Hiroshi Tanahashi is echoing the sentiments of Kazuchika Okada.
Earlier this week, Okada stated, "I’m not a fan of putting together cards that you could normally see in America" in reference to NJPW headlining their July show in San Francisco with Kenny Omega against Cody, a bout previously booked by ROH.
Tanahashi followed up on those comments, expressing a similar opinion in a new interview with NJPW1972.com. First, Tanahashi cleared the air over what upset him in March at Strong Style Evolved. He was reportedly not happy with the Golden Lovers vs. Young Bucks bout headlining the show and receiving "New Japan" chants, feeling the style wasn't a true representation of the company.
"I recorded a podcast afterward with KUSHIDA. I think he’d had a few drinks and was mad, asked ‘Was that really a New Japan main event?!?’ That was the booking that the company felt was best for the American fans," said Tanahashi. "I wasn’t so much thinking ‘that’s the wrong move’, but I did think ‘maybe it’s time to reflect on where the rest of us are lacking’. We weren’t in a position where our programs where main event worthy, and I think the responsibility for that fell on us somewhat."
New Japan returned to the United States with the aforementioned show headlined by Omega and Cody. Tanahashi was third on the card, teaming with KUSHIDA to face Marty Scurll and Hangman Page. His placement on the card, combined with the main event, had him feeling disappointed with how the company was booking American shows.
"I really felt then that if NJPW was going to keep going to America, we needed to stop trying to alter things to try and make them more American," he said. "It should be New Japan Pro Wrestling, as is, in the States. We really need to show that ‘Made In Japan’ aspect, I think."
Tanahashi continued, comparing NJPW going to America to WWE heading to Japan in the early 2000s.
"I want to show that Made In Japan feel. With NJPW World there are so many fans now that watch our cards live or near live. I want to bring them what they see streaming on their devices in person right in front of them," he said. "It reminds me of when WWE came to Japan and I was at the show. It would have been 2002 maybe? The Rock was definitely there (March 1, 2002, Yokohama Arena). They had a Japanese ring announcer translating what the English announcer said. Whenever that guy spoke he got booed. They were saying ‘forget the translation, we want to see the authentic American product’ I think. I think there are American fans that want the same from NJPW. Not something rearranged for ‘American tastes’ but the real deal. That’s what I want to show them."
New Japan returns to America this Sunday with Fighting Spirit Unleashed. The main event has more of a New Japan feel as the Golden Lovers will face Tomohiro Ishii and Okada in a special tag team bout. Fightful will have live coverage of the event.