The subject of who is the greatest pro wrestler of all time is often widely debated. Names like: Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Mitsuharu Misawa, Manami Toyota, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Hiroshi Tanahashi are strong candidates for the GOAT title. But there’s one man who has a really strong case… that’s Kenny Omega.
Pro wrestling is subjective, like any other sport or medium. There are several metrics that help on the GOAT subject that can’t be debated. Things like being a draw or not, to the more debatable metrics like match quality. In both cases, Omega blows most wrestlers out of the water.
The matches are the most important thing in wrestling, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Matches are where wrestlers tell stories and there’s no one better at telling a story inside a ring than Kenny Omega. He is a unique wrestler – the way he wrestles is so unique that it’s hard to find a legend from the past that could be considered similar to Omega inside a ring.
One thing that makes Omega such a unique talent is how diverse his career has been so far. From the comedy stuff he did with DDT, the groundbreaking stuff with Kota Ibushi in The Golden Lovers story, to the epic main events in AEW and NJPW.
As mentioned before, matches are the most important part of pro wrestling, and Omega has an amazing resume. His legendary matches with Kazuchika Okada have now become the standard of what pro wrestling should be inside the squared circle. The Okada-Omega saga changed wrestling in a lot of ways, and even broke Dave Meltzer’s scale with their last match being awarded 7-stars. Something we might never see again…
Omega is also known for other legendary bouts, hence why he is called the best bout machine, like his rivalry with Tetsuya Naito or his clashes with his rival/lover Kota Ibushi. But while Omega was part of the greatest singles matches of all time, he was also part of some of the best tag team matches as well. He was also part of the greatest tag team match of all time with Hangman Page against the Young Bucks.
One thing that makes Omega’s run from 2018 to 2021 is the fact he was dealing with multiple injuries; from a severe shoulder injury to vertigo. If wrestling had an equivalent to Michael Jordan’s flu game, it would Omega’s 3-year run dealing with these injuries and still being the best wrestler in the world.
Being a draw in wrestling is something that is not easy, and it takes a lot of years to eventually become one. Omega has been a draw everywhere he has been… In their last singles DDT match, Kenny Omega and Ibushi sold out the Nippon Budokan back in 2012. It’s a very interesting feat considering they did it with a small promotion. NJPW, the biggest promotion in Japan, has sometimes struggled to sell out the arena…
Omega has always been a solid-to-great draw in Japan since his days in DDT and later on with NJPW. Kenny Omega with The Young Bucks were also NJPW’s strongest U.S. draws, and were a huge part of the early U.S. expansion of NJPW. Omega’s crowning achievement in NJPW has to be his two Tokyo Dome main events, and his Jericho match. Matches that drew a lot of money for NJPW.
Omega has also been a strong draw for AEW, and later on for a short stint on IMPACT. He has the bestselling AEW PPV main events under his belt, and TV segments. But a more impressively, he helped improve IMPACT’s TV and PPV numbers for the short period of time he was their world champion. It’s worth remembering that IMPACT has struggled for years trying to improve their numbers. They could’ve done better attendance numbers if it wasn’t for the pandemic during that time.
AEW & His Influence
Kenny Omega, alongside The Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes were the first pillars for the creation of AEW – the first actual direct alternative to WWE since WCW. The fact the popularity of The Elite led to the creation of a major promotion and created more jobs in wresting is something that will help to Omega’s legacy once his career is over.
Omega is also one of the most popular foreign wrestlers in Japanese wrestling history. He joins a list of wrestlers like Stan Hansen, Terry Funk, Karl Gotch, Vader, and The Destroyer. Even to this day, Omega remains very popular in the minds of Japanese fans. That’s impressive considering he hasn’t been in Japan for a long time.
A big thing that people attribute to Omega is the previously mentioned groundbreaking story of The Golden Lovers with Ibushi. For a long time, wrestling stories involving LGBTQ+ characters were treated as a joke and crossed the line of homophobia more often than not. The story of the Golden Lovers is widely celebrated by the LGBTQ+ community to this day.
Omega has a strong argument in his favor regarding the GOAT debate, and it will probably keep growing as he is still active. But history will be kind to him, considering all the achievements he has obtained during his long career.
What do you think – is Kenny Omega the greats modern pro wrestler of all time?