Hiroshi Tanahashi Wants To 'Surpass' This Japanese Wrestling Legend

With an upcoming World Heavyweight title challenge coming up on Saturday, there is a certain eternal quality to Hiroshi Tanahashi. The longstanding "Ace" of New Japan Pro-Wrestling has been staying active at a high level for a long time.

With fellow former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Keiji Muto's retirement looming, Tanahashi told "Tokyo Sport" that the retiring Muto has given him another bar to clear. At 46 years of age, Tanahashi notes that he is the same age Muto was when the two clashed over the IWGP title. Tanahashi, feeling that he has surpassed Muto at this age, stated his desire to continue to surpass Muto. 

"If Muto-san is retiring at 60, I will wrestle until I am 61," Tanahashi said according to a translation.

Muto is set to face Tetsuya Naito on February 21 at his "Last Love" retirement show, the second retirement show for the legend. He had retired his "Great Muta" persona back in January, when he teamed with AEW's Sting and Darby Allin in a six-man tag victory against Naomichi Marufuji, Akira, and Hakushi.

Tanahashi, meanwhile, will lock horns with IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada in San Jose, CA, at NJPW's Battle In The Valley, fresh off of his win against KENTA at NJPW's New Beginning In Osaka. Tanahashi was called out by the champion himself for the title challenge. This will be the long-time rivals' first singles match against each other since the 2021 G1 Climax, where Okada was triumphant against Tanahashi. Tanahashi has not beaten Okada in singles competition since 2018.