Shingo Takagi is 38 years old and doing the best work of his career in NJPW.
This year has been unlike any other for everyone in wrestling as wrestlers have had to adjust to empty buildings or limited fan interaction. Shingo believes that his age, combined with the 2020 experience, has helped him grow as a performer.
"You know, one thing I’ve come to realise is the importance of experience in this business, and how much of a weapon it can be for you. I’m 39 next year, it’ll be 17 years in the business. But it took me ten years to really know the first thing about what pro wrestling is really about. It took me another five to get to the level after that. I’m definitey still not a finished product," Shingo told NJPW.
"No doubt [You never stop learning]. That was always the case, and it was changed a lot this year with the fans not being allowed to yell or chant. That created a different kind of wrestling, and I think that’ll evolve in 2021. I really think from now on, it’ll be only the strong that survive, and only the realest that survive. You have to be the real deal, I think. Up to now, it was easier to gauge; those guys that popped the crowds, we thought they were the best, but now you don’t have that audible feedback, right? So I think if you aren’t the real deal, if you can get a pop but that’s it, if everything you have is superficial, you won’t last in this environment. Look, things are tough all over. Nobody is sitting pretty. I don’t even think my spot is a given; look at my record in the New Japan Cup, or the G1 this year! So I have to fight for all I have in 2021, starting with this match," he said.
Shingo is set to defend the NEVER Openweight Championship against Jeff Cobb at Wrestle Kingdom 15.
You can view the full lineup for both nights of Wrestle Kingdom 15 at Fightful's events page.