Before leaving New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Kenny Omega made sure to let Will Ospreay and Jay White know that they had an important role to play moving forward.
Kenny Omega and The Elite worthy face of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s western expansion. The success of Kenny Omega and the Bullet Club overall allowed for New Japan Pro-Wrestling merchandise to be sold in Hot Topic stores and allowed for New Japan to have American super shows such as G1 SuperCard at Madison Square Garden.
When Kenny, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, and Cody Rhodes left NJPW to form AEW, a huge spot opened up at the top of the card for New Japan and there was no longer a western face of the expansion that the company seemed to be building around from 2017 to 2019.
Speaking with Sports Illustrated, Kenny Omega revealed that before he left New Japan, he told Will Ospreay, who made the jump to the heavyweight division after Omega left, and Jay White that the future of the western expansion for New Japan Pro-Wrestling and any growth that the promotion received would be up to them.
“Before I left New Japan, I pulled aside Ospreay and Jay White,” Omega says. “I don’t even know if I should tell this story, but I will. I told both, ‘This company, at least the western expansion and the pride of the foreigners, it’s all in your hands. They’re going to look to you to carry this thing, so you’ve got to do it.’ I said it to Jay and Ospreay knowing it was a likely scenario, but also hoping to light a fire under both of them.”
He continued, commenting on Will Ospreay's injury that recently forced him to vacate the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship which Kenny Omega once proudly held.
“For Ospreay, he’d really came into his own,” Omega says. “He made a complete career shift, and he was going to be a fantastic champion. He made changes to his body, he made changes to his style, his look, his demeanor. He became the person that he needed to be the champion of that company. Unfortunately, becoming champion wasn’t enough for him. He tried to fill my shoes.
“Physically, even though he is one of the most gifted performers to ever step foot in the ring, there is only one Kenny Omega—and you can’t fill those shoes. Thus, now his belt is vacant, so perhaps it was always meant to be my belt and my belt alone. That’s not me making a firm statement as to whether I’ll make a venture out there, just that there is no one there that can fill my shoes or override my legacy. When Ospreay comes back, he’ll have to re-analyze who he is and who he’s meant to be, because he’s not meant to be me.”
Next for Kenny Omega will be an AEW Championship defense against PAC and Orange Cassidy at AEW Double Or Nothing on Sunday, May 30. He will then follow that up with a defense of the Unified IMPACT Wrestling World Heavyweight Championship against Moose at IMPACT Against All Odds on Saturday, June 12.