New Japan first came to America in July 2017 with two nights of action.
At the time, Hiroshi Tanahashi was the IWGP Intercontinental Champion and arguably the biggest star in the company. So, when the company decided to headline night two of the event with Tanahashi against Billy Gunn, people were left perplexed. The match felt forced, with NJPW trying to appeal to the American audience by using a former WWE star. But it was Tanahashi who always wanted to wrestle the former WWE Intercontinental Champion.
"Billy Gunn! He’s older than me and still looks amazing, just so big and ripped," Tanahashi revealed in an interview with NJPW1972.com. "I always thought ‘I want to be like him’. And then we finally got to wrestle. We both showed our asses in that match, literally. I think some people were going ‘what the hell did Tanahashi go to America to do?’ I’ve got so much respect for him. I’m really glad we could have that match together."
While Tanahashi hoped to show his ass every time he came to America, fans have not been treated to such a view in his recent trips. He'll have another opportunity to pull his pants down this Sunday at Fighting Spirit Unleashed when he teams with KUSHIDA to face Jay White and Gedo.