It’s no secret that women’s wrestling has seen a massive explosion in popularity in recent years, both domestically and internationally. As it turns out, the opportunity to help cultivate a thriving women’s division ended up being a big factor in Kenny Omega’s decision to sign on with All Elite Wrestling.
Omega spoke with Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio following Thursday night’s AEW Double or Nothing ticket announcement party in Las Vegas.
“Even when I was sort of wondering where I would turn up, I really appreciated that AEW wanted to go all in with the women’s division. They really wanted to make it not just an afterthought, but a true focus. Much like how WWE is now too, and I think that’s absolutely awesome because at one point in my career, it was women’s wrestling that brought me back to being a fan of wrestling. It was my discovering of Manami Toyota, and Aja Kong and all the girls from the All Japan era. It was their passion, and it was visible and very apparent when they performed their matches. That’s what brought me back into wrestling.”
Now that Omega is a full-fledged member of AEW management, sharing the same title of Executive Vice President along with Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks, the so-called “Best Bout Machine” is excited about how much more he can bring to the table.
“I’ve always had a soft spot, especially for the joshi in Japan, and I thought ‘if you guys want a true women’s division, even if I don’t sign at least let me teach you about some of these names.’ So now that I’m officially onboard, I can dig deeper and scour for more talent. I’ve been in contact with the people I think are the best active unsigned talent right now. Some of the names are going to catch you off guard. Some you may like, some you may love, some you may hate. Who knows, but the name of the game is that you’re going to see a women’s division the like that you’ve never really seen before in America.”
While Omega has admitted having a “soft spot” for women’s wrestling, it’s not just the international women’s division he’s hoping to put in front of a national audience when AEW takes off. As previously reported, All Elite will be working with the OWE promotion out of China, and has forged a brand new partnership with AAA Lucha Libre in Mexico, which has already begun raising a few eyebrows.
“When I first saw the sizzle real for OWE I was like, ‘I would love to work with these guys but I can’t because I’m a New Japan guy.’ I miss DDT and would love to work with those guys again, but we don’t really work with DDT in New Japan. I would love to work with some guys in AAA. Why can’t I work with more guys like this? Well, because it’s New Japan. It sucks to have those limitations, but with AEW it feels like there are no limits, and that’s a huge selling point for me.”
Now that the former IWGP Heavyweight Champion is “free” of his former employer’s business relationships and traditionally exclusivist policies, Omega warns that promotions are either going to have to open their doors and work together, or “get left behind”.
“It’s a shame that [politics]exist and they have these age-old rivalries that never seem to be patched over. We’re sort of the place, I believe, that’s going to make that all go away. If people can’t leave behind their old rivalries and won’t play nice, you’re just going to get left behind. That’s just how it’s going to be. We have an open door to everyone, and when I say everyone I mean everyone.”
“I’m completely open to working with a place like WWE. There is no evil entity. There is no war. What we are is a celebration of professional wrestling. Guess what — the CMLL guys that AAA hates, or the AAA guys that New Japan hates, well some of their guys are better than your guys. That’s just the way it is, and we’re going to use the best that is available to us. We’re going to have a very peaceful, celebratory ring where everyone can show their craft and show their art.
Editor’s Note: You are welcome to share or use our quotes from this interview. Please provide a plug for Wrestling Observer Radio and a h/t to ProWrestling.com for the transcriptions.