Ahead of his Wrestle Kingdom 16 match against Jeff Cobb, Los Ingobernables de Japon leader Tetsuya Naito spoke to NJPW’s official site, revealing some interesting news about his future.
Naito admitted that he has some faults when it comes to the knee injury that forced him to forfeit eight out of his nine G1 Climax matches: “I lost weight heading into the G1, a lot of it was stamina for a run of singles matches, but while I was rehabbing, I figured I’d actually lost a little too much weight, so I ate a lot while I was off. My knee was a big part of that. The more weight you have on a bad knee, the worse it gets.”
Due to his long history of injury and turning 40 this next June, Naito is aware that the end of his career may not be very far off: “To tell the truth, when I started in the business, I thought I’d go until I was 40. As I’ve gotten nearer, I’ve started to become more conscious about retirement. I’m not saying I’m going to hang it up tomorrow. It’s just that the word ‘retirement’ is looming in my mind. That’s a sad thing for sure, but it’s motivating at the same time. Time waits for no man. But that means if I don’t enjoy everything to its fullest now, I’ll regret it later. If anything, being aware of my use by date has made me stronger than ever. I’m not going to carry on just to carry on. When I’ve lost sight of a goal, I’ll stop then and there. Goals are important to me. If I have them I can do anything, without them, nothing. I think once I don’t have a goal left, I’ll switch to civilian mode, in a heartbeat. Every time I’ve gotten one goal, I’ve had the next in mind. When I can’t think of what’s next, that’s when I’ve hit the finish line, I think. You never know, all that might take until I’m 70, and I’ll be active until the day I die.”
His next goal might be to achieve more tag team success in his LIJ superteam with stablemate SANADA: “After my injury, I was glad to go around the country and make towns. We were close too, but it all fell apart in my second home of Hiroshima. So near and yet so far, story of my year. But it was fun being back in the WTL. I always wanted to be in there these last few years and the company didn’t let me. I had a great time. I’ll be in again next year. Whatever happens.”
H/T to Fightful for the transcription.