wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Is Kenny Omega Being Misused by AEW?

October 28, 2020 | Posted by Ryan Byers
AEW All Out Kenny Omega

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.

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Ben is all elite:

Does anyone besides me believe that Kenny Omega is being greatly misused? I get the face program that he and the Young Bucks are working these days, but Kenny was a kick ass heel in Japan. He can easily “outheel” Jericho . . . or is it maybe a strategy of “save him for later”?

You’re not the only one to feel that Omega has not been featured to the level that he should be in AEW, though I suspect that you’re correct when you speculate that he’s being saved for a featured role later in the promotion’s tenure . . . and personally, I think that’s a good thing.

There are a few reasons in my mind that you didn’t want to start pushing Kenny as a top star, heel or face, coming right out of the gate in AEW.

First, as it relates to Omega potentially being a top heel, Chris Jericho has been the better fit for the company in its first year. Could Omega have given the level of performance that Jericho did, if not slightly better? Absolutely. However, you have to keep in mind that, even though AEW had a bit of an existing fanbase thanks to the indy popularity of the Elite, Jericho had the sort of recognition among mainstream wrestling fans that the others could only dream of, and positioning him on top told WWE fans who had maybe never heard of the Young Bucks or only knew of Cody as Randy Orton’s flunkie that this promotion had some legs behind it. No matter how great a wrestler he is, Kenny Omega wasn’t going to be able to give the promotion the same instant level of credibility.

Second, though you can disagree with whether this is the right course of action for them to have taken, it’s been clear throughout AEW’s early history that the members of the Elite who serve as executive vice presidents in the company have been careful to avoid the perception that this is a vanity promotion for them or that other members of the roster aren’t going to be given a fair shake. You’ll note that none of them have held the company’s world title yet, and, aside from Hangman Page contending for the belt when it was first created, none of them have really been in the mix for it. Heck, Cody has actively been written out of the World Title picture thanks to his loss to MJF early on, and you haven’t seen the Young Bucks in possession of the Tag Team Titles, either. If Omega were to be positioned as the promotion’s top heel out of the gate, the vanity promotion allegations would immediately start flying.

Finally, it’s good to know that the promotion has some talents to push and some angles to run in its back pocket. The roster is surprisingly deep for a company that has the limited history it does, and putting off some of the pushes you would have expected before the first episode of Dynamite will aid in their longevity.

In other words, I get what they’re going for, here. I understand that some viewers might want to see more of Omega at this juncture, but after working the style that he did in Japan and on the indies for so many years, it’s probably for the best that he gets a bit of a break before kicking things back into full gear. (Pun intended.)

Dylan has a research-based question that I’ve dreaded so much that I’ve been holding on to it since 2018:

What one-on-one match-up has occurred on WWE TV/PPV the most times ever? I’m thinking that Kofi vs Dolph Ziggler might be up there.

Okay, I’m going to have to exercise some editorial discretion here, because just figuring out what one-on-one match has occurred the most on WWE pay per view took a ridiculous amount of time, to the point that figuring out what match has aired the most over sixty years of the company’s television would be a full-time job for about a month.

For that reason, I’m limiting the answer to PPV, which might give us an answer that is “close enough” to what Dylan was looking for.

Looking back over the records, I think that a one-on-one match is worth noting if it’s occurred on WWE PPV on at least five separate occasions. There are eighteen different matches that have met that minimum but no more, and they are, in no particular order: 1) Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker; 2) The Rock vs. Mick Foley; 3) Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels; 4) John Cena vs. Edge; 5) Sheamus vs. Randy Orton; 6) Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair; 7) Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair; 8) Dave Batista vs. John Cena; 9) Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston; 10) Alexander Rusev vs. John Cena; 11) Dave Batista vs. The Undertaker; 12) The Undertaker vs. Edge; 13) CM Punk vs. Rey Misterio Jr.; 14) Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya Neidhart; 15) Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. Rey Misterio Jr.; 16) Dolph Ziggler vs. Mike the Miz; 17) Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena; and 18) The Undertaker vs. The Big Show.

Going up one notch, there are seven matches that have occurred on six different occasions on pay per view, those being: 1) Triple H vs. Mick Foley; 2) John Cena vs. John Bradshaw Layfield; 3) Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins; 4) Steve Austin vs. The Rock; 5) Triple H vs. The Undertaker; 6) Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker; and 7) The Undertaker vs. Mick Foley.

There are two different combinations of men that have faced each other on PPV seven times: 1) Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit and 2) Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker.

Similarly, there are two matches that have occurred on eight separate occasions, and, interestingly, they have a competitor in common: 1) Triple H vs. Randy Orton and 2) The Rock vs. Triple H.

One match and one match only has occurred on WWE PPV nine different times, that being the Undertaker vs. Kane. They’ve faced each other on the following shows: 1) Wrestlemania XIV; 2) Unforgiven 1998; 3) Judgment Day 1998; 4) Survivor Series 1998; 5) Summerslam 2000; 6) Wrestlemania XX; 7) Night of Champions 2010; 8) Hell in a Cell 2010; and 9) Bragging Rights 2010.

Even though the Brothers of Destruction hold a lot of records in WWE, they do not hold the record of the one-on-one match with the most pay per view appearances. There’s another pair who hold that distinction, and chances are good that if you’ve followed the company at all since the late 2000s, you know who I’m talking about:

It’s John Cena and Randy Orton.

The leader of the Cenation and the Viper have wrestled each other a whopping TEN times on pay per view, with those matches occurring on the following shows: 1) Summerslam 2007; 2) Unforgiven 2007; 3) No Way Out 2008; 4) Summerslam 2009; 5) Breaking Point 2009; 6) Hell in a Cell 2009; 7) Bragging Rights 2009; 8) TLC 2013; 9) Royal Rumble 2014; and 10) Hell in a Cell 2014.

Well, it took me two years to get around to that question, and Dylan actually asked a follow-up about tag team matches, so join me in 2022 when I finally get around to that one.

This question from Brad is appalling:

Hypothetically, if there was a six man tag lumberjack match between Paul Levesque (HHH), Paul Orndorff, Paul London, with manager Paul Bearer, against Paul Wight (Big Show), Paul Birchall (Birchill), Paul Cantopani (Roma), with manager Paul Heyman, for the prize of a Paul Bunyan trophy, who would win?

First off, I can only assume that this match would occur on a card organized by Houston-based promoter Paul Boesch with pre-match promos overseen by former WCW backstage interviewer Pamela Paulshock.

You also mentioned that this would be a lumberjack match, and those roles would likely be filled by Paul Diamond (Kato of the Orient Express), Paul Ellering, “Number One” Paul Jones, Paul Loyd (Justin Gabriel/PJ Black), Paul Neu (PN News), and “Butcher” Paul Vachon.

As far as the outcome is concerned, it strikes me that the team of Triple H, Orndorff, and London has an advantage here, because you’re talking about a multiple-time world champion and a guy who managed to go toe-to-toe with Hulk Hogan at the peak of his career teaming up together with another competent hand in the form of London. Meanwhile, though the Big Show has a storied career, his partners are a bit lacking, because Burchill and Roma never really established themselves as anything serious in the industry – and Roma is best known for his run in the Four Horsemen having become a running joke. The only thing that might give Show’s team a bit of an edge is that they have Heyman, a more prolific manager, in their corner.

I’m guessing Team HHH takes the win in about 15:30 after Burchill eats a piledriver from Orndorff, pops up off the mat to do a goofy-legged sell of it, and then gets hit with a Pedigree for the three count, because there’s no way that a match like this isn’t ending with a Pedigree.

Bask in William‘s glory:

Was Keith Lee one of the security guards when HHH, Shane, and Vince attacked Orton and Legacy on Raw? Watched it recently and one of the guys looked like him but couldn’t tell.

For those not familiar with what William is referencing, it’s the March 30, 2009 episode of Raw, which was the last edition of the program prior to Wrestlemania XXV, where Triple H was facing Randy Orton in the main event. (One of eight times that they’ve faced each other on PPV, we now know.) In the final angle of the show, the men of the McMahon family had to plow through security guards taking care of Randy Orton and his stooges (one of whom now has a goofy neck tattoo) for a show-closing brawl.

And yes, one of the security guards was Keith Lee himself. You can watch the majority of the segment, including Lee’s portion, here:

If you can’t tell that it’s him from the video, Lee did discuss this on an episode of the Corey Graves’ podcast “After the Bell” this past January, confirming it’s him. At this point in his career, Keith was wrestling on the Texas independent scene and was still years away from getting noticed by Ring of Honor, which ultimately helped springboard him to WWE.

Anthony is getting all morbid:

Not trying to be gruesome but need your help with an opinion based question. Which person currently associated with wrestling would get the largest main street and international media coverage when they die? We debated and the top names were Vince, Hogan, Austin, Flair and the Rock (not sure he is currently associated with wrestling though).

This ties pretty closely into a question that I answered a few weeks ago about which wrestler has managed to best transcend the “sport.” You can read that question and answer here. Looking that answer over and giving it some further consideration, there is only one real answer to Anthony’s query:

The Bella Twins.

All trolling aside, the real answer to the question is the Rock. All four of the men you’ve mentioned are among the biggest names in professional wrestling history (in the U.S., anyway), but the Rock has the added cache of being one of the biggest blockbuster movie stars of the past decade, to the point that he’s a current household name whereas Vince, Hogan, Austin, and Flair were arguably never household names or, at the very best, were household names several decades ago.

The other name that I would say is in the mix is probably John Cena, simply because he was a star more recently than the others, even though they were bigger stars in wrestling than he ever was.

Keith is the master of the Tongan death grip:

We all know how much of a bad ass Meng/Haku is/was in the business. There’s a story that he was once fired but still showed up to work cause no one wanted to tell him. Any truth to this?

I’ve not seen anything supporting this story. I think what is happening here is a comment by Eric Bischoff being misinterpreted by fans over time. Bischoff has said in different interviews that one of the reasons Meng hung around in WCW for as long as he did was that nobody had the nerve to fire him. However, it’s not as though there was a specific instance in which he was fired and just refused to stop coming in to work.

Some of the confusion may come from the fact that Meng actually was released from his WCW contract during the summer of 2000 (according to the June 12 Wrestling Observer Newsletter from that year) but still continued to appear for the promotion afterwards. In reality, this was most likely just a matter of Meng agreeing to work on a per-appearance basis as opposed to the heftier guaranteed salary he got under his contract. It is not uncommon for wrestling promotions to enter into arrangements like this with formerly contracted talent.

Unfortunately for WCW, this came back to bite them, as they eventually put their Hardcore Title on Meng, and, just a week later, the WWF signed him to a deal and had him appear as a surprise in the 2001 Royal Rumble as a big middle finger to the competition.

For what it’s worth, word has it that Meng give the WCW Hardcore Championship belt to the Barbarian at a show they were both working for Harley Race’s World League Wrestling indy promotion that week so that Barb could return it to WCW. Even though they apparently got the belt back, the company decided that they were better served by just scrapping the whole division due to the loss of their champion.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected].