An open letter from Shota Umino



An open letter from Shota Umino


It’s already close to a month since the Young Lion Cup ended and I said that I would be going on excursion. 

There’s a lot I haven’t quite been able to express, and that I want everyone to understand, which is why I am writing this. 

First of all, as far as ‘foreign excursions’ are concerned…

I spoke, a lot, about wanting to get stronger and get better in New Japan, to stay here and work here. It was the match with Karl Fredericks in the Young Lion Cup that made me change my mind. I honestly felt a big gap, a big distance between us. It wasn’t anything to do with his moves either. It was a ‘something’ he had that I didn’t. To be honest, I don’t know whether I would be able to fill that gap if I stayed here.

I get it; some people will think that I’m contradicting myself, or that I’m running away from my problems. I understand that, but fact is, I sensed a ‘something’ that I hadn’t sensed in my career so far. Staying in NJPW was a choice that was there, but could I find that ‘something’ here? 

I want to start again. Put myself in a new environment, in new circumstances. Nobody to help me, nobody to show me what to do. Square one, from scratch. That’s why I never once thought to follow Jon Moxley. I want to do this by and for myself, to study and search for that ‘something’. 

When I was with Moxley during the G1, he didn’t give me any advice. If I asked for some he would just give some vague praise. ‘Good job, like that’. If I asked him for anything more concrete, he’d tell me to be more confident. What makes him who he is isn’t moves, style, technique. It isn’t ‘heart’. It’s… ‘something’.

That something is a stance toward professional wrestling. Teaming with Moxley, I don’t know if I can say I learned any new moves, or that I showed any more heart than normal. What I learned was something important about attitude and stance toward a match. I did nothing but grow underneath him. 

The veterans will often say ‘there are no answers in professional wrestling’, and I think they’re right, but this time, the results are clear to see. There’s a clear gap between the Noge and LA Dojos.

Shibata said in interviews ‘my training is really strict’. What I took from that was ‘the New Japan Dojo boys just mess around’, and that really hurt. Training before matches with him though, I did learn a lot. He really does teach wrestling from square one. It was tough, but I got a lot from it.

Still, those words hurt. I put myself through hell to get to where I am. I’ve wanted to quit more times than I can count before I made it to my debut, and pushed myself harder than that after my debut, clawing as hard as I could so that I can be at the top one day.  

I feel like I have betrayed my coaches and seniors that have brought me to this point. I don’t want to acknowledge my loss, but I have no choice but to do so. That’s why I want to go through hell again, start from scratch again, and at some point, take on the LA Dojo one more time. Shibata’s words made up my mind for me. 

It might seem selfish of me, but I hope you’ll understand. I will absolutely come back stronger. It might take some time, but please wait for me. 

Finally, a correction and apology. 

After my Kobe match, I was a little uncertain and misspoke. I didn’t mean to say:

‘Please send me on excursion’. I meant to say:

‘Please let me go on excursion’. So uncool.

So then, 

Thank you. Goodbye for now. 


Shota Umino