What at first seemed like innocuous banter suddenly transformed into the rivalry that could shape the landscape of professional wrestling, when Chris Jericho appeared on air at Power Struggle, an event put on by New Japan Pro Wrestling over the weekend. The six-time World Champion came with an opponent in mind, and in the span of a two-minute promo, set the professional wrestling world ablaze when he declared himself the Best in the World and more importantly, said that Kenny Omega was not.
— LARIATOOOO!!!! (@MrLARIATO) November 5, 2017
Alpha vs. Omega. It’s good to see that we already have our mark out moment of the year, because Jericho’s promo may have broken every social media platform created and then some that haven’t yet.
For those who have frantically been Googling “Kenny Omega” and “New Japan” in the minutes since you’ve opened this article, let’s take a step back: meet Kenny Omega, widely considered to be the best in-ring worker in the world. He literally broke Dave Meltzer’s ratings system multiple times over the past year in his battles with current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada.
He’s also the unofficial leader of the Bullet Club in the absence of Finn Balor and A.J. Styles, whom you have surely heard of. You know, the “Too Sweet” hand gesture and what crowds have begun to serenade the arena with after a two-count.
To make things even simpler: this is a gigantic deal. Wrestle Kingdom is held in January every year and is virtually a bigger WrestleMania, with a card that stretches on for hours and packs huge swathes of people in. Much like how the best rivalries or matches are attempted to be saved for WrestleMania, Wrestle Kingdom does the same, but is afforded the luxury of booking with ample time on their side, which the WWE does not always have. Things get muddled and changed in the WWE; in NJPW, Jericho vs. Omega is booked with two months to go.
As for Jericho, this means he won’t be coming back for revenge against his former best friend Kevin Owens anytime soon. He had previously made comments about Omega not even being the best wrestler from Winnipeg, which seemed out of place and generally confounded up until when he showed his face in the company.
As fellow FRS Slam Insider Chris Schubert noted after the promo took place, what if Jericho going to New Japan was all on the up and up and not a surprise to the WWE whatsoever? In fact, recent reports have put the Jericho to NJPW idea as far back as August, which would mean that Vince McMahon and Co. weren’t exactly stunned when Y2J appeared on the screen in another promotion.
Jericho’s most recent WWE runs have been pockets of time where he has come back and performed full-time, just to leave and not pretend to be part-time. His relationship with Vince is for all we know, still strong, and McMahon would trust Jericho going over to work with Omega in Japan knowing that he would one day come back.
Which gets to the crux of what Chris was really asking: what if Jericho is being sent to NJPW for a personal in-ring job interview for one Kenny Omega? The question will make any WWE/NJPW fan salivate with the possibility that arguably the world’s best in-ring performer could forgo the luxury of the Japanese schedule (and great relationships) to join the grind of the WWE.
But while Omega has made it known he is certainly a different breed, the allure of the WWE remains omnipresent. There will be numerous other hang-ups that could potentially snag a deal, like what comes of The Young Bucks, or Omega’s control over booking, but it’s safe to say that Omega has built himself into a star outside the confines of the WWE maybe unlike anyone before him has ever done. His match with Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom 12 has the potential to tear the house down. It also has the potential to drastically shape the future of not only Omega’s career, but pro wrestling in general.
Jericho and Omega is the hottest rivalry in pro wrestling after just one quick promo, and it’s not even close. What they do with it has the potential to change the course of history.