Image © New Japan Pro-Wrestling Co., Ltd.

This is a summary of episode 3 for Ibushi’s NJPW mobile site-exclusive podcast, “Ibushi’s World”, together with commentator Murata Haruo.

As always, [] are annotations by the translator. The original content as well as the image are © New Japan Pro Wrestling.

The episode opens cold with Murata and Ibushi talking about the cheese Murata gave Ibushi. In episode 0 of the podcast, Murata was surprised to learn that Ibushi likes cheese and sent him some as a gift, and at first Ibushi thought he didn’t really like it because it had no taste at all, but then as he was eating it, it started tasting really good and he ate it all before he really knew what had happened, even or why it tasted good.

Murata sent him cheese twice, once a heavier type that Murata can’t remember the name of, to be used with other food and such (but Ibushi ate it all anyway without anything else), and the other time it was a soft type, Saint-Félician. Ibushi loves cheese like this the most (the soft, spreadable type), but the harder one Murata sent him was so good it was his first time really liking cheese like that as well. Ibushi says that normal people probably don’t eat the 100g of a single Saint-Félician in one go, but he did. He tells Murata he’s eagerly waiting for the next delivery.

After the introduction, Murata says that they covered the topics of Ibushi’s injuries and such in the last episode [see my summary here], and that this time they’ll focus on the questions asked by fans, since they didn’t have enough time to answer them properly last time.

The first question one is about something Ibushi mentioned in his autobiography: he cried loudly as a child when he watched the New Japan Pro Wrestling Vs. UWFI [Union of Professional Wrestling Force International] show on 10/9 1995. Ibushi explains that he watched both, or any promotion, really, but that he was a staunch New Japan follower, and that the event was set up like a battle between pro wrestling and martial arts/”shoot fighting”, since UWFI used that as the basis for their style, having different rules etc. He mentions Pancrase and RIZIN as modern examples of mixed martial arts organizations that explain the style of UWFI.

He talks about the first match, which saw the home team of Ishizawa Tokimitsu and Nagata Yûji defeat UWFI’s Kanehara Hiromitsu and Sakuraba Kazushi [watch it here (requires NJPW World subscription)]. He was so captivated when he saw that Kanehara didn’t wear any kind of shoes in the ring, and seeing that kickboxing style suddenly made him realize that this was indeed shoot fighting vs pro wrestling. He wasn’t watching in the Tokyo Dome [where the event was held], but from home in front of his TV, and yet he couldn’t sit down.

When Nagata tagged in, there was a moment where he threatened Kanehara with a German suplex and Kanehara fled to the ropes, and Ibushi remembers being suddenly very excited for the match when he saw how scared Kanehara was of Nagata. He wanted the New Japan team to win so badly, cheering on them from home, and got so excited he was even yelling his own name amidst the names of his favorites in the match.

In particular, the fact that Kanehara didn’t wear shoes made him scared for the New Japan team, because whenever they narrowly evaded his kicks, he was relieved, thinking one of those kicks would mean the end for them. All the excitement and fear throughout the match were what made him cry.

The next match from the same card he talks about is Choshû Riki vs Anjô Yôji [watch it here (requires NJPW World subscription]. Of course, Ibushi was cheering for New Japan’s Choshû, and when he did the match-deciding lariat to Anjô, he cried loudly as well. Murata mentions how the New Japan fans hated Anjô and saw him as unsafe. He thinks that the match was cathartic both from a pro wrestling as well as a mixed martial arts perspective, since Choshû overwhelmed Anjô, who was the time considered the strongest on UWFI’s roster, through grappling and control of his body, and Anjô fought back with swift, brutal kicks.

Murata mentions that he saw the first match in person and goes on to say that the event was probably the closest anyone watching saw to a “real” martial arts fight. Even though New Japan fans were firm believers that New Japan would emerge the stronger in this event, and UWFI fans thought likewise their promotion was the stronger one, he thinks the event was great because it made either side reconsider during the matches by showing the strengths of both, even if fans of their respective promotions tried to hide the fear and respect for the other. Thus, it created a real atmosphere of excitement and tension, which he experienced in the crowd in the back and forth between the roaring fans. Ibushi says he would for sure have been one of the fans yelling down loudly from the rafters.

Ibushi comes back to his match with O-Khan from this year’s G1 [both wrestlers have extensive shoot fighting backgrounds, and the person who asked the question about the UWFI event mentioned this match in the beginning because like the UWFI event, it also took place on 10.9]. He says that the match [watch it here (requires NJPW World subscription] was his expression of that New Japan vs UWFI show, as he had always wanted to incorporate pieces from the entire card top to bottom into a match. In particular, the beginning where he and O-Khan wrestle for control with standing kicks and strikes is inspired by the opening tag bout.

Incidentally, the next question would have asked about that exact match and if the meaning behind Ibushi’s figure-four leglock later in that match was indeed inspired by the main event of the UWFI show [in which Mutô Keiji defeated Takada Nobuhiko to defend the IWGP Heavyweight title]. He used it because he thought Mutô sort of revived the figure-four on that day, as well as the dragonscrew, and ultimately the figure-four—a pro-wrestling hold if there ever was one—was what brought the champion the win. As a child he just wanted Mutô to win by any means necessary, having been so fired up by the matches up until then and the desire to have New Japan stand victorious over UWFI.

Murata says that even he as a fan and layman at the time could understand how much force and hurt was behind the dragonscrew, and Ibushi emphasizes once more that that moment in the match really made him jump high and cry in excitement. Everyone encourages the fans and listeners to watch the matches from that show. [I can’t understand the first part because of the echo-y audio, but I think they also talk about putting on some kind of watch party with Ibushi and the New Japan vs UWFI show, and Ibushi says he’s scared he’ll cry in front of everyone].

At the end, the talk shifts to the topic of the match between New Japan’s Hashimoto Shinya and Takada [watch it here (requires NJPW World subscription], where Hashimoto recaptured the belt from Takada during the infamous UWFI invasion angle. Both Murata and Ibushi seem enamored with Hashimoto and the Three Musketeers [the stable of Mutô, Hashimoto and Chôno], and Ibushi cites the match as responsible for making him fall in love with Hashimoto. Again, it was the submission move that made him most excited as a child, in this case Hashimoto’s Triangle Choke.

The episode ends with Murata being surprised by how fast time has passed and declaring that at this rate they won’t get through a lot of questions at all. They agree however to cover one more question: and this one asks if Ibushi has a routine before his matches.

Ibushi answers that he doesn’t have any particular routine, and that he just gets ready/warmed up. He says that if makes a routine plan and then doesn’t do it, it just makes him anxious. He used to have some plans for routines before, but doesn’t anymore. He was scared of being unable to do them for lack of time etc, and then become nervous and anxious. Before big matches, his routine used to be to do around 100 push-ups, but he stopped for the aforementioned reasons.