He then touched on the chance to main event the Tokyo Dome with Tetsuya Naito.
The reigning IWGP World Heavyweight Champion is SANADA. He captured the title at Sakura Genesis and thus far, he’s had four successful defenses with the latest being against EVIL at NJPW Destruction in Ryogoku.
SANADA is a member of Just 5 Guys and while speaking to NJPW1972.com, he looked back on his time as a part of Los Ingobernables de Japon. He feels his persona in that group was not genuine. SANADA said the Just 5 Guys version of himself is more in line with who he is.
He added that L.I.J. was a big part of who he is and it led him to where he is now. He feels that if he won the belt as a member of L.I.J., he would not have been viewed as the real champion. SANADA said he wanted to be the guy, but he could not do that in Los Ingobernables de Japon.
You know, I joined L.I.J. in April of 2016. Back then, I felt that I was coming into a new environment, a new company, and I really wanted a change in my image, but looking back, I think that L.I.J. SANADA was kind of a sham.
Like, none of it was really genuine, it was put on. Like, I’m not the most eloquent guy, but that meant I became this mute, and that put restrictions on me. It meant I couldn’t really grow beyond a certain point.
Being a part of the most popular group in New Japan meant that I was able to take a lot for granted, but to come into Just 4 Guys from the ground up and have it develop, that gave me more opportunities.
I think the Just 5 Guys SANADA is closer to who I am. But at the same time, L.I.J. was a big part of SANADA, and that L.I.J. SANADA was what got me to the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. If it wasn’t for L.I.J., I wouldn’t be where I am now.
You don’t get to be the best unless you’re there with the best. But at the same time, there’s this balance of power in that group. I think if I won the belt as a member of L.I.J., I’d never be seen as the real champion… Right (the connection of Naito & L.I.J. is too strong). I wanted to be the guy, but I couldn’t in LIJ.
It is official that SANADA is going to defend the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Tetsuya Naito at Wrestle Kingdom 18. SANADA commented on the matchup:
In 2005, I took the public NJPW tryout, 18 years old. I failed, and Tetsuya Naito was the only one to pass. Now here I have a chance to be in the main event on the biggest stage NJPW has to offer. Dreams can come true, I guess.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling is presenting their Royal Quest III event on 10/14 from the Copper Box Arena in London, England. One of the matches on the bill is SANADA and DOUKI versus Tetsuya Naito and BUSHI.