KENTA Opens up About Choosing NJPW, His WWE Struggles


KENTA will join the fray for the upcoming G1 Climax Tournament. This is being heralded as a bit of a resurgence for the former Hideo Itami, who hasn’t been so kind when speaking about his WWE past in recent interviews.

Recently, KENTA spoke to the official Global website of New Japan-Pro Wrestling about his intentions in NJPW and his hardships in WWE. Below are some highlights.

KENTA on choosing New Japan:

“Well, I explained this in my backstage comments, but I went to America, I went to WWE, and I didn’t really achieve what I set out to do there. I didn’t get the results I wanted. While all this was going on, I was still in contact with (Katsuyori) Shibata, and we talked about this and that. In the end, it boiled down to ‘OK, what do I want to do with myself’? What I concluded was that I didn’t want things to end this way, I wanted to try once more to bring my vision of pro wrestling to the world.

“So that said, business is booming for NJPW, and if there’s anywhere that I can bring that vision worldwide, it’s in New Japan.

“You know, when people would ask me after I left WWE what I was going to do next, a lot of those questions would be followed up with ‘are you going to New Japan’? It really made me feel that NJPW had this big international influence.

“I mean, in April, NJPW filled Madison Square Garden, and the quality of the wrestling is always very high. I thought ‘OK, here I can make my mark’. The best wrestlers from all around the world are here. If I can do my thing in NJPW, it’s a chance for my style of wrestling to be seen, naturally, by the whole world. Even to American fans, the words ‘New Japan’ means a lot, it’s reached global consciousness.”

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KENTA on the WWE Style:

“It’s hard to put into words but… it was a very tough five years. I got hurt, and beyond that, I was really grasping for something during that whole time. It’s like, I came into the company to bring my style of wrestling worldwide, but what that actually became was bending and adapting to what the company wanted. That’s important in a sense, but the strength and aggression that I bring to the table got lost. That’s a real shame.
“One person there might tell you ‘do it this way’, and then another would be ‘no, no, do it like this’. That meant my own personal vision just crumbled away. There are people who can do very well in that environment, but I just couldn’t. So when that ‘what next?’ the question came up, I didn’t ask anybody else what they thought. I just decided to focus on what I wanted to do. Otherwise, there’s no point.
“If I didn’t, the whole thing would have been meaningless. Of course, you want to succeed in everything the first time and keep moving forward, but life isn’t like that. You take your knocks, and then have to learn from that, otherwise, your experience is pointless. In the end, I have zero regrets about any of my decisions.
“My style isn’t really like the WWE style. There’s aggression there that’s closer to Strong Style, my matches evolve in a more thrilling way. I think if I can fit in here, I’ll be able to awaken something that’s been dormant for a long time.”

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