Tetsuya Naito is set to challenge Jay White for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship on the first night of Wrestle Kingdom 14. Should he win, he will move on to night two of Wrestle Kingdom, where he'll challenge either Kota Ibushi or Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
It's been a relatively tough year for Naito as he has lost twice to White -- first in the B Block finals of the G1 Climax and then at Destruction in Kobe where he lost the IWGP IC Title -- and picked up two losses against Kota Ibushi -- once in the first round of the New Japan Cup and another at ROH/NJPW G1 Supercard in Madison Square Garden.
Through the struggles and injuries, Naito admitted he started to doubt himself.
"I don’t want to go into specifics, but for a while I thought I couldn’t wrestle anymore. Truth is for about six months, maybe since May, I had this kind of crisis of confidence. From about May, I’d felt something was up, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I thought I could cover it up, but I think the result was that it did come through. I was constantly wrestling in that state of unease. I hate going to the hospital, but I really wasn’t myself for a time. Right. It’s like any injury, and I’ve had bad knees for a while, things don’t get back to 100%, but when it comes to this issue I’ve had, I’ve managed to recover well enough during the time off. Bear in mind, 100% or not, I came pretty damn close to zero," Naito told NJPW.
Naito now says that most of his issues are behind him.
Fightful will have live coverage of both nights of NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 14 beginning at 2 am ET on Jan. 4 and midnight on Jan 5. On Sunday, Jan. 5, we will have a post-show podcast recapping all the action at some point in the afternoon.