Tetsuya Naito On Upcoming IWGP World Heavyweight Title Rematch With SANADA: I’ll Wrestle Him, But I’m Not Jumping Up And Down About It

On January 4th, Tetsuya Naito defeated SANADA at Wrestle Kingdom 18 in front of over 27,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome to become the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion. This is Naito’s first reign as the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.

Tetsuya Naito met with the press for the first time as the new champion on January 9th. During the press conference Naito discussed his upcoming rematch for the IWGP World Heavyweight Title with SANADA which is scheduled for February 24th in Sapporo.

One of the questions asked of Tetsuya Naito during the press conference was how he felt about the rematch with SANADA on February 24th. Naito gave a long, thorough answer to that question:

It’s official, is it? It’s rare for SANADA to speak his own mind on the mic like he did. When I saw that I thought that something in him had finally changed. I was only able to have my rollcall because SANADA was there to cut off EVIL when he ran in, so I owed him big. After what he said on the mic, actually speaking his mind, and what he did in the Dome, I said ‘let’s do it’. I was excited to get home and see what he had to say for himself backstage as well. I thought he’d be fired up to say something, but then- no comment. How disappointing. You making that challenge was a gift to the people, right? It was because you wanted the fans to be happy, right? If so, he should have said something, even if it was exactly the same as what he said in the ring, he should repeat himself. When he didn’t say anything at all, it was a real shame, and it made me wonder whether it’s worth going for this match. I have to say I’m not excited about this title match. Of course, for the people in Hokkaido I’m excited to show off the belt to them, but wrestling SANADA in another title match, not so much. The stances are different this time. I’m the champion, he’s the challenger. I always feel like it’s on the challenger to push themselves when it comes to a title match. That’s the case in the ring and backstage. It’s official now, so he needs to put in the work between now and then and have something to say every night. Otherwise I won’t be fired up, and the result will be the same as in the Dome. I’ll wrestle him, but I’m not jumping up and down about it.

Tetsuya Naito

Another question asked of Naito is if his thoughts on the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship have changed now that he holds the the title for the first time:

Well, I haven’t worn it yet. I hold it, but I haven’t worn it round my waist. When this belt was made, I was against it right up to the very end. I never had any good thoughts about this title before, and now I have it… it’s  complicated. Maybe I have a little more attachment to this belt than I did before the Tokyo Dome, but just a little. Perhaps the more I hold it, the more attached I’ll become, and if not, well I guess I’ll just toss it. I mean, if you break belts around here they just give you new ones, right? With a different name. Seems there’s precedent. 

Tetsuya Naito

You can follow Lewis Carlan on Twitter @ShootingUpNorth 

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