Three teams represented in Wrestle Kingdom presser
December 27’s Wrestle Kingdom press conference saw three teams involved in January 5’s IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship bout issue their statements before the Tokyo Dome. With Rocky Romero quarantining after entering Japan, the Mega Coaches were represented by Ryusuke Taguchi, while El Phantasmo wore a third generation Tiger Mask hood to antagonise the champions as he entered with Taiji Ishimori, and the champions Robbie Eagles and the current Tiger Mask took the stage.
Speaking first, Ishimori commented: ‘Three way or not, all everybody’s thinking about is what’s in Phantasmo’s boot, right? I’m not sure having all your focus on that’s the way to go… Well either way, the current champions, Flying Tiger, I don’t feel you’re a threat at all. I honestly don’t know why you guys have the belts at all. You think someone like El Phantasmo, with how much he can fly, he’s the real flying tiger, right? And Taguchi and Rocky. I’ve lost my last two singles matches with Taguchi, so I know how dangerous he can be as a singles guy, if he’s serious. As long as we take care of that, then in this three way, the belts should be back where they belong, with us.’
Phantasmo continued ‘There is no having fun at NJPW press conferences. Except for us. It’s been a long time since there’s been a good Tiger Mask in New Japan. We are the new Flying Tigers. The Cutest Flying Tigers, that’s us. I’ve spent a very long time letting you know that I have the very best superkick in the history of NJPW, hell in the history of professional wrestling you have not seen a better superkick than this right here, Sudden Death. At Wrestle Kingdom night two, there’s not going to be one Sudden Death, and not two. There’ll be three or even four. And I’ll save the best one for last. That’s for you Tiger Mask. You’ve had a hell of a comeback story, almost dying and then having a career rejuvenation with Robbie. But at Wrestle Kingdom, I’ll kick you so hard that you’ll have no choice but to retire. And I’ll show the world right now- how great I look in a Tiger Mask!’
Speaking on behalf of himself and his partner, Taguchi commented ‘Yes, well, I enjoy these press conferences. This oppressive atmosphere and pressure, I love it. Since I became the 69th IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, I think all of you know that I’ve had a thing for the number 69. Right now the champions are the 68th belt holders, and that’s really meant that I feel I have to do whatever it takes to, ah, do what I can to win them. If I don’t, we don’t win them and become 69th champions, then maybe I have to consider retirement. That’s how serious I’m taking this. Rocky isn’t here today, but on the night, we’ll communicate effectively and put together the best possible result. I appreciate your support. Thank you.’
Finally, the champions spoke. Tiger Mask would declare: ‘This is supposed to be a dignified press conference, and there are people who want to mess around as usual. Nonetheless, next year is the 50th anniversary year for NJPW and the year of the Tiger. So I think it’s very fitting, and I’m very happy to be a champion walking into the Tokyo Dome, and I’m fired up and ready for this match. I’m not well versed with three way matches, but we will keep these belts. I’ll make sure that Phantasmo and Ishimori don’t get them. I don’t know what’s in Phantasmo’s boot, but Robbie and I will find out for sure. We’ll win, I’ll take that shoe, and instead of him using that kick, we’ll crack him in the face with his own weapon.
‘As for Rocky and Taguchi, they can be sneaky too, so we have to be careful Other than that I want everyone to look out for our teamwork. We’ve got some great double teams, and we will win together, move into the future to show the world what we can do as a duo.’
Robbie Eagles followed up on Tiger’s comments: ‘I know where Tiger Mask is coming from without a translation because we speak on the same wavelength and we think the same. Both of these teams are viable challengers. In Best of the Super Juniors, I lost to Ishimori and to Taguchi. That’s why we laid the red carpet out to these guys.
When I walked into the Tokyo Dome earlier this year to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, I was the underdog. When we won the tag titles earlier this year, we were the underdogs. So going against two teams at once seems like the only way to do this, to solidify ourselves as tag champions. And everyone hasdtheir own underlying issues here as well. Ishimori wants to break his losing streak with Taguchi. I’ve heard that Rocky is concerned I might be better friends than him with Okada now. So he has an opportunity to fix that. But the cherry on top of this situation is that not only will we walk out of this three way as champions, but we’re going to walk away with ELP’s boot and reveal to the world what Sudden Death is. It’s a fraud, you (Phantasmo) are a fraud, and you don’t deserve to be in NJPW because you are not a real pro-wrestler. When it comes to January 5, Flying Tigers will win.’