Kota Ibushi is ready for the big showdown.
The biggest show of the year for New Japan Pro Wrestling -- that being Wrestle Kingdom is taking place on January 4th inside of what will be a jam-packed Tokyo Dome filled with wrestling fans awaiting to see the action unfold. There are ten matches scheduled for the show including the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Titles #1 contenders gauntlet match that is taking place on the pre-show and while mentioning the NEVER belt, the NEVER Openweight Championship will be defended in the opening match of the main card. On the final night of World Tag League action on December 9th, Will Opsreay defeated Taichi to become the #1 contender to the NEVER Openweight Title and later in the night Kota Ibushi defeated Hirooki Goto to become champion and once Ospreay officially issued the challenge to Ibushi, the match was locked in for Wrestle Kingdom 13.
Kota Ibushi recently did an interview with the New Japan Pro Wrestling website and opened up about his forthcoming match with Opsreay and stated things like: he and Ospreay's match will not be just another high-flying match and that the bout probably has the same value as the main event in his eyes.
(Below is the full transcript courtesy of @dartvader_one on Instagram):
“At first, when our match for the NEVER belt was announced to be the opener, I thought 'Eh?', but now I'd say it probably has the same value as the main event. My personal impression is, it may not have been in recent years that New Japan has gone so far to have such a strong fight for the first match or at Tokyo Dome for that matter. If you go watch various fighting sports events, and get excited at the first match, the interest rises after that. However, if the first match doesn't get you excited, I would say that people will turn away after the 2nd or 3rd match. So, our first match is really important.”
“What I want to say is, it is not going to be just another high flyer showdown. I'd say that there are many people who think so, that they expect another Ricochet versus Ospreay Super Jr.- like bout. You know, I watched that match many times and think of them as the number 1 and 2 high flyers in the world, then. As a 'former high flyer' myself, I think things are different now. I used to be that style myself in the past. Don't get me wrong, I was really interested in the Ricochet vs. Ospreay fight at the time and [thought] it was awesome, but I felt that it is a modern version of what I was doing. I don't feel like competing against that match in the first place, and I'd like to say that I'm different. I'm doing even more amazing things now than what I was doing back then. But, I'm not the only one. We both have progressed and adapted newer styles. In a sense, we are a lot alike. Ospreay is an outstanding performer and one of the best among a group of amazing young athletes. At only 25 years of age, I feel like looking at myself from 10 years ago even though I was stronger. However, wrestling is different than ten years ago and I wonder if I would be in the same position where Ospreay is fighting now. That's why I think he is not afraid, it's in his youthfulness.”
“For someone to posses something that's so close to me, even though we fought each other in tag matches prior to the Tokyo Dome, it feels like I'm fighting Ospreay for the first time. So, I am very excited now. It's been a long time coming.”