Sports Illustrated recently caught up with the leader of Los Ingobernables de Japon, Tetsuya Naito, as he prepares to face a true wrestling legend in the former WWE Undisputed World Champion Chris Jericho next month at New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Dominion on June 9th.
Despite recently winning back the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, a title that the “King of Strong Style” Shinsuke Nakamura helped elevate to main event status in the years before he left Japan for WWE, Naito remains his usual nihilistic self, claiming the secondary heavyweight belt ultimately means nothing to him. “…my feelings toward the championship haven’t changed,” he told SI’s Justin Barrasso. “It’s an unnecessary belt and an unnecessary title. My goal is to do away with it.”
When it comes to Chris Jericho, the LIJ leader doesn’t appear to be sweating the competition too much. “As a wrestler, I’m superior to him in every single way,” says Naito. A bold claim. “The only place he might have me beat is in name recognition. He’s a global superstar. So by beating Jericho, the name Tetsuya Naito, and Los Ingobernables de Japon, becomes even more of a worldwide household name.”
Y2J made a surprise appearance at the recent NJPW Wrestling Dontaku events in Japan, attacking Naito and beating him to a bloody pulp – literally. It seems like the fun, “Festival of Friendship” loving Jericho that we’ve seen in WWE is a whole entity altogether from the savage beast we’ve seen on New Japan programming, including a brutal match with Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 12 back in January.
You can check out the full interview between Sports Illustrated and Tetsuya Naito at the link above and below. ProWrestling.com will have full, live coverage of NJPW Dominion on June 9th, kicking off at 3:00am EDT.