What made Kenny Omega’s IMPACT Wrestling appearance so great?

NJPW, Kenny Omega (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)
NJPW, Kenny Omega (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images) /

Kenny Omega knocked his first promo as AEW World Champion out of the park during his much-anticipated appearance on IMPACT Wrestling. Here’s why it worked.

Since absconding Daily’s Place with the All Elite Wrestling (AEW) World Championship alongside longtime friend Don Callis after beating Jon Moxley for the title on the Dec. 2 episode of AEW: Dynamite, fans eagerly awaited the succeeding chapter Callis promised would play out on the flagship show of the promotion for which he serves as executive vice president: IMPACT Wrestling.

That next stanza came in the form of an exclusive sit-down interview with the new champion — with Callis in tow — less than a week later on the aforementioned program. To IMPACT’s credit, they treated this scheduled appearance like the momentous occasion (relatively speaking) it was, with play-by-play announcer Josh Matthews hyping this segment up in between nearly every match and segment throughout the show.

Once all the questions were asked and answered, there was no doubt that the promotion of the segment and the segment itself were short term boons for Omega and for IMPACT.

Simply going by the streaming numbers on Twitch — which simulcasts IMPACT along with AXS TV — the mere opportunity to see Omega with the AEW World Title sent the program’s totals, which hover around a few thousand viewers, to over 40,000. That at least shows, at some level, that Omega has some discernable appeal as a main event wrestler.

Once the interview with Matthews started, it became at least partially clear what all the fuss was about. Omega, who has now fully reverted back to his “The Cleaner” persona, came across like someone who could anchor any promotion he chose to as the lead antagonist.

Throughout the interview, Omega came across as an overly prideful, overconfident jerk that makes fans more frustrated when he can easily back up every boast that leaves his mouth once the bell rings, while also being so full of himself that he won’t even maintain a morsel of transparency when anyone calls him out on his underhanded actions. Even the few compliments he dished out were accompanied by this air of condescension that makes you hope someone smacks the little bleach he has left in his hair off his head.

And Callis, who has thrived in the past playing these wormy puppetmaster characters in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) as Cyrus the Virus and as The Jackyl in WWE, also proved how valuable a good manager can be to a wrestler, even one who can hold their own on the microphone like Omega (see: Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman).

Between Callis explaining how he has basically used all of his past ventures in wrestling over the last few years as a smokescreen to stick around with Omega, Omega noting that he only broke the gentleman’s agreement to fight clean with Moxley because Mox put his hands on Callis, Omega referring to Moxley by his WWE name — Dean Ambrose — and Omega using his former comic book collecting hobby as a metaphor for his future plans, everything we saw and heard in that interview was a masterclass in establishing a top-level heel who could end up doing some future business for the promotion he just graced with his presence.

Of course, this appearance and the hype behind it wasn’t flawless. Aside from the women’s tag team tournament match that featured Rosemary and Taya Valkryie, the rest of IMPACT didn’t present enough compelling matches or interesting angles to convince the new viewers to tune into the Final Resolution show on Dec. 12, let alone next week’s show. And, despite Omega putting over the IMPACT World Championship as a prize worth winning (though not as valuable as the AEW belt), the segment prior to the interview that saw a bouncer deny the IMPACT World Champion, Rich Swann, access to the parking lot didn’t make Swann feel like he was even in the same solar system as Omega in terms of star power.

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Those are real problems that IMPACT must address if this partnership is going to work out long-term, assuming there is one in the plans. But in the more immediate sense, this was a success for Omega and, more critically, for Impact.