Kenny Omega is one half of the AEW Tag Team Champions and still considered one of the best wrestlers in the world.
But in AEW, he's not having "classic" singles matches like he had in NJPW. The lack of an Omega classic in AEW has led online fans to believe that maybe he's no longer the "Best Bout Machine," which was his claim in NJPW.
Speaking to Steven Muehlhausen of Sporting News, Omega addressed the criticism.
"It's funny because I feel like when people … 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," he said. "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."
While Omega might not be having 45-minute singles matches, he has shown off a different side, competing in tag team action, intergender matches, shorter sprints, and a Lights Out match against Jon Moxley. Omega believes his diversity is proof that he's just as good, if not better, than he's ever been.
"You got to be a good tag team wrestler. You have to be a good six-man tag team wrestler. You have to be good at your gimmick matches. You have to be able to appeal to the non-wrestling fan. So, I'm not only proud of sure, "The Best Bout Machine" version of Kenny Omega that had the wrestlers wrestling matches the 60-minutes classics with (Kazuchika) Okada (in New Japan Pro Wrestling). I'm just as proud of that as I am with my mixed tag team with Riho (former AEW women's champion) as a tag team partner. I'm just as proud of those matches as I am as the lights out match with Jon Moxley. 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?" he questioned.
"It just makes me something different. I'm trying to round out. I'm trying to fill the gaps around the edges and make myself a complete package in all of professional wrestling. That even goes beyond what I do in the ring, but actually behind the scenes too. There's a business aspect to it — to balance all of that and still trying to kind of check off these boxes. Now, I even have a belt in AAA (Mexican-based promotion). I've went to a country that I never thought I'd be able to perform in and won "Match of the Year." I went back to my first promotion in DDT and go into Soloreal Goku when they haven't been able to do high numbers there and did a good number. These are all things I can hang my hat on, and I'm very, very proud of it. My critics will say I have done nothing, and that's OK. They can say it, but the truth is far from it."
Omega will be in for a long singles match on AEW Dynamite when he faces Pac in a 30-minute Iron Man match.
Fightful will have live coverage of AEW Dynamite beginning at 8 p.m. ET.