There were two reasons I was interested in viewing ‘Omega Man: A Wrestling Love Story’, part of Canadian sports network TSN’s ‘Engraved On A Nation’ documentary series on various Canadian athletes.
The main one is that despite my role here, I’m really not overly familiar with his history and can’t call myself an Omega fan, per se. I’m more in appreciation of what he’s been able to do in the past few years and the character it takes to go work with your friends vs. taking the big money WWE contract. The second reason: I love sports documentaries. That seemed like a good enough combo to me.
Thus, I was coming in from a fairly objective viewpoint on the subject and in the way the documentary was put together. Having viewed it several times before its Wednesday night debut on TSN, I can tell you this: ‘Omega Man’ is a good watch but is saddled by trying to tell a few too many stories in a short amount of time.
What’s In It?
The opening 15 minutes or so is a primer on today’s wrestling scene and what Omega (aka “Tyson Smith from Winnipeg”) means in the current scope of things. We see the strip club/bar where he made his debut and hear from his then-contemporaries about why they thought he was going to be special as an 18-year-old.
This first part, and really the entire documentary, is buoyed by the spread of personalities interviewed. From familiar names like Omega, Don Callis, Chris Jericho, and Dave Meltzer to lesser knowns like Mike Angels, Jason Geiger, and Ryan Price, the 20+ people we meet through the 48 minute show add both depth and detail to his rise in pro wrestling.
We learn about his philosophies and his hopes of having matches and angles play out more like a traditional TV drama or a movie. If so, Omega says, perhaps wrestling could be perceived more as art than fake fighting. That mentality is on display with his DDT tryout video and his eventual run in that promotion that followed his admittedly disappointing time spent with WWE’s developmental system. Footage of his match with AJ Styles (including a funny quote from Styles given where he is now) is presented as a true turning point that still photos and a voice over couldn’t have accomplished.
That leads into a main focus: the story of The Golden Lovers, Omega’s tag team with Kota Ibushi. It’s also where ‘Omega Man’ loses its way. We gets an education on how Omega first heard of Ibushi, their first match, the team they formed, and the rollout of their story. We meet Omega’s parents for the first (and only) time where his father talks about the “are they really gay?” discussion around the two men with his mother comically admitting she has no idea what any of the story is or what people are talking about. Guess she’s not part of Wrestling Twitter.
The aforementioned group of people interviewed included LGBTQ wrestling fans and a culture critic who talked about the GL storyline and why it was important to them, both from a personal and entertainment standpoint. Their stories and experience were welcome and a reality check for those of us not in that community.
However, the GL history lesson and evolution gets a little repetitive at times mainly because there was so much more material to cover. The middle felt like a documentary within a documentary which hurt the flow from a traditional sports documentary perspective. Also, it’s tough to tell what Omega is kayfabing about and what is truthful with certain aspects of the story, confusing considering everything we had heard to this point didn’t have that filter.
After passing through the Omega IWGP title win, the final seven minutes are spent at All In and what Omega is looking to do in this stage of his career. (Him meeting Eric Bischoff backstage is a bit of a trip to watch.) We get a lot of footage of his match with Pentagon Jr. but not a ton of context as to what being outside WWE really means to him or the business. The shot of him walking backstage after the match, petting a dog and embracing Ibushi was cool to see. His All In promo and him working a Winnipeg indie shortly after his Tokyo Dome main event close out the documentary.
What Was Missing?
Absent from the film is anything about Omega’s decision to sign with AEW over WWE which would have been a fascinating focus area. This is where a few extra minutes taken from the Golden Lovers portion would have been used best, but having watched this a few times, I don’t believe a true career retrospective is what the filmmaker was going for. Considering the audience, however, I would have liked to see more about that.
I also was disappointed in the lack of focus on the Omega vs. Okada series which also could have been its own doc within a doc. The first match and the third one are covered a bit, but the wrestling fan in me wanted to hear more about the series. We get so much other detail about other aspects of his career that it left me wanting to get more about the experience of winning the title. I also was surprised to not hear more from Jericho as he had a great quote about Omega being Elvis in the intro, but that’s pretty much it.
Is It Worth Watching?
Definitely. ‘Omega Man’ is wrestling porn for his fans and wrestling fans in general. The amount of footage from backstage shows and from Omega’s private life are worth the price of admission alone and the quality in which the shots of Japan are done are excellent. The biggest enemy of the film, however, is time. Where other wrestling documentaries (Ric Flair, Andre The Giant, etc) usually have over an hour to tell a story, ‘Omega Man’ has to pack everything into 48 minutes. Perhaps an extended director’s cut would give me more of what I was looking for.
If the goal was to give sports fans an understanding of why Omega is arguably the best in the world at what he does, ‘Omega Man’ largely hits the mark and is well worth your time to watch.