Recap: Kota Ibushi Discusses KENTA, G1, Starting Out & More!

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Photo: NJPW

In just a few hours the NJPW G1 Climax tournament begins and prior to it, Kota Ibushi was interviewed by Dave Meltzer in a rare U.S. interview. Here is the full transcribed interview with all of Ibushi’s answers (through his interpreter). Find out more about the mind of Kota Ibushi as it relates to training and dieting, his conditioning in the G1, The Omega Man documentary, growing up and how he found wrestling, more:

On his decision to go full time with NJPW:

“I always had this dream. Spreading pro wrestling around the world. And to do that, New Japan. So that’s why.”

How Kota Ibushi first discovered pro wrestling:

“So when I was 11 years old, my family had a VHS video deck and we had to decide what to rent from the video store. I wanted to watch Dragon Ball Z, but I had a brother who was two years older than me and he wanted to watch pro wrestling. So that’s why I first saw pro wrestling.”

On what made him expand the horizons of pro wrestling:

“When I was 11 years old, that was when I saw pro wrestling the first time and two weeks after that I already wanted to become a pro wrestler and my style is sort of a mix of everything that I saw, indie pro wrestling and mainstream pro wrestling and since I started to do it by myself, I didn’t learn, I just made myself, that’s why it became my style, and I feel that you can do pro wrestling anywhere you want.”

Photo: NJPW

On his concept of wrestling with mannequins, stuffed animals, and those type of ideas for pro wrestling:

“So it’s not really that I wanted to do that pro wrestling, but when I was 11 years old and started to learn pro wrestling, I wrestled with my chair with my futon, with my pillow, that’s just it, that’s my style.”

On working with DDT and his favorite moments of his career in DDT:

“The single matches with Yoshi Hiko is one (of his most favorite matches). He’s (Yoshi Hiko) the most unique singles matches I had.”

What it’s like to put together the creativity into his matches:

“It’s just as you watch it, the culmination of everything I’ve done as a kid when I started, and pro wrestling is a live thing, it’s not really about crafting or preparing something. it’s really live.”

His highlights and memories of last years G1 Climax tournament:

“The G1 last year, I made it to the finals so it was such an intense year in itself. it was a really most impressive year for me.”

Photo: NJPW

On the feeling, if he took a big step forward in his career after the G1 last year:

“The last match against Tanahashi was one of my careers best, it was maybe but maybe not my best match but it made the best series of my career.”

If Tanahashi was a hero of his growing up:

“He’s been a hero and I still respect him a lot. So he’s still a hero to me, but right now, I have to go over him. If he’s no longer someone I worship, then I have to go over him.”

Thoughts on the different people and matches he’ll be doing next month:

“I have to obviously get back to Tanahashi to get a win over him. I haven’t wrestled much with Okada too. With KENTA, I first had contact with him 14 years ago and if he hadn’t sustained an injury, we would’ve fought as a tag team in NXT, so we have lots of contact point in the future, so I’m really looking forward to after all those years to fight with him.”

How did Kota Ibushi feel coming out of his last match with Tetsuya Naito:

“I have a little cold right now but I’m doing good overall, and as I’ve told you, I’ve been doing wrestling in many different places. Outside the ring or over concrete or out in the open, so I know all the ways not to be hurt, and I feel fine.”

Photo: NJPW

On the type of training and diet he does:

“My training is not carefully as planned as other wrestlers, I sort of believe in my instinct so my training is more like “okay today I have to build more strength in my upper body or today maybe I should run” so it’s more about feeling or instinct for me. I don’t really care too much about getting energy. I only do a basic diet.”

On looking forward to wrestling in different countries and what the differences are:

“Basically I do the same thing anywhere in the world, but maybe jet lag is something I need to control, but I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I wrestle everywhere.”

On his thought process not staying with WWE and having any regrets or feeling as if he made the right decision at this stage of his career:

“Me being free is what got me here, so there are no regrets for me.”

If he saw the Omega Man Documentary:

“No, what is that?” Ibushi knew of the filming that was going on but did not see the film- Interpreter.

On any matches he’s looking forward to the most or just the tournament as a whole:

“I actually have a good feeling about all the A-Block matches and having a great match against everyone, but I have this feeling about KENTA and him being a dangerous opponent.”

On wrestling Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom and how he got hurt:

“Concussion! Two months I was out for. I lost consciousness for two seconds because I remember the elbow, but the ref said not to move, so I just complied, I felt it was too exaggerated though. I remember everything.”

Kota Ibushi on if he could have a better match against Will Ospreay in the G1:

“I feel that it’s going to be a totally different match because Will Ospreay has become a very different Ospreay since January and now, so it’s going to be a very different match.”

On wrestling any opponents he’s only seen tape on in America:

“It’s not a realistic wish but I want to fight against Hulk Hogan and Antonio Inoki.”

If he watched American wrestling growing up or if it was just Japanese wrestling:

“I was watching Japanese pro wrestling most of the time, I was watching WWE wrestling when I could, but there weren’t many VHS tapes to watch WWE.”

If he watched guys like Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero when they were in Japan or did watch them later in WWE:

“I loved Black Tiger and Pegasus! I remember all the wrestlers who came to Japan in the ’90s like the Steiners and others. I loved them all.”

On if Jushin Thunder Liger was an inspiration to him and what he thinks of his retirement:

“The first best of the Super Juniors that I fought, Liger advised me to do more mat wrestling. Until then I hadn’t learned how to properly wrestle, and Liger taught me, so he is very good.”

On if there are any wrestlers in Japan or other promotions that he’s seen where he’d like to have a match within Japan:

“I want people to watch me!”

On if he wants to be a key part of NJPW going into new markets:

“Like I first said, my dream is to show the world my pro wrestling, to be with New Japan and to be able to spread is an honor, and I’m happy.”

On his match with KENTA and if he has looked at the match against KENTA as KENTA trying to prove something tomorrow since his last 5 years with WWE and the challenges he had with the promotion:

“If I were in his shoes, I would be fighting full force in order to prove myself, my worth, so if I were him I would expect him to be really tough tomorrow, and I think since tomorrow is the first night of G1 were are going to fight really hard.”

On the feeling, if his conditioning is better as the tournament progresses:

“I try to be my best during the tournament so what I do is not do any weight training during the G1 tournament and also it’s very important to keep your mental level, so I really try to think a lot and to do conditioning a lot, mentally as well. Every year I do the G1, my style of wrestling is very similar to what I do in training, so I really don’t need to keep fit. I don’t really need to do additional training, the matches are my training and conditioning.”

On strengths and weaknesses against Okada and feeling if he can have better matches with him:

“The last match I had with Okada was three years ago and compared to then, Okada is a completely different wrestler, so I have time until I face him, I think it’s on the 10th of August in Budokan, so I have time. I used to have, when I was a freelancer, I used to have an institute called the Ibushi Pro Wrestling Institute is what I had so I will go ahead and really research him and think deeply about the match until then because I have time.”

After a great match, does Kota Ibushi think about it or just move on:

“I wouldn’t really go back, I just move on.”

Catch the entire interview below.

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.

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