Kingpin’s Kingdom: Will Ospreay at the Tokyo Dome 【WK16C】

The ‘Real’ World Heavyweight Champion on returning to Japan, and settling controversy once and for all

Watch Wrestle Kingdom 16 LIVE IN ENGLISH on NJPW World!

Or watch on the device of your choosing on FITE!


On January 5, Will Ospreay steps in a ring in Japan for the first time in eight months. At Dontaku, he defended the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Shingo Takagi, and was set to face Kazuchika Okada in the Dome mere weeks later, before fate intervened. Wrestle Grand Slam was postponed, and worse, injuries led to Ospreay being stripped of the gold. Now he will face either a man he’s beaten twice in 2021 in Shingo Takagi, or a man he wants Tokyo Dome revenge on in Kazuchika Okada on January 5, all for the right to become undisputed IWGP World Heavyweight Champion. 

Okada bringing out the V4 pissed me off

–Will, you’re set to wrestle in the main event of January 5 in the Tokyo Dome. You are listed as the challenger to either Kazuchika Okada or Shingo Takagi. I imagine that is not something you’re happy about.

Ospreay: Somebody high up needs to get fired in this company.

–You’ve called yourself the real world champion since your return in the US this August, and you had said that you would only come back to Japan when Shingo Takagi is officially declared the ‘interim’ IWGP World Heavyweight Champion. What caused the change of heart for Wrestle Kingdom 16?

Ospreay: Okada bringing out the heavyweight championship really pissed me off.


–Using the V4 Heavyweight Championship belt instead of a briefcase after winning the G1.

Ospreay: It was like he was trying to press a reset button on NJPW. Pandering to all those whining fans saying ‘we like the old belt’. The old belt doesn’t exist anymore, get over it. Seeing him come out with that belt, and Shingo with his, I thought this has gotten out of hand. Fans are too confused. It’s time to set the record straight, and if you want the job done right, you do it yourself.

 I am the one true MVP and the one true champion

–Since you’ve been away from Japan, Shingo Takagi has defended the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Hiroshi Tanahashi, EVIL and Zack Sabre Jr. after winning it against Kazuchika Okada. Your thoughts on the belt aside, how do you feel about Takagi’s 2021?

Ospreay: I would like to say, take the belt aside, Shingo has done a phenomenal job of carrying the company and carrying the flag for NJPW. You can’t take away his effort and fighting spirit. He deserved the (Tokyo Sports) MVP, absolutely. Especially considering I was only in Japan for five months. But that makes it all the sweeter, whether it’s him or Okada on the fifth, to let the world know I am the one true MVP and the one true champion.

 –How would you assess Kazuchika Okada’s 2021?

Ospreay: Okada is Okada. Every time he’s in a big match scenario, you want to be there and you want to watch. You can’t argue with his aura and presence, and he has been the standard bearer for NJPW for a long time now.

 — He went through a difficult patch after he faced you at Wrestle Kingdom, but had a resurgence in the G1. 

Ospreay: Did he have a slow start this year? Maybe. But wrestling is a marathon and not a sprint. This year has been a marathon for so many of us on a lot of levels. It’s all been stop and start, there’s been worry and uncertainty. But he came through the G1, and fair play to him. If I was there he wouldn’t have had a chance, but he is the G1 Champion, and I look forward to seeing if he can deliver at Wrestle Kingdom.


–This time last year at Wrestle Kingdom, Jay White requested he use his right to challenge in the main event on night two, January 5, rather than night one. He argued that he would have the easier path against a weakened opponent, but ultimately lost after 48 minutes with Kota Ibushi. Do you feel wrestling on January 5 and not the 4th gives you an advantage?

Ospreay: It’ll be an advantage. Look, we know how both guys wrestle. Okada is about taking punishment, and he’s very good at doing that. His pain threshold is tremendous. And Shingo is ferocious in the ring, he goes and goes.

 –So they’re going to tear one another apart in the main event night one.

Ospreay: I’m in a six man tag, and I’ve already spoken to Jeff (Cobb) and (Great) O-Khan. We’ve agreed it’s best for me to stay on the apron as much as possible, to only come in when I’m needed. Now for them, they’ll have the excuse that they’re hurt, they wrestled the night before, but that’s the game we play.

 I pissed him off when I called him the interim champion. That’s what I want

–You haven’t been resting all this time of course. Let’s talk briefly about how your matches in the US recently. Back in the summer you claimed the LA Dojo members lacked killer instinct, and went on to wrestle Karl Fredericks and Ren Narita in very well regarded matches. Did your feelings change after those matches?

Ospreay: Look, it’s me, and you can’t have bad matches with Will Ospreay. No matter who I’m with they’ll look incredible. But I have something they don’t and that Shibata isn’t teaching them- when you have the chance, you take the killing blow. Don’t let up. I have what they don’t. I don’t care about anything other than being number one. Fredericks has a big upside. Narita is a great Shibata tribute act, and he’ll be a huge star in Japan one day, but I’m one of the biggest stars in the world. There’s a difference.

 –You certainly showed that killer instinct with Shingo at Dontaku this year. If it is Takagi on night two, what do you think will make this match different to others you’ve had?

Ospreay: There’s a fire in him. I made him mad, I pissed him off when I called him the interim champion and that’s what I wanted, because then he’ll make mistakes. I’m walking round calling myself the real champion and it’s made him mad because I’m not wrong. Nobody has beaten me. That riles him up. What was his record in the G1?


Ospreay: So he had the belt in that tournament and lost two matches, went to one double countout. I’ve lost one singles match this whole year. That’s why this is so interesting. If it’s Shingo on January 5, he gets a chance at revenge on me. If it’s Okada, I get the chance at revenge on him.


–You did lose to Kazuchika Okada on January 4. And the original main event for Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo Dome in may was going to be Okada vs Ospreay, before the event was postponed and you had your injury. So do you want Okada more than Takagi?

Ospreay: Yes and no. I would love to erase that loss from January 4. It caused a rift in the United Empire- we all talked a big game, but…

 –You, Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan each had singles matches at the Tokyo Dome this year and lost.

Ospreay: But we bounced back and we’ve been unstoppable ever since. That made us stronger. So I would like to make that right, erase that loss. But then again, I know I can beat Shingo. I know I can play that game. And as much as I want revenge, it’s more important that I walk away as champion, so I would say that Shingo is the easier option.

 –Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan are each wrestling Tetsuya Naito and SANADA o n January 5. Let’s say you all win, and the United Empire close January 5 in the Tokyo Dome. What’s next for the group in 2022?

Ospreay: For me it’s about legacy. I want a better run with the championship. You remember that match at Dontaku?

 –It’s at the top of a lot of match of the year lists.

Ospreay: Dave Meltzer, like the guy or not, gave it six stars. I was looking forward to keeping that momentum and continuing this great run (after Dontaku), because I don’t think anyone can touch me. I proved that. I’ve had title matches in four countries in the middle of a pandemic this year, and nobody else can say that. I want to get the respect I deserve in 2022, and wrestle those guys I haven’t faced yet- to put a stamp on the reign of the United Empire.