Kazuchika Okada feels match with Jay White can't compete on NJPW WK 17 card name value-wise

Originally published at Kazuchika Okada feels match with Jay White can't compete on NJPW WK 17 card name value-wise

Okada does feel that he and Jay White are on a higher level when it comes to the ‘battle in the ring’. 

In one day, New Japan Pro-Wrestling is presenting their Wrestle Kingdom 17 event from the Tokyo Dome. Scheduled to headline the event is Jay White defending the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Kazuchika Okada. 

Ahead of the match, Okada has been making the rounds on the media circuit. One of the outlets he spoke to was Rolling Stone Japan

He told the publication that when it comes to name value on the Wrestle Kingdom card, his match with Jay can’t compete but when it comes to the ‘battle in the ring’, they are on a higher level. 

Frankly speaking, if we are talking only about name value, we can’t win (Okada’s match with Jay White). I think it is such an amazing card that I wonder if there is such a dreamlike card in the history of wrestling, but in terms of the battle in the ring, I think we are on a higher level. It is true that we lose in terms of name value, but the main event of New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s (Wrestle Kingdom) is definitely of a higher level. In that sense, I think we are looking at it from a higher level. Furthermore, this (Wrestle Kingdom) has a great card lined up, and I am sure that all the wrestlers have the desire to compete in the main event. Whenever I was not in the main event, I always tried to put on a more interesting match than the main event. But this time, it is the main event, the main fight of New Japan for the IWGP World Heavyweight belt, so I am ready to accept everyone’s feelings. I think it will be a fight that even people who know nothing about pro wrestling will enjoy.

Looking back on the last two Wrestle Kingdom events, Okada described them as ‘sad’ because the audience was not able to verbally express how they felt about the show due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Tokyo Dome in 2021 and 2022 were very sad. There were no cheers, only applause. The attendance reminded me of the old sluggish period. I think the audience also felt frustrated because they wanted to cheer but could not. I think it would be interesting if, in 2023 and beyond, pro-wrestling takes the lead in changing the world. I would like to propose, since pro-wrestling is doing it, why can’t others do it too? It is really thanks to the audience that we have come this far, and I believe that something will come out of this because of their support over the past two years through applause alone. That is why I think that Wrestle Kingdom 2023 will be a great event.

As of this writing, here is the lineup for Wrestle Kingdom 17: 

  • IWGP Women’s Championship: KAIRI (c) vs. Tam Nakano
  • NJPW World Television Championship Tournament Final: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Ren Narita
  • IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Jay White (c) vs. Kazuchika Okada
  • IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship — Four Way: Taiji Ishimori (c) vs. Master Wato vs. Hiromu Takahashi vs. El Desperado
  • IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay (c) vs. Kenny Omega
  • IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: Francesco Akira & TJP (c) vs. Lio Rush & YOH
  • IWGP Tag Team Championships: FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) (c) vs. Bishamon (YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto)
  • NEVER Openweight Championship: Karl Anderson (c) vs. Tama Tonga
  • Keiji Muto, Shota Umino & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI)
  • Antonio Inoki Memorial Match: Satoshi Kojima, Togi Makabe & Yuji Nagata vs. Tatsumi Fujinami, Minoru Suzuki & Tiger Mask
  • Boltin Oleg vs. Ryohei Oiwa
  • New Japan Ranbo — KOPW 2023: Participants TBD