No matter how you look at it, the story of Golden☆Lovers - the tag team partnership and relationship between New Japan stars Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi - is one of the longest running, layered stories in pro wrestling.
A lot of people believe Omega and Ibushi are involved romantically, and there’s evidence to support that beyond just their team name. There are some who, for whatever reason, vehemently deny there’s anything more than friendship between the two. Ahead of this weekend’s Strong Style Evolved show in Long Beach, Yahoo Sports asked Kenny directly.
Here’s how he responded:
“Let people think what they want to think.
If LGBT people can identify with our story, if they think ‘the Golden Lovers are my team,’ I’m good with that. It’s the story of two wrestlers who shared dreams on their way up, who became fast friends, who are now reuniting at the top of their game.
Ibushi was the very first friend I made when I came over and started wrestling in Japan. When two people start at the bottom of a business and work their way up and find success, that stays with you, whether you’re working together or separately. Now, the time is right for the next chapter.
I think it’s important to show in the 21st century that if you’re gay, lesbian, trans, whatever, that you should feel just as welcome to be a wrestling fan as anyone else. You’re welcome in the space.”
Yahoo says Omega told them a possible sexual relationship between Golden☆Lovers, which though it wasn’t overtly mentioned in their DDT Pro run was definitely part of the story during their first stint as a team, “won’t be emphasized in its current iteration”.
None of this means that, heading into his match on Sunday night with Kota against The Young Bucks, Kenny isn’t willing to directly address people who try to exclude lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or queer fans, or stories with LGBTQ themes from the wrestling world. Or to take some shots at frequent punching bag WWE:
“I do get some stupid messages on Twitter from homophobic people and they’re usually WWE fans, which kind of drives things home. In WWE, a gay person is usually portrayed like some sort of comedy act to be mocked and laughed at. The world’s not like that anymore. Everyone should feel welcome to the show.“
So now you know... kind of. While basically saying “it’s complicated” isn’t a direct answer, at least we have one from a Lover himself.