Will he challenge for the Heavyweight Title in Hiroshima or Kobe?
About two years ago, a member of the sports press tried to get an interview. The reporter had been following a wrestler from Shizuoka prefecture, the same hometown as he is from. The wrestler had just come back after his excursion in America, that fall. The reporter asked, “I need to interview Watanabe Takaaki, the wrestler.” But their answer was, “There is no wrestler with that name here.” His profile, under the name ‘Watanabe Takaaki’ was deleted from the official NJPW site.
Watanabe Takaaki, AKA, EVIL is surging. in the G1 climax, he defeated Okada, and will surely challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. We want to focus on the path Watanabe Takaaki took to get here.
Naito, EVIL, BUshi, three of the LIJ members are from the ‘Animal Hamaguchi Wrestling Dojo’
Watanabe Takaaki was born in Mito City, in Shizuoka. He studied Kendo for 10 years, since his childhood. He got into puroresu after discovering the wrestler, Chono. He dropped out from a medical trade school, and joined the Animal Hamaguchi Wrestling Dojo . Surprisingly, it was Naito who took care of his registration. After Naito debuted in NJPW, Wanatabe kept asking him ‘How can I be a purowrestler?’ Watanabe passed the required test on his second try, in December, 2009. He debuted in May, 2011. What was Naito’s evaluation of Wanatabe as a young lion?
Naito said, “I like to watch young lions’ matches, but nothing about him them really remained in my memory.”
He lost to Takahashi Hiromu in his debut match
Surely, his puroresu life didn’t start great, at first. The first time he took the NJPW exam was February, 2007. He ranked 4th; only the top three passed. However, one of them declined, so it seemed that Watanabe would move up. But they chose the one who ranked the 5th (it was Yoshihashi Nobuo, AKA, Yoshi-Hashi). The reason they gave was that Yoshi-Hashi had taken the exam earlier.
Watanabe passed in his 2nd effort. On his first day of training, he was told by Nagata that he sounded bad in the ring, something he hadn’t yet learned. Also. When he asked Naito for training, he replied, “I’m busy watching Hiromu. Can you ask someone else?” As a result, Taguchi trained him.
The reporter who profiled Watanabe said, “He was very serious and kept on training, even though he lacked presence.” However, upon watching Watanabe’s matches during his American excursion the reporter was surprised. Watanabe was vocal, yelling things like “I’m going to f**cking kill you” and, “I’m the best”. This was a transformation. Even though he was yelling in Japanese and no one understood him in American.
“This is the true nightmare. The spirit of Tanahashi Hiroshi, sleep forever.”
After watching his work during Watanabe’s American excursion, Naito reconsidered Watanabe. “He became very tough and a high quality purowestler. When I thought of starting LIJ, his name was the first that came to mind’. On his triumphant return on October 12, 2015 in Ryogoku, he appeared behind a mask. As the story reached the final phase, he revealed his face and finished Goto with his finisher, EVIL. The crowd had no idea who he was because he transformed completely.
In this year’s New Japan Cup, he defeated Tanahashi in his first match, and spoke, “This is the true nightmare. The spirit of Tanahashi Hiroshi, sleep forever.’
With LIJ’s power increasing, we can expect great things from EVIL.