In July 2006, Brock Lesnar was scheduled to defend the IWGP Heavyweight Title against Hiroshi Tanahashi in what would be considered a dream match today.
Unfortunately for fans, the bout never happened due to what was described as "visa issues."
In his latest Aces High series, Tanahashi reflected on Lesnar leaving him high and dry.
"I go in there and [Riki Choshu] says ‘Lesnar’s not coming’. I was just stunned, like the world had gone into darkness in front of me. I never knew the real ins and outs of the contract issue, but I do know he had a really special money situation going on, and I would imagine that was what was at the heart of it. It was really an unprecedented set of circumstances when it comes to IWGP title matches. Back in those days, we would have this big lion mark flag at the venues for fans to write messages of support on. Going into this match, we ran out of space on the first flag and had to get a second. That was how hyped the match was with the fans in the venues, but all of a sudden it was gone," said Tanahashi.
Lesnar had won the IWGP Heavyweight Title in October 2005 and made successful defenses against Shinsuke Nakamura, Akebono, and Giant Bernard.
When asked what kind of match he would have had with Lesnar, Tanahashi replied, "Technical, I think. It would have to be; you certainly couldn’t match him for power. To be brutally honest, I could never get into any of what I saw of Lesnar. It was all one sided, a completely selfish way of wrestling. I saw him come up in the early 2000s, and he was just pounding people, you never got to see anything from his opponents. I just didn’t understand his deal at all. I think to be honest Lesnar didn’t really care where he was wrestling as long as he got his payoff. That wasn’t the case with Bernard and other foreign guys like that. It really took me aback that there was someone who cared absolutely nothing for the place they were working. That was part of my motivation for that match."
Lesnar would not return to NJPW, but he would lose his IWGP Heavyweight Title to Kurt Angle at the Inoki Genome Federation debut show in 2007.
Tanahashi and Lesnar never had their scheduled match.