THE RANT: Kenny Omega - The Best Bout Machine Needed the Best Mouth Machine

Posted By James Walsh on 12/10/20

Though there have been a lot of reasons given for why Kenny Omega's run in #AEW wasn't going well before his recent heel turn, I think I have a good perspective on it and it is one that is often overlooked due to political reasons attached to the concept that we have shrunken or eliminated borders. We haven't and the differences in culture still exists. For example, John Cena would not work if you put him in an NJPW ring unless he did what Hulk Hogan did and worked a totally different style for a totally different audience while over there. Kenny Omega, to his credit, DID try to work a different style that he, or they, thought would work better to an American audience instead of the Japanese audience he won over. The result? A popcorn fart.

Now, I know what you're going to say. "But he's getting over huge now and is just doing his Japanese gimmick." Let me ask you, why do you think Don Callis is with him? Because Callis is doing the job Kenny can't do and he's adapting that persona from Japan for consumption in North America. And, in that sense, this is genius.

I'll be blunt. Kenny's work in Japan impressed me from a conceptual point of view. He looked like a million bucks and some of those matches were exciting to watch. But, I've never been able to fully get into his psychology or lack there of. For example, if the V Trigger is a signature move and is supposed to deal more damage than a typical move, why does he through 347 of them in every big match? At what point should the skull bone of his opponent not become the consistency of apple sauce after that number of strikes? I remember he gave a jobber during the pandemic era at least 8 V Triggers and the jobber, who I can't even name, kicked out of those strikes. That should, by all rights, make that move impotent to all viewers going forward. It didn't. But, it kind of did for me. It would be like having a jobber kick out of the Macho Man's jumping over the top rope clothesline where he draped their neck over the top rope and slingshot them back into the ring. If Chad Duffy could kick out of that, why would it be a set up for Macho's finisher, the top rope elbow drop, on a star like Ted DiBiase? DiBiase is much more durable than Chad Duffy. So, why even sell the move at all? Are you buying what I'm selling here?

Americans have a set psychology. We like logical stories where there is a good guy and a bad guy - A guy we can relate to and a guy we associate as being a dick. Those are not "tropes" (a new word dip shits are throwing around online) of a forgone age. It is the backbone of all wrestling psychology in the United States. So, by Don Callis being the biggest dick he can be and Kenny going along with it, Kenny is a dick by association. He's a heel. Americans compute that. We still don't know what the f*** the girls with brooms are except the resident helmet shiners in the locker room if this were any other age in history except right now. But, Americans do get the concept of a heel manager. So, we see Don Callis as that and Kenny joining him in being a heel, Kenny is then a heel in our minds eye.

The problem is Kenny still works like he's in Japan thinking we're all amazed by his V Triggers, Snap Dragons that no one sells at least once in every match because no one understands that Hogan, Sting, and the Road Warriors could get away with taking a big move and standing up like nothing happened but Joey Janela should be hospitalized and on a feeding tube after taking a move by a star, and One Winged Angels. In fact, the One Winged Angel is the one move I will give credit to Kenny for Americanizing. No one gets out of that move. A finisher that actually finishes people? Hot damn! What won't they think of next? But, other than that, Kenny's matches are just high spots that don't amount to anything and the match circulates entirely around the finish being delivered without even working a body part to get to that point. That might give Dave Meltzer douche chills and make him give 7 stars. It does nothing for me.

So, in closing, I love that Kenny is adapting back to his NJPW persona. But, he's not getting over because of that only. He's getting over because of Don Callis Americanizing his performance into being a heel. And, if you view that as a "trope of the past", you're part of the problem.