NJPW superstar KENTA recently spoke to Sports Illustrated to hype up the promotion’s 8-man tournament for a shot at the IWGP United States champion (Jon Moxley), as well as discuss a variety of pro-wrestling related topics. Highlights are below.
What he’s been doing during quarantine:
I was just staying healthy and safe. I don’t know if you guys like my new hair, but I’m like the Justin Bieber now in this business. I don’t want to grow my hair, I just don’t want to go to an American barber. American barbers have the worst technology. I’ll cut it off soon when I can go to Japan.
On being in the tournament for the IWGP United States championship:
I said many times that I’m going to prove that I’m the best pro wrestler in this business. That’s why I’m here. I’ve had ridiculous past feelings here in America, and I want to get rid of that humiliation. That’s why this tournament is a great opportunity for me. And I want to get the belt from Moxley. Honestly, a few years ago, Moxley and I were at different levels. But I don’t feel like that now.
On possibly facing Jon Moxley:
Life is funny. I think no one thought Moxley would do a match with me a few years ago. But if I win this tournament, it could come true. This is the best chance. I’ll shut up those who looked down on me. That is one of my motivations.
Talks his run as NEVER Openweight champion and how he hopes to bring that prestige to the U.S. belt:
I’m going to be the first-ever Japanese IWGP U.S. Champion, and I’ll bring that belt to a higher level. My time with the NEVER belt was like a greeting for fans of New Japan. I had to prove that I’m a person who can aim for higher levels with NEVER. And the U.S. title has a totally different feeling. A few years ago, a guy who fell in America surprised the world with U.S. title. Don’t you think it’s the coolest story? I’ve never forgotten my American humiliation. If I have the belt, it will get more attention from both Japanese and American fans.
Why NJPW is a better fit than WWE/NXT:
It may have been possible [in WWE] to satisfy myself as I was in the “world’s largest organization”. But as a wrestler, I now prioritize what I want to do. I can do what I want and where I want to now.
Calls his time in WWE the most frustrating of his life:
I’ve felt in my heart that the five years I spent in WWE were the most frustrating days of my life. I’ve talked about this, but I’ll always remember the humiliation in America. Being here reminds me of that regret. And when you’re not good, you tell yourself that. That is what inspires me.