Kenny Omega spoke with CBC.ca, and talked about how pro wrestling is an art form. Omega said he likes to compare his work to episodic TV, but often it can be like a night out at the theatre.
The article includes comments from Eero Laine, who is an assistant professor of Theatre & Dance at the University of Buffalo. Laine, who studies popular entertainment with an emphasis on pro wrestling, believes if you were to compare pro wrestling to another art form, its closest cousin would probably be musical theatre, but the sport defies neat categorizations and descended from carnival sideshows, gets compared to soap operas, and often verges into performance art. That flexibility is what Omega loves about the industry.
“I like to compare what I do to episodic television,” Omega said. “But in a lot of cases, it can be like performance art, or a night out at the theatre… I think that one of the beautiful things about professional wrestling is, depending on where you are and the audience you’re performing for, it can be either/or.”
Omega commented on being able to rely on pure athleticism to get over in the ring, but warned that relying on a “great athletic base” is not a recipe for a long, or necessarily interesting, career.
“I recognized that we all break down,” he said. “There’s a very short shelf life to this sort of style. You burn the candle at both ends, and all you have to look back at on your body of work is that you pushed yourself athletically, right? Maybe you can pop in a tape, a DVD, a file or whatever at some point in time, say, like, ‘Hey, guys, look, I used to do this back in the day.’ But for me, that wasn’t enough. I was dedicating everything to it.
“I had lost a lot in my personal life to wrestling. I wanted to make these connections both with the fans and my comrades [in] wrestling, right, my workmates. I didn’t want to do them a disservice by going through all of this mental preparation, this physical preparation, just to have a match that isn’t appreciated in the grand scheme of things.”
Omega believes having a match that matters “in the grand scheme of things” means being the best storyteller possible. He said that was a goal for him as a performer.
“That was sort of the goal for me as a performer,” Omega said. “How can I mix everything that I’ve learned from the different styles that I know in wrestling, from the tapes that I studied, from the pop culture references, culture in general and media? How do I take all of these things and how do I become the best storyteller I can be?”
Omega has not wrestled since losing the AEW World Title to “Hangman” Adam Page at the AEW Full Gear pay-per-view on November 13. He is currently out of action to prepare for surgeries to deal with various injuries and ailments, and is expected to be back around February some time. You can click here for the warning he issued after being forced to relinquish the AAA Mega Title.