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PODCAST RECAP AND REVIEW: Talk Is Jericho with Kenny Omega on how their match came about, why it was a game changer for NJPW, spots they improvised and had to change, Kenny’s favorite parts of the match

Talk Is Jericho

Release Date: January 10, 2018

Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo

DIRECT LINK TO LISTEN/DOWNLOAD

0:00 – Intro

This is Chris’ second week on the Westwood One network and he’s back from Japan to talk about the Alpha vs. Omega match with Kenny Omega, which a lot of people are calling the best of Jericho’s careers, the show stealer of the night, match of the year, and in some cases, the best match of all time. They’ll also talk about Omega’s ring entrance, how the match became a no DQ match, what was called on the fly, and what didn’t quite work out. They’ll also talk about why taking table bumps in Japan is different than the States.

1:42 – Kenny Omega

Chris is at the Tokyo hotel with Kenny Omega, who says he’s feeling pretty beat up but is also feeling really good. Even though they’ve finished the match, he says the adrenaline hasn’t worn off and he still has a big smile. Chris says that even though he’s feeling pretty sore, it’s like a badge of honor. He adds that he has all these bumps and bruises but doesn’t know where they came from. Kenny agrees and says the fun part is trying to figure out where and when these bruises happened during a match. He says that even though he’s feeling bruised, he’s proud of feeling that way and it shows they worked hard and told the story of a them having a fight.

Chris says in the heat of the match, it does feel like a fight. People were saying they were beating the crap out of each other and Chris says they were. Kenny said it was very physical and a very free flowing fight. He adds that they weren’t trying to injure each other but there were times when they had to make it count. Both guys went into the match with that understanding and beat each other up a little bit. Chris says the angle they built with Jericho bloodying up Omega then the fight at the press conference after, changed the tone of the match they were going to have. Omega says since day one, they’ve been gauging the angle by the feeling from the atmosphere of the building, the atmosphere of the people and how people were reacting on social media. Based on these reactions, they would change things accordingly and says the reason it was so successful was because they allowed things to evolve organically.

At first, a lot of people were focused on how old Jericho was thought his age was the reason this match was made a no DQ as Chris would not be able to keep up with Kenny. It was never the intention to do a no DQ match. Originally they wanted to do an Omega/Okada style match however, it got so violent and people responded to it so well, they decided to go with the no DQ stip.

Chris mentions Don Callis, who used to book Omega on indie wrestling shows (and who was managed by Kenny’s uncle, The Golden Sheik). Omega says Callis was the first one to give him a break in Winnipeg. Omega was a fan of RVD in ECW and Jericho in WCW, which he considered the alternatives to WWE and wanted to go down that road even though the local promotions in Winnipeg were not into that style. Callis recognized his talent wanted to help Omega. Omega says a lot of his early development was because of Don’s belief in him. Later on, Omega was the one who suggested to New Japan to use Don for their play-by-play.

Kenny tells the story of how he got Don booked in New Japan (9:45 into the podcast). During one of Jericho’s past podcasts, he had Kenny and Don as guests and Don said ‘hook me up kid’. Omega didn’t think Don would want the job, as Don had a good job already but Don said he was serious. New Japan at the time had lost their announcer Steve Corino and Kenny thought Don was the right person for the job. Omega talked to Gedo (New Japan Booker) right away, however Gedo did not recognize Don. Omega told New Japan to listen to Killing The Town (Don’s podcast with Lance Storm) to get a feel for how Don was on the mic. New Japan listened and said they liked what they heard, however, New Japan offered the job to Lance Storm as that’s who they thought Kenny was talking about. Don eventually got the job.

Later, Don asked Chris if he would be interested in wrestling Kenny at the Tokyo Dome (12:59 into the podcast) fully expecting Chris would say no but Chris said it was possible. This was the best time for him as he currently wasn’t under contract to WWE and had no plans for this time frame. At this time, Kenny was looking for something to do so when Don asked Kenny about a match with Jericho, he said it would be great but didn’t think it would happen. Additionally, even though Omega had Jericho’s contact number, he initially afraid to contact Jericho. When Don confirmed Chris was serious about the match, they finally made contact to make it happen. Kenny spoke to Gedo, who was initially surprised but said ‘let’s do it,’ which was good for Kenny because at the time, they had no plans for him other than a shotgun match with Kota Ibushi. Even though Kota and Omega had some history, they had no storyline going at the time. He really wanted to the Jericho match because that was business-breaking.

Chris jumps in and talks about being contacted by Gedo ,who wanted to talk to Jericho about Kenny. Gedo, Tiger Hattori, Rocky Romero and Naoki Sugabayashi (chairman of NJPW) came to New York to speak with Chris, which is when he knew they were serious about the match.

Chris continues saying it took awhile to put the deal together. Kenny adds that he was thinking of things that could possibly go wrong such as money or availability. He says when New Japan brings in new talent, usually they will ask for a time commitment such as 5 dates which Jericho may be able to do.

Kenny was cool with telling their story with just videos but wanted to hammer home they would tell the story and make it work regardless of how they had to do it whether it was videos or social media. They were going to make sure people were looking forward to the match. Chris also says he wasn’t sure how the WWE (Vince) was going to react. Chris mentions that he, Omega, and Don Callis got on a call to discuss the angle. Kenny originally said they could do social media but Jericho said he was going to go to Japan to do this right.

They bring up the twitter exchange between Chris and Kenny (22:44 into the podcast). Chris had a friend of his post a tweet about Kenny Omega being the best wrestler in the world which kicked off the exchange. People thought Omega and Jericho worked themselves into a shoot (click here to see the tweet in question). Omega says he liked the comment Chris said because it was subtle and had people questioning what it was. There was a point when people went into ‘fantasy booker’ mode so Kenny sent a tweet saying there wasn’t going to be a payoff and to back off. Chris said people thought this was going to lead to a match on his cruise.

They talk about the video that originally aired (25:01 into the podcast) and that nobody knew. Kenny says Don knew and that he had clued in the Young Bucks. Chris said Okada didn’t even know. Kenny says the boys thought it was great and that they became fans again. Kenny says nobody was offended he didn’t tell anyone but rather they thought it was cool. Chris says it’s so rare to surprise people in this day and age. He couldn’t believe that nobody found out.

Chris said this reminded him of a Japanese wrestling version of McGregor vs Mayweather (26:45 into the podcast). Once the match was announced, there was a buzz about it everywhere. Kenny said it became viral because the announcement was infectious and it spread to Japan and through social media. People thought there would be nothing else after the announcement the match however, Jericho and Omega kept adding fuel. Jericho says there had to be a physical altercation which lead to a discussion about Jericho’s sneak attack on Omega. Kenny said it was really cool and it brought him back to when he was watching ECW or the Attitude Era. Kenny says they do not do that in New Japan nor did they expect Jericho to be there in the flesh. Chris said he was worried that someone would see him and spoil the surprise.

Chris and Kenny start talking about the match (33:22 into the podcast). Originally, they had planned to have a technical match, however, after the press conference, they decided to go with a no DQ stipulation. This way, they would have an excuse to do all the stuff they did in front of the referee and not put the referee in a bad position. In one spot, Jericho had Omega in the Walls and when Omega got to the ropes, the ref started counting even though it was a no DQ. Chris says he got the idea for the match from his match with Rey Mysterio from an Extreme Rules PPV in 2009. Jericho suggested they do a no DQ match and built up to one chair shot, which ended the match. This way they were able to do an extreme rules type of match while keeping the integrity of the wrestling match, which is what Omega and Jericho did with their match at the Tokyo Dome. Omega says it was cool to feel like it was just the two of them fighting and trying to beat the crap out of each other. They were able to feel the atmosphere and emotion while and adapt while they were building the angle and during the match.

Kenny said there was a lot of stuff they called on the fly during the match because it felt right. They originally had a spot where Jericho would slingshot Kenny, who would land on something and do a moonsault (37:05 into the podcast). Prior to the match, Kenny checked out the ring area where they might do this spot. He found an area where he could do the moonsault but during the match before them (Tanahashi/White), they were discussing the match and the Young Bucks were listening in. The bucks said the moonsault spot they were planning was almost the exact same thing Will Osprey had done earlier in the card. Kenny said he and Jericho were good enough to do something different. They said they would figure something else when they got out there and Kenny said it was one of the most fun parts of the match.

They talk about the springboard crossbody out to the floor (41:16 into the podcast). Initially, Jericho was going to move and hit Don Callis but when Omega was on the top rope, he didn’t realize how far Don was from the ring. He wasn’t sure if he was going to make the distance so Kenny was going to aim for Jericho (who was going to move), look like he was out of control then crash into the table. Kenny said he decided this literally just as he stood on the top rope about to jump. He ended up clipping Don, crashing into the table and it looked better than he had originally planned.

After that spot, Kenny starts throwing monitors and equipment on Chris who remembers Kevin Kelly yelling ‘we’ve lost transmission’(42:48 into the podcast). Kenny heard that as well and hoped that he hadn’t pulled anything important to the broadcast as he was trying to be as clean as possible when throwing equipment. They talk about Kenny throwing a table on Jericho during the match which led to Omega jumping off the scaffolding onto the table on Jericho. This was called on the fly.

Chris says the furniture (i.e. tables and chairs) is very different than the US  (45:35 into the podcast). The tables are heavy and sturdy and the chairs are flimsy. Omega had warned Jericho that the pads from the chairs would pop out if you use them. There was a spot in the match where Kenny hit a snapdragon on Jericho and Jericho grabbed a chair to hit Kenny with. When Jericho grabbed the chair, the cushion fell off so Jericho had the grab the cushion with the chair. When he hit Kenny, he let go the cushion which made it look like it flew off.

Jericho also says he noticed a bunch of screws on the mat which were from the chairs. Omega expected the ref to kick the screws out of the ring but he didn’t so when Omega went down to sell, he had to do snow angels in the ring to clear them out. Jericho says tables in the WWE are very thin but the ones in New Japan are 2 or 3 inches thick. He mentions that Sabu back in the ’90s would moonsault on these tables and they wouldn’t break. Chris adds that it’s stuff you never think of when you work in a certain place until you go somewhere different. Kenny had suggested getting prop tables for this match and the bookers said no as it was not the Japanese style. Kenny mentions during a ladder with Mike Elgin, he took a powerbomb off the top of the ladder onto two tables and just bounced off. Hey said that hurt worse than if the tables had broken.

Chris asks Kenny about his ring entrance (49:53 into the podcast). At the last Wrestle Kingdom, Kenny had come in with a Terminator type entrance and had been calling himself the cleaner. This year, he had been talking about himself as the God of Professional Wrestling and wanted to go with that. The costume he used was influenced by the X-Men villain of Apocalypse. He also had a concept for an entrance video based on people worshipping him as a great wrestler. He also wanted big match music for his entrance as part of the entrance package. He talked to the office a few days before the event and asked for a sample of the entrance music, however, New Japan production did not have anything as they had no time. Jericho said that something like that would never happen in the WWE, especially for a top guy in the main event. Kenny tried to be understanding and wanted to know why they didn’t have time. He thought the production staff may have been busy with another entrance but didn’t see anything to prove that. He thinks part of the disconnect is that a wrestling company is owned by another company and a lack of communication. Kenny says that he had the costume and figured he should still use it. He showed it to Jericho prior to the match and Chris said go for it.

Chris talks about his non-sanctioned match with Shawn Michaels. During one spot, Jericho had Michaels in the Walls but wouldn’t let go so Shawn sprayed him with a fire hydrant. This leads into a discussion about a similar spot in his match with Omega (57:27 into the podcast). Originally, Jericho wanted to use a fire extinguisher but Gedo wouldn’t allow it plus, they don’t use the CO2 spray but rather the ones that use foam. Gedo suggested cold spray, which was part of Kenny’s gimmick in 2015. Kenny was responsible for finding the cold spray but had some issues tracking them down. On the day of the show, he still had nothing but finally found it at an MMA goods store.

Omega continues that he had placed the cans prior to the match and noticed there was a first aid kit near where he placed the cans. During the junior matches, Marty Scurll went under the ring and grabbed the first aid kit, most likely displacing the cold spray can. When Jericho had Kenny in the Walls, Kenny had to reach way under the ring to grab a can. He adds there were a things that happened during the match that happened before or during the match that they had no control over

Chris talks about a last man standing with Triple H. There were signs everywhere saying stay away from the announce table as it was part of their finish. However, Perry Saturn and China broke the table. Triple H and Jericho had to come up with a completely different ending. Kenny said a lot went wrong with the match but it still looked like a real fight. Jericho said the reaction of the boys and from social media blew his mind. Kenny was worried that people had to come to expect a certain style from Omega and New Japan. He was worried if people were going to be disappointed by Kenny stepping out of his comfort zone and trying something new. However, Kenny got a lot of positive feedback about the match.

Chris says there is no bigger match in WWE than Alpha vs. Omega.

Chris asks how big this match was with expanding the New Japan product in North America. Kenny says it was a game changer. He says the match he did with Okada opened up a lot of eyes about the New Japan product. The show in the States gave people an opportunity to watch the product live (the US title tournament). Coming off those two performances, he was wondering what he could do to top that. Sure he could have a good match but instead of trying to do another 5 or 6 start match, Omega would rather go out of his comfort zone and try and tell new stories. He feels that the match with Jericho kicked New Japan into another gear. This match was completely different from his matches with Okada or during the show in LA. Omega says he’s on a mission to make wrestling cool again and feels it’s not an us vs. them situation (with the WWE) but wants everyone to be open to collaboration. He respects a lot of the wrestlers in the WWE and his match with Jericho shows these two forces can coexist and when they clash it’s amazing.

Jericho says if you’re trying to compete with the WWE, you have to be different. Chris says the Alpha thing was never a character, it was just a name (which Vince McMahon didn’t think he should use). Chris said a bunch of factors led to this match being a big draw for the show. New Japan world got 25,000 new subscriptions in one day which was huge.

Chris asks Kenny what his favorite parts of the match were (1:14:23 into the podcast). Kenny says he’s a fan of improvising and doesn’t think he’s a move guy. He said the crossbody to the table that didn’t quite work or the moonsault spot they didn’t do and improvised something else outside the ring were fun. He also liked the physicality of the match and the fact there was not dead time or rest holds. Those are the details that Kenny likes a lot. He likes the stuff you can’t choreograph but rather happens during the circumstance of the match. He also says even though this is the first time they’ve wrestled, they were creating what many said was match of the night. Kenny said the match also unlocked a new style for him and if he were to do this again he could do it even better. Chris said one of his favorite spots was Kenny jumping on the table with Jericho underneath and the one-winged angel into the walls. Kenny mentions he liked when Jericho took a ringside photographer’s camera and took pictures.

Overall, Jericho says it was an incredible experience and they talk about how this was 6 months of excitement. Chris thanks Kenny for the match and Kenny says it was one of his favorite performances of his career. Jericho gives a shout out to Winnipeg being the mecca of wrestling and takes a parting shot at Calgary. Chris thanks Kenny for being on the podcast and Kenny signs off.

1:18:50 – Show Wrap

Chris thanks Kenny again and says the last 6 months were great and wants more. He also thanks Don Callis for putting this match together. Jericho plugs his cruise and that’s a wrap.

Rating – 9/10

I loved the Jericho vs Omega match and love hearing about what goes into having a match. Subsequently, I loved this podcast. There’s also some good insight into how New Japan does business compared to the WWE. Omega comes across as humble and very intelligent. When I was listening to this, I re-watched the parts in the match they were talking about and if you haven’t watched this match, definitely get your eyes on it.

Timestamps

0:00 – Intro
1:42 – Kenny Omega
9:45 – Kenny gets Don Callis booked in Japan
12:59 – Story about Don Callis asking Chris about wrestling Kenny
22:44 – Twitter exchange between Jericho and Omega
25:01 – The video of Chris challenging Kenny
26:45 – Chris talks about the buzz around the match announcement
33:22 – Chris and Kenny talk about in-ring action
37:05 – The moonsault spot that never happened
41:16 – The Springboard out of the ring
42:48 – ‘We’ve Lost Transmission’
45:35 – Chris talks about the difference in furniture between Japan and the US
49:53 – Kenny’s Ring Entrance
57:27 – The Use of Cold Spray
1:14:23 – Chris and Kenny talk about their favorite parts of the match
1:18:50 – Show wrap

Writer Bio

Joe lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife and two boys. He’s been watching wrestling for about 40 years (give or take) but don’t consider himself any sort of expert. He just likes wrestling.  Check him out on twitter and instagram @ja113.  

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