Gedo, the head booker of New Japan Pro Wrestling, believes the physicality and "fighting spirit" of the NJPW wrestling style sets that company apart from WWE.
Recently interviewed by Sports Illustrated, Gedo discussed the contrasts between the New Japan product and that of WWE.
“We are not a soap opera,” said Gedo. “We are not sports entertainment, we are not acting and not dancing. We wrestle and we are wrestling – we are New Japan Pro Wrestling. Watch a [Katsuyori] Shibata match and the way he kicks, that’s New Japan Pro Wrestling. [Tetsuya] Naito, [Hiroshi] Tanahashi, and [Tomohiro] Ishii all wrestle and fight. That is entertaining, but it is not entertainment. It’s wrestling.
“We have wrestling, not dancing," Gedo added. "New Japan is fighting. New Japan boys have fighting spirit, and that leads to great wrestling. They can’t handle the New Japan style. New Japan wrestlers could wrestle in WWE, but they can’t handle our style."
Gedo spent several years booking NJPW with his creative and tag-team partner, Jado, who left to become the head booker of Pro Wrestling NOAH in 2015. Gedo still wrestles; he and Jado won NOAH's Junior Heavyweight Tag Titles earlier this year, and Gedo competes on a part-time basis in New Japan as part of the CHAOS stable, led by the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada, who Gedo described as the "best wrestler in the history of wrestling" during the interview with SI.
"Not New Japan history, I’m talking the world," he said. "He’s better than Antonio Inoki, better than Giant Baba, and better than Choshu Riki. He already has ten years of wrestling because he started at 15 years old, and he’s still so young. He’s like The Rock. He has good looks, can talk, and can fight.”
New Japan currently is gearing up for its marquee event, Wrestle Kingdom, which takes place January 4 every year from the Tokyo Dome. This next Wrestle Kingdom event will be headlined by Okada defending the IWGP Heavyweight Title against Kenny Omega, a former WWE developmental prospect who made the transition from the junior heavyweight division to the heavyweight ranks this year, and became the first foreign-born wrestler to win the G1 Climax.
Gedo’s preference toward skill is particularly important as New Japan pushes Kenny Omega—a former light heavyweight in New Japan’s UFC-esque weight class system—into the main event of Wrestle Kingdom (New Japan’s version of WrestleMania) this Janaury.
“Kenny Omega has everything," Gedo told SI. “I think he’s better than AJ Styles. He’s so good and one of the best in the world—and he’s unbelievably physical. Kenny Omega is no longer a junior heavyweight, he’s one of the best.
“Sometimes wrestlers break weight class, but that is a good thing to happen. Look at boxing and UFC—weight classes are very strict. Sometimes junior heavyweight guys break into the heavyweights in wrestling, and that is special.”
The next NJPW tour begins tomorrow, October 21, and culminates Nov. 5 at Power Struggle in Osaka.