After an incredible Dominion show on June 9, it doesn’t look like New Japan Pro Wrestling is about to get any less exciting. Dominion included several title changes (spoilers below!):
The Young Bucks defeated Evil and Sanada to become IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions
Michael Elgin defeated Hirooki Goto (c) and Taichi to become NEVER Openweight Champion
2018 Best of the Super Juniors winner Hiromu Takahashi defeated Will Ospreay to become IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion
Chris Jericho defeated Tetsuya Naito to become IWGP Intercontinental Champion
Kenny Omega defeated Kazuchika Okada to become IWGP Heavyweight Champion for the first time in an epic two out of three falls match that lasted over an hour
At a press conference aired on NJPW World, New Japan announced upcoming title matches and more for the G1 Special in San Francisco (July 7) and the Kizuna Road tour later this month. We now know that the G1 Special in San Francisco will include:
IWGP Heavyweight Championship match: Kenny Omega (c) vs. Cody
Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay vs. Tetsuya Naito and Bushi
IWGP United States Championship match: Jay White (c) vs. Juice Robinson
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match: The Young Bucks (c) vs. Evil and Sanada
The tag title match will be a rematch from Dominion. The IWGP Heavyweight Championship match is a rematch of the main event from ROH Supercard of Honor, in which Cody pinned Omega after a classic superkick switcheroo from the Young Bucks.
Other new champions will have their first title matches earlier on the Kizuna Road 2018 tour. Michael Elgin will defend his NEVER Openweight Championship against Hirooki Goto on June 17, and Hiromu Takahashi will defend the IWGP Junior Heayweight Championship against El Desperado on June 18.
NJPW also announced that participants for the G1 Climax Tournament participants, blocks, and key main events will be announced on June 17, 18, and 19 respectively.
After these announcements, Kenny Omega entered with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship belt to speak to the press. Interestingly, he answered all the questions in English, despite them being asked in Japanese, and his recent promise a live New Japan audience that he would only address them in Japanese from now on.
Omega on winning the Dominion match: Before the match, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be easier if all this had been given to me before?’… I went into that match feeling broken… At the end of the day, in probably the hardest match of my career, I won. And having put through all the hard work… it really meant more than to have something given to me. Even though I’m banged up, I’m bruised, I’m tired… made the ten year struggle worth it… With the power of love and friendship I did something I never though possible.
Omega on Okada and responsibilities as champion: It’s not about me anymore… we had the greatest wrestler in the world hold this belt… He had the greatest championship run of all time… Wrestlers all over the world want to be like him. He’s an inspiration… He is the standard. And now it’s me, the Best Bout Machine. I hold this belt. I have to fill those shoes… this kind of means I represent pro wrestling.
Omega said he wants to show the world the “beauty and the strength of what pro wrestling can be,” and he now has to have “the strength to carry the entire business.”
Omega on his upcoming title match with Cody: Before if you had asked me, I would have said this is a blood match, a blood feud… But now I understand Cody. He just wants to be in the spotlight. And he deserves to be in the spotlight, he’s one of the best… Cody has a rightful appeal to challenge for the belt. I don’t know exactly my record right now for singles matches, but the one that really hurts right now [is when I lost to Cody]… and this time, there really is no home field advantage. It is a New Japan show, but guess what, this is America.
Omega framed this match as defending the title of company he represents “against the American Nightmare on American soil.”
Omega also addressed the formation of Golden Elite with Young Bucks and Kota Ibushi after he won the championship at Dominion. There was speculation the Elite might be leaving Bullet Club after Omega’s intro video for the match included an Infinity War-esque dissolve of the Bullet Club logo, plus the formation of a team with faction-free Ibushi.
Omega on Bullet Club and the Golden Elite: I am still Bullet Club leader. The Elite are still the Elite. The Golden Elite are something brand new.
However, he clarified that Ibushi is not in Bullet Club, though the rest of the GE still are.
Omega on tensions in Bullet Club: I really hope that by the time the San Francisco show ends things will go back to the way they were and Bullet Club will truly be fine.
Omega also addressed the result of Chris Jericho vs. Tetsuya Naito. He says he “barely got by by the skin of [his] teeth” wrestling Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom 12, and the fellow Winnipeg native “is possibly the greatest wrestler of all time.” He says that though Naito is “extremely popular in Japan… He doesn’t think the way a worldwide superstar thinks.” Omega questions the influence of Naito’s tranquilo, “take it easy” attitude on fans, and says it has prevented the L.I.J. leader advancing in his career.
Omega on domestic vs. foreign talent in NJPW: People who live in Japan, they’re comfortable. They don’t have to travel 24 hours to get here… I think it’s pretty cool that three Canadians [hold NJPW titles right now] …I’m serving this as a warning to all the domestic talent in New Japan. You need to step your game up. You are not on our level right now… what you’re doing right now isn’t enough.
Omega says that popular Japanese wrestlers know they’ll get another shot, while foreign wrestlers like Jericho know they have one chance to make a statement. He also clarifies that he is “an actual resident of Japan now.”
This press conference gave us an idea of how Kenny Omega will approach his first IWGP Heavyweight Championship reign, and some of the matches to anticipate over the next month. Which are you most looking forward to? What do you think of these recent developments? Let us know in the comments, and keep an eye out for the Best and Worst of the BOSJ final and Dominion soon.