Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2023/01/01/post-news-update-kenny-omega-shares-that-he-wanted-to-join-pro-wrestling-noahs-dojo-system/
If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.
** There’s a Q&A on the Monthly Puroresu site with Kenny Omega. He shared that initially, he planned on venturing into the Japanese wrestling scene through joining Pro Wrestling NOAH’s dojo system. Omega ended up going to WWE developmental instead.
I never really did think that I had what it took. But the reason I went to the Harley Race camp in Elgin, Missouri was because it was for an opportunity to be implemented into the dojo system of Pro Wrestling NOAH. So I was willing to kind of forget everything I’d learned up to that point and start as a young boy in their dojo system. That was always the plan. In the end, I was selected by Johnny Ace to go to WWE instead. And I thought, well, this is a different kind of opportunity, and maybe this is kind of where my destiny is guiding me towards, so I’m not going to ignore it. And it was a great opportunity, even though it’s different from where I thought I would end up being.
I did go into the WWE developmental system, Deep South Wrestling at the time, and it wasn’t for me. At that point, I had thought maybe wrestling isn’t for me because I was thinking at the highest level, when it becomes more of a business rather than a passion. Maybe I’m not the businessman that I thought that I was, maybe I was never meant to be at the highest level. Things are meant to be micromanaged. Maybe it isn’t what made me fall in love with wrestling to begin with.
While being at the Harley Race camp in hopes of getting to NOAH, Omega recalled Kenta Kobashi and John Laurinaitis joking about who had dibs on him to potentially bring him into their respective company.
He [Kenta Kobashi] had jokingly said with Johnny Ace, when he showed up, he had said like, ‘Oh, I’ve picked this guy already.’ Johnny’s like, ‘Woah! Not so fast. Maybe we want him over in WWE.’ And they’re joking around like, ‘Oh, this is a great taste of things to come!’ Like, I’m glad that they’re making jokes about me and already singled me out in a positive way. That was my first sort of semi-interaction with Kobashi. And then [Naomichi] Marufuji and KENTA were real hands-on while they’re there as well. And I remember Marufuji gave me a real good piece of advice. Just because he’s a real nice guy. Not because I begged him for it, and it wasn’t a half-hearted answer.
** As Shawn Michaels was talking to Sam Roberts about the WrestleMania 24 match against Ric Flair, Michaels shared that if social media was as big then as it is now, he does not know if he would have done the ‘I’m sorry, I love you’ finish. He feels it is something people could have thrown back in their face.
I’ll say this, I don’t know — because I was talking about it earlier (finish to the match with Ric Flair at WrestleMania 24) — had social media and everything been out there the way that it is now and you see all of those things, I’m not sure I would’ve had the guts to do that finish with Ric for fear that they would kick it back at us… And I don’t mean to ever imply our fans are mean… Because on social media, they probably won’t show you the 15-year-old wrestling fan in them, you know what I mean? They’re a bit guarded but when you’re there in the moment and you’re there at WrestleMania and you allow us to take you there, they are fine, grown men are fine whimpering and, ‘Oh my goodness, that was beautiful man.’ But, I just don’t know that I (would’ve) had the guts to do it, you know what I mean? Had I seen what possibly could have been the other side of it but that was my concern. I know I’m getting very long-winded on all these but way too much goes on in here (Shawn’s head) than it probably should.
** On January 9th, Fuji TV is airing the first episode of a series about wrestling trainees. Kazuchika Okada is serving as the lead coach for the show. Okada was interviewed by the ‘Kukka’ website and explained why NJPW is dropping their age and size restrictions for trainees for this show. He said the company believes there could be some ‘diamonds in the rough’ and doesn’t want to encourage those who do not meet those restrictions to give up on their dream.
In the case of New Japan Pro-Wrestling, there are currently restrictions on age (18-23 years old) and height (180 cm or taller). We believe that there are people who have given up on their dreams because of these restrictions. By removing these restrictions, we believe that there may be some great diamonds in the rough, and we did not want to let these restrictions remain in place. We also want to encourage those who have given up on the idea of becoming a professional wrestler to give it a try, and we value the rebellious spirit of those who are determined to become a professional wrestler. With these thoughts in mind, we have eliminated the restrictions…
Okada then provided insight into how he coaches the trainees on the program. He wants the viewers to see how hard they worked. He did not want to be strict but wanted them to realize the mentality they had to have as pro wrestlers.
First of all, I want people to see how hard they are working. I think there are scenes where I give strict instructions to the trainees, but I don’t want to be strict with them; I want them to be aware of their mentality as professional wrestlers. I would be happy if they could see how hard they are working, and if they could relate to that, not just within the framework of pro wrestling. Of course, it would be great if the program could be a catalyst for people to learn about pro wrestling. I hope that people will see them working hard toward their goals and be inspired by the program, saying, okay, I’ll start working hard tomorrow too.
** Episode #191 of the Grilling J.R. podcast is centered around Jim Ross’ contributions to helping WWE establish their developmental system(s) while he was with the company. Ross spoke highly of the role he had and said he would’ve been fine with not commentating anymore if he was asked to focus solely on the developmental role.
If Vince [McMahon] had said, ‘Look, I want you to get off the air and just do this,’ I might have had a boo boo face for a couple or three days. But I would have been happy to do it (his role in building WWE developmental) … I wanted to be a coach for so long in my life, football specifically, that I thought this is the perfect job for me. I like recruiting, I like looking at videos, I like interviewing the kids, I like talking to their families. I approached it as if we were stocking the shelves of a sports franchise and that’s what we are in wrestling. Whether it’s AEW now where I work or WWE, who’s really taking this whole concept to the next level and I’m proud of what they’ve done. It’s really smart.
Ross would go on to state that AEW Dark is somewhat of a developmental for All Elite Wrestling. Initially, Ross was skeptical of the concept because he thought established independent talents might feel they could earn more financially on the indies opposed to doing Dark.
That’s why I think one of the reasons [AEW] Dark, the Dark show that airs on YouTube on Tuesdays, was created. To get guys reps, to get ‘em in the ring, work live matches in front of an audience and I was always concerned about, are some of the guys who have a little bit more experience on the indies, are they gonna take this opportunity as seriously — I’m talking about AEW now — by being on a YouTube show? And I was skeptical at the beginning because I thought some of these older guys are gonna look at this like, oh bullsh*t. I can make more money on the indies — or you can make more money on the indies, I don’t know. I don’t know what the indies pay anymore. I don’t keep up with the pay.
** The 2007 WWE Armageddon pay-per-view was the focus of Bruce Prichard’s Something to Wrestle with podcast. During the Q&A portion of the show, Prichard was asked if he thinks Viscera/Mabel will go into the WWE Hall of Fame. He feels Viscera did not have a Hall of Fame career.
Well, especially after the tirade that I had earlier on but I don’t think Viscera had a Hall of Fame career.
Looking back at the storyline that Vince McMahon and Hornswoggle were the center of, Prichard said after a segment with Swoggle and The Great Khali was when they knew it was time to pull McMahon away from that. He added that it would have ended up with McMahon and Fit Finlay clashing and does not feel Fit was ready for that spot. He said Fit was personable and charismatic off-screen but not on-screen.
It was meant in fun but it was also the night that we realized Vince [McMahon] probably didn’t need to be in that Hornswoggle story anymore (after segment that involved Swoggle & Great Khali) … It was gonna be a clash with Fit [Finlay] and I don’t think that Fit was up to snuff at that point and Vince wasn’t feeling it and there was — it was a lot of things happening all at once. Bradshaw [JBL] really wanting to work with Fit… it was the perfect storm.
Fit wasn’t good in promos. He wasn’t good in promos man. He just couldn’t do it and it came across very stiff. Fit’s another one of those guys you can put in there like Brad Armstrong and Arn Anderson that are, man, you talk about having me in stitches, being personable and quick-witted and a guy that everybody loves. Red light turns on and he becomes very stiff and it just wasn’t working.
His character was always, you know, the tough Irishman and shooter and the tough Irishman, all of which he was. That’s who he is but then when you try to get Dave Finlay out of him, who’s this entertaining, quick-witted guy that cracks everybody up and has a smart-ass answer for everything, get him on camera, he couldn’t do it. Just couldn’t do it.
Prichard had been assigned to work with The Miz and John Morrison on their ‘Dirt Sheet’ show. He credited the duo for being ahead of their time. Prichard shared that no one wanted to get involved with the internet side of things and neither did he so he trusted Miz and Morrison to take the freedom they were being given and produce with it.
I got put in charge of [John] Morrison and Miz with their ‘Dirt Sheet’ thing that they did on this thing called the internet and nobody wanted to mess with it, nobody wanted to f*ck with it at all and I wasn’t really sure and they were getting heat man. They were getting heat from the boys that would look and say, ‘They’re exposing the business.’ They’re doing this, they’re doing that. But when I saw the kind of reaction that it got from the boys in the back and I watched a few of ‘em and I’m thinking, man, I don’t like this. This isn’t for me but that’s not who they were talking to and I sat down with them, I said, ‘Guys, this is my ass now, because you’re my assignment now. I’m gonna let you go do it. You go do it, don’t anything stupid and I’m gonna trust you on this’ because the numbers were showing, man, people were watching it. People were going to this internet thing… They were a little ahead of their time and I thought they did a damn good job.
There was a story that Prichard told about ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham bigging himself up to Vince McMahon in the late 1980s. This was some time after Graham had been sidelined due to multiple surgeries. He was telling McMahon how in shape he was and Vince took his word for it without ever seeing what Graham looked like at the time.
I came back in 1987. I remember sitting at Vince’s house, myself, Joel Watts, Pat Patterson and Vince [McMahon] and Vince was talking about how, ‘We need to go. We need to shoot these vignettes for Superstar Billy Graham. He’s gonna have hip surgery and –’ or they had already done the hip surgery and they had shot the hip surgery. They videoed the surgery. Superstar was gonna make his comeback… I don’t think Vince ever had saw a picture of Superstar, a video of Superstar or anything of what Superstar looked like in his current condition. But he was talking to Superstar quite often and Billy’s like, ‘I got these 22-inch pythons brother and they’re huge and arms, they’ve never been bigger Vince’ and he’s going on, ‘I’m in the best shape ever. I’ve got a 32-inch waist and I’m going and training every day and I’m running up to the top of the mountain of the desert. I’m ripping off cactus and drinking the juice.’ I mean, he’s cutting promos because it’s on speaker phone and you’re sitting at the kitchen table and sh*t and you’re listening to this and going, hey, sh*t man, wouldn’t that be great for a Superstar return? And Superstar was one of Vince’s favorites. So he goes, ‘I’m doing all this. Vince, it’s gonna be great. I’m gonna come back man, I’m gonna make a run for the title and I can be your man, I can be your man you can get behind me’ and Joel goes to Arizona to shoot vignettes with Superstar… I remember Joel calling me and going, ‘Yeah… Superstar is not in shape.’ I go, ‘What do you mean?’ And he says, ‘Nah, he’s not in shape.’ I said, ‘Oh sh*t man’ and I go, ‘Did you tell Vince?’ He goes, ‘Ah, Vince thinks by the time he gets back, he’ll be in ring shape and he’ll be ready to go because I don’t think he’s understanding what I’m telling him.’ So Joel comes back, show him the vignettes and we had to be very creative and judicious in what we showed from what was shot because you really couldn’t show him with his shirt off because he was a little soft, he had a gut. I’m not throwing stones, I’ve got a gut. I wore a white suit, okay? I ain’t taking my shirt off. So I’m not throwing stones. Superstar was in great shape compared to a lot of people but he wasn’t ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham. He wasn’t man of the hour, the man with the power, too sweet to be sour. He wasn’t that guy, and bald head, he had the weird goatee and everything, different colors and sh*t and Vince just heard what Superstar told him and took him at his word.
** Jushin Thunder Liger published his newest column for Tokyo Sports and wrote about several matches taking place at Wrestle Kingdom 17, including the IWGP Tag Team Title bout. Liger expressed his praise for both Bishamon (YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto) and FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler). He doesn’t think there are many teams like FTR in the world.
To win back-to-back championships in the World Tag League with so many teams out there is no small feat. When I watch their [Bishamon] matches, I never feel that they are in a hurry. They think about their techniques very carefully together. Even when I was commentating, I was thinking, what is this? (laughs) Even when they do similar combination techniques, they trust each other, so they don’t make mistakes. I think their opponents have the impression that there is no room for them to take advantage of each other.
On the other hand, the champion team (FTR) is also strong and good. I don’t want to be too forward, but in today’s New Japan Pro-Wrestling, you need to be able to do everything, not just good at submissions or good at using space. That is why FTR is at a very high level. I don’t think there are many tag teams like this in the world. I had an image that tag teams overseas don’t last very long. I think it will be an interesting match with Bishamon.
** During episode #339 of K100 w/ Konnan & Disco, Konnan credited Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque for allowing Rey Mysterio Jr. to send in a video for AAA Triplemanía XXX in October 2022.
Hunter did something that I’ve been wanting to do maybe 15, 20 years which was to get Rey [Mysterio] to send a video and in Triplemanía, Hunter let him send a video and he opened up the show so that was a big thing right there. So you never know (if they’ll allow WWE talents to come on the podcast). I think he’s got a different mentality.
** There’s an interview series on NJPW’s website that is centered around Ryusuke Taguchi. He recounted his time training under Toru Yano and Hiroshi Tanahashi who were his seniors. Among those in the dormitory he was living in was Yoshitatsu. Taguchi detailed how Yoshitatsu could be difficult to deal with.
It is true that Mr. [Toru] Yano was strict, but as long as I did my job properly, I was never yelled at unreasonably. However, there was one problem child, and if he did something wrong, he would be held jointly and severally liable… Needless to say, it was Yoshitatsu (laughs).
For example, when it came to cleaning, he would not do what he was assigned to do properly. Then I would get scolded and told to ‘get together with everyone!’ And I would be scolded or made to do squats as punishment. I think there were quite a few times like that… No (nobody tried to protest against Yoshitatsu being there). It was more like, ‘It’s Yoshitatsu, so it can’t be helped’ (laughs). Everyone probably thought, oh, it’s his fault again, but we didn’t bother to tell him that… Oh, no, not at all (did Yoshitatsu feel bad). (laughs) I think he probably didn’t really understand why he [Yano] was getting angry.
I remember well that about a week after I joined the company, all the younger members had an opportunity to be interviewed by phone. Yoshitatsu answered, ‘I’m totally fine!’
** On his ‘Hall of Fame’ podcast, Booker T told the story of when himself and Stevie Ray inadvertently saved ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan from potentially being harmed in a club. Booker recalled this being before Duggan was married and a woman was ‘all over him’ that night. Her significant other was not happy about it and had friends of his crowd Duggan. Booker T and Stevie Ray just so happened to walk in towards Duggan and that group of individuals cleared out.
A little story about ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan back in the day before he was married, we used to go to this club back in the day in Atlanta called Rupert’s and Hacksaw, all the ladies, they loved ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan. The girls, they loved — I’m serious man. Hacksaw would come in with a tank top with some Zubaz and a fanny pack on in a club where it’s everybody is dressed nice with suits on and everything, right? (Booker laughed) So Hacksaw rolls in the club and this girl that was in the club, she was all over him and her boyfriend hated him. So this guy had three other guys and they was finna jump on ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan and roust him pretty good in the club and me and my brother [Stevie Ray], we just happened to walk in Rupert’s. We didn’t know what was happening and Hacksaw saw me and my brother and he go, ‘Heat!!! Heat!!!’ And we came over and then the guys kind of just got away from him and left him alone and Hacksaw — we saved ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan’s life in Rupert’s in Atlanta, Georgia (Booker laughed). He called in The Heat and The Heat rolled in and everything just seemed to brighten up. I remember that night, we stayed in the club ‘till it closed down and I remember — it was crazy. It was crazy. It was a crazy night.
** As Kazuchika Okada was making the media rounds to promote NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17, he was interviewed by web Sportiva. The publication asked how more non-wrestling fans could become engaged with it. Okada brought up the soccer World Cup and how people might not normally watch the sport but will tune in for the national team games. He suggested that something along those lines could be done for pro wrestling.
As you can see from the excitement of the soccer World Cup, there are a lot of people who don’t normally watch soccer, but only watch the national team games. I think we need something similar in wrestling. I don’t know exactly what we need to do for that, but I would like to expand in the same way.
** On the Ring of Honor website, there’s a new article up about Dragon Lee’s matches in ROH. Lee signed with WWE in December.
** The ‘New Year’s Day STARDOM’ program is airing on STARDOM’s YouTube channel on January 1st. The likes of Mayu Iwatani, Tam Nakano, Starlight Kid and Utami Hayashishita are scheduled for the program. NJPW’s El Desperado and Taichi are appearing as well.
** Konosuke Takeshita shared the following photo with Kota Ibushi:
— Konosuke Takeshita 竹下幸之介 (@Takesoup) January 1, 2023
** ‘Brut America’ had a camera following TBS Champion Jade Cargill on the day of AEW Full Gear.
** New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s 50th Anniversary exhibit will be open from January 2nd through the 6th. It is located at Hikarie Hall in Tokyo, Japan.
** Apollo Crews was interviewed by The Black Announce Table.
** A video from the UpUpDownDown YouTube channel:
** The Bob Culture Podcast uploaded their chat with Nunzio (Little Guido).
** IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Jay White spoke to NJPW1972.com.
** George McKay of Straight Talk Wrestling chatted with Blake Christian.
** IMPACT Wrestling’s Eddie Edwards guest appeared on Brian Hebner’s Refin’ It Up podcast.
** There’s an interview on the Sportskeeda YouTube channel with Xia Brookside.
If any of the quotes from the following podcasts or video interviews are used, please credit those sources and provide an H/T and link back to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.