New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Kushida steps into an Impact Wrestling ring tonight in Sunrise Manor, Nevada at No Surrender, where the junior heavyweight will team with Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin against Ace Austin, Chris Bey, and KENTA.
Kushida spoke with SI ahead of his Impact Plus appearance to discuss competitors such as Mercedes Moné and Josh Alexander.
You can check out some highlights from the interview below:
On his longtime rivalry with Bullet Club: “Bullet Club was established as a completely heel unit by Prince Devitt. There are a lot of villains all over the world now and I don’t like that kind of character, so I will not join Bullet Club. However, I have had an 18-year career now. It seems like veteran wrestlers will tell a lie, so maybe you should not believe what I said.”
On Mercedes Mone inspiring him to move to the heavyweight division: “Mercedes Moné had a match at Battle in the Valley in San Jose, and I think that was a great beginning for this. Japan still has a culture that cherishes tradition, so there are arguments both for and against the IWGP women’s championship. Japanese people don’t like ‘change.’ I want to create an atmosphere to challenge from junior heavyweight in 2023. We can change little by little.
“I think we can challenge and create change more in New Japan Pro-Wrestling America. That is why I chose this lifestyle that is back and forth between Japan and the U.S. It is great that we can challenge a lot of things in New Japan Pro-Wrestling America. That is why the top title says NJPW Strong openweight championship, and Kenta has that. I think that title is very innovative for Japanese wrestlers. I am looking forward to Mercedes Moné’s reign, and I will show you that I can overturn the weight difference.”
On facing Josh Alexander at Impact X NJPW Multiverse United: “Challenging top wrestlers is one of my lifeworks. I stayed in Windsor, Canada, in 2009, and Scott D’Amore took care of me from start to finish. From then on, I really wanted to wrestle in TNA, which is now Impact. I know the history of thecompany. Their champion, Josh Alexander, is also my favorite type of wrestling fighter, so I’m ready to fight for his championship.”
On his Back to the Future ring gear: “I started to wear this gear in 2012. Ibushi and Ricochet were the IWGP junior tag champions at that time. I didn’t have any characters like highflyer or technical or anything else, and I thought I could not overcome their characters. And then, as I was trying to find something, I found the VHS tape of Back to the Future. It’s become my inspiration. I want to get my action figure with this gear in the near future, and I want to make an entrance with Michael J. Fox someday.”
On focusing on NJPW of America: “My goal was for myself before, and now I am carrying everybody’s goal so we make New Japan Pro-Wrestling of America bigger than ever. It is a very exciting time for me, and I want to carry it on my back.”