Kenny Omega on how AEW can grow their audience: “we are about to get very experimental”

Kenny Omega was interviewed by Dave Meltzer and Garrett Gonzales on Wrestling Observer Radio.

It was a long interview that covered a bunch of topics including AEW women’s division, living in Japan, what it’s like to run shows during the pandemic, AEW’s video game, Stadium Stampede, his upcoming match with Jon Moxley and Omega reveals that he’s been wrestling with an injury.

Here are some highlights:

Kenny Omega talked about wrestling in the 100 degree heat at Daily’s Place: “People have seen our greatest performances when we are in the greatest of conditions inside of an arena with air conditioning in front of a packed house of 10,000 people. Now, we are thrust into this outdoor location.  No one watches our show realizes these guys are in 100 plus degree weather. It’s damp. It’s moist. The ring canvas is slippery. The ring is so bouncy in comparison to what I’m used to in New Japan where it is like running in quicksand. I’m telling you it’s the most destructive environment that I’ve ever been in for professional wrestling. It feels like, yea, you are going out there for less time. I’m doing 15-20 minutes instead of 30 or 40, but these performances are killing me. After the match I had with Hangman where I really wanted it to look physical and I wanted to show something different than expected and have a hot, fiery opener, I went back and I remember it was the same feeling I had from the hour draw I had with Okada, the best two out of three falls, where I felt overheated. I sat with an ice pack on my neck just to cool off. I was just sitting there melting into my chair for two hours.  Finally, after two hours, I’m thinking, ok, my body temperature is returning to normal. It’s dangerous out there. I can’t stress that enough but we are all trying to perform as though it’s in normal conditions. Now as of this week, it’s the reverse where we are walking out there and it is super cold. We are going out there and if you’re not prepared for it, you get these goosebumps from the chilly wind. It’s very strange and it’s a brand new experience that I’m not used to. No one that’s watching our show understands what our situation is. It doesn’t even matter. They just want to see the greatest show possible.”

Omega was asked how can AEW grow the audience: “I think there is never any harm in experimenting with new ideas. If you go out with the idea that we are going to put together great matches with the cast of characters that we have and pound the pavement so to speak, we are going to end up competing for the same hardcore fan base.  It’s a great feather in your cap to have taken the numbers from the wrestling fan, but I believe that number sort of tops out at about 1 million. If you can steal a million viewers, you have a million wrestling fans watching our show that drifts back and forth between our show and NXT. Two great shows that offer a very similar in-ring product. Both have an incredible roster with guys that can go. What do the fans want to watch? They may say ‘I think this match will be interesting. Let’s watch this one and then we will flip back and see what is going on with the other show.’

We have fans like that and that’s cool if they support everything. They just want to watch good wrestling. But, I believe that number tops off at about 1 million. I think once you break that 1 million barrier, now you have drawn in a new fan. It’s either a casual fan or now you’ve actually made the hardcore, the not switching channel fan, not switch over. I think when we accomplish that, that’s when you really have won some sort of battle that means something. I don’t feel like we are in competition with someone else. I never feel that way. I always feel we are in competition with ourselves because if we are not attracting the wrestling fan that’s already committed to watching wrestling on Wednesdays, then we haven’t put our best foot forward because we have the ability to have the best match on whatever quarter that is. I still think there is room to do something more and to attract even more people, whether that is via the entertainment aspects of what professional wrestling allows or via someone on our roster that we don’t have yet. I don’t know but we need to experiment more and time will tell because we are about to get very experimental. Whether it works or not, you are not going to know until you try. The best thing that can happen is that it works. The worst thing that can happen is that it fails and we lose the 100-200,00 people that flip back and forth. I think the worst thing we can do is become complacent and exist in this constant battle for the same fans.”

If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit Wrestling Observer Radio with a h/t to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription. A WrestlingObserver.com subscription includes the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and daily audio shows in addition to thousands of hours of archived audio shows.

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