The Golden Star continues his look at the G1 field in part 2 of our interview!



The Golden Star continues his look at the G1 field in part 2 of our interview!

–So, to continue into August, on the first you’re in your hometown of Kagoshima as you take on Hiroshi Tanahashi. You last faced each other two years ago in the G1.

Ibushi ‘That was our first singles match, so this is our second. Also, it’s my first time wrestling for New Japan in front of my home crowd…’

— And in your place of birth of Aira too. 

Ibushi ‘It’s always been within walking distance of where I grew up, but I haven’t been able to do it until now. So I’m really happy to wrestle Tanahashi there, after, if I’m honest, he seemed down for much of last year.’

— Meaning..?

Ibushi ‘Well, everyone goes through down periods, but he feels less like the focus. I think if you look at Osaka Jo, everyone was singing the praises of Kenny and Okada, but I think Tanahashi and Naito was the better match. First time in a long time, that match made me think, “yep, Tanahashi is a god”.’

— You think that highly of him.

Ibushi ‘Oh yeah. That match, the finish not being the High Fly Flow was a real surprise, and the whole thing made me remember how amazing he is.’

–And now Tanahashi’s really breathing life back into the Intercontinental title.

Ibushi ‘I’m fired up! I want to show him and my hometown how far Kota Ibushi has come.’

–It’s a perfect storm of an opponent you respect, in a main event, in front of your home crowd.

Ibushi ‘Depending on how that match turns out, it might lead to a title match as well.’

–Next is Nagata on August 4, have you wrestled him before?

Ibushi ‘Four years ago in the 2013 G1.’

–Your thoughts on Nagata?

Ibushi ‘He’s a wrestler’s wrestler. Perhaps the wrestler’s wrestler. I’ve been following him since he represented New Japan against UWFi.’

–But now Nagata has decided this will be his last G1.

Ibushi ‘I’m not sure about that. He actually said that himself? I think he’s not done yet by a long shot. I want to put that to the test in our match.’

–Up next in Hamamatsu, it’s YOSHI-HASHI. Your thoughts on him?

Ibushi ‘I’ve faced him a few times in Tag matches, but this will be our first singles match so I really don’t know what to expect.’

— What are your impressions on him in general of late?

Ibushi ‘he’s the same age as Naito and I so I’m definitely well aware of him. I’m looking forward to our match.’

— Incidentally, there are a lot of younger stars like EVIL and SANADA in the tournament this year, is there anyone in particular you’d like to face?

Ibushi ‘Well, I always want to try and wrestle anyone I haven’t faced before. That goes for EVIL, and absolutely SANADA.’

— You’ve never faced SANADA, right?

Ibushi ‘We’ve never touched, no.’

— To get down to the final block day, on August 11 you face Goto in Ryogoku. 

Ibushi ‘Right. Last time we faced it was the New Japan Cup final in 2015, which I won.’

— So you’re fairly confident when it comes to him?

Ibushi ‘Hmm, but he’s a guy that doesn’t have an easily identifiable weakness, and that’s scary. He’s hard to read. I’m a guy with awesome big moves, but Goto’s not that type. His offense isn’t easy to scout. He’ll surprise you, but I guess I will, too.’

— With that match coming at the critical point of the league, the potential for advancing to the finals, does that make this match tougher?

Ibushi ‘Well, It’s the same as when we faced each other in the New Japan Cup final. It’s go big or go home, and it was the same then. I won that time.’

–It’s a nice memory to bear in mind.

Ibushi ‘Right.’

–We spoke before about how demanding the G1 schedule is. Is it especially taxing to have all these singles matches in the middle of summer?

Ibushi ‘I really haven’t had a run of singles matches this long outside of the G1. It’s a case f breathing deep and going “here we go again”.’

–When you were talking with New Japan, was the possibility of being in the G1 something that made you hesitate?

Ibushi ‘No, and I think that’s because of how much I’ve grown deep down. My attitude to that kind of thing has really changed.’

–It was the right offer at the right time that mattered?

Ibushi ‘In a lot of ways, the offer was much more advantageous to me than anyone else involved’

— In the past you admitted that the G1 was hard for you, but that’s changed?

Ibushi ‘Yes. It’s absolutely changed.’

–When your return was announced, Tanahashi said you’d “grown up”.

Ibushi ‘Hmmm. I want to be the Ibushi Tanahashi thinks I’ve become. Show him how much I’ve changed.’

–Of course, you’re aiming to win your block and advance to the finals- who would you like to face?

Ibushi ‘I think obviously Kenny and Okada are the favourites in block B. That said, I do have my doubts over whether this is the right time to face Kenny, but then maybe facing Kenny in the finals and winning is a once time kind of opportunity.’

— You have your doubts?

Ibushi ‘It’s very complicated, and I have a lot of conflicting emotions about it. But ultimately I think it’s not the right time right now. I’m more interested in getting my singles match revenge against Okada.. or maybe Michael Elgin’

— Oh, you’re interested in Elgin?

Ibushi ‘Yeah. I’ve never wrestled him. There’s a lot of guys in B block who interest me. Really I have no idea what’s going to happen.’