Naito takes MVP award from Tokyo Sports; Hiromu Takahashi takes Fighting Spirit Award
Tokyo Sports awarded Tetsuya Naito its prestigious MVP award for the third time in Tokyo on December 14, along with its Match of the Year award for his January 5 2020 bout with Kazuchika Okada in the Tokyo Dome at night two of Wrestle Kingdom 14.
Before Naito made his address to the assembled media, it was announced that Hiromu Takahashi had won the publication’s Fighting Spirit Award for the first time. In a delivered statement, Hiromu stated that this was ‘his first award since getting perfect attendance in high school,’ and that he was grateful to the selection committee for recognizing the fact that he didn’t stop on the face of the pandemic, but that rather he has and will ‘keep fighting for my dreams. Next is match of the year and MVP!’
As for the MVP title, Tokyo Sports cited Naito’s achievements in becoming the first ever double IWGP Champion, as well as his performances through the year including in main eventing in Jingu Stadium on August 29 as its reasons to give Naito the award.
Naito thanked the publication for the award stating ‘To be honest, as soon as I did what I did in the Tokyo Dome on January 4 & 5, I had assumed that this award was coming. But after the Tokyo Dome, thanks to the pandemic, the match I had wanted with Hiromu Takahashi for a decade didn’t take place. From there, this year took a rather different form to what I had expected. Then again, things not exactly going to plan, that’s pretty much on brand for Tetsuya Naito’.
Shifting topics to match of the year, Naito stated ‘Everybody has their own taste. Some people might think my match with Okada was the clear winner, and some might have a very different idea. It’s a difficult call to make, and this decision will certainly raise a lot of debate. But thinking back on the matches I’ve had this year, the (Okada match) certainly is one that stays with me. I think a few years from now when I look back on my career, this is definitely a match that will leap out as an important one, and I’m happy it got chosen.
The moments that really stand out from that match… The chest bump before the Stardust Press, the ‘Naito’ chants, not just during the match or my entrance, but afterward, with all of the Tokyo Dome chanting my name, that’s such an incredible memory. It wasn’t just a match and a moment that I created with Okada, but something everybody in that building help make, so all of you chanting have my gratitude. Gracias.’
Suspecting that pandemic precautions would prevent the annual winner’s banquet next year, Naito had catering brought into the proceedings, though as ever he left the bill to Mr. Okamoto from the publication. As Naito dug in, he was reluctant to answer questions from MC Miki Motoi, concentrating on his food which he labelled ‘even more delicious than normal now I’m MVP’
Before finishing his meal though, Naito stated that ‘there are still tough days ahead for fans and wrestlers before this whole pandemic blows over. But I want everyone to believe in their hearts that a bright future is ahead, and get through this together.’
Naito concluded proceedings by asking for salad dressing.