One year ago, Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks were preparing for Wrestle Kingdom 13. Omega was set to headline the event, defending his IWGP Heavyweight Title against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Meanwhile, The Young Bucks were challenging for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles.
While All Elite Wrestling wasn't officially announced, there was enough smoke to have fans believe that Omega and the Bucks would be leaving NJPW following the event to be part of the formation of AEW. On January 1, 2019, the smoke turned into a full-blown fire as AEW became a reality.
At Wrestle Kingdom 13, Omega would lose the IWGP Heavyweight Title to Tanahashi while Matt & Nick Jackson failed to capture the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. The trio were not part of New Year Dash 2019, which caused more tension between NJPW and The Elite.
"We felt betrayed. I found out we were getting kicked off New Year Dash," said Matt while sitting with Nick, Omega, and Michael Nakazawa on Wrestlers Ordering Room Service.
When AJ Styles left for WWE in 2016, NJPW shot an angle at New Year Dash, kicking him out of Bullet Club.
When discussing the build-up for his bout against Tanahashi, Omega voiced his frustration over how he was portrayed.
"There's a huge, long story with the build-up to my match against Tanahashi. They completely changed the narrative. At first, it was supposed to be a 50/50 story. People were supposed to be torn. Is it this new age of thinking or the golden age of thinking? Once they knew I was [leaving], they did whatever they could, a complete media blitz to make it look like I was this terrible person. That's what inspired me to make the [video game vignette]. I fronted the whole thing because I knew it wasn't going to clear. I handed it to them, edited and everything, and they're like, 'We're not showing that.' You're not showing it? The President didn't like it, Gedo didn't like it. Thankfully, I owned it, so I said, 'Here ya go, Nick.' You put it up on BTE, it got a ton of media and press, went viral, and NJPW hit me up and was like, 'If we edit the parts we didn't like, can we use that video? Can you give it to New Japan World?' I'm like, 'Oh, sorry, I already gave it to Nick,'" he recalled.
Omega has since used a video game vignette on AEW Dynamite to explain his friends turning on him, with references made to NJPW and Kota Ibushi.
Along with leaving NJPW, the Young Bucks, and to a lesser extent Omega, were also leaving ROH.
"That was rough month because before that, we had pretty much gotten kicked out of Ring of Honor. Of course, we were leaving, but it felt like we were physically kicked out," said Nick.
Matt added, "Bad breakups. It all culminated at Tokyo Dome. We were moving on to this new, big thing, but it felt like we didn't get the closure that we deserve. We didn't want to leave, because once we walk out those doors, this is it. Our New Japan career -- maybe that's the last time we'll ever do it."
Despite leaving to help form AEW, Omega had it written into his contract that he could return to NJPW at any point. The Young Bucks confirmed that they have the same language written into their AEW contracts. AEW also tried to form a working relationship with ROH and NJPW, but to no avail.
"The part that was strange for me was that, I always made my intentions clear that being part of Japan or having roots in Japan was important and I was there to help them and anybody at any point in time. I even had it written in my contract with AEW to do so," said Omega.
Nick continued, "We did too. Even after all this happened, we had meetings with ROH and New Japan to say, 'We're open to work with you guys. Let's do this.' And nothing happened. Even after all that."
When reflecting back on how NJPW handled his departure and how they moved forward, Omega said, "When I think about the business of it, I don't have any gripes. Okay, it was a bad business decision. I do take it personally, though. I take it personally because a lot of fans were crushed. I think it was very irresponsible to do that. They tried to cover for it by making a new version of me when they should have let everyone be themselves. Now, they're getting into that groove."
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