Kenny Omega Tells Us Why His Trooper Card In Like A Dragon: Ishin Is All Elite

Like a Dragon: Ishin, the upcoming remake of the 2014 Yakuza spin-off set in 1860s Japan, is getting a dose of the Elite thanks to the inclusion of All Elite Wrestling’s Kenny Omega. Sega has announced that “The Cleaner” will assist players as one of the game’s many Trooper cards.

The centerpiece mechanic of Ishin, these cards grant special attacks and bonuses thanks to the help of several fan-favorite characters, including the likes of Ichiban Kasuga. Omega’s card, aptly named Essence of the One-Winged Angel after his Final Fantasy-inspired finishing move, can slice foes with a powerful, wide-reaching attack using his angel wing. 

To learn more about the announcement, I sat down with Omega to chat about his Trooper card’s origins, his long-standing love of the series formerly known as Yakuza, and whether or not he knows how to wield a katana.

GI: I know you’re a big Like A Dragon fan, and I also know you spent a ton of time wrestling in Japan. Did you ever play the original version of Ishin? And if so, either between that or the remake, what excites you most about it?

Omega: So, I never played the original Ishin. However, at the time it released, I was staying in a dormitory for the current promotion I was wrestling for, which was DDT at the time, and we had kind of like bunk beds in my room. So I was at the top bunk, and my bottom bunk roommate, he would always play the game. And I had said like, hey, what is this? And he tried to explain to me because my Japanese at that point, it was okay. He tried to speak English as best he could too. And he’s like, ‘Oh, no, this is Yakuza.’ I said, ‘Wow, they do samurai stories in Yakuza?’ [He’s] like, ‘yeah, they do.’ And I said, ‘well, how is it? Is it good? Is it just as good as the real ones [are]?’ [He said] ‘Yeah, it’s just as good. You don’t have it in Canada?’ I said, ‘No, we don’t have [it] in Canada.’ And that always blew my mind that there was fully fleshed-out full entries in a completely different era that had been released in Japan, and we never got stateside. So it’s very cool to have a complete remaster done for all of us to play now. And even more exciting that I have a little tiny bit of an inclusion with it too.

Looking at your card and the use of your One-Winged Angel motif, can you talk about what kind of input you got to give for your Trooper card?

So I was actually kind of afraid to give input because I wasn’t sure what the boundaries were. I just thought I’m just lucky to be here. I’m just happy to be here, so whatever we can do, let’s make it happen. I just want it to be good for fans of the series, for fans of the game, for people that want just a really powerful card. And they came to the table with the Essence of the One-Winged Angel, which I thought, whoa, you know what that’s from, right? And yeah, they’re like, ‘Nope, we know. We just thought it’s you. You do the move, it’s part of who you are, it’s part of your identity, and we want that in the game.’ So between that, the card arts, everything; it is me through and through. So [it’s] very cool to have complete 100 percent Kenny Omega representation, and I feel like it’s very, very accurate.

Kenny’s Essence of the One-Winged Angel Card. Its description reads: “A strapping fighter who’s traveled through space, time, and reality to serve the Shinsengumi. It’s said that his elite skills can summon the stars themselves.”

That’s a hell of a power move by RGG, by the way. For it to just say, ‘Yeah, we know where One-Winged Angel is from’ and then just move on

Yeah! I mean, it’s great. It’s sort of [like] in wrestling, coming from a business where you have to try to pretend that no one else exists but you. That’s completely not my mission statement in wrestling. I was like, man, it’s cool to see people that sort of incorporate the same way of thinking. It’s wonderful.

I noticed that your card character has a katana, and it made me wonder: have you ever used or learned how to use a katana in real life?

Not in real life, no. I remember for a photoshoot way back when they suited us up in armor, and they gave us very basic lessons just so that we could have the correct footwork and maintain the correct stances while we were taking the pictures in Japan. And it was super fun. And it made me want to kind of take it up as just a hobby if I could. But sometimes you see something that’s interesting, and you want to make time for it, and eventually, just the other schedules pick up you’re never able to. But it was always something that I thought was very cool, and anytime I see it represented at its highest state, I always kind of regret the road not traveled. But it always feels like [that], you know? I wish I could sing better. I wish I could dance. I wish I could play piano. I wish I could have a black belt in a bunch of martial arts. And you always have sort of those feelings like, dang, I wish I could have figured out a way to fit it into my schedule a little better.

You’re in a video game, so I feel like that supersedes all of that other stuff, personally. 

A little bit, yeah.

Congrats on that. Besides yourself, of course, what’s your favorite Trooper card to use in Ishin from what you’ve gotten to play of it?

Oh man. Well, I haven’t been able to play anything aside from the demo at [Tokyo Game Show], so it would be a little forthcoming and a little premature for me to say that I have a favorite aside from mine. And I’m just going to throw it out there, there’s probably a good chance that even after playing every Trooper card, mine will still be the favorite. Because what I’ve seen so far, I think mine’s the most useful. And I think they cranked up the power just a little bit on mine as a favor for all my years of hard work and service to the series and the millions and millions of dollars that I’ve pumped into being a Yakuza fan after all this time. So I’m hoping that my character card lives on as one of the favorites amongst everyone’s decks.

Are there any big Like a Dragon fans in the AEW locker room, and if so, have you taken the opportunity to brag about this cameo to them?

That’s a very good question. I actually have rarely spoken about video games lately to a lot of the people in AEW. I remember when I was in Japan and New Japan [Pro Wrestling], and we would travel on the bus a lot, and that sort of becomes more of a common topic of conversation. ‘Hey, are you playing any games, what are you doing to kill time, yadda, yadda, yadda.’ And, you know, that will give birth to a conversation about what kind of TV dramas you’re watching or what kind of games you’re playing. So I mean, there’s some of the old dudes that I would still chat to that I traveled with in New Japan. Like, I’ll talk to Trent [Barretta] every now and then and say, ‘Hey, you playing anything?’ But yeah, not specifically. I feel like the person that I’ve been talking to the most about video games is maybe Adam Cole?

That makes sense.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, he definitely knows that I love this series. And we always kind of just talk to each other about what game is occupying our time as of now. So it’s going to be a very current topic of conversation for us. So when Ishin comes out, I’ll definitely be talking about Ishin for sure.

You can convince Adam to stream Ishin and then have him use your card all the time.

Yeah! I mean, he likes to stream single-player story campaigns. So yeah, I think that’s a good one for him.

You’re pretty famous for all of your video game cosplays that you’ve done at different wrestling shows. Can we expect the cosplay of your Trooper card at a big show in the future?

I would be lying if I said that I hadn’t already thought about it. So probably. It’s almost a safe bet.

And then you can practice your katana skills for that.

Yeah. I mean, we have, at the very least, even if it’s not traditional katana swordplay, we at least have Hikaru Shida in AEW, who’s very talented in kendo. So I’ll be able to learn something. At least a thing or two.

So, how can players obtain your card in the game?

Very simply. So without giving away any secrets. Well, it’s kind of a big secret, but it is available for free upon downloading the game at launch. So it’s the most simple card you could ever obtain. All you have to do is just own the game! Own the game, download the DLC 1,000 percent free. Very simple, like me or hate me. Hey, get a free card out of it. So it’s a free card, very powerful, and again, look, you don’t know me as a wrestler? That’s fine. I don’t care. We’re just RGG fans, and I’m trying to give you guys the most OP crowd control area of effect card that you could possibly get your hands on, and it’s all yours for free. I think you’re gonna like it. Essence of the One-Winged Angel, look out for it. It features yours truly, and I really hope all the fans of RGG, all the fans of pro wrestling, of myself, if they exist, enjoy this card.

To put the ball in your court, is there anything you’d like to share about your card that we haven’t talked about today?

There is. I believe that it will be available after chapter five, something like that. So I think that once characters are able to use this card, I think things will be a lot easier. I would say a lot of battles are going to become almost too easy. So whether that makes things more fun for you to feel that empowered or whether it makes it too easy for you, I don’t know. But in terms of the card, I’ve given all the info I can give for now, but I think everyone’s going to like it. And hopefully, it’s the first inclusion of another possible many. It’d be great again to work with the series, work with Sega, who are all these wonderful people, and to get in touch with fans. That’s always the most rewarding part of it is just to kind of cross over and to see just how many people, like myself, have all these other interests and all these other entertainment mediums all around the world. So it’s very cool to be a part of something that is near and dear to my heart and to meet people that are kind of cut from the same cloth a little bit. It’s very neat.

Like a Dragon: Ishin launches on February 21 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.