All Elite Wrestling became an immediate competitor to WWE when the promotion began in 2019, landing top talents in Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes, Chris Jericho, The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson), and more before eventually adding Jon Moxley at their first pay-per-view event.
The promise of a viable number two promotion with a television deal had been made to many wrestlers since WCW closed in 2001, but Tony Khan was able to deliver.
Speaking to Swerve Strickland, Monteasy, & Rich Latta on the Swerve City podcast, Omega recalled his first conversation with Khan.
"I went to the room at the Tokyo Dome hotel and [Tony] was just talking. I could definitely get a grasp that he was a historian. He knew facts about everything. Super ultra fan type stuff and interesting data to know because he was able to predict the wrestling forecast and things and why it is actually realistic that we could pull it off. I remember him saying, and he seemed very committed, ‘I’m going to start a promotion. Whether I can get a TV deal or not, I’m going to find a way to have our product be seen, whether it be buying my own streaming service or what. I’m going to do this.’ For me, it was that timing of, there was never going to be a time where Jericho was going to be available, [Jim Ross] was going to be available, Mox, myself, the Bucks, Cody, Hangman (Page), people you can build a foundation of a promotion around. If it wasn’t then, it was kind of never. I thought, ‘I don’t know if I want to challenge American wrestling right now.’ I was so happy and content in New Japan, but I was also worried about my longevity there," he said.
Kenny continued, discussing his style in Japan compared to how he adapted to American television.
"I developed a style, to my own fault, that was very physically demanding. It came to a point where, if I didn’t give people that, people would think I’m a shell of what I used to be or I was phoning it in. I was scared of, how long was my career going to last if I don’t do this now? I also wanted to have a chance to give a new version of myself that people could also identify with. If I went back to Japan, I could take the old Kenny Omega ‘Cleaner’ ‘Best Bout Machine’ and then there’s also the AEW American side of Kenny that I could splice that with, kind of mix it in. Then, I have someone who could maybe wrestler four, five, maybe ten years longer than I could have. It was about testing myself, trying a new locale, diversifying as a performer. Whether I believe it or not, it’s not important, people did believe that I was one of the best doing it. I didn’t feel I deserved to be called that if I couldn’t succeed in America or doing a television style," he said.
Khan would land a television deal with TNT leading to the premiere of AEW Dynamite on October 2, 2019. Omega competed in the main event of the first episode of Dynamite, teaming with the Young Bucks in a loss to Chris Jericho, Santana & Ortiz.
Elsewhere during the interview, Omega praised Cody for the job he did during his time as co-Executive Vice President. You can find Omega's comments by clicking here.
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