Tag Team Champions with “Hangman” Adam Page — as well as behind it, where he serves as an executive vice president, contributing to the company’s creative direction.
While he’s clearly doing what he wants at this point in his career, it hasn’t gone unnoticed by fans and detractors alike that his NJPW “Best Bout Machine” days seem to be behind him — heck, Omega himself said as much in a Twitter Q&A last month. But in a recent interview with Sporting News, the 19-year veteran commented on those who think he is overrated or not living up to expectations in AEW.
I could compare it to when your favorite player perhaps gets traded to another team. When your favorite player gets traded to another team, and he’s initially not the top scorer or leading in assists or playing the way that he used to play like he did for the home team, your team, it’s easy to criticize them and say that you made a big mistake, and that you’ll never be the same guy again and that it’s all downhill.
Because I decided to take a different path in my career, because I’m not doing these long, drawn-out 45 (-minute) to one-hour matches in singles competition, it doesn’t mean that I’m not the same guy. This isn’t about tooting my own horn, but it’s like I’m now helping run a company that has live television every Wednesday. I’m part of a very successful tag team with “Hangman” Adam Page, a guy that I have a lot of chemistry with, and I’m existing within a division of guys that are amongst the top of all the tag teams on all of the planet and showing that it takes more than just having a good long singles match to be called the best in the world.
In ways, this is all me in my creative peak. I mean, I’m talking about my storyline with Kota Ibushi. I don’t know if you call that “The Best Bout Machine” Kenny Omega or not. But to me, that’s something different. It’s these layers of these things that that go into making what I think makes a true best in the world — not just one guy that has the same kind of match over and over and over again. Because I do not have that same match over and over again, does that not make me just as good? […] My critics will say I have done nothing, and that’s OK. They can say it, but the truth is far from it.
Perhaps we’ll see more of that “old” Kenny Omega peek through tonight on AEW Dynamite, as he is set to face Pac in a 30-minute Iron Man Match live on TNT.