At G1 Climax 2020 – Night 17, Will Ospreay faced Chaos stablemate, Kazuchika Okada, with Okada managing to gain an advantage, but a returning Great-O-Kharn interrupted and managed to attack Okada out of sight from the referee. As a result, Will Ospreay wins the match. During a backstage interview, Will announces he will leave CHAOS to form a new stable with his girlfriend, The Empire. And with Great-O-Kharn changing his name to Great-O-Khan, they make their debut as a team at G1 Climax 2020 – Night 19, defeating Chaos members Kazuchika Okada & SHO.
Jeff Cobb joined The Empire in November when it was revealed that he would be partnered with GRACEDOG O-Khan for the World Tag League 2020. By the end of the tournament, Cobb & O-Khan had managed to accumulate 10 points and a victory over FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson), who were last year’s winners of the World Tag League. Unlikely for Cobb & O-Khan to make the final though, as they finished 7th place in the tournament.
The Empire did not have much success with their masked wrestlers at Wrestle Kingdom 15, with O-Khan losing to Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ospreay losing to former stablemate Kazuchika Okada and Cobb failing to capture the NEVER Openweight Championship from Shingo Takagi. At the New Year Dash !! 2021, Great-O-Khan, Will Ospreay and Jeff Cobb defeated Ten-Koji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima) and Yota Tsuji. After the match, The Empire attacked Tenzan until he had to be taken away on a stretcher, leading Ospreay to announce that The Empire would be renamed United Empire.
What Does The United Empire Faction Have To Do With Will Ospreay?
The United Empire faction has a lot of potentials, and there are some things fans should know about it.
After shocking the fans at New Japan during the 2020 G1 Climax, Will Ospreay found himself newly-turned heel after cheating to beat Kazuchika Okada, with interference from Bea Priestley and Great O-Khan. In the years since, Will Ospreay has found himself as a leader of his own faction within NJPW, The United Empire.
Thanking boxer Manny Pacquiao for his support at 2022 Best of the Super Junior event would raise an opportunity to bring another prominent boxer into the United Empire’s fold, during New Japan’s explosive Dominion event in early June.
United Empire accompanies Jessie Vargas as they defend the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, and later during the IWGP Heavyweight Title Match, where he serves as a guest valet for the faction. An undefeated boxer, with an impressive 29-4-2 record and world titles under his belt, Jessie Vargas stands out among WCW’s upcoming roster.
The United Empire (Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher) joined the Japanese promotion shortly before TJP in September 2021. Aussie Open was being represented by one of their own, Will Ospreay, during Revolution Pro Wrestling in England. This duo is experienced and championship-level, but they have not appeared in Japan as representatives of the United Empire yet.
The Australian Open would appear on television before it debuts in front of the New Japan crowd, in Japan, as it would debut at the AEW Preview Show. In somewhat shocking news, Dan Maff was banned from AEW for his racist remarks against Yoshi Hashi.
Akira would make his New Japan debut in April of 2022 , at New Japan’s Hyper Battle event, face off with Taiji Ishimori and El Desperado. In his introduction, Akira showed that he was the new Junior Heavyweight star for the United Empire and that he would be in the Best of the Super Juniors.
Akira and Taiji met, but after the Fireball lost the upcoming match, he was ranked first for the next ten years of the Best of the Super Juniors. With a performance that impressed pundits and viewers, Akira became one of the breakout stars in 2022.
Bea Priestley, who became a member of the United Empire in 2020 during the G1 Climax that kick-started it and is thus one of the founding members of New Japan, is a rarity by being part of a faction as a female wrestler. Bea joins Miho Abe and Pieter van der Heiden in having the honor of being one such wrestler.
Ahead of the 2020 edition of New Japan’s World Tag League, it was announced that The Great O-Khan would be entering alongside a new member of The United Empire, but it was not revealed. The mystery was finally solved when the first night of action arrived.
Jeff Cobb showed up for the reveal that night and it was made clear to fans that he had signed a long-term contract with New Japan, which preceded his arrival at AEW. Before becoming a full-time employee of New Japan, Cobb worked as a freelancer for the company.
One aspect of New Japan’s wrestling debut has been the frequent changes to their bookings. Their matches started off with a bang when they debuted by defeating Okada, but they quickly hit a wrench with subsequent booking decisions.
Despite being fairly new within the NJPW system, the faction has found some success recently after a rough start in their run. Ospreay would win the 2021 New Japan Cup and would go on to dethrone Kota Ibushi for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship with an injury controversy soon following.
Although the group has not seen their fair share of success in recent years, it is predicted that the future victories for this team are a whole lot more optimistic than those times. O-Khan and Cobb have both been champions twice in the past few weeks, what’s more, is that Ospreay has been victorious in his quest to add another title to this team’s haul. Francesco Akira and TJP are also preparing for their shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight titles, so they seem like they’ve already got a solid floor of success under their belt.
The Great O-Khan’s entertaining performance during his stint in the US this spring has made him a fan favorite, however, he did something else far more incredible and far more deserving of recognition last year.
On March 29, 2022, O-Khan saved a 10-year-old girl in Japan from an assault by a drunk man. The attacker was subdued and apprehended immediately following the incident. After the attack, O-Khan received a letter of appreciation from the Nakahara Police. The recognition was more important to O-Khan than a championship in wrestling.
Cobb would have a standout run during the multi-day tournament. The 2021 G1 Climax would be a big one for Cobb because it would be his first as a member of the United Empire. Not only would it be a big one due to that, but Cobb having some stellar runs overall, especially during multi-day tournaments.
Cobb went 8-0 in the eight consecutive Japanese G1 Climax matches, and was looking like one of the favorites to go to the finals going into it. With big wins over Chase Owens, YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto, Tama Tonga, Taichi, SANADA, and Hiroshi Tanahashi in 2016’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament, where he broke Naito’s record for most consecutive wins going into his match against EVIL.
Not only did Jay White become the new IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, but Will Ospreay is now also a grand slam champion.
In New Japan, Ospreay would win three Junior Heavyweight Championships. Since then, he has won the NEVER Openweight Championship and both the IWGP World and United States Championships.