THE EMPIRE trade barbs with Okada, Tanahashi 【WK15】

O-Khan, Ospreay with pointed words, Okada and Tanahashi with bitter responses

The pre-Wrestle Kingdom press conference on December 23 saw Great-O-Khan and Will Ospreay of THE EMPIRE deliver some pointed comments toward their respective opponents of Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada on January 4 at the Tokyo Dome, with Okada and Tanahashi issuing barbs of their own. 

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Hiroshi Tanahashi and the Great-O-Khan were first to issue their comments. Speaking first, O-Khan made the following statement:

‘You peasants, holding your heads high! You should bow before us! All of these other fools will come out here like hack politicians on the campaign circuit, talking about their motivations! But it’s simple! We fight so that we can win! Yet we want a prize for our victory.

It’s all about history. You know what happens when a country falls? They get overrun, and their citizens become slaves! Tanahashi, maybe the same fate should await you. When you lose, you join THE EMPIRE, as our lapdog. 

Why do you think we attacked your knee so much, hmm? With your knee in pain, you can’t stand, can you? How appropriate, that you should be on all fours. That old dog Tanahashi will make a fine mascot for us. You, and all the peasants who support you should be ready! I’ll make you crawl to me and lick at my boots like a dog in heat! Bow down before us!’

In response, Hiroshi Tanahashi stated the following:

‘It was back in 2008, or was it 2009? No, it was 2009. When I beat Keiji Muto in the Tokyo Dome, that was the first time I called myself the Ace of New Japan. 12 years ago. We’ve been through every animal in the zodiac. The name of Ace still sticks, but I know I’m not in the same condition I used to be, and I’m falling lower and lower on the billing when it comes to the Tokyo Dome card. It hurts, it does. It’s been a difficult year for professional wrestling and for all of entertainment. Quite frankly, if I can’t turn things around, I have to ask myself what about me can still make me The Ace. But this kind of adversity is what fires me up!

So in 2021, I want to get back in that mix, to help put NJPW right again. The last few years it seems that I’ve been a target, used as a potential launching pad for these wrestlers coming back from excursion. I’m not saying I’ll catch lightning in a bottle again, but I am sayting i won’t be a stepping stone. I’ll get 2021 off to a huge start and I will offer hope in 2021!’

Starting his phase of the press conference with self assured swagger, Will Ospreay had the following to say:

‘You know who I am? I am the most influential wrestler of the modern era. The real Will Ospreay, right here. The most important part of NJPW’s future success is right here, the ‘Commonwealth Kingpin’ has the biggest match of his life, and this little t**t is looking past me to more championship matches. I don’t think you realise, Okada, that you are getting finished at the Tokyo Dome. I am going to make you a bigger star by wiping the mat with you.

No longer are you the top boy around here, I am. And everything New Japan related is about Will Ospreay, and about THE EMPIRE.’

Okada offered a characteristically cool and scathing response. 

‘Well, the match is set. To be honest, it’s good for a cocky young guy to be stepping up like this. That’s good for New Japan. I was in that spot myself, not long ago. Young, cocky, arrogant guys, saying what they want, rude as it may be, that’s only ever a good thing for NJPW and will only help it get bigger. But for the wrestler Kazuchika Okada, the Okada that always belongs right at the top in this business, not so much. 

Feel free, please, use every name you want, call me a former star, the past, everything. It’s all words I’ve used in the past myself. But when we’re in that ring together, I’ll show Ospreay just how tough, and just how badass I am. And feel free to compare the match I’ll have with Ospreay to the match that’s for the IWGP titles.’