By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
“Okay, so this is, I always have an argument, they don’t matter in terms of my financial game. Okay, so in my life, they don’t matter. I’m not going to make any money on it. However, when contracts come up, and I become a free agent, who’s not going to want the kid that works hard and puts on these phenomenal matches everybody talks about? So, like, that’s where we can always argue. So, like one of my friends would be like, I don’t know, like name a wrestler now, like I don’t [want to] bury anyone, I really don’t, but like it’s a case of like if I come up against somebody else. I don’t know, like the current format like I just don’t, I really don’t know. But it just for me like in terms of if that does ever become available and I am on the market who’s not going to want someone that’s going to as work hard and put on banging matches.”
On his NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17 match against Kenny Omega: “I mean, I love that. I think like both of us really collaborated hard into putting all that together and like I’m proud of it. I’m sure like he’s happy with it. But yeah, like the storytelling aspect of it is I think it just comes from like that real world experience that we went through in COVID. Because I think a lot of people had like mad benefits that they were like, we didn’t have that, like, so at first, like we got completely locked out of the country [Japan]. There’s no way for us to get in. And then obviously, when we finally were able to come in, you’d have to do like a two-week quarantine.
“Now luckily for me, I had my apartment at the time, so I didn’t do nearly as many quarantines, but then it was like, it was just such a mad stuff that would happen like bam, bam, bam, and like, he just wasn’t prepared for it. Like you’d be calling your missus and your family. And it’d be like hey when you’re coming home, you’d be like, I don’t know. And then you’d be like, I remember, like, one of the ones I did, it was like, I was locked in the room. So, it was just mad. You’d land, you’d go around the airport for four hours, like filling out all the paperwork. Then, even though you had a doctor’s note saying that you didn’t have COVID, you had to then do another COVID test. And even when you came back negative, you were still transported to the hotel for 14 days. And it’s no bigger, like, like half of the room. And it was just like a bed and, and it was crazy.
“Because then after that, normally be like, man, but at least I get to wrestle. it was like, above all this, right? I love New Japan. I love the style of wrestling. I’m passionate about it. I just believe that this is the style that I’ve liked is really made me comfortable. And then the best thing about that wrestling is the Japanese fans, it is incredible. They make noise constantly, you will be just in a hold, and you’ll see like people were like crying in the audience and sh*t like that. It’s like, it’s so cool to them. And then it was silent. So, like they were allowed to be in the building, but they weren’t allowed to clap because the government said that cheering would cause COVID to spread.
“So then do that like you every now and again, you heard him a little bit but then instantly though, because it is such a by the book country they would just go like wow, I knew it would break my heart man like I won IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, right? And that’s like such like, man, I f*cking did it, like the company puts trust in me. I’m sending pictures of the belt to me mom and dad. [The referee counts] 1,2,3, I heard nothing. I heard him come up and then cut off straight away. And it just f—s with you. It really does. Just because like when you go from about 40,000 people in the dome, screaming like actually singing your name. And then like [silence], it’s upsetting.”
On a Forbidden Door match against Seth Rollins: “I think it’s gotta be Seth [Rollins] after like, after our little Twitter thing like we’ve got to, like, it’d be fun. And he is so over right now, You see the crowd like singing the song everything, it’s mad. Yeah, like, especially from like, what? What he was getting like when we had our little thing, but like that was a mixture of like, the bad booking and everything along those lines at that time and like now he’s just, it’s crazy. It’s mad.”
On not necessarily wanting to compete at WrestleMania: “Not like in that sense of this but like, of course I would love to wrestle in front of 80,000 people, who wouldn’t want to wrestle? But like, in the same sense of, I’m not going to lose sleep if I never do it. But you know what I mean? Like I never wanted to get to this level of fame with wrestling. I just enjoyed doing it on the weekends. And New Japan offers me a lot of money, and I was just like Whoa, I can make money from this. Here’s the thing I told you this, but like WWE, TNA, and New Japan were on the table at the same time. And like the selling point in New Japan was that I get to come home. WWE, I have to move there, TNA, most likely the same thing and it wasn’t guaranteed money. In New Japan, I get to come home. And I’m a real home guy. So, like the fact that I’ve got to come home was like incredible.”