NJPW superstar and current IWGP World Heavyweight champion Shingo Takagi has been named the MVP at the Tokyo Sports Awards, the first time ever the LIJ member has been considered.
Takagi has since released the following response to his victory with the NJPW website. He states:
‘Thank you for voting me as MVP. I don’t have the time here to really express how I feel, or how happy I am at the award, but to hear that the nominations were mainly for me and Keiji Muto, that shows that Yamanashi is churning out the best in Japan and the world, and that’s pretty cool in my book. Looking back on the year, just like in 2020, we had to live with COVID, and the challenges that presents. We all as pro-wrestlers had to put everything we have into doing what we could. We were still performing in front of half capacity buildings, and the fans weren’t allowed to cheer. So it was up to us to express what they couldn’t. We had to bring that heat and energy, we had to create that emotional connection with the fans there, and of course watching at home. That’s what I was thinking in every single match. This year I was chosen as MVP, but I don’t believe I did anything particularly different this year. It was business as usual, as far as I was concerned. Other people were saying ‘it should be Shingo’ but, y’know, this business is a lot like any other; sometimes luck and timing can make all the difference. Looking back, I guess that for all my talking about being fired up, this was the year that people bought into my conviction.’
What matches he believes were standouts in 2021:
Even though it’s a match I lost, the NEVER match with Hiroshi Tanahashi in January…then March with Ospreay, the New Japan Cup final, and at Dontaku. I lost those matches, but even so, or perhaps because of that they became important matches to me. But I think what really stuck with me was in MetLife Dome with EVIL. It was right in the middle of this COVID wave, and at the end of August, even I came down with it. I had to self isolate, couldn’t train properly, lost a ton of weight. For all what I just said about fate and timing, it couldn’t have been worse for me, but I just about made it back in time. I was able to get to that main event, and I had people who had my back. I was worried, and I’m sure the fans were worried about me too, but I was able to make the main event and win. Maybe it’s a bit rich to say I stood in the ring with COVID and won, but it felt like I overcame a lot, and that’s why that match sticks with me.
You can check out his full response to his MVP win here.