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Q&A with Bishamon, on growth and winning gold

1 year ago

Q&A with Bishamon, on growth and winning gold

By: Sonal Lad, introduction by James Carlin

The last few years have been an interesting journey for two people in New Japan Pro-Wrestling: YOSHI-HASHI and Hirooki Goto. Both have been in the company for a considerable amount of time yet during the time of the pandemic, the two CHAOS stablemates came together to create a tag team and one-of-a-kind bond that has led them to winning championship gold twice over in the tag team division of the king of sports. Under the name Bishamon, the two very recently won both the NJPW STRONG Openweight Tag Team titles and IWGP Tag Team titles at Dominion after they were vacated by Aussie Open due to injury.

Even though the vacant titles created another valley of opportunity for the two to hold gold once more, it would be an understatement to say that their last two runs with the IWGP Tag Team gold were nothing but a great success story for both Goto and YOSHI-HASHI, defeating FTR at Wrestle Kingdom to win back the titles, defending against TMDK and Tanahashi & Okada before having an incredible bout at Aussie Open at Sakura Genesis to see Davis and Fletcher win the titles.

Bishamon’s third reign with the IWGP Tag Team titles, and first reign with the STRONG Openweight Tag Team titles, are again putting an incredible team’s name back into the history books, and Monthly Puroresu spoke to the pair about their growth as individuals, as a team, and what it’s like holding championship gold.

(L-R) Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI, Bishamon, as double tag title holders. c/o @taigaPhoto_pw

Monthly Puroresu: Before teaming with Goto, you regularly tagged with Kazuchika Okada and have always boasted a strong friendship with the Rainmaker. How has your friendship impacted your careers and spurred each other on in your matches?

YOSHI-HASHI: Okada joined New Japan Pro Wrestling a little after I did, from a Mexican promotion. He had already debuted as a professional wrestler in Mexico but I had not yet debuted.

But according to the rules of New Japan Pro Wrestling, if you join the promotion first, you are a senior and if you join later, you are a junior. I was a bit confused that Okada, who had more career than me, would be my junior.

However, I had wrestled him may times when I was young. And I had been teaming up with him as CHAOS members after I came back from overseas. Those experiences gave me a great inspiration and strengthened my self-confidence.

Monthly Puroresu: You joined CHAOS as soon as you returned from you excursion and have been with the faction through Shinsuke and Okada, what are they key differences in their leadership and now has the faction grown and developed over the years?

YOSHI-HASHI: CHAOS doesn’t have a leader, it’s non-hierarchical. I think that’s why everyone has their own unique characters.

Monthly Puroresu: In 2020, together with Goto and Tomohiro Ishii, you won the NEVER six-man tag team titles for the first time. How did you feel when you won the titles, and how did that experience affect you in 2021, 2022 and 2023?

YOSHI-HASHI: I felt that I had finally won one of the awards. And we defended the championships nine times. That experience led me & Goto to win the IWGP tag team Championships later on.

(L-R) Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI and Hirooki Goto as NEVER Six-Man Tag champions.

Monthly Puroresu: You’ve seen your popularity and the support from the crowd grow exponentially during the past few years. How does it feel and what do you think makes you so popular amongst the fans?

YOSHI-HASHI: I’m not too sure if my popularity has increased, but I think my turning point up to the last few years was definitely the injury I sustained when I fell at the entrance in the Kobe World Memorial Hall.

During that period of absence, I was able to reflect on myself. When I went to many concerts and saw artists singing happily on stage, I wondered if I was having as much fun in the ring as those people. I decided that I would enjoy my dream of becoming a professional wrestler when I returned to the ring.

Monthly Puroresu: New Japan has been creating working relationships with other companies including AEW, NOAH, Impact, and STARDOM! Which company are you most looking forward to working with and why, and is there anyone you want a special match with? What do you hope can be achieved with the companies to help expand professional wrestling?

YOSHI-HASHI: I joined CHAOS after I returned to Japan and didn’t have many opportunities for singles matches.

After that, I got many opportunities for singles matches, and had singles matches with other CHAOS members. But the only one who I never had a singles match with is Shinsuke Nakamura.

I want to wrestle him one day and I think it would be nice to working with other promotions.

YOSHI-HASHI faces off against KENTA. c/o @taigaPhoto_pw

Monthly Puroresu: Goto, you were in one of the most iconic Young Lion classes with Shinsuke Nakamura, Taguchi and Yoshitatsu, what was the experience like and are there any memorable moments that impacted you as a wrestler?

Hirooki Goto: The memories of my young lion age were all precious.

Because I had Nakamura, Taguchi & Yoshitatsu who are my friends and also rivals, I was able to endure tough chores and training. I was an assistant for (Hiroyoshi) Tenzan, (Manabu) Nakanishi and (Yuji) Nagata at the time.

I think the attitude of the seniors, who always remembered to thank the fans, has greatly influenced my behaviour as a professional wrestler today. I think the same is true for my young lion fellows.

Monthly Puroresu: You’ve partnered with many wrestlers over the years and even won the IWGP Jr and Heavyweight Tag titles with other partners, but what makes your team with YOSHI-HASHI so special? Why has it seen success unlike any of your other reigns?

Hirooki Goto: When I started teaming with YOSHI-HASHI, we named our own tag team which is “Bishamon”, and made an original entrance music for our tag team.

In addition to the results we bring, I think that is one of the main reasons why we have been able to impress everyone with our success as a special tag team. Perhaps the biggest thing is that, unlike in the past, I don’t have to pay mind to YOSHI-HASHI, who has a shorter career than me, as my partner.

Bishamon as IWGP Tag Team champions. c/o @taigaPhoto_pw

Monthly Puroresu: You’ve held both the NEVER Openweight and NEVER 6-Man titles, and raised it to such a huge prestige. While both belts have had a tumultuous few years, what do you think is needed to bring NEVER back to its roots and shine as a top division?

Hirooki Goto: There are many championships in New Japan Pro-Wrestling now. To shine amongst them, I think it is necessary for NEVER championships to have a different colour from the others.

In my mind, NEVER’s colours have a strong image of ruggedness and aggression, so I think it is necessary to keep that image alive and continue to show thrilling matches that you can’t expect where they will end.

Monthly Puroresu: Over the years, you’ve won endless tournaments and are one of the most consistent wrestlers but have never managed to win top gold. What do you think is needed for you to finally win IWGP Heavyweight gold?

Hirooki Goto: I am ready and capable of winning the top title. My career is 20 years old this year. You might think I’m physically declining, but as a wrestler I’m in my prime time. All I need is a little luck. I believe that it is daily effort that brings the luck.

Monthly Puroresu: Along with your success as a singles wrestler, you’ve been a true tag wrestler winning all the tag belts the company has to offer. What are they key differences when approaching the matches and which do you prefer or do you think you excel at?

Hirooki Goto: Whether tag team or singles, they are both the same wrestling, and there is nothing I am good at, bad at, like or dislike about it.

The main difference between singles and tag team is that you need to watch your partner as well as your opponent in a match. You need more eyes than in singles competition.