McGuire’s Mondays: In defense of Kenny Omega’s Twitch streams

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By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer

In so many ways, Kenny Omega has become a victim of his own success.

If your mind is shut off to the idea that Omega might be one of the best wrestlers of his generation, that sentence will make your skin curl. But, it’s true. Think about all the hype surrounding his ascension in Japan. If you didn’t watch the Japanese product, but liked to dip a toe in pro wrestling outside of the mainstream, chances are you heard his name in laudatory terms for a good while. Maybe you never saw him wrestle, but before long, you got tired of hearing about how great it would be to see him wrestle.

As such, by the time AEW came to be, Omega found himself in an impossible position: The cool kids would probably never admit that his stateside work could hold a candle to his best Japan moments while the newbies stood in the corner, arms crossed, waiting for the guy to be the second coming of Inoki-meets-Hogan-meets-Flair-meets-Brisco-meets-Misawa-meets-Funk-meets … you get it. Omega’s hype was its own burden. Unless he could thread an impossible needle the second AEW launched, he was destined to either be a disappointment or, well, a disappointment.

Part of that was the star-rating phenomenon, too. Much like one of his best dancing partners, Will Ospreay, there have been tastemakers who not only insisted that these guys were the second coming of Wrestling Christ, but if you didn’t agree with that, you were simply wrong, behind the times, unable to comprehend the evolution of the pro wrestling business. These things created an adversarial dynamic between some fans/pundits and the wrestlers who received the praise. Nobody should blame Omega or Ospreay for advancing the medium because it wasn’t Omega or Ospreay out in front of everybody constantly telling them they were advancing the medium. They just went out and wrestled. The hate they receive has come in part (perhaps large part) because of their loudest supporters and the manner by which they support.

Now, speaking of that star-rating system …

Omega himself took to the internet over the weekend to say this about the personality most associated with said star-rating system, Dave Meltzer:

“He’s jumped the f— shark, so it doesn’t count for much anymore. He has jumped the motherfu– shark. And guess who is to blame for that? Me. I’m the guy. I broke the scale. It f— up something in his brain where he doesn’t even know what good matches are anymore.”

Rather than dive headfirst into Omega’s comments about the pro wrestling personality that very much helped both raise Omega’s profile and create that aforementioned burden I mentioned a minute ago – because honestly, this is not a space to debate the merits of star-ratings (and Omega may have been in work mode in this case), Meltzer and all of the divisive dialogue that goes along with it – let’s look at the real story. And what is that real story?

Kenny Omega said something noteworthy on one of his Friday night Twitch streams!

OK, that sounds facetious (and that’s probably because it is), but I can’t be the only one who has grown to look forward to whatever minor headlines come out of whatever this guy says while hanging out with his buds and playing video games. In fact, the popularity of his streams has all but forced me to do a 180 on the guy. It’s not that I ever didn’t like him. But it’s also not like I ever loved him, either. Ambivalence has always been the word when it comes to my feelings on Kenny Omega. He’s just always kind of been there.

But these streams? These Twitch streams, as innocuous as they may be, have humanized The Best Bout Machine. He doesn’t shy away from questions. He displays a level of personality that doesn’t quite cut through in his pro wrestling persona. And, above all else, he just kind of seems like a good hang. Check out this smattering of nuggets he’s offered over the last month or two.

– Kenny Omega finds out he’s supposed to appear on the next Dynamite: “Big news, don’t know if you guys heard it. Kind of surprised to hear it. I remember thinking about maybe, maybe showing up to Winnipeg. It was a maybe. It was really just a maybe. My sister, my parents, my aunt were like, ‘Oh my goodness, we heard the big news.’ ‘What? What big news?’ ‘The arena is advertising your return.’ I’m like, ‘Come on, man.’ I’m 80 percent on board, maybe. I don’t know, man. I thought, ‘Well, they advertised me,’ that 80 becomes 100. I called the boss, ‘Hey man, if you want to run a graphic or something, I guess I’ll show up.”

– Kenny Omega stands with Asuka: “We already know [Rossy Ogawa] puts underage girls in very revealing swimsuit calendars and books. I wish that’s all he did. Let’s put it that way. I don’t know. I don’t want to say anything. I’m not going on record to say anything. I don’t want lawyers barking at my door. That’s why I don’t want to say anything. I don’t have any sort of video evidence; I just have the good word of people who are very close. I’m outside of it. If those people feel like commenting or saying something, whatever. For now, I’ll say that people going to Marigold, good luck. I hope you have a great time. I hope it works out for you. For me, I would be very hesitant. I would be very hesitant. That’s all. My only comment, I’m with Asuka. That’s it. We are bros. Always have been. She has her reasons and they are probably the same ones as mine.”

– Kenny Omega on appreciating Triple H: “Everyone seems to know just what he is booking and what he isn’t booking. Even as a wrestler who has kind of like an inside track, I don’t know what his ideas are. I don’t know what’s a result of just what comes from his brain and his brain alone, so I can’t comment on that. What I do appreciate is that he’s open-minded to all the styles of the world of wrestling. I think I’m sure he probably prefers one over the other or some over others, but I like that he’s giving everything a shot.”

– Kenny Omega on being an AEW EVP: “Just because I represent a company or because I am an employee at one company over another, does that mean I love every storyline? Does that mean that I agree with every decision? No, of course not. I’m not the booker. I don’t have power, I haven’t had power for more than four years now in that company and I know that’s gonna sound odd because like, ‘Well Kenny, you’re an EVP.’ I’m nothing. I am nothing, and I’ll tell you why, it’s because I’m a terrible EVP. I don’t deserve to be an EVP.”

– Kenny Omega on Roman Reigns: “I really think he’s incredible and I don’t think he’s boring. I would say I’m pretty jealous because Roman Reigns is presented the exact same way I would love to be presented. He’s presented as the man who’s the champion to have big matches at the pay-per-views where you’re either really cheering for him or cheering for someone else. That’s professional wrestling. He’s getting to do what I did in New Japan so I can’t be a hater on that. I’m a fan.”

– Kenny Omega on CM Punk: “Status with Punk right now? Um, I don’t know. It’s just mutual respect. We reached out to each other. I can’t really think of anyone that I dislike or have an issue with, especially an issue with wrestling. It’s not like, ‘Hey, we’re good now.’ It’s, ‘We were never bad.’ Honestly, if it weren’t for a complete other factor, we would have been able to have that talk on the night of Brawl Out. There’s no issue between him and I, as far as I know.”

And this is on top of essentially cutting a promo on Will Ospreay … and explaining why he’s a believer in the notion that sometimes getting into a physical tussle is the best way to work things out … and providing updates on getting surgery for his diverticulitis … and his affinity for his Rampage match against Christian Cage … and … and … and … the list goes on.

It’s refreshing. At the end of the day, each time Omega presses the “go live” button on his webcam, he comes across more and more like he’s just a guy. A guy who trains, likes video games, has more opinions on pro wrestling than anyone gives him credit for and admirably puts pets first when it seems like a physical altercation is about to go down in a locker room. I barely know what a Twitch is. And the last thing I’d ever do for fun is get online to watch people play video games against or with other people.

But Omega’s welcoming presence on these things has become infectious. Does this mean he’s been too bland on AEW TV? Maybe. Does it mean anyone behind the scenes is neutering him? I doubt that, but you never know what conversations are had. Are his streams entertaining because they simply aren’t what we expect from him? There might be a little of that. Does his candor refute the narrative about AEW that it’s a tribal bubble filled with people who have thin skin? It certainly doesn’t hurt.

Whatever it is, these Friday night virtual gatherings have painted Kenny Omega in a new, congenial light. It also provides at least a little proof that maybe sometimes AEW gets an unfair rap as a whiny company that’s overly confrontational and is filled with decision-makers who occasionally enjoy throwing stones out of glass houses. Above all else, it shows us that Kenny Omega is a, you know, reasonable person with, you know, reasonable thoughts, and, you know, reasonable opinions on things.

In some ways, it’s a testament to Omega’s resolve. I have to believe he hears a lot of the things said about him and it’s not like the world has been kind to him since AEW began. Sure, his fan base has been loyal, but he’s had some loud detractors along the way and for the most part, he’s taken the high road, refusing to engage in the type of unproductive back and forth in which so many wrestling fans engage these days. These streams are so unassuming, he either has a heart filled with unwavering positivity or a blissful ignorance that most of us would kill to acquire.

No matter the machinations, Kenny Omega, this far into his career, has kind of/sort of outed himself as a pretty good guy through these Twitch streams. You might not like his catchphrase and you can spend hours bitching into a podcast microphone about the man’s pro wrestling style if that’s your thing, but at the end of the day, he means no harm. In fact, he’s not unlike a lot of us – admiring Roman Reigns’s run at the top of WWE, not entirely qualified to be an EVP of anything and finding out the details of the next Dynamite a mere few days before it goes live. The only difference is he’s a bit more successful at his craft than most of us are at ours.

And so, at this point, maybe it’s time to stop punishing him for earning the very success that got him here.

WE VALUE YOUR PRIVACY

Readers Comments (1)

  1. TheGreatestOne May 13, 2024 @ 3:36 pm

    What the fuck needs to be defended? Other than the twatwaffles crying on twitter with their 27 accounts per person, nobody was bothered by these.

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