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I’m Back.

3 years ago

I’m Back.

It was the fax heard around the world that signaled the return of Michael Jordan to the Chicago Bulls in 1995. After a two-year hiatus away from the game, the greatest of all-time was slam-dunking his way back to what he did best.

What would that announcement look like for Kenny Omega and a return to New Japan Pro Wrestling? Ok, it wouldn’t be a fax – that’s an old, archaic way to transmit a message via a phone line and a printer, for those under the age of 25 – but maybe a tweet? Maybe a deep hidden message in a video game? Maybe just a simple and direct Kenny Omega promo on AEW Dynamite? Who knows?

What we do know is that the announcement would send shock waves through the world of pro wrestling and carry the same weight that the Jordan announcement carried. It would mark the return of one of the best ever to the company he helped build up to new popularity in Japan and abroad. New developments concerning AEW and NJPW have led to the Forbidden Door opening up between both companies (editor’s note: Check our second issue for an inside story of Meij’s departure, and the now-open Forbidden Door).

KENTA recently appeared on Dynamite and Jon Moxley finally defended his IWGP United States Championship on New Japan television. Not only that, Moxley retained the title – a clear signal that a regular relationship exists between both companies. Looking at how Tony Khan has booked his talent and the lack of concern on his part in entering into talent sharing-agreements puts the inevitable KENNY OMEGA IS BACK IN NJPW! on track. At this point, it’s a matter of when, not if. The big, money-drawing matches for him are endless – and if time won’t heal old wounds, money might do it.

It all starts with the belt collector gimmick that Omega adopted when he won the AEW World Championship. It lets “The Cleaner” lead the way for the talent-sharing relationships Khan has inked. Rather than partner with companies utilizing over worn ‘invasion’ angles, Khan positioned his top star of as the act to build the partnerships around. Khan’s premiere player leading his company not only establishes the AEW brand and Omega as a star, but sets up each for fresh matches with talent that Khan doesn’t need to sign outright.

There should be one belt Omega needs to set his sights on: The IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. Kota Ibushi might not have retained in his first defense, but I have a sneaking suspicion he’s not leaving the title picture anytime soon – and any other star versus Omega would be negligible. Ibushi’s track has mirrored Omega’s, winning the last two G1 Climax tournaments and main-eventing Wrestle Kingdom in the two years since his Golden Lovers partner left for AEW.

Stylistically, Ibushi is arguably the most unique wrestler on the planet. He’s found a way to balance ferocious violence and artistic beauty all at once in the ring. Not only does this make for entertaining matches, it provides him with a vast array of talented performers to work with successfully.

The match with Omega writes itself. On the surface and without looking at history, both men classify themselves as gods of pro wrestling. I can imagine the PPV event poster and social media graphics now. Ibushi, the top babyface in NJPW against Kenny Omega, the turncoat, former New Japan star, and face of All Elite Wrestling. That sentence alone sells some PPV’s.

Then there is the history to consider. Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi met in the early 2000’s when both were in the DDT-Pro promotion. It was in DDT that they formed the Golden Lovers and a story arch that would last nearly all the way through the end of Omega’s tenure in Japan. Their story together is ripe for big business. Both men grew up within the pro wrestling business. They’ve teamed along the way and battled each other too. Now that they are both on top of their respective companies, a final collision works to satisfy their near 20 year journey.

From a match perspective, Ibushi vs. Omega is tantalizing. Both not only understand the psychology of the game, but they are brilliant in generating unique spots and action in a match. Their physicality and athletic prowess leave nothing on the table and the result would be an exciting match, with big stakes, history, and a presumably giant show. Those are the four boxes you want checked if you’re a promoter. Outside of Kota Ibushi, other notable names for Omega to face in a return to New Japan would be Jay White, Shingo Takagi, Will Ospreay, KENTA, and his old rival Kazuchika Okada. A match with Jay White is in the distant future, but it’s a big one when the time comes.

White has proven to be an important commodity in New Japan and has grown his craft significantly since he returned to the company after an excursion. While he’s wrestled Omega before, he hasn’t since the cylinders clicked fully. Shingo Takagi vs. Kenny Omega in New Japan should make fans’ hearts melt. In 2021 thus far, Takagi has had some of the best matches of the year against Hiroshi Tanahashi and Will Ospreay. Watching the sheer brutality of him and Omega going at it would be riveting and seeing what new facets of work Omega could bring out of Takagi would be interesting as well. And it goes without saying, an Okada bout looms over any Kenny Omega return to New Japan. Okada and Omega famously had some of the greatest wrestling matches of all-time between ‘16 and ‘18.

If Omega hits send on the fax, it would be a disservice to the industry not to book it given the shifts in story.

Like Hiroshi Tanahashi, Okada is now a legend of New Japan. He still has plenty to give, but is on another level in terms of his standing and position on the roster. Okada defending his New Japan turf against old foe Omega works well and stays fresh given Omega’s new character and position outside of New Japan.

Omega’s return to New Japan means opportunity for all involved. For “The Cleaner”, it means growing the aura of the belt collector character, J-Crowned style, and giving his greedy mischief credibility in the world of pro wrestling. It also would arguably bring to vision Don Callis’ nickname for Omega: The God of Pro Wrestling.


For AEW, it means an opportunity to expand the company footprint and access talent otherwise tied to other title pictures. For New Japan, it means a bigger entry into the American market. It’s just too obvious not to make it happen – the Omega crossover is a win for all parties, especially wrestling fans and writers, since the crossover matches are all potential classics.

After the “I’m Back” fax and return to basketball, Michael Jordan won three NBA Championships.

It’s your shot, Kenny.

This article first appeared in Monthly Puroresu Issue #4

Written by:

Based in Chicago, I've been a part of the news media business since 2007. I've worked in various capacities for Monthly Puroresu since 2020. n both print and broadcast roles. After graduating from Illinois State University, I have freelanced for Wade Keller at PW Torch among other wrestling outlets. I've been working