Kenny Omega spoke with Rolling Stone Japan about his in-ring style, who he looks to in NJPW to bring the company to a higher level, and what wrestlers need to be at the top. Here are some of the highlights as transcribed by NJPW Announcer Chris Charlton:
Hiroshi Tanahashi critiquing Omega's in-ring style:
"I understand that Tanahashi must feel disappointed that a wrestler like me is at the top of the heap. But to say I have no grace? I'd say that applies to him, not me. To suggest that mine is a style that isn't New Japan-like is a big problem. It's saying Tanahashi's style, the style that presents himself as 'The Ace,' is the only style that's correct. I absolutely understand and respect that Tanahashi did so much to pull NJPW out of the dark ages, but from there, recently, the ones that have brought us to this awesome level have been Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, and of course, the best bout machine, Kenny Omega."
Who impresses him in NJPW as the company looks to expand towards a more global audience:
"I don't want this to just be about wrestling fans, but anyone. That they can see me and fall in love with wrestling in an instant. Hardcore, comedy, strong style, none of those bulls--- labels. Just knowing that if I'm in the ring, I'm doing everything to provide the best bout. Guys who only know and respect the NJPW strong style don't have their focus on a global audience and can't hope to attain it. I respect Okada, Naito, and IBUSHI the most in New Japan. They don't fit in easy boxes and they do care about worldwide fans. Like Naito, he's an orthodox strong style guy, but threw that out in favor of a lucha influence and created something new. Okada, too. And IBUSHI, there's only one IBUSHI. It's important to have that individuality in order to keep improving the quality of NJPW, and keep amazing fans. I absolutely feel my style is the best, but I would never look down at another wrestler's style like Tanahashi does."
Elements that wrestlers need to be at the top:
"The three most important things for a top wrestler? First, passion. There are too many matches that get over in the moment, but a few days later, nobody remembers. Well, that's not just in New Japan. That's caused by a lack of passion. Then, intellect. IQ, maybe. For high level offense, you need to be smart, read things three moves ahead. I like to say I'm playing chess while others play checkers. There's something to checkers, it's a fine game, but someone playing that is not on the level of someone that can play chess. Then, physical ability. A lot of people read into that wrong, and try and become bodybuilders, but in wrestling today, you need to have a body that can give and take some violent punishment. You have to be an Olympic level athlete. You can impress some people with a gigantic body, but you can't move people with a top class match like that."
Kenny on his own style pic.twitter.com/asydcxAunm— chris charlton (@reasonjp) December 18, 2018
Kenny on what elements wrestlers need. pic.twitter.com/Qu1zKO5YkK— chris charlton (@reasonjp) December 18, 2018