The first part in a series of interviews from DaVinci Magazine.
Interviewer: Naito, you undoubtedly lit the pro-wrestling world on fire this year. Looking back on 2017, what are your thoughts?
Naito: I personally don’t think that 2017 was a surprise for me. I won the Tokyo Sports’ “Pro-wrestling MVP” in 2016. People were anticipating that Los Ingobernables would lose steam, but we didn’t. I was confident that I would win the G1 Tournament. The fans know more than ever, what I say and how I wrestle. Everywhere I go to wrestle, I get the loudest chants and the fans are all wearing Naito or LIJ shirts. But I would say that this is a continuation of what I started before.
Interviewer: You must be busier than ever, how do you stay in top condition?
Naito: I watch what I eat and focus on my training. My father always told me, “When you get to 30, you better watch what you eat.” Well, he wasn’t a wrestler or anything (laughs). I’m not a big eater. When I’m tired, I just go to sleep, instead of eating.
Interviewer: What about your training? What do you do?
Naito: I go to the gym at midnight, until around 1 or 2 AM.
Interviewer: I suppose that the other members of LIJ also went through a lot this year.
Naito: EVIL has had the most significant change throughout the year. He’s the one who motivates me the most. He main evented in October for the IWGP title against Okada. I’m glad that he speaks to the fans after the match. I feel that he’s looking for bigger opportunities instead of being satisfied with his current position. He wants this more than anyone else from LIJ.
Interviewer: What about the other heavyweight, SANADA?
Naito: He doesn’t reveal his feelings much. He never says anything. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Even I’m not sure if he’s feeling any different this year, I can’t tell. However, I’m excited to see what SANADA has to say, when he feels like doing so.
Interviewer: There are high expectations on SANADA, from the fans and the pro-wrestling industry.
Naito: Yes. I hope he gets motivated by me and EVIL. But I want everyone in LIJ to do whatever they want, so I don’t tell them what to do.
Interviewer: BUSHI and Hiromu have made their marks in the Junior division.
Naito: Hiromu’s got unique color. I guess he’s the one who fires me up the most. I suppose BUSHI gets motivated by Hiromu. I would say BUSHI is the one who unites LIJ. However, I want to see him do his own thing, as well. LIJ is a stronger team when we compete with each other.