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NJPW President Tanahashi’s First Media Address Recap

6 months ago Masahiro Kubota | Monthly Puroresu LLC

Masahiro Kubota | Monthly Puroresu LLC

NJPW President Tanahashi’s First Media Address Recap

Hiroshi Tanahashi, NJPW President, addresses the media for the first time since the announcement of his new role

By: James Carlin

Today, NJPW’s “Ace” made his first public appearance following the appointment of his leadership as the new President and Representative of New Japan Pro-Wrestling, succeeding Takami Ohbari – who paved the way for the King of Sports through the pandemic.

The press conference began with Bushiroad President Takaaki Kidani speaking.

“Prior to becoming President, Ohbari was a key figure in helping establish guidelides for NJPW’s reaction to the pandemic and assessing what changes needed to be made in order to adapt to these situations. Ohbari was also a strong figure in helping to promote NJPW overseas, alongside other companies, as the company mindset looks globally.

Whilst Ohbari helped tremendously during a very difficult environment, our next goal is to begin to improve attendance once more. Many arenas are now selling out again and the next stage in our growth is to sell-out in even more markets. With our change in era and generation, Michiaki Nishizawa has stepped down as Director.”

Outgoing President Takami Ohbari.

Next, outgoing President Takami Ohbari spoke to the media.

“I have acted as President since October 2020, and led as CEO of our first international subsidiary, NJPW of America, starting in December 2019. Having been the tenth President for three years and two months, I have decided to step down.

I have done everything I could do to support NJPW’s growth in the wake of the pandemic, and a key person who supported us during those times was our new President, Tanahashi. The last three years have given the company the ability to reach even greater heights, and I am happy to be able to pass that on to Tanahashi. His experience as a professional wrestler alongside his new position as an executive means that he has a valuable perspective that encompassess all parts of NJPW.

During my time as President, I have learned that professional wrestling has potential far greater than I could have ever imagined, and President Tanahashi is the one who is capable to achieve that potential many time over as an industry leader.”

President and Representive Director Hiroshi Tanahashi, and new Director Hitoshi Matsumoto come to the table next to Kidani, with Tanahashi speaking next.

“For a long time, I’ve had the dream of becoming President alongside being an active performer. I’m very appreciative of all the support, but I also recognize that there are a lot of expectations to live up to moving forward.

There are some key goals that I would like to meet whilst acting as the new President. The first is to be able to sell-out the Tokyo Dome. Being able to walk down the ramp as a sold-out crowd cheer for you is something that will stick forever, not only for wrestlers but for the fans too.

Another goal that I have set is to have more championship matches take place outside of major cities. If we want to be able toe sell-out the Tokyo Dome, we should focus on selling out shows in towns and cities across the country. And then, when all of Japan’s wrestling fans are united, we’ll be able to sellout the Tokyo Dome.

Lastly, I would like to be able to continue our work with sponsors, and to strengthen our relationships with the sponsors that we have. My position as both a wrestler and management role gives me a unique opportunity to help aid these relationships and make them stronger.”

NJPW President and Representative Director Hiroshi Tanahashi.

Hitoshi Matsumoto takes the microphone.

“My name is Hitoshi Matsumoto from TV Asahi, who has taken on the role as Director. During my time at TV Asahi, I have been able to work closely with a wide variety of different sports both in the office and with customers, including professional wrestling. I’d like to be able to use that experience to support President Tanahashi as much as I can.

It was twenty-four years ago that I began working adjacent to the professional wrestling world, so I am quite familiar with the way that TV Asahi views wrestling and what must be done. I hope to improve the relationship between New Japan Pro-Wrestling and TV Asahi with the unique position that I have held knowing how Asahi can support the company to its fullest.”

Questions from the Wrestling Media

When was the decision made for you to become President of NJPW?

Hiroshi Tanahashi: It was last month that Kidani asked if I would like to become President.

Takaaki Kidani: Tanahashi is the first wrestler to become President since Tatsumi Fujinami, and he has put his body on the line for the company during some of its most difficult times. He is the right person for the job because of his cheerfulness not only as a performer but behind the scenes as well – and his cheerful character and analytical mind makes him the best choice to lead us into the future.

Tanahashi: I’m very honored that Kidani trusted me in this role, and I’m excited to take on a different side of the business and experience these new challenges.

Many fans have talked about your selflessness for New Japan over the years. How do you feel about that?

Tanahashi: I’ve learned that during my time as a wrestler, it’s more important to me to live up to the expectations of fans over winning championships; giving fans a positive experience of wrestling. Wrestling gives people strength and power, and I’ll continue to carry that as I move into the role of President – and I’ll give that power to the NJPW staff and NJPW fans.

What are your first short-term goals now that you have become President?

Tanahashi: The key is considering how fans want to experience New Japan. As a fan, I remember sitting with a couple beers in hand after the show wanting to excitededly talk about how amazing it was. These memories are some of my favorites, and I want to focus on how we can create those types of memories for fans new and old, and to make them feel happy after leaving the show.

As President, is there anything you would like to say to Antonio Inoki?

Tanahashi: Becoming President just a year after his passing holds a lot of significance. I think sold out shows filled with fans who are excited about wrestling is something that he’ll look down upon with pride and happiness.

How do you think your experience as a wrestler will aid in your position as President?

Tanahashi: An important thing to know is that you don’t see the results of promoting aren’t immediate. I look at it as a three year cycle. In my first reign as IWGP Heavyweight champion, I was doing a lot of work promoting, but we didn’t see the effects of that work until three years later. It’s something that will take time, andt paying attention to short term, mid term and long term goals and keeping them in mind will be the key.

What are your thoughts about professional wrestling in the current media landscape?

Tanahashi: One of the things that makes wrestling so unique is the impact that it has on its audience. Seeing your favourite wrestler that you support being able to win gives you energy, and you’ll continue to be inspired by them in your daily lives.

It’s true that other media genres have that too, but what makes wrestling so special is getting to experience that in real time. Wrestlers are able to respond to the support of the fans as it happens, and it influences the way that wrestlers perform.

It makes wrestling a powerful experience not only live, but one that comes across just as well on TV screens.

Will your position as President affect how you appoach yourself in-ring moving forward?

Tanahashi: I’m always thinking about the rest of my career. Just like everyone, my goal is the IWGP World Heavyweight championship. But I hope that those in the back wanting to beat up their boss know that I’ll continue to fight hard, even as the President.

All photos by Masahiro Kubota. Copyright Monthly Puroresu LLC

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