New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) star Tetsuya Naito recently spoke to Sports Illustrated to discuss a variety of professional wrestling topics, including beating Kenny Omega at the G1 Climax 27 finals, the G1 tournament being grueling and if NJPW is superior to WWE or Ring Of Honor (ROH), and his thoughts on Hiroshi Tanahashi. Here are the highlights:
Defeating Kenny Omega at the G1 Climax 27 final:
“There’s no doubt that Kenny Omega is a phenomenal wrestler. Every time I’m in the ring with him, my heart beats out my chest. I can’t wait to wrestle him again. He’s world class. But Bullet Club? What happened to them? What happened to the energy they used to have? There are a lot of great individual wrestlers in there, but look at them as a unit, and I don’t see any appeal whatsoever.”
The grueling nature of the G1 tournament and if NJPW is superior to WWE or ROH:
“The G1 Climax is a huge springboard for a wrestler’s career. Everyone who enters has a chance to launch themselves into the stratosphere. Right now, I’ve launched myself off that springboard. I’m on my way up. How far I’ll go, what I’ll be able to see at the peak, I don’t know, but I’m really excited to find out. I don’t know whether New Japan thinks the tournament makes them superior, but they’re establishing the name worldwide and they’re doing it with confidence. I think the words you used before, most elite in the world? They’re an appropriate description.”
His thoughts on Hiroshi Tanahashi:
“Of course Tanahashi was a great wrestler. He was someone I used to aspire to be. But that’s all in the past now. The shining star that was Hiroshi Tanahashi is long gone. As far as the final block match is concerned, it was just another block match that led me to the finals. No secret tactics needed. The result was a matter of course.”
You can check out Naito’s full interview with Sports Illustrated here.