Hiromu Takahashi explains why he believes it is important for NJPW’s junior heavyweights to be able to face the wrestlers from the heavyweight division.
Takahashi, the current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, recently spoke with NJPW to talk about a variety of topics, including the heavyweight vs. junior heavyweight debate. Takahashi said he doesn't understand how there are weight classes in the company, but that wrestlers from both divisions can face each other, even if it’s mostly in multi-man tag team matches.
The mentality regarding junior heavyweights and how they stack up to heavyweights from fans is something that bothers him. It is a reason why he wants to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight title being held by Tetsuya Naito while Takahashi is still a junior heavyweight. Takahashi did note former junior champion Will Ospreay, who has made the transition to the heavyweight division, but him winning the IWGP Heavyweight title doesn’t mean the same for this topic.
“Some might think it should be good enough to just wrestle other juniors. But what I’m saying is, in NJPW we’re divided into weight classes, but juniors and heavyweights still fight each other. When they do, it’s always, ‘Of course the heavyweight’s gonna win. What’re you gonna do?’ That talk hurts. Just showing up isn’t enough. You have to win. If they really kept us separate, that would be one thing. But in NJPW, we’re in 6, 8, 10 man tags. You’re guaranteed to see juniors fight heavyweights at least once on every card. None of us junior heavyweight wrestlers think it’s OK to lose in that scenario, but to hear those voices from fans, that hurts like hell. You don’t get this possibility in MMA or other sports. It’s a unique draw for pro wrestling. Regardless of weight class, juniors can face heavyweights and sometimes even win. When they do, the crowd goes crazy, right? But they’re going crazy because the junior heavyweight’s ‘supposed to lose.’ I think if we can have tag matches, then juniors should be able to challenge heavyweights. That’s why I’ve always talked about winning the heavyweight title as a junior champion. Juniors and heavyweights do wrestle one another. So now, if Ospreay goes and wins the big one, good for him. But a junior heavyweight winning the big one, that’s way cooler," Takahashi said.
You can check out the full interview at this link.