Tetsuya Naito was recently interviewed by the official website of New Japan Pro-Wrestling. During the discussion, he talked about the G1 Climax Tournament, the current dynamic of his relationship with Hiroshi Tanahashi, and more.
Below are some highlights.
Tetsuya Naito on entering the G1 Climax as a dual-champion:
Well, it’s something I’ve never experienced before, to enter as champion. It puts a target on you. There are bound to be people who think that even if they don’t win the whole G1, beating me is motivation enough, right?
I’m an attractive opponent as it is! (laughs) That’s the mindset I’ve had for the last few years, so I wouldn’t say this year is all that different. But yeah, it’s a fresh experience, to carry the belts into these matches.
Well, that’s how much of a target the champion wears into the G1. I’m looking forward to experiencing that, to seeing just how tough it is to go through the tournament like that. And nobody’s ever won the G1 as Intercontinental Champion, right? And obviously nobody as a double champion. I’m looking forward to that.
Tetsuya Naito on the competitors in B-Block:
Well, I think my biggest concern was that people would be entered in just to fill out the numbers, just because we have 20 wrestlers in every year of late… Five main events out of eight just has me thinking what about the other three, you know? I want the line of thinking to be ‘it doesn’t matter who his opponent is, a Naito match has to be the main event’. So for me to have three matches that aren’t the main, that’s disappointing, honestly.
Tetsuya Naito on the current dynamic of his relationship with Hiroshi Tanahashi:
Our first singles match in three years. I was always a Tanahashi fan back in the day, and our first singles match in so long, yeah that’s exciting. But Tanahashi himself said that he felt he was on the bubble, right?
As a former Tanahashi fan, that hurts to hear. I’m the focal point now and he’s on the bubble. I know that people are talking about how he’s holding up physically. So I’m really happy to face him in the first match, no damage, no excuses. I want to see what Tanahashi is really like right now. And I want him to hate what Tetsuya Naito is like.
You know, I think now there’s a clear gap between the two of us. When I faced him in the Tokyo Dome (in 2017, watch here!) and bowed after that match, I think that was where our positions swapped. He’s only gone downhill since. You know, whether he believes it or not, I wanted to hear more positive talk from Tanahashi. There are still a lot of fans who expect the old Ace.
Tetsuya Naito On The G1 Climax Tournament, Hiroshi Tanahashi, More