Hiroshi Tanahashi on playing a heel in an upcoming movie, “It takes more energy to be a baby-face than being a heel wrestler.”
Interviewer: The character you play in the movie, he was the company’s ace but had to become a heel due to injury… I suppose you were probably able to sympathize with him, correct?
Tanahashi: Yes. Now, New Japan’s has many younger talents, such as Okada and Kenny, and these last few years, I haven’t been entirely healthy. I missed a lot of time. I felt like this generation has passed me, so I found that Takashi Omura (his character in the movie) was a reflection of me.
Interviewer: What kind of mindset did you need to play a heel character?
Tanahashi: I used to get booed before, too. Being a heel wrestler, it’s necessary to harness you anger and frustration, because that’s keeps you going.
Interviewer: There are many New Japan wrestlers featured in the movie, who do we need to pay attention the most?
Tanahashi: It’s definitely Taguchi as Gimbae Mask. Taguchi was always handsome, and he’s got quite the range as an actor, as well.
Interviewer: Congratulations on your 3rd G1 win. I suppose you had different feelings from your two previous wins, right?
Tanahashi: When I won G1 in 2007, I was still on my way to the top. And in 2015, I was one of the favorites. However, this year I don’t think the fans or press expected my victory. Some people said, ‘Tanahashi is not in good condition’. But I flipped their expectations, so I could say to them, “See? I did it, konoyarou!”
Interviewer: You are now 41, and some people say, “Tanahashi you have done great. You are the one who rebuilt New Japan, now it’s time for you to rest…” How do you manage to keep motivated, despite that perspective?
Tanahashi: It is actually harder to move like I used to be able to. I need to face reality and depend on the moves I can do now. In this year’s G1, I focused on a theme in each match. As the number of matches increase, many become forgotten by the fans. I gave myself a task to set a keyword for each match and leave something remarkable. I wanted to show everyone that my passion was higher than any other wrestlers even if it didn’t look flashy.
Interviewer: You are always very good at finding a theme in every match. Is that something you learned or were naturally good at?
Tanahashi: Well, this is something you can gain only through experience. I learned that it is important to for me to not give a damn about criticism. If everybody approves me, that doesn’t make me a real wrestler. A true wrestler should have dichotomy. That is my belief.