I recently had the distinct pleasure of speaking with NJPW star and current Texas Heavyweight champion Chase Owens, a member of the popular Bullet Club faction since 2015. The Crown Jewel and I discussed a variety of topics, including his memories of feuding with the legendary Jushin Thunder Liger during his early stint in Japan, and how he doesn’t seem himself working for another company anytime soon. Highlights, including the full video interview, can be found below.
Reflects on his early days in NJPW where he feuded with the legendary Jushin Thunder Liger for the NWA Junior Heavyweight championship:
It was my first trip. We wrestled BUSHI, and then my manager at the time, Bruce Tharpe, who was the president of the NWA, we just beat BUSHI, we’re standing in the ring, and then he calls out Jushin Thunder Liger. So my first trip to Japan at 24-25 years old…and here comes the living legend, superhero esque over here in Japan. That moment of hearing the crowd and watching the guy that I’ve watched in WCW come to the ring…that’s the real moment.
Whether he had a favorite person in Bullet Club to tag with and how each man brings his own unique skillset to the ring:
It’s a hard question because I think that everybody has their own little niches that make it different to tag with them. I pretty much like tagging with everybody except for the original Bone Solider because that was just a mess, but everybody else, like I said, they got their own little techniques whether it’s Fale with his power, Phantasmo with his athleticism, Jay with his ring-awareness, Tama and T, they’re already one of the greatest tag teams to be in New Japan, their tag team specialty. Everybody in there has their own thing.
How it feels to carry the Texas Heavyweight championship considering the belt’s long legacy:
It’s incredible. It’s the same way that I felt with the NWA world junior title. To carry these belts with the names that these titles have held…it’s a great honor to be on that list.
How NJPW has supported his reign as Texas Heavyweight champion by putting out a new t-shirt for him:
You always want support from the company that you work for. Sometimes I see guys at company’s and they’re kind of burying the company’s ideas or booking ideas…you shouldn’t be burying someone that’s doling your paychecks. So to have New Japan backing it, and acknowledging it, and even putting out a t-shirt…that’s more weight with me than let’s say money. If somebody offered five million dollars, I guess that’s a lot of money and it would be interesting to take but at the same time you got to think, “Would I be happy there? Do they take care of you besides just money?” That’s New Japan. This whole six years that I’ve been here…they’ve taken care of me. I don’t see me going anywhere anytime soon.
His thoughts on NJPW putting the IWGP Intercontinental championship to rest:
For me I don’t have any personal connection as I’ve never challenged for it, I’ve never held it, but the list and the prestige of the titles, yes it would be cool to have your name on that list so for it to be joined…it’s not that big of a deal to me but at the same time it does suck that it’s not around anymore. But now they have this new title and it restarts the history. That list is going to be great wrestlers no matter what because it’s New Japan.
The difference it’s made having some fans back in the building:
Oh absolutely. I think they’re allowed 40% (capacity) maybe, I’m not sure that’s all above my pay-grade. Those first few tapings we did for New Japan STRONG with no fans, or some of these arenas that we did no fans, wrestling in front of no fans is a completely different animal because that’s what you feed off of. So every move, landing every bump, every nick, it hurts way worse than if you’ve got people in there cheering and your adrenaline is pumping a little more. It’s definitely nice to have the fans back in and hopefully in the very near future…hopefully we’re back to normal and running full speed and people can scream and cheer instead of just having to clap hands.