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Q&A with Jun Akiyama

2 years ago

Q&A with Jun Akiyama

The Legend Reflects on His Career, Prepping for CyberFight Festival and Working for DDT Pro Wrestling

By Zack Heydorn

In his fourth decade as a professional wrestler, Jun Akiyama has outlasted all of his peers – and looks to prove it for DDT at CyberFight Fest 2022, which takes place on Sunday June 12 from the Saitama Super Arena. For many fans, Akiyama needs no introduction. He is of course a trailblazer of the King’s Road style of puroresu, working to popularize it at the highest level of competition while on the best roster of All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) history. His later work in NOAH, and now DDT, is just as remarkable in many ways.

The 52 year-old Akiyama, a Wrestling Observer Newsletter (WON) Hall of Fame class of 2020 inductee,  spoke to Monthly Puroresu on a variety topics: Why he left AJPW a second time for DDT, the opponents who brought out the best in him, the burden of carrying a torch he, Kenta Kobashi, Mitsuhara Misawa lit and so much more.

Monthly Puroresu: You made the switch from the more sports-centric AJPW to DDT, which leans into sports entertainment, back in 2020. Why?

Jun Akiyama: President Takagi said he needed my help, so without any hesitation I decided to join DDT.

Monthly Puroresu: Although we’re big fans of DDT here at Monthly Puroresu, explain to other fans in the West why they should check out Dramatic Dream Team.

Jun Akiyama: You can see different styles of different with their huge variety of wrestlers. It’s like a zoo and its very enjoyable [laughs]

Monthly Puroresu: Looking across the aisle at sister promotion NOAH, when you reflect on the teachings & impact of Misawa on the sport of pro wrestling, do you think Misawa would be proud of what NOAH has become?

Jun Akiyama: Naomichi Marufuji and Yoshinari Ogawa are working hard in the frontlines… I’m sure he’d be proud of what’s there.

Monthly Puroresu: What opponent got the most out of you as a wrestler throughout your career?

Jun Akiyama: It’s difficult to pick just one but The Four Pillars and Stan Hansen for sure.


Monthly Puroresu: Throughout your career, you have worked with numerous premiere talents from the West — is there anyone you haven’t worked that you’d like to? Eddie Kingston in AEW has called you out specifically.

Jun Akiyama: I’m just glad to say that there are many people who still want to wrestle me even at this age. I’d want to go against Eddie Kingston. (laughs)

Monthly Puroresu: What was your reaction in getting inducted into the WON Hall of Fame in 2020?

Jun Akiyama: Honored, very glad.

Monthly Puroresu: How has training in the gym, and mental preparation for a big event like CyberFight Fest changed since the earlier days in your career?

Jun Akiyama: I’d be quite nervous way before the big matches. My physical and metal training hasn’t changed much since then.

Monthly Puroresu: Sanshiro Takagi, and DDT leadership, have made a concerted effort to welcome more fans in the West to check out the incredible variety DDT showcases! What do you see Takagi-san’s long-term challenge is to complete his vision?

Jun Akiyama: Spreading the (DDT) content as much as possible and his thoughts to the fans. From my point of view is to get that message out in English (laughs)

Monthly Puroresu: Over the years you’ve formed a number of formidable tag-teams, even as you’ve outlasted many legends you worked with such as Kenta Kobashi. Can you reflect on your career as a tag-team competitor for our readers?

Jun Akiyama: All my partners have been different, but I enjoy the ones who let me wrestle freely. I’ve built up a career so I try to get my partner moving when I wrestle. My best partner is Kobashi. He lets me wrestle freely and when I pass the baton to him, everything is all set.

Monthly Puroresu: Bringing it back to 2022, one of your rival opponents at CyberFight Festival is Atsushi Kotoge, who will have to put his junior pride on the line. Does he stand any chance against you, and how do you think he can work to become better?

Jun Akiyama: In terms of strength, I have the advantage. By using his speedy movements to get his frame moving and teasing his opponents perhaps he can get closer to victory.

Monthly Puroresu: Will you ever bring the blue tights back?

Jun Akiyama: wear them at least once before retirement.

Monthly Puroresu: Finally, what are the things left you want to accomplish as an in-ring talent — and what’s the secret that keeps your burning desire to keep performing?

Jun Akiyama: My goal is to get a wrestler I’ve produced (trained) into the ring. The reason why I can keep wrestling is because of the supports of the fans and my family. Their support is what keeps me going!