From Sports Hochi
Sports Hochi: We assume that meeting Takakgi, the president of DDT, was also meaningful to you…
Ibushi: He took very good care of me. I appreciate everything he did for me.
Sports Hochi: You’ve been saying that money doesn’t factor into where you chose to fight…
Ibushi: I consider whether I’m really needed or not. My goal is to take pro-wrestling to new places. It has never changed.
Sports Hochi: As a free-lancer, you have, ‘Ibushi Pro-Wrestling Lab’. Are you in charge of managing yourself?
Ibushi: I do everything myself. It’s not easy during negotiations. But I got experience by negotiating with WWE, so don’t worry about me. I believe my performance fee is what they think of me. The ‘Wrestle 1’ show I participated in last year, I did for free, because I was satisfied with their evaluation of me. I was grateful for the fact that they wanted me. I returned the money because I wanted to help the company. Of course, money is important, but there is more than that.
Sports Hochi: You also don’t seem to care so much about popularity…
Ibushi: As long as I can be the door to pro-wrestling, I don’t mind if they become fans of other wrestlers. Absolutely, I’m happy if they become my fans. But I really don’t think too much about it.
Sports Hochi: In DDT, you had, ‘Street Pro-Wrestling’. It also was a new kind of entertainment focused pro-wrestling…
Ibushi: The first time I did street pro-wrestling was in 2008. I went to America with my good friend, pro-wrestler Nakazawa Michael. We ambushed a college cafeteria while they were having a school fest. We just started wrestling all of a sudden. I wanted to know if our pro-wrestling style would be interesting to non-fans or to foreigners. It took off, it was beyond my expectations. That’s where it all started. Takagi (DDT) was smart, he uploaded the video to YouTube. Immediately, it made a splash. When we got back to Japan, we decided to do, ‘Book Store Pro-Wrestling’. First time ever in Japan.
Sports Hochi: Were you confident that you could demonstrate pro-wrestling without a ring?
Ibushi: Street pro-wrestling is what I started with in fifth grade. Ultimately, I don’t need a ring to wrestle. I know that some say if there is no ring then that’s not pro-wrestling. But in my opinion, pro-wrestling is how I express myself and it’s something that gives people inspiration. So, if I can express myself without a ring, it’s still pro-wrestling. The important part is that audience gets something from it.
Sports Hochi: You’ve dived off vending machines and cars…
Ibushi: Now street pro-wrestling is spreading and many do it, but I was the first person. But my concept of street pro-wrestling has changed. Now I tell people that I’m going to do it. It’s just a way to attract more people. I do street pro-wrestling for the fans of it.
Sports Hochi: Does it still connect to traditional pro-wrestling?
Ibushi: I want everyone to experience pro-wrestling at least once in their life. So, I want to wrestle in the biggest places. That was the basic reason why I stated doing street pro-wrestling. If I do it in the street, people cannot just pass by. It’s shocking. So, I believe that’s how I can attract more people to pro-wrestling. Street pro-wrestling is the catalyst.
Sports Hochi: So, you want to go places where they are as many people as possible?
Ibushi: Yes, yes. I’m very confident that I can astound people. I always say that I want to do pro-wrestling in crowded places. I want to do it in Shibuy Scramble or on the Yamanote Line, the busiest places in Japan.
Sports Hochi: On the Yamanote line, really?
Ibushi: If they allow me, then yes, anytime. But I won’t spoil it ahead of time.