WRITTEN WRESTLING PODCAST: X-Pac 1,2,360 w/ Kenny Omega on his time in WWE developmental, his infamous “battle” with Daniel Bryan, wrestling in a six-star match

X-Pac, 1,2,360 – Episode 51

Release Date: August 24, 2017

Recap By: Chris Gaspare


Top Newsworthy Items

– X-Pac criticized the “on screen” punishment of Corbin, assuming he is being punished.

– X-Pac thought John Cena wasn’t in his normal “ring condition” this weekend.

– Kenny Omega said his feud with Davey Boy Smith Jr. is “water under the bridge.”

– Omega said many NJPW stars are taking safety even more seriously after Shibata.

– Omega said Naito did not hit his head on the ring post on the DDT spot in the G1 Finals.

– Omega said he thinks comedy wrestling is harder than serious wrestling.

– Omega said he was not close to signing a contract this past January.

Show Highlights

The group discusses Takeover and SummerSlam

X-Pac is joined by TK Trinidad, Denise, Jimbo, and Bill Hanstock from Uproxx.com.

X-Pac and the crew discussed Takeover briefly and all agreed it was a better show than SummerSlam. X-Pac said there was “no worst match” on the card and praised the show’s pacing as it kept “building and building” toward a climax.

As for SummerSlam, everyone complained about the length of the show. X-Pac said he wasn’t “going to apologize for not watching the whole freaking thing.” Hanstock thinks the length is the company’s way of making SummerSlam feel special like Wrestlemania does.

X-Pac criticized putting the six-man pre-show match featuring The Miz and the Hardys on in front of so few people. He said those three “earned not being in that position.”

Hanstock praised The New Day and Usos match as the best of the night.

X-Pac was disappointed in the John Cena and Baron Corbin match. He also said that he believed Cena was “not in the same ring condition he normally is,” which led to some speculation about his filming schedule being part of that. Corbin’s loss possibly being part of his continued punishment was raised, and X-Pac said if true, then he doesn’t understand how it makes any business sense to punish anyone “on screen.” He said that he was going to ask about it.

X-Pac thought the Natalya and Naomi match was “rough around the edges,” and the others were all waiting for Carmella to cash in. X-Pac also wasn’t pleased with Enzo’s dancing and shenanigans in the shark cage as it distracted from the match that Cass and Big Show were having. Hanstock was confused about who in the match benefitted from it at all.

X-Pac said that the Jinder/Nakamura match was good but also contained a lot of “missed opportunities” and could understand people being disappointed with it. Everyone praised the main event of the show, and X-Pac thought there was nothing to complain about with it.

Omega on Winnipeg “death tours,” his WWE developmental days, and the origins of John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

The interview began with Omega explaining the “death tours” he was on during his time with IWA in Winnipeg. The tours visited areas of Canada that were only accessible when the lakes had frozen over. IWA had three utility vans, two filled with the ring and equipment, and the other filled with the wrestlers. The tour was a month long, and there were no hotels and they had to bring or buy their own food.

Omega said they had a guide who had an “internal map” of the areas since there were no real maps at the time, and they couldn’t go anywhere if he wasn’t around. He said the crowds were appreciative though – “a shoulder block would get a pop” – so they didn’t have to work as hard although he did because he was so young and new to the business.

Next, they moved onto Omega’s time in WWE developmental from 2006-2007. Omega admitted, “I didn’t do much.” He didn’t have any strong stories, and he said it wasn’t pleasant there. However, Dave Taylor helped him learn the fundamentals during that time, which he said helped him on the independents and helped him get work there. He also said that he learned a lot about cutting promos in front of cameras and timing out promos which helped a lot. He conceded that his “mind wasn’t where it should have been” during his time there.

Omega said that his focus was always on getting to Japan; even the tryout which got him hired by WWE was an effort to get into a Japanese dojo. He said that he trained harder than anyone else in developmental and even ran the training sometimes, but all of his stories and ideas were shot down, which led him to see no future with the company.

Towards the end of his stint, they were given the directive to cut promos as someone completely outside of their character. He gave a promo as a plumber character. Bill DeMott called him into the office and said he saw more passion in that promo than he did any other time, so much that he might as well just repackage him as the plumber character. Omega said that he understood DeMott’s point – he had soured on his time there because it wasn’t fun. He understands why the company wouldn’t think he was “special,” but he had the desire to prove himself and asked for his release. He doesn’t “harbor any ill will” towards the company though.

Omega was asked next about the famous PWG match that featured him and Bryan Danielson in the battle of the John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidts. He said that it all began with everyone backstage talking about childhood songs they remembered and would get stuck in their heads. Omega said that he told Danielson that everyone already raved about him as the best wrestler in the world and they could go out and have a great match, but Omega wanted to make it special. Omega told him the idea, and Danielson thought it was fun but said he had “Steven Regal in the back of his head telling him it’s the worst idea he’s ever heard.” He also didn’t tell Super Dragon because he would have thought it was stupid as well.  

Omega talks comedy wrestling and incorporating his video games references/moves

They moved to discussing comedy wrestling and his time in DDT. He said the most outrageous thing he’s ever done is wrestle a fifty-foot giant but that was done on film rather than in the ring. He fondly remembers the Rock ‘n’ Roll Death Matches he had in DDT where the concept was the competitors would wrestle, but randomly a song would come on and the two men would have to stop and dance. He said he’d love the world to see them, but the music used would violate copyrights so they can’t be released.

In response to critics that say wrestling is “a cop out,” Omega said he thinks “comedy is more difficult than wrestling seriously” especially when the wrestler is trying to make it feel legitimate. He said that DDT has its own universe just as the WWE has its own, and he takes “a lot of pride” in making matches with blow up dolls and the like feel real to the audience.

Omega was also asked about how he started to incorporate video game moves into his wrestling. He said once he left developmental, he decided he simply wanted to be himself, so he seriously had to consider who he was: he determined he liked wrestling and he liked video games. He is a competitive Street Fighter player so he introduced the Hadouken into his move set. He later started to incorporate some Zangief moves into his arsenal. He still likes to play Street Fighter competitively, but doesn’t have the time to practice that he wishes. He said that Street Fighter 5 is easier than the others and once someone knows the mechanics and how it works through playing and watching streams, it is easy to keep up with.

Omega on the grueling G1 schedule and ring safety

Next, they discussed the G1. Omega said he was “anxious” for the G1 this year because New Japan usually keeps “their story” away from them until near the end. Without the story, he decided to go out and tell a different story every night with each match. He also wanted each match to be different visually from the other matches on the card. He admitted that everyone was hurting by the end. “We were tired and beat up, but I had kinda saved enough in the tank” for the last two nights.

The criticism of his Yano match by Lance Storm and Davey Boy Smith Jr. was brought up, and Omega explained that he’s cool with Storm and respects him. He said that he and Smith let their “emotions” win out when their war of words played out on Twitter, but that they’ve talked and it’s all “water under the bridge.”

Next, Omega was asked if wrestlers were reconsidering the hard-hitting style in light of Shibata’s injury. “More than ever,” Omega said, “I’m trying to make it clear through the way that I work that I’m trying to avoid that style, and the thing is by saying that, I’m doing it but I’m disguising it so how would anyone know?” He said that he doesn’t throw forearms that make contact anymore but has been “relying more on chops than ever.” He said some people are resistant to changing their style for whatever reason, but he explains to them that being Kings of Strong Style means not only the shots to the head but to make it look like they “kill each other.” He also said he doesn’t make contact with any of his knees except for the V-Trigger against the ropes. Even then, he said that it’s his shin that is pushing the opponent’s head, not his knee. He advises the opponent to hold onto the second rope while kneeling so they can lean away from the contact with his shin.

The botched piledriver on the table was brought up during this time. Omega said that all of Naito’s moves are extremely safe. He said that he was selling an injury from the table that wasn’t real. He heard the gasp from the crowd and heard the Japanese announcers selling his head hitting the edge of the table, so he decided to play into it and sell like he might be bleeding from the top of his head. He was scared though about the Naito DDT into the ring post. He said that he slipped while doing the move and thought Naito had hit his head. He expected to see Naito gushing blood, but he said after the match, Naito claims his head didn’t even touch the ring post.

He said that during the G1 his hardest opponent to adapt to was Tama Tonga because he didn’t get the story at first. He said he thinks it is silly to see stable mates go out and try to kill each other, so once he had a reason and they created a story, it clicked more.

Omega on six-star matches, wrestling Ishii, potentially wrestling Daryl, and any future WWE plans

Finally, the group moved into asking questions in a more rabip fire approach. Omega was asked about receiving six stars from Dave Meltzer. Omega said the day was surreal because he was wrestling in a tag match the day after the Tokyo Dome match, and Scott Norton was in the match which was exciting and surreal enough for him. Then someone approached him before he was going out and showed him the rating. He thought it was a typo of some sort and went to wrestle the match. When he came back, he saw all the congratulation messages from others about the six star rating.

Omega joked that he hoped he never had to wrestle Okada again because how do you top six stars. X-Pac said that Steve Austin had called him raving about the match. Omega said that he met Austin who had expressed the same, and he is humbled by all the people in the business that have said such kind things about him.

Next, Adam Cole was brought up. Omega kayfabe joked that he doesn’t understand Adam Cole showing up on NXT because Cole was poisoned and died. He said that he knew Cole was supposed to debut earlier but had it pushed back for some reason although he wouldn’t give details. He’s happy he was finally able to debut and thinks he’ll do great.

X-Pac praised Omega’s match with Ishii at the G1 Climax Special in Long Beach, particularly the spot where Omega was going for a dragon suplex through a table off the apron and Ishii grabbed the top rope with his teeth to stop the move. Omega said that he’d seen Shibata do something similar in a match where he alligator crawled and bit the rope to break a submission. He said he also wanted to prove that he could do that dragon suplex safely with the spot.

Omega said that he tries to incorporate a little bit of everything – whether it is video games, MMA, comedy, etc. – into his wrestling style to reach a broader audience. He said that he’s aiming at not only wrestling fans, but anyone. He said that he had received a lot of negative backlash after the Yano match, and while he obviously doesn’t want people to think that’s what the G1 is about, he said the Yano is a comedy gimmick so it’s worth leaning into. He said it received more views than anything else, so if it becomes “a gateway drug” to expose people to other wrestlers on the roster or to other New Japan shows, then it’s worth it.

Next, X-Pac asked about The Elite concept and if he and The Young Bucks called their own shots with it. Omega said that it started off as a joke with him, the Bucks, and AJ Styles. They would see someone in the ring with a deer-in-the-headlights look and say, “He’s not elite.” Eventually, he and the Bucks took it more seriously as they saw themselves as the ambassadors of Bullet Club in the United States. He said that Ring of Honor has never had a problem with it; he said initially New Japan wanted to merchandise it, but they were respectful when he said that he and the Bucks wanted to keep it for themselves.

Omega also acknowledged that the group “insulates” them if Bullet Club gets watered down. He said that Bullet Club was supposed to be a group of friends at first, not every foreign wrestler that came to New Japan. He did say though that they “begged” for Marty Scurll to be added to Bullet Club. Omega also isn’t sure he’s “fit” to be the leader of Bullet Club anymore. He said that working hard makes anyone get over in Japan, so now he’s being cheered when the Bullet Club is heel, which is what New Japan prefers. He noted that Cody Rhodes was booed in the United States, so he would be a “great leader” of the Club in the future.

Omega was asked how he felt about people claiming his feud with Okada has replaced the Okada/Tanahashi feud for the best in modern New Japan. He said that he and Okada told a great story, but he’s not sure comparing it to a three-year long rivalry of eight-to-nine matches. He “wouldn’t feel slighted” if people said the Okada/Tanahashi feud was better.

He was asked about working with Takahashi’s stuffed animal, Daryl. He said that he could see a six-man tag maybe, but Daryl would automatically be the babyface in the match. He said “the wheels are spinning” now that he’s been asked the question.

Finally, Omega was asked how close he was to signing with WWE in January of this year. He said it was “not too close at all.” He said that there were certain guys he would love to wrestle in WWE, but he never got to the point where he could talk to the company about who he would be wrestling and what the ideas were for him. He said that he’s not worried about making money in the business any more and more worried about his legacy and what moments he can have. He said he might want to go to WWE in the future.

Score and Review (10/10)

X-Pac 1-2-360 had a high profile guest this week and capitalized on it greatly. The group conducted an excellent interview with a strong set of questions that focused more on Omega’s more recent history and the current New Japan product than walking through the traditional “who trained you, where did you start” type interview. Omega, for his part, was honest, forthright, humble, and funny throughout the interview. The segments where Omega talks about being safe in the ring and his rationale of “comedy” wrestling are definite must listens.


00:00: The group discusses Takeover and SummerSlam

35:17: Plugs and ads

37:04: Omega on Winnipeg “death tours,” his WWE developmental days, and the origins of John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

1:01:27: Omega talks comedy wrestling and incorporating his video games references/moves

1:10:57: Omega on the grueling G1 schedule and ring safety

1:26:24: Omega on six-star matches, wrestling Ishii, potentially wrestling Daryl, and any future WWE plans

About Chris

Chris Gaspare is teacher from Maryland who has been watching wrestling since 1989 when he saw his first WCW Saturday Night episode and quickly rented as many NWA and WWF VHS tapes he could find in local stores. He also attended Tri-State Wrestling Alliance and early ECW shows in Philadelphia, which really kicked his fandom into high gear. He lapsed in the mid-2000s, but returned to the wrestling fold a few years ago.

For more, check out last week’s recap of X-Pac 1,2,360 with Aleister Black.

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