IWGP Junior Champion and challenger face off
Among all the individual press conferences on December 27 in Tokyo, El Desperado and Hiromu Takahashi’s saw two competitors with the most hunger not just to defeat one another, but to make a step forward for their division.
After making sure photographers got a good angle of his freshly won Best of the Super Jr. 28 trophy, Hiromu took the microphone to say:
‘After I won this trophy, and after I challenged El Desperado, I went backstage and I said this: I want the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to headline in the Tokyo Dome. The press conference came the next day, the card was announced, and we were the semi-main. I thought that more than anything I wanted the juniors to headline, so I figured I’d put it to the company- why don’t we have a vote? We’ve had a vote for the main event before. So I thought I would suggest it. But then I thought again. If we did have a vote, and if the juniors did win- is that the way I really want it?
I want the company to decide. I want the company to look at everything the juniors have done through the year and say that the junior heavyweights belong in the main event in the Tokyo Dome. So this match is the most important beginning there could be. This semi main is the most important match there could be. It’s not important just to win, it’s important for us to steal the show in the minds of the fans, the other wrestlers and the company.
For the whole junior heavyweight division, to elevate the juniors and to have the junior heavyweights be chosen as main event worthy some day, this is a crucial match. And it’s a match I need to win. I’m happy and I’m excited that my opponent is Desperado. But I will be the one winning. I will be the one taking that belt.’
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion El Desperado responded:
”I’m no good at speaking sitting down, so I’ll stand up. Since Hiromu came back from his excursion he’s been a main event player. Me, I came back, and as much as it’s my own fault, I came in and challenged (Kota) Ibushi in a nothing title match. Then I teamed with Ibushi and faced the Young Bucks in another nothing title match. Against Taguchi, Liger, KUSHIDA, I got wiped out. My win:loss record sucked, and so did my matches.
I didn’t get good enough in time for Liger’s retirement. I wasn’t good enough. So it became Hiromu and Hiromu’s rival Dragon Lee against Liger and Liger’s rival Naoki Sano. It should have been me in there, but it wasn’t, I didn’t make it in time. And it took time. You know, last year, when we were about to go into that final match in BOSJ, Hiromu said to me ‘let’s show everyone our history’. This match will be my answer to that. Like we’re coming to a weird full circle. To show the future of NJPW’s junior. To seize my own. I will win on January 4, and make my future bright. That’s all’