On December 2, 2020, Kenny Omega sent shockwaves through the wrestling world when he won the AEW World Championship and moments later, Don Callis announced that Kenny would be showing up on Impact! AEW had officially opened its doors to other major wrestling promotions.
Less than a week later, Omega made a statement on Impact that he was gunning for every title he could get his hands on, becoming “The Collector”. His first target seems to be the Impact World Championship which is currently around the waist of Rich Swann. Omega is already scheduled to share the ring with him in a six-man tag team match at the upcoming Impact pay-per-view “Hard to Kill”. Looks like this plan is going along well for Omega and ever since his announcement of the “Collector” idea, people have stormed social media with the speculation of whether the IWGP Heavyweight Championship is on the Cleaner’s list and there is a strong reason to believe that it is. Omega has expressed his wishes to collaborate with New Japan in the past and he even shares posts or tweets that imply that the belt that represents “the best” is definitely something that he wants to add to his collection, but that is just one half of the story that surrounds what many would consider the most prestigious championship in professional wrestling.
On January 4, 2020, at Wrestle Kingdom 15, Kota Ibushi defeated Tetsuya Naito to win the IWGP Heavyweight and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship and then went on to successfully defend both belts the next night in a remarkable match against Jay White in the Tokyo Dome. Ibushi already faces a tough challenger in the form of SANADA who has already announced his desire to come after the belt, but something tells me that it wouldn’t be the toughest obstacle that he faces during his reign. There is a strong possibility that down the line, Kota Ibushi might have to face his former partner Kenny Omega.
The saga of the Golden Lovers is extremely complex. The complexity is one of the factors that contribute to its realism and how closely it depicts real-life relations of people yet still having that entertaining factor attached to it. This story dates back to 2008 when a young Kenny Omega saw Kota Ibushi wrestling in DDT and sent a challenge along with tapes of himself wrestling. Soon Kenny flew to Japan and there he fought Ibushi where they realized that they had real chemistry and formed a tag team known as the Golden Lovers. After a while, they left for New Japan together where they found success as the Junior Heavyweight Champions.
After dropping the belts, the Golden Lovers soon faced each other in a one-on-one match for the second time ever at DDT Budokan Peter Pan in 2012 after Omega won the King of DDT Tournament giving him the right to challenge for the KO-D Openweight Champion Ibushi. The match was hard-fought and during that match, Ibushi became the first and only person so far to ever kick out of the One-Winged Angel. Ibushi won that match and soon they got back together. The Golden Lovers were destined for more gold as their bond grew stronger but soon and inevitably Ibushi went up to the heavyweight division while Omega wanted to pursue his singles career in the junior heavyweight division for a while. Thus the Golden Lovers disbanded for the first time.
Ibushi found success in the heavyweight division while Omega was struggling as a singles competitor. Soon he realised that he needed someone to have his back and that is when he joined the gaijin faction Bullet Club and reintroduced himself to the world as the Cleaner. This propelled Omega to new heights as he soon won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title as he climbed the ranks of the Bullet Club. However, there was a clash of emotions when Ibushi challenged the leader of the Bullet Club, AJ Styles for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Omega had a choice to make; was he going to let his relationship with Ibushi get in the way of his loyalty or was he going to stay true to the Bullet Club? Omega made his decision as he climbed to the apron as Ibushi was preparing to hit the Phoenix Splash and just locked eyes with him. That gave Styles enough time to counter with a Styles Clash and defend the title. It was not long after when Omega turned on AJ Styles and declared himself the new leader of the stable. After further failures, Ibushi decided to leave New Japan to look for greener pastures elsewhere. Omega, in the meanwhile, went on to become the first non-japanese G1 Climax winner and had a stellar run winning multiple titles.
However, he failed to win the top prize which was the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Omega considered leaving New Japan but he stayed after reassessing the situation. Omega still had authority over the Bullet Club but Cody was there too and there was a clash in authority. Ibushi wasn’t far away as he returned to New Japan to continue his career as a heavyweight competitor. All the while, cracks had begun to form in the Bullet Club and hate for Kenny was brewing in Cody’s head. In order to get inside Kenny’s mind, Cody brought out Ibushi and started beating him up when Kenny intervened and stopped Cody. This infuriated Cody further and not long after, the Bullet Club turned on Kenny and started buttering him relentlessly but who was there to make the save? It was Ibushi.
Kenny and Ibushi embraced each other afterwards and reformed the Golden Lovers. They were stronger together, therefore, Omega set out to do what he couldn’t before: win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Okada and Omega were set to face each other for the fourth time at Dominion 6.9 2018 in a 2 out of 3 fall match and Omega finally won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship with Ibushi having his back. The Golden Elite had a short run after that as Omega left to form AEW while Ibushi stayed in New Japan.
The story seemed to end there but now the circumstances have changed and there is a big question mark on whether that was the end or not. Ibushi has finally won the IWGP Championship for the first time in his life but right now, it looks like Omega, for the first time in over two years, is after that belt. How convenient was it that Ibushi won the belt at the exact same time that Omega started his collector run? Omega is more ruthless than ever right now and he would be ready to do anything to get his hands on one of the most prestigious belts in professional wrestling.
Is Omega coming after Ibushi? Is this the story that New Japan and AEW want to tell? Is there another chapter left in this story? There are so many questions here but the most important question in the wider picture is: Will the forbidden door finally open?