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Hiromu Takahashi and El Desperado Take the Spotlight at Wrestle Kingdom Press Conference

6 months ago Photo c/o Masahiro Kubota, Destruction in Ryogoku, 10.9.23.

Photo c/o Masahiro Kubota, Destruction in Ryogoku, 10.9.23.

Hiromu Takahashi and El Desperado Take the Spotlight at Wrestle Kingdom Press Conference

By: R. Faliani

We’re finally in Wrestle Kingdom season and today New Japan Pro Wrestling held a press conference that saw the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Hiromu Takahashi, have a final confrontation with his rival, El Desperado before their awaited match at the Tokyo Dome.

Desperado and Takahashi have a long history of clashes and animosity, but as their instant classics kept going, so did the respect that both men have for each other. 2023 was a great year for both Desperado and Takahashi, as both were practically doing the same things: For Desperado, his 2023 was a mix of every style of wrestling imaginable, because he wrestled in many Puro companies like DDT and FREEDOMS, with tours to America for ROH, GCW and a brief tour in Mexico as part of Fantastica Mania.

For Takahashi, his 2023 was a test of how much Junior heavyweight wrestling can captivate audiences around Japan. From wrestling in the Tokyo Dome against AMAKUSA to forming his own Junior All-Star Festival twice, gathering Junior wrestlers from all around the world. As IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Takahashi raised the bar once again and got to wrestle absolutely everybody. He had adventures in DDT, FREEDOMS, Michinoku Pro, Dragon Gate, and GLEAT.

Hiromu Takahashi: “As Long as You Return, It’s Fine.”

Takahashi and Desperado wanted to showcase the potential of Junior heavyweight wrestling by wrestling everybody and reaching new heights, and it all has come to this.

Both men know what this match means more than anyone, and they set things straight today in New Japan’s press conference. Based on the report from Tokyo Sports, Desperado spoke to the media about his dynamic with Takahashi:

“It may be too much to say we refine our souls through our fights, but to be honest, over the last year Hiromu and I have been confident about the fact we’re at the top of New Japan’s Junior heavyweight division. I’ve done my best in 2023, and now I’m going to go through Hiromu.”

Desperado followed this by acknowledging the fact he and Takahashi are the pillars of NJPW’s Junior heavyweight scene and have been for a long time. Desperado’s confidence shone through his own words and he was clear with his intentions:

“I want to get to the top of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Junior division. As long as we fight, I think we can have the best match of the night, but I’ll still take the belt.”

Takahashi sat through Desperado’s whole statement, but he responded with anger to Desperado’s declaration of war. The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion is on the road to his 8th defense and wants to break Jushin Thunder Liger’s record of 10 defenses as champion. As the champion and the Junior Ace, Takahashi is done with wrestling in openers and semi-main events. He also made his intentions clear with his championship, and what this title defense means for him:

“I will finally break the great record of 11 defenses this year. But I want to make this clear. This is the last time I’ll see myself and Desperado in anything but the Main Event. I’ll win at the top of the card. If we fight again, I want to be at the Main Event of the Tokyo Dome. I think we can do that.”

Despite Takahashi’s animosity towards Desperado with those words thrown at him, the champion asked the challenger if he was okay after his eye surgery. Desperado answered the question and made Takahashi understand he was going to face him at his 100%.

These two already have a lot of matches that have been Junior classics, and the Tokyo Dome will add spice to a pairing that seemingly can’t miss. Will Takahashi retain his belt and be one step closer to the 11 defenses, or will Desperado rise to the top?

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