Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay was the match of the night at last month’s AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door pay-per-view event. However, there was one very scary spot late in the match where Omega took a Tiger Driver and it looked like he was spiked straight down on his head and neck.
Omega has been hearing a lot of criticism over the last few weeks about that risky spot, and it sounds like he’s had enough of it. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Omega had harsh words for some of his critics.
He first acknowledged that many of the critics are simply trolls who don’t actually care about his health:
“There are a lot of people criticizing who do not have my best interests at heart. They just want to put a dark mark on that match, which is a performance I’m extremely proud of. And performances like that will be few and far between as I get older and older.”
Omega then defends the Tiger Driver spot as part of his art form, using a comparison to Cirque du Soleil performers:
“In terms of a live and physical performance, I’ve never seen anything more mind-blowing—skill-wise, performance-wise, production-wise—than Cirque du Soleil. To me, that’s the peak form of that style of entertainment. As I watch these shows and their stunts and their compositions for every scene, it is rare for me to go, ‘That looks easy. I could do that.’ But there certainly are times when I watch what they do and know this is their identity, and that is the reason why they’re on that stage.
During the high flying acrobatics, or seamlessly strung together choreography, I never go, ‘How stupid is this guy? If he falls, he’s dead.’ We’d be dead if we tried that. But here’s the thing. We’re not them. We’ll never be them. We weren’t meant to be them.”
Kenny also uses a Mike Tyson analogy to defend his riskier choices in the ring:
“There are people who want to complain and put themselves on a pedestal by saying what we did was dangerous. Well, you think? So I’ve been asked, why did we do it? It made sense in the match and evoked emotion. And we both knew I would end up coming out of the move unscathed. Is there a risk? Sure. There’s always a risk.
Look at the way Mike Tyson boxed. His style was so dangerous, he stayed so close to his opponent. What was he doing boxing in-style? Shouldn’t he have fought more stick-and-move and waited for the counterpunch? Wouldn’t that have been better for his brain? Didn’t he understand how dangerous it was? But that’s what made him Mike Tyson.”
Omega finishes that thought by telling these critics to shut the fuck up:
“Don’t tell me not to wrestle the way I know how to wrestle. Is there a risk? Was there a risk when Mike Tyson was fighting within inches of space between another championship-level boxer throwing power punches? Of course. But Tyson was confident in his abilities, and he knew he was the best. So don’t tell Mike Tyson how to box, and don’t tell [me] how to wrestle. You aren’t even close to being qualified. Just shut the fuck up.”
Here’s the thing that Kenny Omega doesn’t get. A lot of the people who have criticized the Tiger Driver spot actually do have his best interests at heart. And if he’s directing these harsh words at them, then he needs to take his head out of his ass.
Wrestling has evolved to the point where most fans aren’t watching to see the performers get legitimately injured, so when a high-risk spot like that Tiger Driver takes place, it can take these fans out of the match. These fans certainly don’t deserve to be talked down to as unqualified idiots who don’t know anything and should keep their mouths shut.
Wrestling fans watch trained professionals get hurt in the ring all the time, so it’s completely rational for them to be worried about it happening again, no matter how confident a wrestler is in his ability to pull off risky moves in a safe manner.
Criticizing one move isn’t the same as putting one’s self on a pedestal and lecturing a wrestler on the nuts and bolts of how to do their job. Fans who were worried about Omega’s health due to the Tiger Driver spot weren’t sitting there pretending like it looks easy to do what Kenny does in the ring, or pretending like they know how to do it better than Omega does. They were expressing concern for the guy because it looked like he got hurt. That’s just a basic human emotion being expressed by decent human beings.
Now, maybe Kenny’s harsh words weren’t meant to be directed at those fans. After all, he does acknowledge that many of the critics are people who don’t have his best interests at heart. In that case, he’s talking about anti-AEW or anti-Omega trolls. Therefore, it’s a complete waste of time to go into the Cirque du Soleil or Mike Tyson analogies. Trolls argue in bad faith and don’t actually care about having a real conversation; there’s no point in responding to or engaging with them.
I come across these trolls every single day, people who for whatever reason are offended by the mere existence of AEW and can’t wrap their heads around another wrestling company based in the USA doing well besides WWE. And the best way to deal with the trolls is to just ignore them. You don’t tell them to shut the fuck up, because that’s exactly the kind of response they are trying to bait you into, and it will only perpetuate the cycle of trolling.
It’s too bad that Kenny is so gotten to by the trolls that it can be easy to interpret his words as an attack on wrestling fans who actually do give a shit about him.