NoDQ.com > Columns > ViRTUE's RAGE: Kenny Omega is Cleaning Up Posted by ViRTUE on 12/11/2016 at 11:00 PM
December 11, 2016
AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Tetsuya Naito, Kazuchika Okada, Dean Ambrose, and Jay Lethal are all top candidates for 2016 Wrestler of the Year, at least in my educated opinion; however, let’s not forgot about one other guy who has definitely had the best year of his career while over in Japan. That one other guy, my friends, is none other than “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega. Oh, but wait! I am sure I am going to hear it from other columnists and “experts” that the top wrestler for 2016 is Kevin Owens or perhaps even Samoa Joe. Now do not get me wrong, I do like those guys, but I think they just miss the bubble for this discussion. I figure we can at least agree that John Cena (part time) and Roman Reigns are definitely not anywhere near the top, and that is even despite Reigns being ranked #1 on the PWI 500 for 2016. Also, please keep in mind that Seth Rollins and Finn Balor would probably be in this discussion had they not missed significant time due to injury.
For the record, as far as the #1 wrestling “character” goes for 2016, it is hands down “Broken” Matt Hardy. Delete! Delete! Delete! I also give Charlotte the nod as top Female Wrestler of the Year, with Sasha Banks and Asuka very close behind. Now back to the topic at hand. If I had to choose only one wrestler as the Wrestler of the Year, after a long hard battle with AJ Styles, I choose Kenny Omega. For the longest time, these two were battling it out in my head for the top honor, but Omega has never slowed down this year. He won the NJPW G1 Climax Tournament by having multiple great matches in the process and will now headline Wrestle Kingdom 11 in January; he had an excellent Ladder Match against Michael Elgin for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship; he had another solid NJPW Wrestle Kingdom outing against Kushida for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship at WK10; and he became the new leader of the Bullet Club after Styles left NJPW to go to WWE. The one thing that ultimately helped me make my final decision was the fact that Styles has been recently wrestling against James Ellsworth, which is more WWE’s fault for bad booking. I will admit that Styles was slightly leading Omega until Ellsworth came to SmackDown and started wrestling Styles. Maybe Ellsworth is a secret member of the Bullet Club and was sent by them to WWE to sabotage Styles’ great first year with the company.
I can easily show you video highlights of Omega’s 2016 wrestling work; however, I am not going to do that because I want to show you that he is much more dynamic than being a freak of nature with his wrestling ability. By now, most loyal wrestling fans (IWC) already know what Omega can do in a match. But he has so much more to offer than just wrestling skills and athleticism. That’s right. Omega is one of the most charismatic showmen in the wrestling industry today, and he is definitely one of the best on the mic. If you don’t believe me, please take a look and a listen:
At this point, I would consider Omega as one of, if not the top wrestler that WWE should pursue when his tenure is done with NJPW. Obviously, there are wrestlers like Kurt Angle, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, and some others that would be great choices for WWE to pursue; however, many of those would be as “last run” acts. Omega, on the other hand, would probably have a lot more miles left to give a longer WWE run. This was definitely a tough choice this year, as we have all been spoiled with a lot of great “wrestling” matches from the likes of Omega, Styles, Nakamura, Ambrose, etc. I suppose we can take all of Dave Meltzer’s match ratings into consideration and see what wrestler averages the highest starred matches. Or perhaps not, because it really comes down to just a matter of opinion. I think the greatest Match of the Year was the TLC Match between Styles and Ambrose, but WWE production always helps make that decision much easier. When I looked back at Omega’s run of matches from this past spring and summer in NJPW, it was clear to me that he is undoubtedly the top choice. In looking back, I now chuckle at the exhibition match he had against a 9-year old girl several years ago in Japan. In case you do not know what I am referring to, it is on YouTube.
As Omega becomes more and more popular and his fan base increases, he definitely will not be as easy to communicate with on social media. I say this because now is the time to chat him up while you still have a decent chance for him to respond to you. This year, I had the pleasure to have a few Twitter exchanges with him (@KennyOmegamanX) about video games and other random stuff. He is a known avid gamer. I will list them here in case you are interested.
Virtue: I’m thinking The Cleaner and The Janitor (backyard wrestler) would make one helluva tag team!
Omega: He’s too technical, I couldn’t see us meshing well.
Virtue: So what’s your favorite Sega Dreamcast game?
Omega: Shenmue, easy.
Virtue: Name this game: (Tweeted a pic of a Nintendo 64 game)
Omega: Space Station Silicon Valley. Rarely talked about gem.
Virtue: Favorite Batman game? Only pick 1!
Omega: Arkham City.
This type of interaction would most likely drive Jim Cornette nuts, especially because Omega has been working as a heel all year long. It is no secret that Cornette is not really fond of Omega, which is mainly because Cornette is stuck in 1995 and earlier. But that is okay because we all have our preferences. That is the beauty of being a wrestling mind, fan, etc. I think this is the type of fan interaction that really shows how dynamic a pro wrestler can be. Since kayfabe is pretty much dead (Cornette softly weeping), why shouldn’t a wrestler maximize every opportunity to pull in new fans who might pay to go see them perform and even buy their merchandise? The bottom line is simple. REACH! Kenny Omega is currently extending his reach and making a name for himself over in Japan. And you know what folks? It is working and the World is beginning to take notice that “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega has officially arrived on the big stage of professional wrestling.
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