Tanahashi SI Interview – loyal to New Japan vs. WWE, big goal for 2016, ROH’s style, Young Bucks

By James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor


Following the departure of top New Japan star Shinsuke Nakamura, former IWGP World Hvt. champion Tanahashi says he has no interest in WWE and there has not been contact from WWE.

Instead, Tanahashi says his goal for 2016 is to become ROH World champion.

“I was very surprised he would go to WWE. I can’t replace him, and nobody can be like him. Nakamura is an original,” Tanahashi told reporter Justin Barrasso for Sports Illustrated.

“I want the ROH championship. I want Jay Lethal’s title. When I get his belt, I’ll defend it in the U.S. and I’ll defend it on all the big shows in New Japan.”

Tanahashi added that one reason why he does not think he would fit in with WWE is the style is too slow. However, he says ROH’s style is too fast. If WWE is too slow and ROH is too fast, then New Japan is just right in the eyes of Tanahashi.

“Emotion is the key. We have to show emotion to the audience. If you go too fast, wrestling cannot show the emotion,” Tanahashi said. “Okada is young, but he has amazing speed with fast moves and slow moves. There is a reason, a nice reason, behind every move from Okada.”

Tanahashi turns 40-years-old later this year and injuries are reportedly slowing him down in the ring. However, Tanahashi said “everything is okay” and he never feels tired.

Tanahashi is mainly wrestling tag matches at the moment, including being part of a NEVER Openweight six-man title match against Bullet Club on the upcoming “Invasion Attack” tour. Tanahashi said he enjoys the match-up against the Young Bucks, who signed an exclusive deal with ROH and New Japan at the end of 2015.

“I love working with the Young Bucks,” said Tanahashi. “They are big favorites here in the U.S. and Japan, and people love cheering for them.”

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