Kenny Omega

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Kenny Omega
Kenny Omega 2016.jpg
Omega in May 2016
Birth name Tyson Smith
Born (1983-10-16) October 16, 1983 (age 33)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Residence Katsushika, Tokyo, Japan[1][2]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Kenny Omega
Scott Carpenter[3]
Young Master Togo[4]
Billed height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)[5][6][7]
Billed weight 92 kg (203 lb)[6][7]
Billed from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada[8]
Trained by Bobby Jay[9]
Vance Nevada[5]
Dave Taylor[10]
Debut February 2000[7]

Tyson Smith[1][9] (born October 16, 1983) is a Canadian professional wrestler, best known by his ring name Kenny Omega.[9] He is signed to New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), where he is a former one-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion, two-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, one-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion and a two-time NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion. He is also a one-time winner of NJPW's premier tournament, the G1 Climax, having won it in 2016 and being the first non-Japanese wrestler to do so. He also appears for the American promotion Ring of Honor (ROH).

He is also known for his work on the Japanese independent circuit, appearing in promotions like Dramatic Dream Team (DDT), where he is a former one-time KO-D Openweight Champion, three-time KO-D Tag Team Champion, two-time KO-D 6-Man Tag Team Champion and one-time DDT Extreme Division Champion. He has also worked for All Japan Pro Wrestling, where he is a former World Junior Heavyweight Champion.

He has wrestled in several North American independent promotions, including California-based Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, where he is a former PWG World Champion and winner of the 2009 Battle of Los Angeles tournament, Jersey All Pro Wrestling, and Canada-based Premier Championship Wrestling.

In NJPW and ROH, Omega is a member of Bullet Club and has served as the stable's fourth and current leader since January 5, 2016, following the departure of previous leader A.J. Styles. He is also one third of the Bullet Club sub-group The Elite, along with The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson).

Professional wrestling career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Growing up, Smith played ice hockey as a goalie.[1] He first became interested in a career in professional wrestling after one of his Transcona Collegiate Institute (TCI) friends began training with Top Rope Championship Wrestling (TCW) in Winnipeg.[1] Smith ended his ice hockey career plans and also began training under TCW promoter Bobby Jay,[1] whom he had previously met while working at a local IGA store.[9] After training with Jay for a year, the 16-year-old Smith began working for TCW, where over the next two years he eventually developed the gimmick of "Kenny Omega", a Hawaiian surfer.[9][11] The surfer gimmick was later dropped and replaced with an otaku gamer gimmick, which Smith further accentuated by using the Hadouken from Street Fighter.[9] In 2001, Smith graduated from TCI and enrolled in university, but dropped out during his first year in order to fully concentrate on making a career out of professional wrestling.[1]

Premier Championship Wrestling (2001–2005)[edit]

In December 2001, Smith joined another local Winnipeg-based promotion, Premier Championship Wrestling.[5] Appearing on the promotion's official launch event, headlined by Eddie Guerrero and attended by 1700 fans, he made an impressive debut against his former trainer Mentallo on March 3, 2002.[5] The match was later named PCW's Match of the Year.[5] Afterwards he went on to form a short lived tag team with Mentallo.[5] By this time, he quickly became a rising star in PCW and the Canadian independent circuit. He was featured in director Guy Maddin's short film Sissy Boy Slap Party, a teaser for 2003 film The Saddest Music in the World.

The following year, Omega defeated Adam Knight for the PCW Heavyweight Championship on September 18, 2003.[5] Although successfully defending the title against Chi Chi Cruz, he lost the title to Rawskillz on November 26.[5] While in the Canadian Wrestling Federation later that year, he also won the vacant CWF Heavyweight Championship defeating TJ Bratt in a tournament final on December 29, 2003 before losing the title to Zack Mercury a month later.[12] He also regained the PCW Heavyweight Title from Rwskillz less than two months later, however he was forced to vacate the title on March 18, 2004 after suffering an injury.[5]

Later that year, he teamed with his former rival Rawskillz to defeat Shawn Houston and Chris Raine for the PCW Tag Team Championship on August 19.[13] Their reign was brief, however, as they lost the title back to Houston and Raine the following month.[13] On October 17, 2004, Omega appeared at the National Wrestling Alliance's 56th Anniversary Show, where he unsuccessfully challenged Petey Williams for the TNA X Division Championship. In March 2005, he lost to Tommy Knoxville at Millennium Wrestling Federation's ULTRA card.[14]

Omega won an 8-man tournament, defeating the likes of Nate Hardy, Chris Sabin and Amazing Red to win the first Premier Cup and the NWA Canadian X Division Title on June 2, 2005.[5] On July 30, he made a one-time appearance for TCW Professional Wrestling when he teamed with The Scorpion to face The Axe and Bobby Jay at the Grand Beach Entertainment Center in Grand Beach, Manitoba.[15]

In August 2005, Omega attacked Christopher Daniels and challenged him to a match, seemingly turning heel as a result. Daniels declined the match, however. After losing the NWA Canadian X Division title to Rawskillz on September 15, Omega attended the Pro Wrestling Noah Camp in Harley Race's World League Wrestling in Missouri. He later lost to Keith Walker at a WLW show in Eldon, Missouri, which was later aired on Japanese television.[16] After the match, Smith was invited to a week-long tryout by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).[1]

After facing Johnny Devine at an Action Wrestling Entertainment event on November 26, Omega made his final PCW appearance after announcing his developmental deal with WWE and made a farewell speech to the crowd on December 1, 2005.[5]

World Wrestling Entertainment[edit]

Deep South Wrestling (2005–2006)[edit]

Omega in November 2008

In October 2005, Smith was sent to Deep South Wrestling (DSW), a developmental territory for World Wrestling Entertainment, to be evaluated by Bill DeMott and other talent scouts. As a result of his performance, which included try-out matches observed by Johnny Ace[11] and Kenta Kobashi,[17] he was offered a WWE developmental contract and assigned to Deep South Wrestling on a full-time basis.[11] He made his debut on October 27, 2005, losing to Mac Daddy Johnson.[18]

On May 4, 2006, Omega teamed with Heath Miller in a losing effort against Team Elite (Mike Knox and Derrick Neikirk).[19] After losing to Matt Striker, Eric Pérez and Sonny Siaki during the next few weeks, he scored his first victory after defeating Oleg Prudius by countout in a dark match on June 1.[20] Although he and Antonio Mestre lost to Urban Assault (Eric Perez and Sonny Siaki) in a dark match on June 15, he defeated Heath Miller in another dark match several days later.[20]

Omega then briefly formed a tag team with Tommy Suede, which included a loss against Urban Assault on August 3.[20] However, they defeated Matt Striker and Cru Jones one week later.[20] On August 17, Omega lost to Oleg Prudius and, after defeating Cru Jones several days later, he requested his immediate release from his contract to return to Premier Championship Wrestling.[20]

Smith has stated in several interviews that his time spent with DSW was poor and has been particularly critical of promoters Bill DeMott and Jody Hamilton,[17] and trainer Bob Holly.[21] The most positive experience he had with WWE was being able to train with Dave Taylor, citing that before training with Taylor he did not know the basics and got by purely with his athleticism.[10] Smith has claimed that WWE has since approached him several times with a contract, including in the spring of 2014 and three times in 2015, but he has turned them all down.[22][23]

Return to PCW (2006–present)[edit]

After his release from WWE, Smith tried to find a career in mixed martial arts and entered a few Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournaments, before deciding to give professional wrestling one more chance.[1] In order to stand out, Smith reinvented his wrestling character and developed a new moveset, which he felt could not be duplicated.[1] On September 14, 2006, Omega made his return to PCW, defeating Rawskillz to earn a match with A.J. Styles, whom he also defeated in the main event the following week.[5] He defeated Mike Angels and Rawskillz among others during the next several weeks before losing to A.J. Sanchez on February 15, 2007.[5] Losing to Ozz on March 1, he and Nate Hardy lost to Team Impact (Robby Royce and Ozz) later that week.[5] During the next few weeks, Omega won victories over Kraven and Nate Hardy before entering the third annual PCW Premier Cup tournament.[5] Omega defeated Nate Hardy, AJ Sanchez and Petey Williams to win the tournament for a second time.[5]

Fighting to a no-contest with Mike Angels on June 30, he defeated AJ Sanchez on July 19 and defeated Mike Angels, AJ Sanchez and Adam Knight in a four-way match on August 23 for a match against Samoa Joe on September 27.[5] Omega lost his match to Samoa Joe in Winnipeg, Manitoba.[5] In October, Omega appeared in Starting Point, the first pay-per-view for Wrestling Fan Xperience, wrestling Último Dragón in a match lasting 25 minutes.[24] On January 31 Omega defeated Mike Angels to win the PCW Heavyweight Championship for the third time.[25] On March 6 Angels regained his title in a three-way match, which also included Jon Cutler.[25] However, just two weeks later Omega defeated Angels to win the Heavyweight Title for the fourth time.[25]

Pro Wrestling Syndicate (2007–2008)[edit]

Kenny Omega made his debut for Pro Wrestling Syndicate (PWS) on September 7, 2007 in a match where he was defeated by Danny Demanto in Garfield, NJ. After the match Omega was involved in a confrontation with Commissioner Necro Butcher. Omega returned to Pro Wrestling Syndicate on December 9, 2009 and picked up a singles victory against Davey Richards. On March 22, Omega was one of 12 independent wrestlers selected to compete at the first "Majestic Twelve Tournament" hosted by Pro Wrestling Syndicate at the supercard Majestic Mayhem in Yonkers, New York.[26] At the event, Omega teamed with Jerry Lynn to face Kevin Matthews and Tommy Suede. After defeating Jerry Lynn in the semi-finals, Omega fought to a no-contest with Devon Moore when they forced Jack Evans to submit at the same time.[27][28] On May 2, 2009 Omega lost to Devon Moore in a ladder match in Belleville, New Jersey. On May 17, Omega lost a 3-way match with PWS Heavyweight Champion Devon Moore and Danny Demanto at the Holy Cross High School in Queens, New York.

Jersey All Pro Wrestling (2007–2009, 2010–2012)[edit]

Omega as the JAPW Heavyweight Champion in November 2008

Omega made his debut for Jersey All Pro Wrestling on September 8, 2007, in a match, where he was defeated by Danny Demanto.[5] After losing to "The Black Machismo" Jay Lethal in a singles match and to Teddy Hart in a three-way match with Xavier, Omega scored his first JAPW victory on March 8, 2008, upsetting Low Ki and winning the JAPW Heavyweight Championship in Jersey City, New Jersey in only his fourth match with the promotion.[5] That same day, he was one of several wrestlers in attendance at WSU's first anniversary show in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey. Others at the event included Steve Mack, Danny Demanto, Ian Rotten, Kevin Matthews, Vicious Vinny, Inferno, Don Johnson.[29][30]

Omega's first JAPW Heavyweight title defense was on April 19, 2009, at Spring Massacre, where he retained his title against Frankie Kazarian in a Champions Challenge.[27][31] He defended his title against Danny Demanto and Grim Reefer during the next few weeks.[27] During his match with the Grim Reefer, Omega's opponent was injured at the start of the match was nearly stopped by the referee twice when Reefer had difficulty breathing.[32] After the match former two-time JAPW Heavyweight Champion Dan Maff returned to the promotion and aligned himself with Omega.[33]

On July 7, it was announced by Jersey All Pro Wrestling that Omega and several other wrestlers would take part in a fundraising event for the Beachwood Pine Beach Little League. Among those scheduled to appear were Rhino, The Latin American Xchange, Sonjay Dutt, Jay Lethal, Dan Maff, The Heavy Hitters (Monsta Mack and Havok) and the JAPW New Jersey State Champion Grim Reefer. The event was held at the Toms River Intermediate South Middle School in Beachwood, New Jersey on September 19, 2008.[34] On July 10, Omega successfully defended his title against Jon Cutler in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Cutler had previously won a tournament defeating "Outlaw" Adam Knight, Antonio Scorpio, Jr. and Mike Angels to win a title shot against Omega.[35]

After a disqualification loss to Rhino and a match that went to no contest with B-Boy, Omega was scheduled to defend his title on December 13, 2008, in a rematch against Low Ki at JAPW's 11th Anniversary Show.[5] Initially, Low Ki won the match, but the decision was reversed and Omega retained his title via disqualification due to Ki accidentally knocking down the referee prior to the finish.[5] On February 28, 2009, at Jersey City Rumble Omega lost the Heavyweight Title to Jay Lethal, after his associate Dan Maff turned on him, ending his reign at 357 days.[36] Omega's next JAPW appearance took place on December 10, 2010, when he competed in a six–way elimination match for the JAPW Light Heavyweight Championship. Omega was eliminated from the match by the eventual winner, Jushin Thunder Liger.[37][38] At the following day's show Omega defeated former rival Jay Lethal in a singles match.[37] On May 15, 2011, Omega defeated Liger in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during New Japan's first ever tour of the United States, to win the JAPW Light Heavyweight Championship.[39] Although JAPW has not held a show since April 14, 2012, in a July 2013 interview Omega said he would be interested in returning to the company citing he still held the JAPW Light Heavyweight Championship.[40] After returning from a hiatus on November 15, 2014, JAPW stripped Omega of the Light Heavyweight Championship.[41]

Ring of Honor (2008–2010, 2016–present)[edit]

On July 25, 2008, Omega made his Ring of Honor debut, losing to Delirious in Toronto, Ontario.[42] The following night, Omega made his Detroit debut at ROH New Horizons, losing to Silas Young.[43] After a losing streak, Omega gained his first victories in December and during his first year in ROH, scored two pinfall victories over the ROH World Champion Austin Aries.[44][45] On November 14, 2009, Omega received a shot at Aries' World Championship, but was unable to beat him for the title.[46] In 2010 Omega began working more regularly in Japan, making only six appearances for ROH throughout the year, with his match against Christopher Daniels on June 19 at Death Before Dishonor VIII being his final appearance for the promotion for nearly six years.[5][47]

In February 2016, it was reported that Omega had signed to become a regular part of the ROH roster.[48] He wrestled his return match on February 26 at the 14th Anniversary Show, where he and The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) successfully defended the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship against ACH, Kushida and Matt Sydal.[47]

Dramatic Dream Team/DDT Pro-Wrestling (2008–2014)[edit]

Omega in 2010

In 2006, Omega's friend showed him videos of Japanese promotion Dramatic Dream Team (DDT). Omega was captivated by DDT wrestler Kota Ibushi and wanted to work with him, so he filmed himself having a DDT-style match outside the confines of a wrestling ring and uploaded it as well as a video challenge to Ibushi on YouTube.[2] After seeing the videos DDT invited Omega to Japan to wrestle Ibushi.[2] Omega's tour of Japan with DDT began in early-August 2008.[49] He and Ibushi eventually formed a tag team named Golden☆Lovers, winning the KO-D Tag Team Championship. Wrestling in Japan had been one of Smith's dreams as the local scene appealed to his creative side.[1] Following WWE, where he was fully scripted by the promotion, he felt that in Japan he was able to show his personality and express himself.[2]

In 2011, Omega had a match with a nine-year-old girl named Haruka. Video of the match went viral, made international news and led to Omega receiving numerous death threats. The video was also seen by Mick Foley, who praised Omega's work as a heel, while asking why he was not on national television.[50][51]

In September 2011, Omega represented DDT in All Japan Pro Wrestling's 2011 Junior League, making his debut for the promotion on September 11.[52] After three wins and two losses, Omega finished second in his block and did not advance to the finals.[53] However, due to defeating eventual tournament winner Kai in his opening match, Omega was named the number one contender to his World Junior Heavyweight Championship following the tournament.[54] On October 23, Omega defeated Kai to become the new World Junior Heavyweight Champion.[55] Omega lost the title back to Kai on May 27, 2012, in his sixth title defense, ending his reign at 217 days.[56]

On July 8, Omega defeated Danshoku Dino to win the 2012 King of DDT tournament and earn a shot at his tag team partner Kota Ibushi's KO-D Openweight Championship.[57] Omega received his title shot on August 18 in the main event of DDT's 15th anniversary event in Nippon Budokan, but failed in his attempt to dethrone Ibushi.[58] Omega received another shot at the title on December 23, 2012, and defeated El Generico to win the KO-D Openweight Championship for the first time.[59] On January 27, 2013, Omega defeated Isami Kodaka in a title vs. title match to retain the KO-D Openweight Championship and win the DDT Extreme Division Championship.[60] After three successful title defenses, Omega lost the KO-D Openweight Championship to Shigehiro Irie on March 20, 2013.[61] On May 26, Omega once again became a double champion in DDT, when he, Gota Ihashi and Kota Ibushi defeated the Monster Army (Antonio Honda, Daisuke Sasaki and Yuji Hino) for the KO-D 6-Man Tag Team Championship.[62] After a reign of only 28 days, Omega, Ibushi and Ihashi lost the title to Antonio Honda, Hoshitango and Yuji Hino on June 23.[63] On August 25, Omega lost the DDT Extreme Division Championship to Danshoku Dino.[64] On January 26, 2014, Omega and Kota Ibushi defeated Yankee Nichokenju (Isami Kodaka and Yuko Miyamoto) and Konosuke Takeshita and Tetsuya Endo in a three-way match to win the KO-D Tag Team Championship.[65] On April 12, Omega and Ibushi became double champions, when they teamed with Daisuke Sasaki to defeat Team Drift (Keisuke Ishii, Shigehiro Irie and Soma Takao) for the KO-D 6-Man Tag Team Championship.[66] Their reign, however, lasted only 22 days, before they lost the title to Shuten-dōji (Kudo, Masa Takanashi and Yukio Sakaguchi) on May 4.[67] On September 28, Omega and Ibushi lost the KO-D Tag Team Championship to Konosuke Takeshita and Tetsuya Endo.[68] On October 26, Omega wrestled his final DDT match, where he and Ibushi defeated Danshoku Dino and Konosuke Takeshita.[69]

Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (2008–2010, 2012, 2014)[edit]

Omega after winning the 2009 Battle of Los Angeles to become the new PWG World Champion

On November 1, 2008, Omega made his Pro Wrestling Guerrilla debut as a heel at the 2008 Battle of Los Angeles, but ended up being eliminated from the tournament in the first round by local talent Brandon Bonham.[70] The next night, Omega was involved in a nine-man three-way tag team match consisting of wrestlers who had lost in the first round. In a memorable moment, during the match he was Irish whipped into the ropes by Davey Richards only for the force to snap the middle and bottom ropes, throwing Omega out of the ring.[71]

Three months later, Omega returned to the company at Express Written Consent, where he was defeated by El Generico,[72] after senior referee Rick Knox grew tired of Omega abusing him and hit him with a leaping clothesline.[73] On April 11, 2009 at Ninety-Nine, Omega picked up his first victory in PWG by defeating Davey Richards after a Croyt's Wrath.[74] The following day at PWG's hundredth show, Omega was defeated by Bryan Danielson.[75] At the event, Omega debuted his new tag team partner Chuck Taylor in a backstage segment, where they warned Generico to stay out of Reseda, before he was rescued by Colt Cabana. On May 22, 2009 at the Dynamite Duumvirate Tag Team Title Tournament, PWG's annual tag team title tournament, Omega and Taylor, known collectively as The Men of Low Moral Fiber, defeated the re-united Dark & Lovely (Human Tornado and Scorpio Sky) in the first round before being eliminated by the reigning World Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks in the semifinals of the tournament.[76] On June 28 at The Secret of Guerrilla Island, Omega wrestled Roderick Strong first to a double pin finish and then a time limit draw, before refusing to continue the match and walking out.[77] While Omega was touring outside the United States, Taylor defeated El Generico in a street fight on August 28 at Speed of Sound to earn the Men of Low Moral Fiber their second shot at the Bucks and the World Tag Team Title.[78] The title match took place on October 2 in the main event of Against the Grain, where the Bucks once again came out on top.[79]

On November 20, 2009, one year after making his debut for the company, Omega entered his second Battle of Los Angeles, which would this time be contested for the vacant World Championship. In the first round of the tournament, Omega defeated Kevin Steen, who was making his return to the company after a 15-month absence.[80] The following day, he defeated Dynasty members Scott Lost and Joey Ryan in the quarter and semifinal rounds, respectively, to make his way to the finals, where he defeated Roderick Strong to win both the 2009 Battle of Los Angeles and the vacant World Championship.[81] Following his title victory, Omega was attacked by Brian Kendrick and The Young Bucks, who became villains in the process while also turning Omega into a fan favorite, before being saved by his old foes El Generico, Colt Cabana and Rick Knox. Omega and his former rivals decided to put their past differences aside as they now shared a common enemy.[82] On February 27, 2010, at As the Worm Turns Omega lost the World Title to Davey Richards in his first defense.[83]

On October 27, 2012, Omega made his first appearance for PWG in over two and a half years, when he teamed with El Generico at Failure to Communicate in a tag team match, where they defeated The Young Bucks.[84] Omega returned to PWG on August 29, 2014, to take part in the 2014 Battle of Los Angeles weekend.[85] He made it to the semifinals of the tournament before losing to eventual tournament winner, Ricochet.[86]

New Japan Pro Wrestling[edit]

Golden☆Lovers (2010–2014)[edit]

On January 31, 2010, Omega made his debut for New Japan Pro Wrestling in a tag team match, where he and Kota Ibushi defeated Gedo and Jado via disqualification. During the match Jado suffered a legitimate neck injury from a suicide dive from Omega.[87] On June 1, Omega entered New Japan's two-week-long 2010 Best of the Super Juniors tournament, where he finished fourth in his block with four victories out of seven matches, thus failing to advance to the semifinals of the tournament.[88][89] After defeating Ryusuke Taguchi at a DDT show on August 29, 2010, Omega was granted a shot at his tag team partner Prince Devitt's IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.[90] On September 3, Omega made his return to New Japan, but was defeated by Devitt in the title match.[91] On October 11 at Destruction '10, Omega and Kota Ibushi defeated Devitt and Taguchi, the team known collectively as Apollo 55, to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.[92] On November 14, the Golden☆Lovers made their first successful title defense, defeating Devitt and Taguchi at a DDT show to set up a grudge match for the title with the 2010 Super J Tag League winners, Gedo and Jado.[93] The match against Gedo and Jado took place at another DDT show on December 26 and ended with the Golden☆Lovers retaining the title.[94] On January 23, 2011, at Fantastica Mania 2011, a New Japan and Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre co–promoted event in Tokyo, Omega and Ibushi lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship back to Devitt and Taguchi.[95][96] On May 26, Omega entered the 2011 Best of the Super Juniors and opened his tournament with a five match win streak, only to lose his last three matches and finish third in his block, narrowly missing the semifinals of the tournament.[97][98] On August 14, the Golden☆Lovers received a rematch for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, but were again defeated by Devitt and Taguchi.[99]

Omega returned to New Japan in May 2013 to take part in the 2013 Best of the Super Juniors, where he managed to win five out of his eight round-robin matches, advancing to the semifinals of the tournament.[100] On June 9, Omega was defeated in his semifinal match by Prince Devitt, following interference from his Bullet Club stable.[101] A year later, Omega returned to take part in New Japan's 2014 Best of the Super Juniors tournament from May 30 to June 6, finishing with a record of three wins and four losses with a loss against Taichi on the final day costing him a spot in the semifinals.[102][103]

Bullet Club (2014–present)[edit]

Main article: Bullet Club
Omega (far right) as a member of Bullet Club in early 2015

On October 3, 2014, New Japan held a press conference to announce that Omega had decided to sign with the promotion once his DDT contract expires on October 26.[104] Omega made his debut under a New Japan contract on November 8 at Power Struggle. Despite dismissing the idea of joining the villainous foreigner stable Bullet Club at his signing press conference, claiming that he did not consider himself a gaijin,[104] at Power Struggle Omega was revealed as the newest member of the stable, setting his sights on the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.[105] Omega, dubbing himself "The Cleaner", claimed he had lied at the press conference and was only interested in money and the title.[106] As part of his new villainous persona, Omega, who is fluent in Japanese, stopped talking in Japanese and instead did his interviews in English.[107] Behind the scenes, Omega was told that his otaku gimmick was "too bubbly" for Bullet Club, which led to him adopting the Cleaner nickname, which was intended to be a reference to people who clean up crime scenes. Initially, Omega played the role straight, but after repeatedly having to explain the character when people thought he was portraying an actual janitor, he began incorporating comedy into the gimmick and started coming out for matches with a mop and broom.[108] On January 4, 2015, at Wrestle Kingdom 9 in Tokyo Dome, Omega wrestled his first match as a member of Bullet Club, defeating Ryusuke Taguchi to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for the first time.[109][110]

Omega's first title defense took place on February 11 at The New Beginning in Osaka, where he defeated Taguchi in a rematch.[111][112] During the following months, he also successfully defended the title against Máscara Dorada at Invasion Attack 2015 and Alex Shelley at Wrestling Dontaku 2015.[113][114][115] On July 5 at Dominion 7.5 in Osaka-jo Hall, Omega lost the title to the winner of the 2015 Best of the Super Juniors, Kushida.[116][117] On September 23 at Destruction in Okayama, Omega regained the title from Kushida, following outside interference from his Bullet Club stablemate Karl Anderson.[118] He made his first successful defense on October 12 at King of Pro-Wrestling against Matt Sydal.[119] On January 4, 2016, at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in Tokyo Dome, Omega lost the title back to Kushida.[120]

Omega as the IWGP Intercontinental Champion in May 2016

The following day, Omega teamed with Bullet Club leader A.J. Styles to defeat IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura and Yoshi-Hashi in a tag team match, pinning Nakamura for the win. After the match, Bullet Club turned on Styles, with Omega taking over the leadership of the stable and declaring that he was no longer a junior heavyweight by challenging Nakamura to a title match.[121][122] The match, however, never came to fruition as Nakamura announced his departure from NJPW, with the promotion stripping him of the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.[123] Afterwards, Omega began using Nakamura's Bomaye knee strike as a finishing move, dubbing it the V-Trigger.[124] It was then announced that Omega would face Hiroshi Tanahashi to determine the new champion.[125] On February 14 at The New Beginning in Niigata, Omega defeated Tanahashi to become the new IWGP Intercontinental Champion.[126] Six days later at Honor Rising: Japan 2016, Omega became a double champion, when he and The Young Bucks defeated Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe and Toru Yano for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship.[127] They lost the title to Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin and Yoshitatsu on April 10 at Invasion Attack 2016,[128] which led to Omega's first defense of the IWGP Intercontinental Championship on April 27, where he defeated Elgin.[129] This marked the first time two Canadians had main evented a NJPW show.[130] On May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2016, Omega and The Young Bucks regained the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship from Elgin, Tanahashi and Yoshitatsu.[131] On June 19 at Dominion 6.19 in Osaka-jo Hall, Omega lost the IWGP Intercontinental Championship to Elgin in NJPW's first ever ladder match.[132] On July 3, Omega and The Young Bucks lost the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship to Matt Sydal, Ricochet and Satoshi Kojima.[133]

From July 22 to August 13, Omega took part in the round-robin portion of the 2016 G1 Climax, where he won his block with a record of six wins and three losses, advancing to the finals.[134] On August 14, Omega defeated Hirooki Goto in the finals to win the 2016 G1 Climax and earn a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 11 in Tokyo Dome on January 4, 2017.[135] Omega not only won the tournament in his first attempt, but also became the first non-Japanese G1 Climax winner in history.[136][137] On September 22 at Destruction in Hiroshima, Omega successfully defended his Wrestle Kingdom 11 title match contract against Yoshi-Hashi, avenging a loss suffered during the 2016 G1 Climax in the process.[138] On October 10 at King of Pro-Wrestling, Omega made his final defense of the contract in a rematch against Hirooki Goto, thus solidifying his place in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 11.[139]

Personal life[edit]

Smith was born in Transcona, Winnipeg, Manitoba on October 16, 1983.[1][6] He has a younger sister.[140] His mother works in family services while his father works for the Canadian government as a transport officer.[140] Smith began watching professional wrestling as a child with his father taping him the Saturday Night's Main Event program, which became his favorite.[140]

Smith is fluent in Japanese and currently lives in Katsushika ward in the east end of Tokyo.[2] Smith regularly hosts a YouTube channel called, "The Cleaner's Corner", where he shows himself playing some of his most favorite video games of all time. During his spare time he also attends video game conventions. On June 26, 2016, he attended CEO 2016 and defeated WWE wrestler Xavier Woods multiple times in Street Fighter V.[141]

Smith lives a straight edge lifestyle.[142]

Wrestling persona[edit]

A fan of anime and video games, Smith draws a lot of inspiration from them and incorporates ideas for maneuvers, entrance music, and gimmick concepts from both. Notable examples include naming one of his finishing maneuvers the One-Winged Angel, a reference to Final Fantasy VII's Sephiroth,[143] variations of Mega Man antagonist Dr. Wily's theme music as entrance themes, his ring name "Kenny Omega" being inspired by the character Omega Weapon from the Final Fantasy video game series and even using the Hadouken from Street Fighter as a signature move.[2] This inspiration also extends to his appearance; his look as "The Cleaner" was inspired by Albert Wesker from the Resident Evil video game series, as well as Marion "Cobra" Cobretti from the film Cobra.[144] In addition to video games, Smith also credits Star Trek: The Next Generation and Saturday morning superhero cartoons for developing a lot of his personality.[143] After turning heel, Smith stopped using his video game inspired moves and music since he felt it was too popular among fans and it was more a part of his face persona.[10]

In wrestling[edit]

Omega performing the Croyt's Wrath on Roderick Strong
Omega performing the Katayoku no Tenshi on Tomoaki Honma

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Omega as the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion in July 2015
  • Best Bout Award (2012) vs. Kota Ibushi on August 18[173]
  • Best Bout Award (2014) with Kota Ibushi vs. Konosuke Takeshita and Tetsuya Endo on October 28[174]


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External links[edit]