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Kenny Omega on AEW’s backstage drama, Brawl Out, and what’s next for his career

Kenny Omega AEW

AEW Executive Vice-President, reigning Trios champion, and former Tag & World champ Kenny Omega was Renee Paquette’s latest guest on The Sessions.

The interview comes at a very interesting time, as Omega’s AEW contract is said to be up at some point this year, and signing him is reportedly high on WWE’s “to do” list. CM Punk, another AEW World champ Omega and his fellow EVPs The Young Bucks infamously clashed with following last September’s All Out PPV, is close to being medically cleared to return, and fans & industry observers are all anxious to see how AEW owner Tony Khan handles that situation.

Both topics were touched on in Paquette & Omega’s nearly hour long conversation.

In the build-up to All Out, Omega had just returned from an injury of his own. He compared walking into the AEW locker room last summer to this well-known GIF from Community:

“I didn’t get it. I was like, ‘What is with this strange atmosphere? What is with this strange aura? Why does something feel so ominous right now?’ I didn’t know and couldn’t figure it out. Next you knew, there was more stuff happening...

”I hadn’t even gotten familiar with my surroundings yet or refamiliarized backstage with the new AEW at that point because we had many new people in the locker room and a lot had happened in eight months. So to kind of come back and see a lot of old faces and be like, ‘Oh hey, oh hey’ but then feel this eerie sort of — it felt like I was in Eerie, Indiana for a second.

“It was like, ‘Oh boy,’ and then, stranger things started happening when I was like, ‘Oh man, what do I do? This isn’t right. Someone needs to be the voice of reason. This is silly,’ and it’s just like things fell off the rails and we were just involved in a very silly situation that people are probably gonna be talking about for months and possibly years to come.”

That “strange aura”, according to all the reporting of the issue, was a belief held by some in the locker room that Punk was forcing his former friend Colt Cabana out of AEW, and Punk’s belief that Kenny’s fellow EVPs and Elite partners The Young Bucks were anonymously telling the media he was responsible for Cabana’s absence. The “stranger things” that started happening likely involved Punk’s unscripted callout of Hangman Page, in response to Page referencing the situation during a promo on Punk during their feud earlier in the year.

Kenny said he initially viewed the situation as akin to when people playing competitive sports get into a “spat” in the heat of the moment, and later move on. But...

“We just don’t live in that world anymore, I suppose. Sometimes there are things, especially now when you’re in a multi-million, billion dollar industry when there are sponsorships on the line, TV deals on the line, it’s not like high school football, it’s not a little tiff that you would have with your fellow amateur wrestling team or maybe someone held a submission too long in jiu jitsu training. It’s not that and these things shouldn’t even be happening.

“It’s a shame that a lot of people and the general public aren’t ever gonna know what went down and how it could have been prevented or how it could have ended differently. That’s just sort of how things go. Again, when it’s a big business operation, I don’t think anyone is happy that it happened or is proud that it happened or anything like that. I think across the board, everyone thinks it was a terrible situation that was unnecessary.”

Many of Paquette’s follow-ups couldn’t be answered with specifics. Omega said he was “sworn to secrecy,” eluding to reports of lawyers being involved in sorting out the post-All Out mess. He did say the backstage atmosphere has changed, and that he doesn’t let what happened affect his day-to-day. He believes that also true for Matt & Nick Jackson of The Bucks, and although he doesn’t name him, Kenny hopes it’s true for Punk, too.

“Yeah, I really do [feel the locker room atmosphere has changed post-Brawl Out]. There was a while when — and I can understand the confusion. It’s sort of like, hey, we know this thing happened, we heard this thing happened. It’s all over the dirt sheets. Why don’t we know what happened? And it’s like, we’re gone and we’re kind of sworn to secrecy. We can’t say anything, legally so that was the poofy part where it was like, well why doesn’t anyone tell us what’s happening? And then you’re forced to form your own opinion or come up with your own theory as to what exactly happened…

“Chances are, it’s something else or it might be a combination of various theories and we might never get to speak about it but what’s important [is] that no one was seriously injured emerging from that and I’m so thankful for that and we’ve moved on with life. I am completely fine, it doesn’t dictate what I do, what I say. I’m sure The Bucks are in the same boat. I can’t speak to the other parties. Hopefully they are doing well, I mean that. That’s the sitch.”

On the subject of his own future, Omega was again understandably reluctant to provide much detail. What he did say indicated that decisions about his future won’t be based on how a company promises to book or present him personally:

“Sometimes, the first thing that pops into your mind is probably how you really feel. The first thing that came into my mind wasn’t a title, wasn’t some kind of accolade. I feel like whatever I can contribute to wrestling, I want to be able to help people in the next generation realize their potential as quick as possible or quicker than I was able to. If I can help give anyone advice or push them into a certain direction that can lead to something good for them, career-wise, down the road, that is where I like to see myself. I don’t feel like I have too many goals or aspirations of my own anymore.

“I feel like, am I wasting my time here? Do I not even deserve my position if I’m not looking for some sort of measure of success for myself, like am I being ungrateful almost? So those thoughts even still fill my head a little bit because I felt that when I was motivated to win the G1, when I was motivated to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, or win the Match of the Year Award, or win Technical Wrestler of the Year Award, or even even throw like a random thing like boy, wouldn’t it be nice if I could somehow win PWI 500?

“It got to a point where I was just kind of creating goals to achieve just to have something, and I guess as the checklist started to fill up, and I’m so thankful and I feel so fortunate that I was able to, it became so much less about me and became more about, well I’ve got this resume now, I know that I’m breaking down, and I know that there are people that have 10 years on me or 15 years on me. They have all this time to work with and they can much easier, with much less of a struggle, get to where I am today, and maybe I can save them some mental anguish. Maybe I can save them from being away from their family for a couple more years if I can help them a little bit. That’s just sort of the position that I feel that I’m in right now.”

Are Kenny’s comments on last year’s big drama an olive branch of sorts to CM Punk? Will he see it, let alone accept it, that way? Does AEW give Omega a better chance to mold the future of the business, or could Triple H offer him something that includes or leads to coaching in NXT that would influence him to make the jump to WWE?

We shall see. In the meantime, check out his entire conversation with Renee — which also includes his thoughts on a past AEW hot topic, Revolution 2021’s Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch dudhere.

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