In the world of New Japan Pro-Wrestling, January can only mean that it’s time for Wrestle Kingdom. A yearly tradition under several monikers since 1992, the Tokyo Dome supercard has always been a proving ground for the best warriors to ever compete in Japan. For most of the last decade, Kazuchika Okada was the final boss of the show, a staple main eventer that competed at the highest level against all comers.
At this year’s Wrestle Kingdom 15, Okada steps down the card for a grudge match against Will Osprey. In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, he stated his belief that the viewing audience will still view his contest as one of the main draws of the show.
“I think this match will get more attention than the main events of Wrestle Kingdom. Even if you are not wrestling in a main event, you can still have the best match on the card. If I were in the main event, [Tomohiro] Ishii could still blow my match out of the water earlier in the card. That’s what will happen here. I will wrestle the best match on Wrestle Kingdom. And I’ll beat Ospreay, too.”
新日本プロレス #njwk15 東京ドーム２連戦
オカダ・カズチカ 🆚 ウィル・オスプレイ#新日本プロレスワールド で
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) December 30, 2020
Okada and Osprey’s battle stems from the formation of The Empire at his expense during the G1 Tournament. Osprey’s cohorts ensured he didn’t progress in the event, and now Okada is looking for vengeance. Still, he excited for the opportunity against a man he’s known for many years.
“When he debuted in New Japan, he was a high-flying ball of energy. Wrestling Katsuyori Shibata made his strikes better and helped him step up a level, and he’s kept progressing since.”
For more from Okada, including his feelings on wrestling in the COVID era and his ideas about a multi-company supershow, be sure to check out the full interview.