The two are set to headline one of the biggest Tokyo Dome events in years.
Tetsuya Naito will challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight title in one of the main events at Wrestle Kingdom 12. Before the big match, they spoke to Sports Illustrated about their rivalry and even compare one another.
Okada beat Naito to win the IWGP title back in June of 2016. Naito compliments the long run, but won't obsesses about breaking the records, that will come naturally over time:
"Well, I certainly haven’t been able to hold onto the IWGP heavyweight championship for more than a year," he told Sports Illustrated. "So I think he’s put together a superb reign. It’s a tremendous achievement. Now, am I going to beat that record? Am I going to overtake his reign as champion? I’m not setting out as the next champion to break all the records; that’s just going to happen naturally."
Okada says that he doesn't care about records either. He just doesn't want to lose the title.
"In all honesty, I’m not interested in records" he replied. "Being the longest reigning champion isn’t that big a deal to me because records are made to be broken. But this belt has been with me for a long time now, and I don’t want to give it up. And I have to continue to be the champion so that the whole world knows about New Japan. As for moments, everything stays with me. I don’t have a particular favorite."
Naito in the interview also points out one of his flaws, at least in his opinion -- that he can't connect to an audience like he can.
"Of course it’s vital to be great where it counts in the ring," Naito said. "But that isn’t absolutely everything in pro wrestling. Outside the ring, it’s about making sure the fans enjoy themselves. Making sure they’re excited, and making sure they empathize with you. That’s where he’s lacking I think. That’s his fundamental flaw.
Okada, meanwhile, says that the key difference between him and Naito is that he has more experience headlining the Tokyo Dome.
"I don’t think we’re all that different in terms of pure ability" he says. "Where we differ is that I’m much more experienced when it comes to headlining at the Tokyo Dome. That big match experience is where I have the advantage more than anything else."
The two will headline the Toyko Dome at Wrestle Kingdom 12, but it isn't the sole main event, as Kenny Omega will battle Chris Jericho for the IWGP United States title on the show right below them.