NJPW superstar Hiroshi Tanahashi recently spoke with Justin Barrasso from Sports Illustrated to talk all things pro-wrestling. Highlights from the interview can be found below.
On NJPW being his home:
New Japan Pro Wrestling is my home and my family. They gave me a chance when I had no future, and without this company, I wouldn’t be where I am.
Talks COVID-19 effects on the wrestling industry:
The wrestling business is in an extremely difficult situation. After all, we are athletes in a contact sport and we perform in front of packed crowds. That’s a recipe for disaster right now. It’s hard to say when exactly we’ll have matches again, but I hope in the meantime wrestlers look after themselves, stay in top shape and keep fans hungry to see us when we can come back.
Calls performing during the pandemic a black eye to the industry:
There isn’t a governing body for Japanese pro wrestling. As such, we can’t necessarily enforce cancellations. That’s been the responsibility of each company. But to run events in the middle of a pandemic presents the wrong image of professional wrestling to society and would deal a black eye to the industry that might still remain even after the pandemic ends. I thought it was important for us to come together, understand exactly what’s happening and do what’s right, even if that means returning to action after other pro sports.
On his journey towards becoming a pro-wrestler:
My dream growing up was to be a professional baseball player. I started playing baseball in elementary school and played up to high school, but was never successful. It seemed no matter how much I practiced, I wasn’t getting anywhere. Then, when I was in high school, I started watching pro wrestling on TV, and it seemed to come into my life at just the right moment. It made life a lot more enjoyable to live.
Sends a message of hope to fans:
Just imagine something for me. Imagine that this pandemic is behind us and wrestling is back. Imagine thousands of fans together, cheering on the wrestlers fighting in the ring. Imagine those wrestlers, giving it absolutely everything they have. That mental image alone is pretty motivating. So please everyone, take care of yourselves. Let’s get through this, and we’ll meet again with smiles on our faces someday soon.