Tanahashi Voices Concern Over Americanization of NJPW
With Fighting Spirit Unleashed about to take place this Sunday at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California, njpw1972.com have been running a series of interviews with some of their top stars before they arrive on American soil.
Today, NJPW has released an informative interview with New Japan’s Ace, and G1 Climax 28 winner, Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Tanahashi has been vocal recently over his lack of respect for Bullet Club leader, Kenny Omega, and has openly called out wrestlers he wants to face in the build to Wrestle Kingdom 13, including Okada, who was also recently interviewed.
This discussion is no different, with Tanahashi openly admitting frustration over New Japan’s booking decisions with their last American foray, March’s Strong Style Evolved event. That night was headlined by The Young Bucks versus Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi.
Strong Style Devolved
Looking back, Tanahashi remarked that he “recorded a podcast afterward with KUSHIDA. I think he’d had a few drinks and was mad, asked ‘Was that really a New Japan main event?!?’”
Tanahashi admits he was frustrated as well, confessing, “That was the booking that the company felt was best for the American fans. I wasn’t so much thinking ‘that’s the wrong move’, but I did think ‘maybe it’s time to reflect on where the rest of us are lacking’. We weren’t in a position where our programs were main event worthy,” he explained, “and I think the responsibility for that fell on us somewhat.”
“The Real Deal. That’s What I Want To Show Them”
He then broached an issue that seems to have been weighing on his mind – one that is as candid as it is critical:
“I really felt then that if NJPW was going to keep going to America, we needed to stop trying to alter things to try and make them more American. It should be New Japan Pro Wrestling, as is, in the States. We really need to show that ‘Made In Japan’ aspect, I think.”
Juxtaposing this with a memory of watching the WWE in 2002, Tanahashi said, “I want to show that Made In Japan feel.
With NJPW World there are so many fans now that watch our cards live or near live. I want to bring them what they see streaming on their devices in person right in front of them,” he said, before recalling, “It reminds me of when WWE came to Japan and I was at the show. It would have been 2002 maybe? The Rock was definitely there (March 1 2002, Yokohama Arena). They had a Japanese ring announcer translating what the English announcer said. Whenever that guy spoke he got booed.”
“They were saying ‘forget the translation, we want to see the authentic American product’ I think. I think there are American fans that want the same from NJPW. Not something rearranged for ‘American tastes’ but the real deal. That’s what I want to show them.”
You can read the full interview here.