Sonny Kiss was defeated by Kenny Omega in twenty-six seconds but this shouldn’t be seen as another squashing of a wrestler who represents marginalized groups.
Wrestling is meant to create a lot of feelings in the hearts of fans. Many people get invested in the stars and promotions that they enjoy. Watching AEW Dynamite this week, there is one moment that raised a lot of eyebrows but was quickly overshadowed by the show tunes moment with Chris Jericho and MJF. Kenny Omega squashed Sonny Kiss in less time than it takes to write this sentence. Fans were quickly upset, but in hindsight this was the right way to handle this match – both for the short- and long-term storytelling.
Joey Janela was initially scheduled to be in the AEW heavyweight eliminator tournament, taking on Omega in the first round. However, due to his match against AJ Gray at GCW The Last Resort and Gray’s recent COVID-19 positive test as he announced via social media, Janela was rightfully pulled from the match, replaced with his tag team partner Sonny Kiss.
The response to see Kiss’s involvement was widely positive. There were those that questioned the involvement of a wrestler who didn’t have a winning singles record, but looking at the rest of the draw for the tournament, it was clear that bookers did not have that in mind while laying out the plan. It was a prime opportunity for Kiss, a wrestler that many fans hoped to see featured more prominently and whose been getting decent exposure as of late on AEW content.
What occurred was Omega landing a vicious jumping knee and the One-Winged Angel in record time, pinning Kiss’s shoulders to the mat without breaking a sweat. The outcry was swift. Some wondered why Kiss had to be the one put in this slot. Is this squash match a burial? The questions, rightfully asked by wrestling fans, came fast – just as fast as the match transgressed.
Looking back, there’s reason to believe that Janela would have received the same type of treatment if he were able to compete. As a part of AEW, Janela does not have the greatest record himself. According to CageMatch he is 15-23 combined across both singles and tag matches. Kiss’s combined record is 11-22. There is no reason to believe that Janela would have been booked to have a prolonged match against Omega. He has not been booked that way at any point in AEW, it is hard to believe that would have changed on Wednesday.
Also, the narrative heading into the tournament is Omega turning back to a page in his book. Returning to “The Cleaner,” or the “Best Bout Machine.” Perhaps even more frightening, an amalgamation of the two. Either way, Omega taking on a more serious persona meant that someone was going to take some bad Ls soon, especially with a shot at the title so clearly in front of Omega. He is being booked as the favorite to win this tournament for a few reasons. This performance is going to help that conversation.
Kenny Omega’s one-way traffic win over Sonny Kiss is not a travesty of another wrestler who represents so many minority groups being squashed. This is not Brock Lesnar smashing Kofi Kingston in 14 seconds, then WWE acting like it never happened. Fans were rightfully upset over that. This situation with Kiss is different and if anything, AEW has shown viewers that they do not forget any details when booking their performers. This moment will play a part in Sonny Kiss’s future and should not be a burial of any sorts.