In his first column of the year, Daizou Nonaka considers what’s next for Tetsuya Naito.
Hi everyone, and Happy New year! Capcom producer Daizou Nonaka with you once again.
Wrestle Kingdom 14 was phenomenal, was it not? I was there in person for night two and then New Year Dash. The tension in the air, that emotional rollercoaster of a main event between Naito and Okada: I was stamping my feet so hard my legs hurt! Then at New year Dash, it was really special to be a part of Liger’s retirement ceremony. I’ll never forget that crowd all together singing along to his entrance music.
So now Wrestle Kingdom is but a memory, let’s look ahead to 2020.
There’s no question that the focal point of 2020 is Tetsuya Naito. After the road he had, from declaring his desire to be double Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championship to Wrestle Kingdom; he had nothing and it seemed impossible in the autumn. Yet he clawed his way back in the game, went all the way to the main event on January 5, and faced down Kazuchika Okada.
The man who beat Naito in his first Tokyo Dome main event two years prior, the man who was always against the Double Gold Dash plan; there could be no more fitting final boss for El Ingobernable than Kazuchika Okada. No tougher either; ever since recapturing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in the spring, he sprinted to Tokyo Sports’ MVP and match of the year awards, and was in absolute peak mental and physical form.
After four Rainmakers and the sitout Michinoku Driver that had felled Ibushi and SANADA, Naito persisted. Where two years before, Naito had crashed and burned on the Stardust Press, this time he hit it perfectly.
A Destino followed. Naito had done it. The last boss had fallen, and Naito had etched his name on history and achieved his dream. Pretty good place for the credits to roll.
But what comes after that? What lies in wait after the main quest is cleared for Naito?
Heading into previously explored towers and dungeons now fully leveled. Befriending former enemies, or battling former allies. All possibilities that exist in end game scenarios. In a lot of cases, fans believe that the real game begins after the credits roll. That the quest for 100% completion is what’s really compelling. That’s the situation Naito finds himself in now.
For players who make it to the end of a game, being able to enjoy the world post-credits is like the ultimate reward. Perhaps you could say that 2020 is like the ultimate reward for NJPW fans who have stuck with Naito through his quest.
One of Naito’s skills is in setting a goal for himself and theming everything he does around it. While he didn’t succeed in his earlier quest of winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship while still in his 20s, he set himself the new dream of becoming the first double champion. Having done that in two days at the Tokyo Dome, I’m expecting him to set yet another goal for himself in this new unseen world.
It seems we’re already getting a glimpse of this new post-credits world, as Naito faces KENTA for both championships in Osaka on February 9. Should he be successful there? Maybe Naito might get his wish of defending his titles separately. Maybe he will challenge other champions and expand his crown into a triple or quadruple one.
Me personally? I like an idea I put out earlier on in this article: battling previous allies. That double IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championship is just an attrative a prize to LIJ members as anyone else. On the upcoming tour, EVIL takes on Tomohiro Ishii, Shingo Takagi challenges NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto, and SANADA faces Jay White. If any of these players get pass their respective bosses, them challenging Naito would make for a pretty cool quest line. And how about the possibility of Hiromu takahashi versus Naito in a junior heavyweight versus heavyweight dream match?
The post credit possibilities for Naito are limitless! I can’t wait to join you guys for the ride!
Daizou Nonaka is a 36 year veteran of the videogame industry and wrestling fandom. Working at Capcom he has produced games in the Mega Man series among many others.
Check out Megaman Zero/ZX Legacy Collection coming to PS4, PC, Switch and XBox One January 21, 2020!