Great-O-Khan and Jeff Cobb go face to face with SANADA and Tetsuya Naito
January 5 sees a trio of singles matches for the United Empire, with the stakes at their very highest. Great-O-Khan will face SANADA and Jeff Cobb will take on Tetsuya Naito, all before Will Ospreay challenges whoever the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion may be. With Ospreay still quarantining before the Tokyo Dome, it was down to O-Khan and Cobb to make the last statements for the United Empire before Wrestle Kingdom.
Addressing the world before his singles match opponent on day two, Great-O-Khan remarked:
‘First of all, one year ago, all of United Empire had singles matches, and we were defeated. This, we recognise. This year, Ospreay and Henare were injured, while TJP and Aussie Open joined our cause, but could not compete in Japan because of the pandemic. We, the United Empire have had our hardships over the last 12 months. Yet next year the same three men have three singles matches again. Whether luck or destiny, with us at the head, we the United Empire will undergo a bold resurgence! We shall show our power, and all who oppose us will be face execution!
‘Before the executions take place, all who will stand with us, come to our side. To the victim of our execution, to this wretched peasant, we shall speak the truth. We thought you were little but a mute stepping stone to us. Yet you have a… playfulness in the ring. We shall accomodate that. We shall bring new moves, new approaches. We shall speak like your SANADA does- we will show some pretty boy wrestling, right before we take your pretty boy face and crush both it and you beneath our Iron Claw, SANADA.’
SANADA responded with typical coolness, saying ‘First of all, take a look at Great-O-Khan. Here is a man who clearly has no interest in any form of modern fashion, and has chosen his own style. That is something I respect. With respect, I followed Great-O-Khan on Twitter and found a lot of things that really made me think that he is quite handsome, quite refined in his own way. I respect that. And with respect, I present a “Gift.”‘
‘I’m sure that if you read this, then you can become a better man, like myself. And finally, I will say- I don’t want to make an enemy of Great-O-Khan. I don’t want to do that because I feel he’s a tremendous wrestler. How do I know that? Because he has me for an opponent’.
Great-O-Khan would tear SANADA’s fashion book, leading to a tense photo shoot before Tetsuya Naito and Jeff Cobb took the microphones. Speaking first Cobb stated:
‘Ola Naito-san. Well, well, here we are. One year ago I was on this stage with a different LIJ member. This year, Tetsuya Naito. Now Naito, I don’t hate you man. I’m mad you beat me at Ryogoku, but I don’t hate you. I like some of your catchphrases. Like you’ve been telling me all this time “Tranquilo”. But I’m from Hawaii, we invented tranquilo. But the catchphrase I like best is “Destino”. Destiny, right? On January 5 I will fulfill my destino, to defeat Naito at the Tokyo Dome.’
‘I’m grateful to Cobb. Tetsuya Naito went into Ryogoku with nothing lined up for the Tokyo Dome, but he stepped up, put my name out there. Then, he chose to stay in Japan, missing Christmas, missing New Years just to that he could lose to me at the Tokyo Dome. I have to be grateful for that. So it’s with gratitude in my heart that I will beat Jeff Cobb in the Tokyo Dome.
2021 was a year where I was out of the win column and out of the headlines. If this continues into next year, then I become irrelevant. I don’t want that to happen, so it’s with even more of a sense of urgency than normal that I step in the ring January 5. My goal for 2022 is to make sure that I am in the main event January 4 2023. To do that I need to make Cobb a stepping stone. Isn’t it nice that you get to be my stepping stone? Be sure to say gracias, my friend’.