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Kenny Omega, fresh off of his heralded match against Okada at New Japan’s annual WrestleKingdom supershow, created a buzz with a Tweet that some saw as a hint he might not be long for New Japan. He wrote: “I will be stepping away from Japan to reassess my future. The path of my journey may change, but my goals will not change.”
I will be stepping away from Japan to reassess my future. The path of my journey may change, but my goals will not. pic.twitter.com/E4vDiGgAwe
— Kenny Omega (@KennyOmegamanX) January 6, 2017
“I fear that everyone has taken my words too literally,” he told Sports Illustrated today. “Yes, I’m out of the country and off of shows, but I haven’t signed any new contracts yet. After such a huge loss, I didn’t want to just hang around and take part in meaningless matches. I’m only interested in changing the business, so I’m thinking carefully about what’s next.”
Tokyo Sports has reported that Omega will miss Fantasticamania and perhaps New Beginning, but he is still under contract to New Japan. PWTorch sources say Omega feels mentally burned out and is taking some time off. Close friends of Omega say he can be “unpredictable” but they lean toward him staying with New Japan, especially since he signed a contract last year that was believed to be for two years, with a rollover clause each year. If that rollover clause allows him to opt out, that could give him options sooner to explore a WWE deal.
He framed his status with New Japan in a bit of a kayfabe storyline way, playing into how the Japanese wrestling press covers pro wrestling. “I’m leaving to consider my future options,” Omega said. “Returning so quickly after a huge loss would be unwise. I’m finding my next plan of attack in wrestling rather than blindly rushing forward just to be in a ring.”
Omega talks about what he felt he accomplished at WrestleKingdom last week. “After feeling like I’d evolved to a superior level as a performer, I had so much I’d wanted to show the world,” he told SI. “Winning the belt at the Tokyo Dome would have been the greatest end to the greatest one-year run in—possibly—wrestling history. I wanted to roll that directly into a legendary 2017, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
John Cena’s posting of a Kenny Omega pic on his Instagram account, as he did last year around this time of A.J. Styles, has stirred speculation that Omega may be headed to the Royal Rumble this year. Cena could also just be intentionally stirring conversation and, perhaps, showing ardent fans that he respects and recognizes what Omega did last week, and nothing more.
SI asked Omega about Cena acknowledging him. “John Cena is one of the great WWE talents that I respect most,” said Omega. “If I were to end up there, working with someone of his caliber would certainly be a goal and jive with my mission of changing wrestling. I’m glad to be on his radar, but I haven’t made any decisions regarding my future yet.” He did add, though: “I would rather be the legend that never stepped foot in WWE.”
Either way, he says he wants to be on the radar of wrestling fans worldwide in 2017. “I’ve set a dangerous pace for 2017 but I’ll continue onward to the best of my ability,” said Omega. “I still have more to share with the wrestling world, so let’s change the business together even more in 2017.”
Omega’s match against Okada from the Tokyo Dome last week airs on AXS TV this Friday with Jim Ross doing play-by-play.