Last weekend saw Japanese wrestling legend Hiroshi Tanahashi defeat Kota Ibushi to win the G1 Climax tournament. This should cement his place in the main event of January 4th’s Wrestle Kingdom event in the Tokyo Dome.
Tanahashi spoke to Sports Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso following his incredible bout against the ‘Golden Star.’ He discussed a variety of topics including the longevity of his career, his love of Shawn Michaels and the difference in ideologies between himself and IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega.
The ‘Ace’ of New Japan began by stating “Many times I have heard that phrase about my age, but what can I say?” My future is my future. I don’t want to let anyone close the door on my future. I survived the G1. This means I am the best in New Japan.”
Tanahashi is also reportedly a huge fan of the Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels, he spoke about ‘picturing’ the WWE Hall of Famer before his G1 final match: “Before I walked to the ring tonight, I was very, very nervous, So I pictured Shawn Michaels. I love, love Shawn Michaels. He was my inspiration, and always seemed to be having fun all the time in the ring. There is pressure and injury in the ring, but I needed to remember there is joy, too. So that’s what I did.”
Tanahashi also commented on the difference of ideologies between himself and Bullet Club’s Kenny Omega: “Kenny made a new movement, created a new trend in New Japan Pro Wrestling,” said Tanahashi, alternating between English and Japanese. “He does extreme moves and people love him, but New Japan Pro Wrestling has a different ideology of pro wrestling. Kenny’s ideology is different than my ideology, and that is the biggest difference between us.”