SANADA greets the world as its Heavyweight Champion

SANADA issues press conference

April 9 saw brand new IWGP World Heavyweight Champion SANADA give his public thoughts on winning the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at Sakura Genesis, as well as facing Hiromu Takahashi for that title on May 3 at Dontaku.

I took part in NJPW’s tryout in 2005 and wasn’t accepted. Then I fought in other promotions, went overseas, came into NJPW in 2016, and seven years later I now finally have this title. It was a long road, but I neve gave up, and I think I’m proof that if you don’t quit you can live your dreams.


–What went through your mind when you got the three count on Okada?

SANADA: “Man I did it!”, but more than that, it was the sound of the crowd that really got to me in the moment, that’s what made me happiest.

–Those fans have been pulling for you for a long time, and they were just as glad at seeing you win the title.

SANADA: Well I think that a lot of people wanted to see something new, and I’m happy I was able to give them what they wanted. 

–You had the other members of Just5Guys with you in your corner in Ryogoku, how important were they to you in that match?

SANADA: Just having the advice from them was a real big help. Having them tell me to slow down, rest up when I needed to, that really resonated with me. Having cornermen is really important I feel. 

–It’s safe to say that you’re at the pinnacle now at least of the Japanese wrestling industry if not the world at large. Where do you view your position in the wrestling landscape at large?

SANADA: For a long time I was chasing, and now I’m the one being chased. But I’m really excited at the view from the top.

–Can you give your thoughts about facing someone who was a close friend in LIJ in Hiromu Takahashi?

SANADA: We’ve had one singles match before; it was in 2012 in Taiwan. Hiromu was a Young Lion back then, but I felt right there that he would become a big deal. Now he definitely is that, and he’s at the top of the junior division. Thing is, he’s said that he wants to take the championship and then face Tetsuya Naito for it. I really think that he needs to be thinking about me before he thinks about Naito. If he gets carried away with his pipe dreams, that’s all they’ll be.

–Finally, what vision do you have for yourself as IWGP World Heavyweight Champion?

SANADA: When I win main events, I’ve been doing the whole ‘gift’ deal. It’s a beautiful sight, it’s an emotional experience. That atmosphere, that gift is the vision I have.