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Winnipeg's Omega signs WWE deal
By PAUL TURENNE - Winnipeg Sun


Tyson Smith, a.k.a. Kenny Omega, has signed a three-year deal with the WWE to wrestle on the Deep South Wrestling circuit.
- photo by Carlo Procaylo, Winnipeg Sun

How do you get from Winnipeg to Georgia? By having athletic prowess, a little show biz savvy, and the ability to beat up everything in your path.

Tyson Smith, a 22-year-old Transcona, Manitoba resident, is taking his wrestling alter ego Kenny Omega to World Wrestling Entertainment's developmental circuit called Deep South Wrestling.

That's one step away from hitting the ring on international TV with the likes of Rey Mysterio and John Cena.

"It's probably the most exciting time in wrestling for me, but there's pressure too, because you have to rise above anything you've ever done to get to the WWE level," said Smith.

"This is huge. Probably 90% of the guys that get in the WWE now, that's the route they've got to go," said Bobby Jay, a local wrestler and promoter who gave Smith his first shot when he was only 16.

Smith wrestled for Jay's Winnipeg-based Top Rope Championship Wrestling for about two years, and picked up his Kenny Omega moniker while on that circuit.

"Kenny Omega at first was supposed to be a Hawaiian surf boy type of deal. I got away from the surfing but the name stuck and the hailing city of Waikiki stuck," said Smith.

The Transcona Collegiate Institute grad has been a fixture on the Winnipeg wrestling scene for years now, wrestling with Premier Championship Wrestling, and only a few months ago moving to Action Wrestling Entertainment.

His route to the WWE farm team began a couple months ago, when he attended a wrestling camp in Missouri.

The reward for camp standouts was supposed to be a ticket to a Japanese wrestling circuit, but the WWE's head talent director Johnny Ace paid a surprise visit.

He liked what he saw in Smith -- who baffles opponents with his quick moves -- and invited him to attend a week-long camp at Deep South Wrestling, which is based in McDonough, Ga.

Smith again did well there, and has since signed a three-year contract.

"I won't be living the life yet," he said. "I'll have enough to pay for rent, food, maybe the odd video game here and there, but that's about it."

Smith, who works out at the East Kildonan YMCA, plans to leave for Georgia early in the new year, and could pop up in the WWE anytime in the next three years if he does well.

"Out of anyone in Winnipeg I think he has the most potential," said Jay. "I'm very happy for him. He's a really good kid.

"He's come a long way from when I saw him stocking shelves at IGA. I'm proud of him."