Prior to his arrival in WWE, Shinsuke Nakamura was undoubtedly the biggest name in wrestling outside of WWE. With Nakamura now part of the WWE SmackDown brand, Kenny Omega is the biggest wrestling star on the planet not currently performing under WWE's banner.
And from the sound of it, Omega might not be too confident in WWE's ability to use him properly should he ever go there. Or at least that's the feeling that's conveyed when Omega talks about what has happened to Nakamura's career ever since departing New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Omega spoke recently with Sports Illustrated about his upcoming match with Chris Jericho at NJPW WrestleKingdom on January 4, and the conversation shifted to Nakamura.
"I'm happy for the response that he's getting, of course, and all of us in New Japan knew when he left that he was going to get over with his charisma. But when I see Nakamura in WWE, it's hard for me to say he's done anything compelling in-ring since he's been there, which is a shame. It will just take the one right story and the one right moment and then people will be captivated by everything that he does. Right now, he hasn't had that," Omega told SI.
Omega definitely is not wrong in his assessment of Nakamura's run with WWE to this point. He did headline NXT while wearing the NXT title, but Nakamura hasn't reached the heights that he is capable of since being brought up to the main roster. Much of that could be attributed to the way he has been booked, given the fact that Nakamura is one of the most charismatic (and best) performers in the world. Omega echoed that sentiment when discussing the use of Nakamura at this year's Survivor Series.
"Even to another degree, everything in WWE is super over-booked. Some people in WWE even need the steps and their footing in the ring choreographed. They have to pace their breathing before they even go through with a match in the ring. When you're used to dealing with people who need that match management, who need to have that much choreography in their matches before they go out there and perform, then when a guy like Nakamura–who is this new age 'strong style,' and a lot of that is based off emotion and feeling and fighting spirit–wrestles someone who needs marks on the ring so that he can get his footing right with a set of instructions, that's where Nakamura's style gets lost in translation. Everything starts to come across as soulless, if that makes any sense," Omega said.
Omega was previously under contract to WWE, working in the Deep South Wrestling developmental territory during 2005 and 2006. Since leaving the promotion, he has honed his craft and become a much bigger star. There's no doubt that WWE would love to have him under contract once again, but whether or not he would actually return remains to be seen.
In regards to his match with Jericho on January 4 at the Tokyo Dome, Omega said, "I really want this match to be a wake-up call to New Japan and WWE. This match is going to open up a lot of eyes, and it's going to invoke a feeling you've never felt when watching a wrestling match. It's a clash of unique worlds, and the match we're going to show with aggression, violence, and disdain is going to evoke a new kind of emotion from people watching."
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