Fujinami selects Tanahashi as his replacement.
Prior to NJPW Wrestling Dontaku, along with Will Ospreay, 68-year-old Tatsumi Fujinami tested positive for COVID-19 and was pulled from his dates that weekend.
Fujinami provided an update on his recovery through his Dradition Pro Wrestling promotion’s website. Here’s the statement:
Currently, I am recovering from a positive test for the Coronavirus. I apologize for the concern and inconvenience I have caused to my fans and all the people involved in the groups I was scheduled to compete in. Fortunately, my condition is becoming more stable day by day. I will be in good shape to give my all in front of you all as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and ask for your understanding.
I was hoping to have a wrestler with whom I have close ties serve as a substitute for me this time. The first person that came to mind was Hiroshi Tanahashi. I asked Tanahashi, whom I trust for his abilities as a wrestler, to participate in the show, and he readily agreed. I am frankly happy that Tanahashi was able to save me in my time of need. Once again, I would like to thank Tanahashi and New Japan Pro-Wrestling from the bottom of my heart.
Although I will not be able to participate in the match, I hope to interact with the fans as much as possible at the venue. Please look forward to seeing what new connections will be made during Tanahashi’s first appearance on the Dradition Mat.
Fujinami was scheduled to compete at the 5/12 Dradition Pro show but due to his recent diagnosis, he selected Hiroshi Tanahashi as his replacement. Tanahashi will now team with Shiro Koshinaka and Yuji Nagata to take on Mitsuya Nagai, Hiromu Takahashi and Shingo Takagi.
【特報！】藤波選手の欠場に伴い #棚橋弘至 選手の緊急参戦が決定！メインイベント対戦カードも変更に！
— PRO-WRESTLING DRADITION【公式】 (@DraditionDragon) May 3, 2022
Tanahashi became IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Champion at Wrestling Dontaku and post-match, he was ambushed by Juice Robinson, who revealed himself to be the newest member of Bullet Club.