Tetsuya Naito's overwhelming popularity came much later than he or New Japan Pro Wrestling expected. His ascension with Los Ingobernables de Japon has launched him into superstardom that didn't look likely years ago.
Naito won the 2017 Toyko Sports MVP award, and not only accepted, but provided some advice for those looking to reach the height of their potential.
I’d like to thank the Tokyo Sports editorial board for naming me MVP. A lot of people saw me and Los Ingobernables De Japon as a flash in the pan, that just as quickly as we got popular, it’d all be over. Yet here I am, only the fifth in history to win this award two years straight. And I did this in a year where the IWGP champion held his belt from start to finish. What that means is that I exist on another plane. It means that Tetsuya Naito is bigger than the IWGP Championship. That’s not arrogance talking; that’s something that I’ve proven to everyone.
See, there’s one thing that I’ve said a lot recently: if you don’t speak your mind, you won’t get your feelings across to anyone. You might fly high, or you might crash and burn; no-one knows. But if you want to make a change, you need to not worry about the risks and take that first step. If there’s one message I want to transcend wrestling and get through to everyone out there, it’s that courage to take the first step.
OK, then? To accept this award, I had to get on a Shinkansen to rush here all the way from Toyama. You know what that means? I’m cansado, sueno. I’m tired, I want a nap. But I’ll save the gripes for Mr. Okamoto at Tokyo Sports. Ok, Okamoto? We’ll go to a family restaurant and I’ll talk your ears off, give you the scoop. For the rest of you, feel free to revel in the very best breed of professional wrestling that only Tetsuya Naito and Los Ingobernables De Japon can provide. Hasta luego, adios!
Naito will compete January 27 and 28 at New Beginning In Sapporo. Fightful.com will have full, live coverage of the show and talk about them on a post-NJPW video update.