Okada greets press after Dontaku
One day removed from retaining his IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Tetsuya Naito at Dontaku, Kazuchika Okada greeted the press in Tokyo on May 2 to discuss his win over Tetsuya Naito, and the re-emergence of Switchblade Jay White, as the BULLET CLUB leader issued a challenge for Dominion on June 12.
IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada
Hello. Yesterday, I wrestled my third match with Naito this year, and I was able to defend successfully. Even though it was our third match this year, it was a fun one, and I’m grateful we were able to have it, and I’m grateful to the fans who were in the PayPay Dome, and watching on NJPW World.
I’d also like to apologise properly. Things ended last night not with me, but with an run-in. Now my next title match has been decided for Dominion. I can’t help but feel if (Jay White) was here then he should have wrestled, gotten a win, and then come to challenge. Instead, he chose to hit me with a Bladerunner after I had already had a min event match, and then talked about him being stronger and better than me. I don’t think that anyone is really satisfied with that.
At any rate, now I’ll go and face Jay White, for the first time in a long while. I’m not sure how long it’s been since he was in Japan, even. There might be a lot of fans who don’t really know who Jay White is, since he’s fallen off the radar, but I’m looking forward to having a great match, with no interference, winning, defending the title, and leaving the fans happy.
All that said, I know there’s a lot of buzz about BULLET CLUB getting back together in a big way last night. I can’t deny that, and I’m grateful to NJPW for allowing that to happen. But as champion, it’s my duty to show the whole world what’s great about professional wrestling, and that’s just what I’ll do. Up next is Washington DC for me. While fans in Japan are watching Best of the Super Jr., I’ll be in the US so I hope those junior heavyweights will keep an eye on how great I’m doing over there, so they can be inspired to do better over here.
–It’s been a long time since Jay White has been in japan, and you have your history, including the Madison Square Garden main event in 2019. Have you been watching that he’s been doing of late?
Okada: No. I know that he’s been active for NJPW over in the US, but I couldn’t tell you what exactly he’s been doing. Like I said before, I don’t really approve of how he made his way over and then instantly challenged without earning his way. I think a better way to go about things would be to wrestle, and earn that right to challenge me first. As is, I really don’t know what this match will be like in the ring. I do know in MSG, he was great, but that might have been his peak, I don’t know. I won’t know until we wrestle, but I’d like to think that we’ll both leave a definite impression. In the end though, I genuinely believe that I am the best that there is, so if his only way to make a challenge was to do what he did, well so be it.
–With Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson returning as well last night are your thoughts on the BULLET CLUB involvement at Dontaku?
Okada: To be honest, it really felt like BULLET CLUB are going to be making a major wave from here on out. Of all the factions, they left the biggest impression last night. BULLET CLUB have a strong association with international talent, and there’s the feeling like our main international wrestlers are coming back now. In the end, NJPW is a melting pot of great wrestlers fighting to be the best, and this match with Jay White at Dominion is exactly a case of just that. I definitely felt like business is picking up here in NJPW.
–Any thoughts on Anderson specifically?
Okada: Hmm, well we’ve wrestled a lot, the 2012 G1 final included. I knew that he’d been very active over in America. Now that he’s back, has he come back better than ever, or is he past it? I think we’ll find out in his match this June, and that’s another thing to get look forward to. I’m sure we’ll face one another again sometime soon, and that’s exciting too.
–There’s a clear feeling like the borders have opened up; do you have any thoughts on facing international wrestlers and fully competing on the world stage once again?
Okada: We have a lot of foreign wrestlers in BOSJ this year, and I’ll be heading over to Washington DC next week. We’ve been wrestling almost exclusively in Japan for a while now, but getting to wrestle international wrestlers is the best way to bring in international fans in my opinion. So whether it’s BOSJ, or whether it’s me in the US, I think people will see what we’re doing and realise that NJPW is the best wrestling in the world and things will keep growing from there.
–After Dominion, NJPW and AEW are presenting Forbidden Door. Is that an event you’re interested in?
Okada: Well, of course I don’t know what shape that event will take, but the fact that we’re having this combined event at all means I should absolutely be a part of it. There wouldn’t be much point in having a supershow like that if I’m not there. I think that we’ll create some more NJPW fans in the process, just like some NJPW fans in Japan will be discovering AEW as well.
I think it’s definitely fitting for this 50th year. in January we wrestled with NOAH, recently it was NJPW and AJPW in the Korakuen Anniversary so this continues that spirit, absolutely.
–When NJPW faced NOAH, you said you weren’t really aware of who they were and what the product was like. Is AEW something you keep tabs on?
Okada: Well, AEW is on a different level to NOAH, so yes, I’m aware (laughs). They definitely have world class talent, but no matter how many great wrestlers they may have, I’m sure there are a lot of people who have never heard of them. And it goes both ways- there are AEW fans who only watch AEW and will be seeing Kazuchika Okada for the first time. But whatever happens, I’m fully confident that those people will be leaving knowing how good I am. No matter who it might be, I think that a lot of people will get fired up, draw on that energy. There’ll be fans counting the days, not sleeping the night before, and that’s great. But anything more specific, I can’t really say at this point.
–And you’re saying you have to be a part of that event, as champion.
Okada: Of course. I wholly plan on walking into Chicago with this belt.
–You talked about the value of wrestling on the world stage. yesterday was the first Dontaku event in 21 years in the Fukuoka PayPay Dome, but with just over 8000 fans in attendance, there is still work to be done in Japan as well. How do you feel about that?
Okada: Of course, walking out and seeing empty seats is a shame, but it also lights a fire. When those seats are filled it’ll be amazing, and I know for sure that that is coming. The same goes for the Tokyo Dome, and that kind of thing is what motivates me as the champion. How do we get back to that sell out point? Well as wrestlers, the simplest, most direct and most important way is through our matches, and making sure that the fans leave happy. We have a tremendous staff in the company who have the same goal, and if we set that mark, of being jam packed and sold out, then we’ll all climb those steps together and we will get there. But the main thing is to get in the ring and do what we do.