In a new interview with the NJPW press top superstar and former IWGP world heavyweight champion spoke about his recent loss to Will Ospreay, and how unifying the company’s top two belts was received with a mix reaction by fans. Highlights can be found below.
How he felt after dropping the title to Will Ospreay:
“The day after Sakura Genesis, I did nothing but sleep. Pretty much. Like a reset button, I’d been under so much strain and it was like I needed to power down. So much had been going on, I just hadn’t caught up with reality, it seemed like. I figured I’d sleep all day on the fifth, and then when I woke up on the sixth, it hit me the belt wasn’t there. That’s when I went ‘oh, wait, hang on, it isn’t winter anymore’. It was like ‘what happened to winter?’. Like I was coming out of a time machine. ‘what’s the date? What month is it?’ It seemed incredible to me that the cherry blossoms had come and gone. I think I was just numb to everything. Like I had been wearing winter clothes because everyone else was. I didn’t notice things were changing. I didn’t notice the cherry blossoms had bloomed, and then fallen.”
Looks back on his triumph at WrestleKingdom 15:
“I’ve said it before, but I think looking back, I still would have preferred to face Jay White on January 4 and then Naito on night two. I think that would have cemented me as a champion better. As it was, even though I’d beaten Jay on the fifth, it didn’t feel like a culmination. Finally winning those titles on January 4 felt a little anticlimactic, because I knew I had the next day as well.”
On unifying the IWGP heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental belts:
“Mixed, I don’t know. I think from fans and wrestlers alike, I’d say 99% were against it. But that was a river we had to cross, I think. Just something I had to take and move on.”