“What does it take to become a New Japan Wrestler? We ask SHO & YOH” Part1
From GetNavi Web
GetNavi- Tell us why you two decided to become wrestlers.
SHO- I was influenced by my senpai, in my high school wrestling club; he loved pro-wrestling. In college, I was wondering whether I should get a teaching degree or something else. Then, I hade a chance to meet Tanahashi at an autograph session, I told him, “I’m trying to be a pro-wrestler”, and he responded to me, “I’ll be waiting for you!” So, that’s what motivated me to do it.
YOH- I came to it through my father, who was a big fan of pro-wrestling. He always recorded ‘World Pro-Wrestling’ every Saturday night and we watched it together on Sunday mornings. I was still in a kindergarten back then. I recall when the “Three Musketeers” were at their best and it was so cool to watch Keiji Mutoh. I seriously decided to be a pro-wrestler when I was 13. Even though my father introduced me to it, he was very surprised when I told him what I wanted to do. He asked me, “Are you serious? Do it if you can!” That’s what hyped me for it.
GetNavi- What did you guys do as trainees in New Japan?
YOH- When a new person enters the dojo as a trainee, it’s mandatory to live in the dorm. Basically, the mornings were about training, and then, chores until 11 PM, every single day.
SHO- The hardest part was not being allowed to leave the dojo until we debuted.
YOH- It was 9 months before we debuted, so it was very tough. Even after we debuted, we had no free time. We still had other jobs, such as being an assistant for senpai wrestlers and working ringside at every show.
SHO- New Japan’s dojo rules are all based on Sumo traditions, from the days of Rikidozan. The trainee’s life is just as hard as a sumo’s. I almost gave up, many times (laughs).
GetNavi- We often hear the phrase ‘triumphant return’, what does it really mean?
SHO- In New Japan, it is traditional to go on excursion after being a Young Lion. Excursion is just like a trial, to become a developed pro-wrestler. We worked so hard on our excursion to grow from Young Lion to pro-wrestler.
YOH- Going on excursion was such a valuable experience to figure out my future as a pro-wrestler. However, we had to wait about 4 years before we finally were able leave the dojo. And there weren’t any new trainees under us, to take over.
GetNavi- So, when there isn’t a younger class, you can’t leave the dojo?
SHO- Yes. It was very, very long (laugh).
GetNavi- You two went to train in CMLL and ROH, which are both close partners with New Japan, did you two ever have big arguments or fights during those days?
YOH- No. We both entered the dojo on the same day. We’ve always been together since our trainee days, we’ve never had any big fights.
SHO- Since YOH is one year older than me, he always leads me. I still use 90% keigo (formal Japanese) when addressing him.
YOH- But he doesn’t show any respect to me at all… (laugh) But it probably wouldn’t work if we were the same age.
SHO- That’s partly why our bond is so strong.
Part 2 coming soon…