Pro-Wrestling NOAH and NJPW announced earlier today that the great Keiji Muto will team up with Naomichi Marufuji and Yoshiki Inamura to battle Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, and Honma Tomoaki at the October 30th Pro Wrestling Love Forever 3 event. This will be one of many matches in Muto’s retirement tour. Full details, including a statement from Tanahashi about facing his longtime rival, can be found below.
On September 26, a special press conference from Pro-Wrestling NOAH revealed Keiji Muto’s latest opponent in his road to retirement in early 2023. Hiroshi Tanahashi would answer the call at the conference. The Ace, a former protege and assistant of Muto’s, entered holding 38 roses, one representing each year of Muto’s legendary career.
Ever the agitator, Muto suggested that a ‘true Muto-ist’ would have courted controversy by throwing the roses at his feet, referencing a controversial moment at Floyd Mayweather’s recent RIZIN fight, before the conference began in earnest.
A six man tag was announced for October 30, where Muto will team with Naomichi Marufuji and Yoshiki Inamura to face Tanahashi, Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma, two more figures for whom Muto played an instrumental part in their early careers in NJPW and AJPW respectively.
TANAHASHI: “I really thought that Muto would be wrestling as long as there was breath in his body, so his retirement announcement did come as a shock. He was my favourite wrestler as a fan growing up, and it was a real honour to be his assistant when I came into NJPW.
I have a lot of memories of him taking me to the gym and us lifting together. He would tell me is record on the bench was 190kg. For the longest time that became my goal, and it toopk me until around 2014, 2015 that I finally lifted 190 kg one time. Now, I don’t know if I can say I surpassed Muto in terms of look, physical ability, charisma… But I did beat him at that damned bench press! I beat him where it mattered least, perhaps (laughs).
This is just one match on Muto’s retirement road, and I’ll be part of a three man team from New Japan, but the longer I can be in the ring with Muto, the more I’ll savor every second.”