Naito was recently interviewed by Sport Illustrated’s Justin Barrasso for the Extra Mustard section of the website. He spoke about facing Brock Lesnar and John Cena, what NJPW will show American fans, his rivals in the company and Los Ingobernables de Japon (LIJ).
Current IWGP Intercontinental Champion Naito was first asked if he compares himself to talent from WWE, including John Cena and Brock Lesnar in particular.
“Of course, I know of them, but, unfortunately, I have no interest. To me, New Japan is the foremost pro wrestling in the world. Entering the ring here means you are the world’s best, so to be a New Japan wrestler speaks for itself.”
This summer in California, NJPW will be bringing over some of the best talent it has for the “G1 Special” where NJPW are to crown the first IWGP United States Champion following the recent reveal of the title. Naito spoke about what this means for the American audience.
“New Japan Pro Wrestling, but more specifically, Los Ingobernables de Japon, will show American wrestling fans a truly electric experience in the ring. The matches are going to captivate and excite like no other, good luck trying to blink.”
Los Ingobernables de Japon, which translates to “The Ungovernables”, is the faction Naito belongs to, alongside fellow wrestlers Evil, Sanada and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion in Hiromu Takahashi. When asked to describe to the American audience what they can expect from LIJ, he had this to say:
“Even though the matches coming up will be in America, what we’ll show everyone is the exact same thing we show here. So I want everyone in America to make sure their eyes are open and on us when we are in the ring. I want you all to enjoy what Los Ingobernables de Japon are all about.”
In response to a potential comparison of LIJ to the famous Bullet Club faction, Naito responds:
“Trying to compare us? Both in terms of strength as individuals and as a unit, you can’t compare us with them. Bullet Club is way past their prime, whereas we are still growing stronger and developing.”
While Naito considers both himself and LIJ the best in the world, Kazuchika Okada is the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. This is the most coveted title in all of NJPW.
“Okada and I walk along different paths. Mine is a path he could never tread, it’s a much longer and steeper journey than his. I feel like this is a path that only I am able to take.”
Naito was also asked about New Japan “Ace” Hiroshi Tanahashi, who he defeated at “Wrestle Kingdom 11” in January of this year. They have a scheduled rematch at “Dominion” on June 11, which you can watch live on New Japan World.
“I really don’t have much motivation going into this match with him. Tanahashi is the one who has to make sure he’s in shape and puts in the effort. I didn’t even want to accept his challenge this time. I don’t know what gives him the right to challenge again. But you know New Japan, this crazy ass company, they’ll bend over backwards for Tanahashi.”
Tanahashi is suffering from a ruptured bicep tendon. However, on June 9, just two days prior to “Dominion” Tanahashi will return to the ring to test if he is able to compete. Revenge on the part of Naito is yet to be enacted against Bullet Club leader Kenny Omega, who defeated Naito in what Naito describes as a fluke at the “2016 G1 Climax”.
“Kenny ought to thank me. If I had played for time more and went for the draw, he wouldn’t have won the G1.”
To end the interview, Naito was asked if he believes he will ever capture the IWGP Heavyweight Championship again and about LIJ’s domination in Japan.
“Sooner or later, the IWGP championship will cross my path again. Perhaps sooner, rather than later. It’ll feel good to toss that thing around again. You asked me why Los Ingobernables de Japon is the most dominant group in the world? Maybe you can already guess my answer to that. You could worry all you want about how, or why we’re the best. In the meantime, I’ll be over here, tranquilo as ever.”
Stay tuned to Wrestling Rumors for more information on the NJPW expansion into America and the “Dominion” and “G1 Special” events from the company in the coming months.
I love Naito based on everything I have seen from him. He is cocky, arrogant, but he can certainly back that attitude up in the ring. Incredible interview.
Have you seen a Naito match? If so, are you a fan? Sound off in the comments below or over on our Facebook page or Twitter account. Additionally, you can follow me over on Twitter at @SOSNH1995.