Tanahashi shows his Lion pride. Defends his IC Title on 16th, the same Nakamura challenges for WWE’s top prize.
Tanahashi will have his 2nd title defense against Zack Sabre Jr., from Suzuki-gun, on the 16th in Hiroshima. On the same day, in Osaka, ‘the rock star’, Nakamura Shinsuke will challenge for WWE champion title against ‘the Indian monster’, Jinder Mahal. Tanahashi revealed his pride as the ace in New Japan, to his formal rival Nakamura.
Before their match, the feud between Suzuki-gun and the main unit of New Japan (Taguchi Japan) has heated up. Tanahashi says, “If I lose to Zack, it will break the power balance of the factions (of New Japan). I have to prevent it.“
That is not only the reason why he can’t lose to. On the same day, his formal rival and now superstar of WWE, Nakamura will return with glory to Osaka, where he will challenge for the WWE Championship. If Nakamura defeats Mahal, he will be the first Japanese WWE Champion ever. The IC Intercontinental used to synonymous with Nakamura. It is ironic that Tanahashi holds the title now, and will have a defense match on the same day. Tanahashi says, “Honestly, I am 80% jealous of his good showing. But the other 20%… I’m very proud of my former companion.“ He goes on to add, “I want to show my pride that I chose to stay in New Japan. I have to show what I’m made of.”
Nakamura returned his IC title to the company in January, 2016, when he left for WWE. It was Tanahashi who announced his intentions for it. However, Tanahashi lost the title to Kenny Omega. Although, he succeeded in reaching his 2nd IC championship this past June, in Osaka (Dominion).
He of course is focussed on his own victory, although he publicly shouted out to Nakamura; “Tagitte kure! = please get fired up.” (Tagiru is one of Nakamura’s catchphrases he often used in his days in New Japan.)”