The prodigal gaijin of New Japan Pro Wrestling will make his long-awaited return to an NJPW ring at WrestleKingdom 17, four years to the day of his last NJPW match against Hiroshi Tanahashi, on January 4th in the Tokyo Dome. ‘The Cleaner,’ Kenny Omega, will go for the gold that he held before anybody else as he finally wrestles Will Ospreay in their first one-on-one meeting since December of 2015.
Omega transformed a cult-like New Japan following into a full-blown sensation stateside for New Japan Pro Wrestling between his series of matches with Kazuchika Okada and his match with Chris Jericho at WrestleKingdom 12, with his Bullet Club becoming household names in the sport of professional wrestling. Omega, however, has not been associated with the promotion since his untimely departure amidst the launch of All Elite Wrestling, where he’s currently an EVP.
AEW is where his current issue with current IWGP United States Champion Will Ospreay has cultivated. Though a majority of the spat has come via social media, Ospreay has made the trip to the States to work with the Elite alongside Aussie Open. Omega appeared at today’s New Japan show in a pre-recorded videos, just hours after his return to AEW, in full-cleaner character. He noted that he was ‘surprised’ to get a call from NJPW, and didn’t really care to, but is eager to show the world the difference between Kenny Omega and Will Ospreay.
Ospreay had retained the championship on the program in a contest against Shota Umino, his fourth title defense so far since defeating SANADA in Osaka-Jo Hall. Ospreay has had a banner 2022 across the globe, with five-star-or-better matches, per WON’s scale, with a myriad of talents such as the aforementioned Okada, Ricky Knight Jr., Michael Oku, Zack Sabre Jr., Shingo Takagi, among others.
As NJPW continues their expansion to North America, there’s little doubt that there’s a bigger match they could display the IWGP United States Championship with at their biggest event of the year than Omega vs. Ospreay, both of whom are far bigger stars than the first time they wrestled. It remains to be seen whether or not Omega in New Japan is a one-off or if there is more on the table, but Bodyslam will be sure to continue to monitor the situation.
You can watch WrestleKingdom 17 on New Japan World live on January 4th. Alongside Omega vs. Ospreay, Jay White will defend the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Kazuchika Okada, while they are also set to feature the IWGP Women’s Championship and NJPW World Television Championship for the first time in WrestleKingdom history, respectively. Other AEW stars, such as IWGP Tag Team Champions FTR, are also set to appear on the program.