Kenny Omega credits joshi wrestling with helping him rediscover his love of wrestling, and discussed the Japanese bracket in the Women’s Title Eliminator Tournament during a new interview. Omega chatted with TalkSPORT about the tournament, and you can see the highlights below:
On his love of joshi wrestling: “I tried to watch just as much joshi wrestling as I could when I was staying over in Japan for the decade that I was there in the country. I’ve said in multiple interviews, I really do credit joshis for bringing my love back to professional wrestling when I was in a drought looking for things that make me feel something. To be able to not only have some of the athletes involved in the tournament that were in that time period [he was in Japan] having killer matches like Emi Sakura, Aja Kong and Ryo Mizunami, we’ve got some new up and comers too like Yuka Sakazaki and Maki Itoh who clearly have a real bright future in the world of professional wrestling. They’re going about things the right way. Every time you see them, they’re adding something to their arsenal, they’re improving.
“For me, on AEW – and I’d seen it on TJPW, I can’t lie [laughs] – it was awesome to see Yuka Sakazaki debut her Firebird Splash, or the Magical Girl splash. To give these women an opportunity and for them to not only answer the call but overdeliver… I know they’re representing AEW so maybe there is a little bit of bias, but for me to watch that live stream on Monday and just be able to take it all in as everyone else was taking it in live, I had just a big smile on my face from ear-to-ear.”
On Hikaru Shida putting the Japanese side of the tournament together: “I enjoyed every minute of it. Every match had something unique to offer and I couldn’t have been more proud of them and couldn’t have been more proud of Hikaru Shida, actually. She really went the extra mile and put it all together herself in Japan. These things don’t happen out of thin air. She really wanted to feature the women wrestlers more, the girls stuck in Japan and feature some of the women that she has worked with when she was doing freelance work. So we got some of the other freelancers like Veny, for example. She wrestles in Japan as Asuka. And Veny absolutely killed it against Emi Sakura. Just an incredible match. It gave people a taste of what they’re missing out on, just what they’re missing out out in the world. It’s unfortunate you can’t you can’t see all the best stuff all the time every week, but I felt extremely proud to host something as a way for people to see what goes on in that world of joshi and how our athletes are doing as well.”
On AEW potentially signing some of the joshi talent: “All I can say given this world climate we’re in right now, it’s a very trying time and very difficult to make any real promises, I don’t want people to hold their breath. But if I had my way and I could manipulate global travel schedules the way that I wanted to [laughs] I think it would probably be a safe bet that you’re going to see more than one of these women back on AEW television. And that is definitely always going to be my first interest; getting these girls featured, getting more TV time for our athletes. So I’m just so happy that the tournament is opening a lot of peoples eyes.”