The Ace Hiroshi Tanahashi spoke with NJPW’s interview team to talk about the promotion’s global success over the last few years. In his discussion Tanahashi reminisced about his showdown with Billy Gunn at the 2017 G1 Special in San Francisco, and how he’s always wanted to face the former WWE tag team champion.
Billy Gunn! He’s older than me and still looks amazing, just so big and ripped. I always thought ‘I want to be like him’. And then we finally got to wrestle. We both showed our asses in that match, literally. I think some people were going ‘what the hell did Tanahashi go to America to do?
I’ve got so much respect for him. I’m really glad we could have that match together.
Speaking of that show, Tanahashi admitted that he wasn’t a big fan of the main event between the Young Bucks and the Golden Lovers but understands why New Japan would want to cater to American fans.
That was the booking that the company felt was best for the American fans. I wasn’t so much thinking ‘that’s the wrong move’, but I did think ‘maybe it’s time to reflect on where the rest of us are lacking’. We weren’t in a position where our programs where main event worthy, and I think the responsibility for that fell on us somewhat.
The Ace goes on to talk about how he wants the promotion to stick to its traditional roots, even when traveling to America, as that is what has attracted the American fan-base.
I really felt then that if NJPW was going to keep going to America, we needed to stop trying to alter things to try and make them more American. It should be New Japan Pro Wrestling, as is, in the States. We really need to show that ‘Made In Japan’ aspect, I think.
Check out the G1 Climax winner’s full interview here.