Naito vs Hiromu official after unpredictable press conference

Hiromu made a bold interruption at the post New Beginning presser.

Today at a press conference in Tokyo, the main event was made official for our 48th Anniversary Event. Hiromu Takahashi will go one on one with Tetsuya Naito for the first time ever. Yet as Chairman Naoki Sugabayashi made the official announcement, Hiromu Takahashi, in full ring gear, interrupted with a strange and bold declaration.

Hiromu Takahashi ‘CHAIRMAN! I have a suggestion. At the 48th Anniversary Event, when I face Tetsuya Naito, let me challenge for the IWGP heavyweight Championship! Please! (long pause) What’s going on? What’s going on, that’s what you’re thinking. This will change everything. This whole every year having the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion face the Heavyweight Champion in a single match thing. If I challenge here then every year it’ll turn into somebody wanting a title shot. That’s no fun. So! I have an idea. 

Tetsuya Naito versus Hiromu Takahashi at Anniversary. IF! I win, then give me the G1 Climax Tokyo Dome main event briefcase. that’s a good idea, right?! Sorry for interrupting! I’ll go now!’

Chairman Sugabayashi agreed to take Hiromu’s concerns into consideration.


Double IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito

‘I said this yesterday, but KENTA really let me know the extent of his resolve after he did what he did in the Tokyo Dome. Before Osaka, I really wasn’t sure, but he really let me know in Osaka. There was a lot of criticism toward this being a title match, and I had questions too, but he thought, he felt, and he made something happen. I have to say, KENTA took a risk and acted. I think that’s amazing. We should be criticizing the rest of the NJPW roster, looking at me as double chamion and not doing anything right now. Are they not acting, or are they not interested? I don’t know. But KENTA, I like his style. I like that KENTA.

Other than that, as I said backstage last night, I went straight to the hospital yesterday,in my ring gear, and got five stitches. This scar is a reminder of how KENTA brought it to me. It’s a good kind of pain. Gotta say though, my head hurts right now. I said yesterday that I’ll take everybody’s questions until they’re sick of asking; I’m not sure I can do that, but I’ll do my best.’


Questions from press:

–Your thoughts on facing Hiromu Takahashi on March 3?

Naito: As I said in the ring last night, I helped train with Hiromu on a man-to-man basis when he was still a Young Lion. It’s honestly not a stretch to say that had I not been there we wouldn’t have the Hiromu Takahashi we see today. Honestly that’s the state he was in as a Young Lion. And for him to debut and be in the position he is now is amazing. 

Last year I had my eye problems, and Hiromu hurt his neck two years ago. The thing for us as wrestlers is anything can happen at any time. Something could happen and a career can end in a heartbeat. So to say we can put the match off, do it in two, three years time? That might not be possible. Both of us, through our injuries, have learned that if you want to do something you have to do it right away. Otherwise it might not happen. So I really thought this match has to happen now. That’s why I put it to him, and he answered. This is the only chance I have to see what it’s like to face Hiromu Takahashi as he is right now, and the opposite is also true.

–Hiromu said that you had promised this match the day before he went on excursion.

Naito: At that time, I hadn’t met Los Ingobernables. I was getting booed out the building in every town. I said to him ‘let’s have a singles match when you get back’ but it was also putting pressure on myself, to make sure that I was in a top position when he did come back. Coming back from foreign excursions, for a wrestler that’s the biggest chance you have in your career, and if you can’t make it happen at that point you’re lost forever, potentially. That’s such a key moment. So it was a challenge to Hiromu to make a mark on excursion and a challenge to me to make sure I make it to the top.

–And now here we are?

Naito: I wanted to do this ever since he came back, but right now is the best possible timing. We’re both champions. The expectation and excitement, maybe one or two years ago we wouldn’t have had that. One or two years from now, it might be even bigger, but like I said we don’t know what could happen. To see where we are right now, this is the only chance we have. So this is the best possible time for it. 

–What do you appreciate about Hiromu Takahashi as a wrestler?

Naito: Hmm. I’d say his mental strength. Did you see what he did back in November when he came back? He was so wild, so unpredictable I couldn’t believe it, I was almost laughing. And I know, I caught a glimpse of him when he showed up earlier. That faith in himself, the guts he has. That’s incredible. And that charm is absolutely something that comes across in the ring. I’ve never faced him, not even in a tag match or anything like that, but I think that mental strength is his best trait.

–He made the suggestion earlier about this being a non-title match and potentially getting the G1 style contract for the Tokyo Dome. Your thoughts?

Naito: Well, if he wanted these two belts, or the IWGP Heavy, I think we can have a title match. I actually thought about that in Osaka, that this could become a title match. It’s a bit of a shame if this isn’t a title match, but I’d give it my all just like it was a title match. As for wanting a contract? What did Sugabayashi say?

–He was a bit taken back.

Naito: Well, Hiromu’s hot right now. If he wants a contract for the Dome, that could be a thing. Or he could enter the New japan Cup. Or challenge me for the title at the next big event. it would be a huge win for him. So whether the company feels this way or not, I’m going to go into this match feeling that if he beats me, I should hand the belt over to him. Maybe it might be non-title, but in my mind it will be. If he wins, I would gladly give him both the belts. 

–What really made you think this was the best time for this match with Hiromu?

Naito: Really it was the reaction he got on his comeback in Osaka, his first match back in Korakuen, the reception in the Tokyo Dome, I really thought it had to be now. Maybe he might be a bigger deal in another year, but I want to see what he’s like right in this moment. Through this issue with KENTA, I had my eye on Hiromu. I had decided that if I won I would call him out, and we both did win. That’s where we are now. 

–What specifically about Hiromu do you want to experience in the ring?

Naito: I mean it’s really the Hiromu Takahashi of the now, in his entirety. I’ve never faced him at all. I want to see what he’s like, experience him in the full. Maybe in a few days I might be more specific, but right now I want to completely experience Hiromu and I want him to completely experience me as we both are right now, in the now.