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Omega can't live down match with 9-year-old-girl
By DOUG LUNNEY - Winnipeg Sun


Kenny Omega takes on Hakura.

Viral videos recently boosted careers for musicians Maria Aragon and Sean Quigley, but for fellow Winnipegger Tyson Smith it's resulted in death threats.

Omega, whose real name is Tyson Smith, had a televised match last summer in Tokyo, Japan against Hakura, a nine-year-old girl. The YouTube video has more than 1.2 million hits. While many of 1,800-plus comments gave it a positive review, some took it too seriously.

"What it did for me was fill my inbox with death threats," said Smith, 28, who's to appear at Premier Championship Wrestling's 10th Anniversary Spectacular on March 15 at The Marquee Lounge. "I got random messages on Facebook, people telling me I better watch out when I'm on the street ... Just because I'm a wrestler, I can't get away with suggestively touching under-age women.

"A fan of mine in Holland said I made the papers out there. I couldn't believe it. It ended up being one of those ‘you've got to check this out' kind of stories."

The video got the attention of some of wrestling's big names, such as Mick Foley, who tweeted: "Just saw the Kenny Omega/9 year old girl match again. Why is Kenny Omega not on national TV? #whatanamazingheel."

Smith has been working regularly in Japan for almost four years and, just like the Dragonette song, Kenny Omega really is Big In Japan. Last October he became the world junior heavyweight champ of All Japan Pro Wrestling.

"It's strange because I do a lot of really weird things in Japan all the time," he said. "I'm surprised that of all things, (the Hakura match) was the one that made it back to North America and really caught on."

Some of his more bizarre opponents include a blow-up doll and a "green-screened 50-foot giant man that shoots lasers out of his eyes."

And yet some people really believed he was abusing a nine-year-old girl.

Last summer Smith was asked to train Hakura, who was discovered at a shootboxing gym by a new all-female wrestling promotion in Japan. Despite her age, the promotion desperately wanted the charismatic four-foot-one, 51-pound girl to work its first big show. They figured the only one who could safely do a match with Hakura was the man who trained her, resulting in her three-minute debut with Omega in front of a packed house of 1,800 fans.

"They were really selective in who they chose as their trainer so I felt it was a real honour to be put in that position. I didn't want to let them down," said Smith, who can speak Japanese well enough to chat with fans and "cut promos."

Hakura dishes out most of the offence in the match, including flying from the top rope onto Omega while he's outside the ring. But she also takes a boot to the head, a back breaker and two head-first slams into a turnbuckle. Her remarkable performance has many YouTube viewers commenting that she's more talented than most of the implant-enhanced women in World Wrestling Entertainment.

"I wanted to suspend people's disbelief in pro wrestling and in the age and weight difference," said the six-foot, 200-pound Smith. "I wanted to make them laugh. I wanted to make them believe that for those three minutes anything could happen.

"To have the crowd react the way that they did, I was really proud of it, but I can't even take half the credit because (Hakura's) reaction, facially and the way she would sell the moves -- she made the match what it was."

RELATED LINKS

  • April 24, 2009: Kenny Omega finds a home in ROH