Tetsuya Naito Explains Why He Does Not Wear The IWGP Intercontinental Title, And Talks His Issues With Chris Jericho

Naito minces no words about his dislike for Chris Jericho.

The tranquilo Tetsuya Naito keeps his cool throughout the toughest of situations but what took place during night two of NJPW's 'Wrestling Dontaku' event was the straw that broke that camels back. As Naito exited the ring after receiving admiration from the Fukuoka faithful in attendance he was attacked by a "fan" who was wearing a 'Bushi' mask. That "fan" turned out to be former nine-time WWE Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho who was last seen in NJPW when he attacked Naito from behind at 'New Years Dash' the day after Wrestle Kingdom 12. Prior to their first encounter Naito voiced his opinion on Chris Jericho coming into the company and stealing spotlight away from his main event match against Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom.

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The bad blood between the two men will peak on June 9th at NJPW's 'Dominion' event as Chris Jericho will make his in-ring return to the company to go one-on-one with the leader of Los Ingobernables de Japon . Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated had the opportunity to speak with Naito and grabbed his thoughts on the attack by Chris Jericho that left him covered in his own blood.

"He really made sure that he looked the part with the Los Ingobernables de Japon-like gear. Maybe he’s a fan. The one question I have is this: what does all this spark in him? What does he get from this? In his position, he has more to lose than to gain. Still, even with all the risk to take on, the chance to wrestle Tetsuya Naito is always absolutely worth it. I get it." Naito continued, "As a wrestler, I’m superior to him in every single way. The only place he might have me beat is in name recognition. He’s a global superstar, so by beating Jericho, the name Tetsuya Naito, and Los Ingobernables de Japon, becomes even more of a worldwide household name, and that business he pulled in Fukuoka? That was just plain rude. I need him to understand that you can’t do that and expect to get away unharmed."

At 'Wrestling Hi No Kuni' Naito defeated Minoru Suzuki to once again become IWGP Intercontinental Champion. Naito's last run with the belt did not do it for him as he would toss around and simply destroy the belt until it was in pieces. As Naito won the championship for the second time he ignored it and instead just celebrated his victory over Suzuki with his faction-mates and left the belt in the middle of the ring. In his following appearances at 'Wrestling Dontaku' Naito did not wear the Intercontinental Title.

Naito has made it clear that the only title he cares for is the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and stated that the Intercontinental Title is unnecessary as in his eyes there are far too many belts in the company.

"You know, Minoru Suzuki likes to call himself the ‘King of Professional Wrestling,’ but there’s no star that shines brighter than Tetsuya Naito." He said. "The Intercontinental Title isn’t on a king, it’s on the brightest star in the sky once more. But my feelings toward the championship haven’t changed. It’s an unnecessary belt and an unnecessary title. My goal is to do away with it."


Tetsuya Naito also spoke on what fans can expect from him when he returns to the United States, and remissly shared his thoughts on the Kenny Omega & Kazuchika Okada IWGP Heavyweight Title bout at 'Dominion'. To read the remainder of the interview, click here.

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