Drop the Needle: 15 (more) Questions with YOH

YOH takes more fan questions

Last week’s 11 questions weren’t enough to get through all the fans had to ask YOH, leading to part two here!

Check out part one!

1. From ‘Meg’

What heavyweight would you most like to have a singles match with?

YOH: SANADA. I’ve always dug SANADA, so I was pretty jealous when SHO got to wrestle him in last year’s New Japan Cup, not me.

–What do you like about him?

YOH: I’ve thought he was amazing ever since he joined LIJ. Actually, when I went on my excursion, I had planned to come back with a Dragon Sleeper with hooks. 

–Like the Skull End? 

YOH: Exactly! So when I saw SANADA do it I had to change plans. But that move’s great, don’t you think?

–Why do you think so?

YOH: You can transition out of a Rainmaker with it, counter the EVIL with it… I love finishers that can be used as counters. jay White’s Bladerunner is like that, too.

–Good point. 

YOH: And staying with Jay White, this is a bit inside baseball, but I actually gave him the Bladebuster, you know.


YOH: We both went to ROH on excursion. I used that move when I was in ROH, and when he went there he asked if he could use that move. I gave it to him, but I always wanted a move with a bit of rotation to it, and that’s part of what inspired Direct Drive as well.

2) From ‘Haryu’

What match did you see while you were away that inspired you the most to return?

YOH: SHO and Shingo Takagi at Dominion last year. Definitely seeing my partner get a NEVER title shot, and then challenge for the junior heavyweight championship in February, that stirred up a good bit of envy. But it gave me a shot of energy, and showed me what to aim for when I came back. 

3) From ‘Mie-nyan’

What do you think of SHO right now?

YOH: I’d have to say in terms of his look and the way he carries himself, how he’s much more composed in his matches as well; he’s really different to the guy I teamed with before. I think in the long run my injury helped both of us improve.

4) From ‘Ken Ken’

What are your thoughts on the United Empire?

YOH: Honestly, I think they’re a hell of a faction. At first it felt like Great-O-Khan was dominating the other team members, but that’s settled down and it’s become a really well rounded faction. When I was coming back there were a few rumours that I would be joining them…

–There were a few comments to that end. Is it safe to say you’re squashing that rumour here?

YOH: I’d say so, yeah. Some people were saying my pose on the corner when I come to the ring, with my hand behind me, was a nod to Great-O-Khan. But I’d started doing that during last year’s New Japan Cup, before O-Khan came in. It’s a reference to William Smith Clark, forging a new path. 

–Well it’ll be interesting to see how you interact with the United Empire in future. 

YOH: For sure. If they add a junior heavyweight member in the future, I’d love to throw down with them, and I really want Great-O-Khan to call me a ‘peasant’ one of these days.

–You do?

YOH: Just to throw it right back at him, teach him some manners, heheh.

5) From ‘Hachi’

I love the designs on your T-shirts and hoodies. Do you have any plans for more merch designs?

YOH: I actually got an official certification in colour and fashion co-ordinating while I was off. I’ve actually had more of a hand in CHAOS’ merch designs as a whole recently. We’ll get a group text from our manager with design suggestions, and Okada will always say ‘YOH, over to you…’ (laughs)

–The CHAOS fashion plate.

YOH: Right. Those kind of requests kept coming in, so I figured I should properly study all this and get certified. 

(YOH’s comeback shirt will be available on Tokon Shop Global soon! Pick up the new Roppongi 3K design!)

6) From ‘8Sun’

Any plans for online meet and greets, or appearing on the Tokon Shop YouTube streams?

YOH: I’d like to give it a shot! Hmm, but maybe if Gabriel Kidd or Yuya Uemura were the main stars and I was their assistant…


YOH: I think that would be funny. Have Uemura sell my stuff on camera, and I’d be the cameraman, or writing prompt cards or something. Avoiding being in frame. I’d love to keep tabs on the sales figures and direct him from out of shot if they’re lagging (laughs).

7) From ‘Daichun’

What was the toughest part of your time as a Young Lion?

YOH: Man… I was in that system for four years… I think for me, training wasn’t a problem. The chores were tough. 

–Washing the wrestlers’ gear while you were on the road, things like that?

YOH: There were times, honestly when I would finish laundry, do other chores, and then get to the hotel at 7AM. Then sleep for two hours and onto the next town.

–For four years, that’s a tough life. 

YOH: But I think it gave me that preparedness. As tough as that is, it’s tougher after you debut. Recently we haven’t seen new debutants, but it seems like everyone’s a good deal more comfortable (at the Dojo) than back in the day. 

8. From ‘Rii’

Apart from rehab, how did you spend your time in hospital?

YOH: It was all about music for me. I listened to a ton of records, and then when I was better enough to walk, I spent five days a week walking around Tokyo and looking in as many record shops as I could find. 

–So you combined your hobby with rehab.

YOH: Yeah. I’d spend my morning in rehab, then walk around the record shops, the gym in the evening and then spent two or three hours every night listening to records and writing my diary. 

–You kept your diary?

YOH: Yeah. No novel though (laughs).

9. From ‘Tora’

You did start to write a novel, didn’t you? How is that progressing?

I only got the first few words down and then it stopped! I think I’ll continue in short spurts in between matches. I wanted to get more done but I got too drawn into music…

10. From ‘Tagachan’

What vinyl are you listening to lately?

YOH: Hikaru Utada’s ‘Deep River’ is my favourite lately, but I recently got ‘King Gnu’

–It has to be vinyl for you? Not CDs or streaming?

YOH: It’s just a completely different animal. CDs, or even really high quality digital versions can’t compare to the sound of a vinyl record. It’s the true essence of music for me, and I think people realise that. Even though they’re big, heavy and take up space, records are outselling CDs these days. 

11. From ‘Yukimi’

What Hifi setup do you recommend?

YOH: I could talk about this all day. My player is a Technics SL-1200MK5 and I have Linn Ninka Tall Boy speakers. 

12. From ‘Lalala Coppepan no Min’

I’m from Miyagi just like you. What sets Miyagi apart, do you think?

YOH: I think what sets Miyagi apart is how pale all the people are! Ishimori and Taguchi both hit the tanning beds, especially when Ishimori’s body building, but I know they’re shoot pale. 

13. From ‘Yuma’

From my five year old daughter- will you marry me? 

YOH: Awww, that’s really sweet. Let’s be friends first!

14. From ‘Megu’ 

My eldest daughter is in seventh grade and became a huge fan of yours when you returned in Ryogoku. On her behalf I’d like to ask what your morning routine is?

YOH: Thanks for the question! I get up, wash, and then I always eat one tomato, one apple, half an avocado and some salmon on a bowl of rice. And listen to some music!

15. From ‘piyoyoyoh’

Any plans for more art exhibits?

YOH: Not at the moment, but right now it’s the ring where I’m most creative, so my matches are my exhibits in a way. 

–Thanks for taking the time and responding to all the fans today. How did you find it?

YOH: I think to an extent, pro-wrestling is for the kids. I grew up thinking wrestling was cool and something I wanted to get into, and the future of the business is in these kids. So I’m definitely happy we had a couple of questions from kids today. 

–Any final thoughts? 

YOH: Thanks for all your questions and comments. When I announced my return in Sendai, it was my first time in front of people for a long time, but the reaction from everyone was just so warm and generous. Everything I do from here on out won’t be for me, but to return a debt to all of you. Keep your eyes on YOH!