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In the latest edition of his Aces High column on New Japan’s website, Tanahashi talked about Brock Lesnar not appearing in New Japan to defend the IWGP Hvt. Championship against him in July of 2006. At the time it was reported that Lesnar did not appear due to visa issues.
“I go in there and Riki Choshu says ‘Lesnar’s not coming’,” said Tanahashi. “I was just stunned, like the world had gone into darkness in front of me. I never knew the real ins and outs of the contract issue, but I do know he had a really special money situation going on, and I would imagine that was what was at the heart of it. It was really an unprecedented set of circumstances when it comes to IWGP title matches. Back in those days, we would have this big lion mark flag at the venues for fans to write messages of support on. Going into this match, we ran out of space on the first flag and had to get a second. That was how hyped the match was with the fans in the venues, but all of a sudden it was gone.”
Tanahashi was asked what kind of match he would have had with Lesnar and he noted that he believe they would have had a technical match, as Tanahashi thought Lesnar’s style of overpowering his opponents was selfish. “Technical, I think,” said Tanahashi. It would have to be; you certainly couldn’t match him for power. To be brutally honest, I could never get into any of what I saw of Lesnar. It was all one sided, a completely selfish way of wrestling. I saw him come up in the early 2000s, and he was just pounding people, you never got to see anything from his opponents. I just didn’t understand his deal at all. I think to be honest Lesnar didn’t really care where he was wrestling as long as he got his payoff. That wasn’t the case with Bernard and other foreign guys like that. It really took me aback that there was someone who cared absolutely nothing for the place they were working. That was part of my motivation for that match.”
He eventually dropped the title to Kurt Angle at the debut show for Inoki Genome Federation in 2007.