On January 4, Kenny Omega was scheduled to defend his IWGP Heavyweight Championship against the 2018 G1 Climax tournament winner, Hiroshi Tanahashi. On the day of the event, Omega was geared up and ready to main event the biggest event of the year for New Japan Pro Wrestling. “Tonight’s the night. Business as usual. No nerves. Filled with determination,” said Omega before his Wrestle Kingdom 13 match.
After a grueling match that lasted nearly 40 minutes, Omega ended his seven-month title reign and was defeated by Tanahashi, who won the title for an eighth time. This caused Omega to do some soul-searching, even to the point of stating that he is leaving pro wrestling, as he eluded to in a recent interview with Tokyo Sports.
“There is no place to put in now and it is better not to be in New Japan. The New Japan also became the era of Tanahashi. It can not be a useful role of Tanahashi’s New Japan. Of course, Tanahashi [is] superior, I do not think it is strong either. So, someday I would like to do if there’s a rematch, but for now it is better not to stay in the ring for a while. It’s not just New Japan, thinking a little rest and making a different strategy.” — Kenny Omega
This announcement to stay away from pro wrestling for now has caused major speculation that the former NJPW star could be heading to either WWE or the newly-established All Elite Wrestling (AEW) promotion, spearheaded by Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks.
“The Cleaner” also teased possibly heading to either promotion during the Tokyo Sports interview.
“If I go to WWE, the fans there will be pleased, and the fans there will be pleased if I go to AEW. I want to be in a place where Kenny is going to be happy.”
AEW is already making bold moves, as their pep rally for the upcoming Double or Nothing event will occur in Jacksonville, Florida, on the same night as WWE’s SmackDown Live. While AEW could be where Omega is heading, there is also the possible option of being a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble match. Interestingly, this was the same way the previous leader of Bullet Club before Omega, AJ Styles, debuted in WWE.