Who is Kenny Omega? Top Five Things to Know about the Most Famous Wrestler You’ve Never Heard Of
— March 14, 2019
The first four episodes of TSN’s ENGRAVED ON A NATION have focused on some of Canada’s most notable and recognizable sports stories. But Winnipeg native Tyson Smith, the subject of OMEGA MAN: A WRESTLING LOVE STORY (Wednesday, March 27, 7:30 p.m. ET on TSN) who is best known by his in-ring name “Kenny Omega”, flew under the radar while he soared to the top of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
@TSN_PR took a deeper look at Kenny Omega’s legacy and narrowed down the many fascinating parts of his career into five must-know facts:
1. He’s a really, really famous wrestler
Kenny Omega’s long journey spanned many of the world’s top wrestling leagues, with the bulk of his fame rooted in Japan’s foremost pro wrestling promotion, New Japan Pro Wrestling. While the majority of up-and-coming wrestlers from North America dream of making it big with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Kenny Omega forged his own unique path to become one of the (if not THE) best professional wrestlers in history. Kenny Omega’s diverse career saw him appear in a wide variety of wrestling promotions, and while most young Canadian wrestlers grow up with their sights set on the WWE, Omega took a chance at making his name elsewhere.
His growth and popularity have increased steadily since beginning his career nearly two decades ago, but his career began to skyrocket when he began his championship reign in New Japan Pro Wrestling. He quickly made his way to the top, becoming the first foreign-born wrestler to ever win the coveted G1 Climax Tournament.
After his New Japan career ended this year, Kenny Omega surprised fans when he signed with the new All Elite Wrestling, choosing once again not to sign with the WWE. The new league aims to reignite the competition for weekday airwaves with the WWE.
2. He’s got a badass nickname
Most fan-favourite wrestlers have a unique nickname that separates them from the rest of the pack, like The Viper (Randy Orton), The Heartbreak Kid (Shawn Michaels), The Deadman (The Undertaker), or The Champ (John Cena). A nickname helps define a wrestler’s persona, and Kenny Omega’s moniker, “The Cleaner”, helped cement his popularity on the world stage.
Omega adopted the gritty nickname after being inspired by the idea of being a forensic crime scene cleaner. “The Cleaner” symbolized a character who meant business and was ready to win, but allowed Omega to inspired a few laughs, such as walking into the ring in a janitor’s outfit.
3. His finishing move is exceedingly dangerous
Like a nickname, every wrestler needs a signature finishing move, and Kenny Omega’s One-Winged Angel is as feared and painful as it looks. As a finisher with such high risk and pain involved, some of wrestling’s biggest names, including Chris Jericho, have refused to be on the receiving end of it.
4. He’s also a big name in the world of gaming
Omega is an avid video gamer, appearing on video game podcasts, at conventions, and has even produced his own YouTube series called CLEANER’S CORNER, where he discussed his favourite games. It was his love of Final Fantasy that inspired both his nickname “Omega”, as well as his finisher, the One-Winged Angel.
He has even made appearances as the host of several ESPN Esports interviews with wrestling counterparts, and video game aficionados gaining insight and opinions from colleagues in both industries.
5. He helped bring long-overdue LGBTQ representation to the world of wrestling
In a realm dominated by macho, hetero-normative stereotypes, Omega can be considered a pioneer in promoting acceptance of the LGBTQ community within wrestling circles.
“The Golden Lovers”, the tag-team duo comprised of Omega and Kota Ibushi, displayed an on-screen bond that at times appeared to be about more than just winning matches; it was suggested that their bond was a romantic connection.
The idea that two wrestling partners could be lovers was unprecedented in the sport, and critics have since lauded The Golden Lovers’ storyline as being a major step for queer representation in wrestling, having drawn “the admiration and, more importantly, the acceptance of fans worldwide.”
Beyond his in-ring talents and championship moments, Omega will be remembered as a wrestler who acknowledged a community that has long been overlooked by the sport, and helped push the wrestling world towards greater inclusivity.
OMEGA MAN: A WRESTLING LOVE STORY is produced by Jocumentary Productions Inc., and executive producer Dale Burshtein in association with Bell Media, and directed by Yung Chang. The documentary premieres on Wednesday, March 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET on TSN, TSN.ca, the TSN app, and Crave.