Tetsuya Naito spoke with NJPW about the G1 Climax 28 tournament and his thoughts on a few of the entrants. Here are some of the highlights:
How NJPW chooses G1 Climax entrants and not sticking to top tier wrestlers:
"I said the same thing last year, but there are 19 shows in this tour. So because of that, the decision was made to have 20 wrestlers, right? All that's happening is that entrants are being picked to fill out spaces on the cards. We have to have 19 shows, so we have to have 20 wrestlers, so we have to have two blocks of ten. You do that and it's a given; there's always going to be entrants that don't have a chance of winning the tournament. For example, somebody in the same block as me: Toru Yano. Him, and guys who aren't around all that often on tours. Someone like Tama Tonga. I get that you have to have Ibushi and Omega, but Tonga hasn't done much recently.
"Look, all I'm saying is that this line of thought- 'we have this many shows so let's choose guys to fill the spots,' that's weird, isn't it? This is the G1 Climax. We should be thinking 'these are the absolute top guys that are really 'grade one', so we'll decide the number of shows in the tour based on that'. But I get it. It's not about that. It's about being able to book all those buildings, really, isn't it?"
Wrestling Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi:
"Kenny, Ibushi as well, I like wrestling them. I like their style. And with Kenny, he just beat Okada, he's the champion, and I face him in the first match. It's a situation where we're both fresh, neither of us have any excuses, it's just all out, go for it. I think it'll be a high risk match, but a really exciting one."
Taking on fellow Los Ingobernables de Japon stablemate, SANADA, in the G1 Climax:
"First singles match, yeah. But we have faced each other a couple of times in tags at All Together. The All Japan versus New Japan tag matches for our 40th anniversaries, in Ryogoku. Tetsuya Naito and Tama Tonga versus Joe Doering and Seiya Sanada. ... Well, he's a man of very few words. Not only that, but you just have a hard time understanding what's on his mind. Even without him having to talk, he captures everybody's attention, and that's a good thing. But 'how does he feel about facing Naito'? 'Everybody seems to be saying LIJ is Naito's unit, how does that make him feel'? When it comes to questions like that, I have no idea what his thought process is. Well, in Yokohama, we won't need to talk, so we'll find out about that stuff in the ring. ... Of all my opponents in B block, SANADA is the only guy I've never faced one-on-one before. So I can predict a Kenny, I can predict an Ibushi. At least somewhat. But SANADA, I have no idea what kind of match that will turn out to be."
Naito also discussed more on the G1 Climax 28 tournament. You can check out the full interview by clicking here.