Whether you know him as Mr. Athletic, The Imperial Unit, or even as the Monster Matanza, Jeff Cobb has earned the right to still be called a champion after New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Resurgence in Ontario, California. The United Empire member walked into the Toyota Arena on May 11, 2024 as one of six champions tasked with defending their titles at the Southern California event. And though he faced an extremely difficult opponent in the form of All Elite Wrestling’s Lance Archer, Cobb emerged victorious with his NJPW World Television Championship reign intact by the end of the night. 

However, before the former Olympian stepped into the ring with the Murderhawk Monster, he spoke to That Hashtag Show at the NJPW Resurgence Press Conference held at the New Japan Dojo in Carson, California. In a wide-ranging discussion, Cobb touched on his current status with the United Empire, how that may have changed since the departure of leader Will Ospreay, and the growing frustrations with AEW talent filling top spots on New Japan shows. Plus, he gets into some fun stories outside of the ring with his stablemate Great-O-Khan, the impact of Pacific Islanders in professional wrestling, and his next challengers.

United Or Divided

Lance Archer stands toe to toe with Jeff Cobb at NJPW Resurgence

After defeating Tetsuya Naito in Chicago, Illinois earlier in the month, Jon Moxley returned to Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Florida for the April 24th episode of “AEW Dynamite” and defended his newly-won IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Powerhouse Hobbs of the Don Callis Family. Considering that Hobbs is an associate of United Empire members Ospreay and ROH World Television Champion Kyle Fletcher, you would think that Cobb would have some kind of excitement to see Hobbs challenge for the world title. However, that was most definitely not the case. In fact, the Honolulu, Hawaii native was upset to see someone from New Japan’s “sister company” (his words) receive a title shot ahead of anyone on the current roster of the prestigious Japanese promotion. Then, as he issued an open challenge for his NJPW World Television Championship, another talent signed to Tony Khan’s company stepped up to accept. Cobb openly expressed to us his frustrations with these developments. Although ultimately, there are much bigger matters on his mind. 

During the press conference, you mentioned that you were a little frustrated that an AEW guy stepped up to challenge you, even though you put out that challenge to New Japan guys. How frustrating is that for you and the rest of the locker room that AEW guys are heavily featured on the NJPW Resurgence card? 

Jeff Cobb: (laughs) Great, you just opened up a can of worms. I meant what I said. Technically it was an open challenge, but it’s just a little frustrating that the one to step up was an AEW guy, you know? Why didn’t Will Hobbs get the first chance at my championship? New Japan’s giving out championship shots to just any Joe Schmo. It’s a little annoying at times and it’s kind of boiling over. You see some of the New Japan talent frustrated that an AEW guy got [the first] crack at Jon Moxley, our champion. I don’t know. It’s kind of boiling over, I guess.

When Will Ospreay left for AEW, you said that you didn’t really care about the leader of the United Empire. After your match at the New Japan Cup, you said, “The only title I want is around my waist.”  So now that you do have the title around your waist, what’s your mindset about the group right now?

Cobb: Personally, the only “C” I want by my name is champion. Captain? Whatever. Call yourself whatever you want. At the end of the day, champion, that “C” by my name is all that I need. As far as the stable goes, I don’t care. Again, I personally feel whoever’s in the top billing, going for the top championship or whatnot should be the one in charge. I don’t care either way. I’m a champion. I’m worried about championship shit.

The Greatest

Jeff Cobb delivers a suplex to Lance Archer at NJPW Resurgence

While he isn’t too concerned about the leadership of the United Empire, Cobb does care about his stablemate Great-O-Khan. The duo teamed up on numerous occasions in NJPW and formed a close bond. They even took their partnership to AEW to challenge FTR and Roppongi Vice in a triple threat tag team match for the AEW and IWGP Tag Team Championships. But as close as they are in the ring, they have clearly formed a bond outside the ring as well. And since wrestling fans have adored O-Khan since he saved a young girl from being abducted by a drunk man in 2022, this was the perfect time to learn more about the man behind the legend.

Cobb: [He’s] carving his own path. He may not have been the golden goose out of his [Young Lion] class [which also included Shota Umino and Ren Narita], but he’s coming back here and he’s making a name for himself on his own. People may have picked him last in his class, but he’s definitely kicked through the front door.

When we invaded AEW years ago, it was in Las Vegas. I live there, so he came over [and] I took him out. I made him eat a giant, 1-pound hamburger, [he] got spanked by a little person, and rode a giant mechanical penis. Letting him do that and then partaking in Fremont Street, that was awesome.

Tour of the Islands

Jeff Cobb retains the NJPW TV Title at NJPW Resurgence

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Along with superstars like The Rock, Roman Reigns, Tama Tonga, Nia Jax, Samoa Joe, and his fellow United Empire member TJP, Jeff Cobb is one of many active AAPI wrestlers that audiences look up to as part of this diverse and multi-faceted community. Although, pro wrestling has always had a rich history of Pacific Islanders in the sport including the Wild Samoans, “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, Rikishi, and more. In honor of this celebration, Cobb touches on the bonds that he has been able to form thanks to his place in the business.

How does it feel for you to represent this new generation of AAPI talent and rep the culture on a global scale through New Japan? 

Cobb: It feels great. Through coming here to New Japan Pro Wrestling, I got to get into contact with amazing guys in this industry from the islands. I befriended Taiyō Kea or Maunakea Mossman [of AJPW fame], who lives in Hawaii right now. Me coming through New Japan and having a Japanese connection from an island standpoint, we ended up becoming friends. It’s cool to talk to him and pick his brain about becoming a star in a foreign country. That was one of the coolest things. But yeah, [I’m] just trying to represent the islands because [they] have a lot of great pro wrestling history, but I think sometimes we get overlooked. Polynesians, Asians, Pacific Islanders, we can definitely carry our slack. 

Riding The Wave

Tomohiro Ishii vs. NJPW TV Champion Jeff Cobb

Finally, Cobb discussed his future as the New Japan TV Champ and his next opponents. Not that he was looking past Lance Archer (who, again, he did go on to defeat after our conversation), but he’s ready for anyone. Whether it’s NJPW, AEW, ROH, CMLL, or even AAA, he said, “It doesn’t matter. I’ll defend it anywhere, anytime, anywhere.”

Although, after suffering a pinfall at the hands of Tomohiro Ishii in a tag team match at UJPW All Together, Cobb did single out the Stone Pitbull as someone to keep an eye on. Well, he actually called Ishii “this little Mr. Potato Head guy,” but either way, that match has been made official for New Japan Dominion on June 9, 2024. 

But before that massive hoss fight of a rematch takes place in Osaka next month, Cobb has another huge match. He heads back to “AEW Dynamite” this week to join Kyle Fletcher as the United Empire faces Blackpool Combat Club members Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson. In a bit of a full circle moment where he is taking Powerhouse Hobbs’ place, maybe the Hawaiian Juggernaut can get out some of his AEW-centered aggression all over the Death Rider and the American Dragon. 

For more on Wrestling, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.

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