One of New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s top stars, Tetsuya Naito, says he took a pay cut when he renewed his contract with the company. Naito tells Tokyo Sports the salary he was offered by New Japan was a 24% reduction.

The 39-year-old Tetsuya Naito says this is the first “down presentation” he’s received during his career in pro wrestling. Naito started wrestling for New Japan in 2006 and is a three-time IWGP World Heavyweight Champion and a five-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion.

Tetsuya Naito’s contract was reportedly due for renewal on January 17. Naito told Tokyo Sports he was expecting to receive a reduced offer from New Japan as attendance at New Japan shows last year was hampered by COVID-19 protocols.

Tetsuya Naito started 2021 as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion and the IWGP Intercontinental Champion, but he lost both belts to Kota Ibushi at Wrestle Kingdom 15. Naito also lost time due to injuries. Last February, an injury to his right knee caused him to miss some shows. Later in the year, an injury to his left knee forced him to drop out of last year’s G1 Climax after only one match.

Tetsuya Naito started off 2022 with a win over Jeff Cobb on Night 2 of Wrestle Kingdom 16. Days later, he led Los Ingobernables De Japon to victory in a 10-man tag team match against Pro-Wrestling NOAH’s Kongo faction.

Tetsuya Naito is scheduled to challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship on February 20. However, Naito says the championship is not his top priority right now.

“I have no feelings for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship,” Naito told Tokyo Sports. “But I have three reasons to challenge. The first is the strongest in New Japan today. I want to [face] Okada. The second is to beat Okada. And the third is to return to the main vent of the Tokyo Dome on January 4, 2023. “

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