Great-O-Khan on The Empire’s growth and World Tag League
NJPW fans are still reeling from the introduction of Great-O-Khan at the side of Will Ospreay in THE EMPIRE, after he attacked Kazuchika Okada at the culmination of G1 Climax 30. Not slowed by a stoppage loss to the Rainmaker at Power Struggle, O-Khan instead reset, and teamed with Jeff Cobb in Aichi this week, The Empire instantly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the World Tag League. Before Cobb’s Empire debut, we sat down with O-Khan in this first ever public interview.
We were in separate locker rooms, but he made a point of coming to me
–OK, so we saw you make your debut on October 16 in Ryogoku when you attacked Kazuchika Okada.
–You certainly made an impact. One tour removed from that moment, how has it felt to be in action back in Japan?
O-Khan: You’re gonna start like that? Who the hell do you think you’re talking to? Where are your manners? Straight away with a question like that…
–My apologies. Great-O-Khan, thank you for taking the time for this interview today.
O-Khan: Huh. Next time do it with feeling. So what was the first question? Ryogoku? That felt good!
–As Bea Priestley distracted the referee, you entered and laid out Okada with the Eliminator (watch on NJPW World!).
O-Khan: Hahaha! Squeezing that face in our hand and driving his head into the mat, nothing could feel better.
–It was satisfying?
O-Khan: Well, the whole plan came together at short notice, but it went off without a hitch.
–So your return wasn’t planned out long in advance?
O-Khan: We had planned on being in the UK for a while longer when Ospreay called and said he wanted Okada crushed.
–Ospreay said backstage after the attack that he was tired of Okada having the spotlight no matter how many great matches Will had.
O-Khan: We don’t care about the particulars. We lent a hand to Ospreay as an ally, that’s it.
–Many fans speculated that your time in the UK was what connected you to Ospreay. Is that the case?
O-Khan: It is. We wrestled on the same card as him in the UK, and even though we were in different locker rooms, he made a point of coming to us.
–And that was the birth of ‘THE EMPIRE’
O-Khan: Haha! And did you see what we did? More importantly, did you hear? Those people aren’t allowed to raise their voices, but they couldn’t help themselves.
–It was such a shocking scene that some fans couldn’t stay quiet.
O-Khan: Couldn’t help themselves, the fools.
I was dominant there. Undefeated. Returning was just a matter of time
–You were away from Japan for 2 years and four months. While you were gone, did you have much of an idea of how you wanted to make an impact when you returned?
O-Khan: Of course we did! But one thing you need to understand is that there’s no use comparing us to any of these other so-called wrestlers. We weren’t sent away with a silver spoon to eat with and a red carpet ready for when we came back.
–You didn’t get a leaving match, and your excursion wasn’t announced ahead of time.
O-Khan: That’s because we didn’t tell anyone, and we didn’t ask for anyone’s permission. We’ve had a grudge against this organization and its wrestlers for years now. That’s why we went overseas on our own.
–And the Great-O-Khan was born out of that grudge?
O-Khan: That’s exactly right. We weren’t a snot nosed kid going on a “learning excursion”. We went on a foreign invasion! Don’t lump us in with any of those other wrestlers. They might have ‘returned from excursion’, but we, we are continuing our invasion in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Just look at the titles we won overseas. You do know what titles we won, we assume?
–MEM Heavyweight Champion, SWE Tag team Champion, RPW British Tag Champion…
O-Khan: And we never lost a single match in the UK. It was only a matter of time before we turned our sights to NJPW. And everything went according to plan.
“How impertinent can you get?”
–After your debut, you were set to face Kazuchika Okada one on one at Power Struggle and were effective indeed all the way through the preceding tour. What was it like to wrestle back in Japan?
O-Khan: Well, it certainly was satisfying to crush all of those puny Young Lions, and for the towns along the way to witness our power.
–You enjoyed being in front of your ‘subjects’. You teamed very effectively with Ospreay; was this your first time teaming together?
O-Khan: It was. There were no problems at all, obviously. Even ignorant types like you know how impressive a wrestler Ospreay is, don’t you? Not just in singles, but in tags as well, he is the very best of the best in every little thing that he does. As the leader of The Empire, he did everything to set the battlefield for us to conquer.
–You won every one of the tag matches on the tour with an Eliminator to the Young Lions.
O-Khan: Ha! Crush! Destroy! Conquer! The plan worked perfectly every time.
–But for Okada’s part, he directed some harsh comments toward you. He was critical of you being ‘in the way’ of him and Ospreay and suggested you ‘lacked Rainmaker Spice’
O-Khan: Hahaha! Spoken like a true imbecile, every word. High and mighty, mocking our name, taking us lightly. Those are all the actions of a man that this company has placed on a pedestal for so long. A phony hero… although we will acknowledge that he did defeat us one on one.
–At Power Struggle you appeared to pass out from Okada’s Money Clip and the referee put a stop to the match (Watch on NJPW World!).
O-Khan: But everything else? From the impact we made on our return, to dominating the tag matches, to our superior backstage comments, we were superior in every single way!
–You might have lost, but you made a mark.
O-Khan: And there’s more! Our social media, our sold out T-shirt… There is no category in which we are not superior. Need we say more?
–But to get back to the match itself, do you have any thoughts on that singles contest against a top flight wrestler like Okada?
O-Khan: How impertinent can you get? How much longer are you going to pursue that line for?
O-Khan: Okada is indeed a top flight wrestler. He beat us. We admit that. But do you really think there was any real gap in our abilities? We don’t need to tell you the answer to that.
–You controlled much of the match and came very close to beating Okada.
O-Khan: He cut off our carotid artery. Cut the flow of blood to the brain. We passed out. But did we submit? Did he score a pinfall victory? If it wasn’t for that one momentary slip, it would have been an easy victory for us.
–So you passed out in-
O-Khan (interrupting): How many more times! When we came to, the match was over. Nothing more, nothing less. That’s all we have to say on the matter.
–Now it will be Ospreay facing Kazuchika Okada on night one of Wrestle Kingdom 15 on January 4 2021. Your thoughts?
O-Khan: Ospreay’s goal from the start has been to crush Okada. Whether we won or lost, our job in Osaka was to crush the life out of him. Now it is our job to support Ospreay so he may do the same. Ospreay beats Okada, we win World Tag League together with our partner, win the IWGP Tag Team Championships at Wrestle Kingdom, and all of the Tokyo Dome falls under the control of THE EMPIRE!
–As we speak, your partner has yet to be announced.
O-Khan: He is someone whose ability nobody can deny. The toughest of the tough. And this is just the beginning for THE EMPIRE. We will only continue to advance and expand.
–Are there any teams in World Tag League that you’re especially aware of?
O-Khan: We already said that we are aiming for the IWGP Tag Team Championships. That means Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi.
–You face off on November 24.
O-Khan: You never know what might happen. Zack is a British wrestler, after all.
–The British ties are deep within The Empire.
O-Khan: And Taichi likes to call himself the ‘holy emperor’. Very interesting indeed. No matter, once we defeat last year’s winners, Finlay and Robinson, we will dominate the entire league. And…
–There’s another team that catches your eye?
O-Khan: Not another ‘team’. Another… name (points to team list).
O-Khan: We don’t quite understand how those seven syllables can make us so… angry. Maybe we will find the answers in the ring.
Much more to come in part two!