Kenny Omega has accused Will Ospreay of trying, and failing, to fill his shoes at the top of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
Speaking to Sports Illustrated, the current AEW World Champion, AAA Mega Champion, and Impact World Champion opened up about the conversation he had with Ospreay and Bullet Club Leader Jay White before leaving NJPW to join AEW in February 2019. Seeing the two as the top foreigners in the promotion following his departure, the ‘Best Bout Machine’ pulled them aside to tell them the “pride of the foreigners” was now in their hands.
“Before I left New Japan, I pulled aside Ospreay and Jay White. 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.”
After breaking ties with CHAOS to form his own faction, United Empire, alongside Great O-Khan, Jeff Cobb, and more recently Aaron Henare, Ospreay has gone from strength to strength. This culminated in his shocking victory over Kota Ibushi at Sakura Genesis in April to capture the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship for the first time.
Omega praised the ‘Commonwealth Kingpin’ for winning the top championship in NJPW, as well as the changes the ‘Commonwealth Kingpin’ had made to his look and demeanour in the months leading up to the victory. However, the ‘Cleaner’ also claimed that Ospreay had overreached by trying to step into his shoes.
“For Ospreay, he’d really came into his own. 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.”
He explained that, despite Ospreay’s talent, “there is only one Kenny Omega” and he believes that nobody can fill the gap that he left when he departed NJPW.
“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.
Ospreay was recently forced to relinquish the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship due to a neck injury, leaving the title vacant for the time being. Omega mused that the situation might show that the belt is meant to be his, but stopped short of issuing a challenge for it.
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.”
Kenny Omega will defend his AEW World Championship in a triple threat match against Pac and Orange Cassidy at AEW Double or Nothing on May 30th. We will have all the news coming out of the event right here at Inside The Ropes.