This is my translation of an interview with Ibushi Kôta and Kenny Omega for Weekly Pro Wrestling in November 2010.

As always, () denote additions by the original publication, while [] denote additions by me

An Unusual Amount of Calls and Emails

It’s been two weeks since [you two] won the IWGP [Junior Tag] belts of your dreams. Is there anything in the way you feel that has changed?

Ibushi: The joy hasn’t changed. And it still hasn’t really sunk in that we won [the belts]. I’m doing as I always do without much of a difference. But the response from [our] surroundings has changed a bit.

Kenny: I like that as champions, we get to order people around while acting all high and mighty. Hahaha, of course that’s a joke.

What did you do on the evening of the day you won?

Ibushi: That evening…I went to eat with Kenny and everyone else. It wasn’t anything special, just what we always do. It felt like just as it always does when we go [out to eat] after matches.

Kenny: Oh, yeah, that’s right, we put on the belts while eating (laughs).

Ibushi: No, we didn’t. [He’s] just joking around. We put the belts safely away in our bags.

What did you do when you got home?

Ibushi: I was surprised at the unusual amount of calls and emails I got. It was mostly from numbers and addresses I didn’t know. I [spent the night] answering those. It took several hours.

Kenny: I too got a lot of emails, but the first thing I did was reply to my dad. But I couldn’t help but wonder how he’d known so fast, even though he was so far away in Canada. He must be psychic.

…Did you, Ibushi, [talk] to your parents?

Ibushi: I contacted them the next day. They seemed happy we were able to win, and that made me happy too. I contacted some of my close friends too, and they all already knew, and congratulated me.

Kenny: I’m really happy that there were people who said they cried when we won, who believed in us. That’s why I want to make our next defense a match that has the same amount of impact on people. I’m certain President Takagi was happy.

Did you take a look at yourselves with the belts on in the mirror?

Ibushi: No, I haven’t done that, but I have taken pictures. Then I laid it out on the desk as usual. Just for three days. It’s a precious item, so I have it stored away in the office [at DDT].

Kenny: I live in the DDT dorm right now, so my roommate Tsumaki took pictures, but I was afraid he was gonna do something unnecessary, so I wrapped the belt in a towel and hid it behind my gear in my bag. I hope he hasn’t found it.

The Best Tag Team in the World

You had matches after you won the belts, but is there anything different compared to before?

Kenny: Before we had to prove ourselves and show the fans something new every time. But now, everyone knows that we are good wrestlers. I think that’s what’s different.

Ibushi: I thought there wasn’t anything different at first, but lately when wrestling matches, I’ve come to realize how prestigious the New Japan Pro Wrestling belts are. More than I thought. It’s like, more and more people approach me. I was surprised at that. I thought, maybe it’s crazy to do so many crazy things in a lot of ways. I used to just go out there without giving it a thought, but this has made me think a bit.

So you want to say you learned?

Ibushi: [No,] I’m good. ‘Cause I’ve already [fully] improved. There’s nothing more I [can learn] from here.

It’s decided that you, fully improved Ibushi, and Kenny, will have your first defense against Apollo 55.

Ibushi: I’m surprised. I said I didn’t care who we would fight, but I didn’t think it would be the same match-up again. Well, we already won [against them] once, so we can win again. I feel like we can come up with even better tag moves than we did for Ryôgoku, because we have had matches since then, and our teamwork has improved as well. The four of us are on the same wavelength, so it’s going to be an interesting match. But I think we are the more complete package of a tag team.

Kenny: We’re going to prove we are the best team. Not just as Juniors or in New Japan, but the best in the world. We don’t always train or wrestle together, but we are always thinking about the team. At times when Ibushi is injured, he’s still my number one priority. Now that people’s eyes are on the IWGP [Junior Tag belts], I want to defend the titles and prove we aren’t a fluke.

It’s Like Dancing

Tell us your impressions of Prince Devitt and Taguchi Ryûsuke again.

Ibushi: Taguchi is great. He can align himself with the opponent’s pace. He moves plenty on his own, but in the end he gets moved [to where he needs to be] by his opponent. I don’t really know why that is.
I have a feeling me and Devitt have something in common in our thinking. It’s just a little bit, but something’s overlapping. That’s why [I think] we are on the same wavelength.

What do you have in common?

Ibushi: We are the New Japan Juniors [who watched the wrestling] of the 90s. That’s what we are like. It feels like the things he likes about the wrestling he watched are the same as the things I like about the wrestling I watched. It’s fun to wrestle someone like that, but it might be that we push each other beyond our limits and destroy each other. But, it’s [still] fun [at the same time].

Kenny: I think they are us, but in New Japan. But in my head, I picture us always winning against them, even if we wrestle a thousand times. If Devitt has one advantage, it’s that the ring is his home turf. It may sound strange, since I challenged him and lost, but it wasn’t that he overwhelmed me. Anyone could have won that match. I’m gonna win the next one.
Taguchi is our opponent, but I don’t actually hate him. I like him, and that dance with him was one of my favorites. It has nothing to do with winning or losing. Whenever I’m in a match, it always feels like dancing with my opponent.

I understand this [upcoming title defense] is going to be the first time a [team from] DDT will ever have had a big match in Ôsaka.

Ibushi: Lately, we haven’t had matches outside of the Kantô region [the region where Tôkyô is located] where we gave it our all, so I want to show the fans in Ôsaka a brutal bout.

Kenny: I’m sure there are fans who wanted to see us at Ryôgoku as well, but who were too far away. The matches in Ryôgoku are special, but this time Ôsaka is going to be special too. And also I want to add that DDT flavor to [the match].

What’s that DDT flavor?

Kenny: It’s taking the energy from the fans, and putting on the good match that they want. I know DDT fans will come [to see this], because in this title match we’ll be the home team. There’s a certain atmosphere to being the away team in a match, and this time it’s [Apollo 55’s] turn to feel how that feels. Of course we’ll win, and put on a great match. If there are fans who watch both matches, I want to have a match that shows them the difference.

I Want to Defend the Titles in the Snow

You have said before that you are going to ride the taxi in the middle of the match to Dôtonbori [famous street in Ôsaka], right?

Ibushi: I gave up on Dôtonbori. It’s too cold and stuff. Where we went for today’s shooting, that pretty much satisfied me. It feels like I got what I wanted.

Kenny: Ibushi suggested [coming here], so I don’t care.

You said that you want to defend the titles in a lot of different locations, but is there anywhere you’d want to have a match outside of in a river?

Ibushi: In the snow.

You have a thing for snow?

Ibushi: No. It doesn’t really snow in Kagoshima, and I have never played in the snow [as a kid]. I haven’t had those things, so I’m not used to [snow]. It wouldn’t hurt if you fought in the snow, no matter what you did.

What if they [brought the snow] from up north?

Ibushi: No! I don’t want anything man-made or something like that, I want [to have a match] at a place where it snowed naturally. If it snows on the day of the Ôsaka show then I’m gonna wrestle outside. I hope that happens. But it’s not snowing yet. If we defend in November and then the next title match is in December or something, I’m having a match in a snowy region somewhere.

What about Canada, where Kenny’s from?

Ibushi: That would be great.

Kenny: I thought, that sounds like Canada when he said snow match. I often play-wrestled in the snow as a kid. That sounds good to me. I have more techniques now too as a proper wrestler. I’m really curious what would happen if the guys who have those top-level moves were to fight in the snow.

Do you have any other plans?

Ibushi: I want to fight in the New Japan office, or on a train.

Kenny: I like the snow match. Ibushi, next time you think of something, talk to me about it.

Ibushi: (closes his eyes and tilts his head down [in affirmation])