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

A new episode means a new summary of Ibushi’s NJPW mobile site-exclusive podcast, “Ibushi’s World”, with commentator Murata Haruo.

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

The episode opens with Murara asking Ibushi how he’s been lately. He says he has been properly doing rehab according to his doctors. He only feels pain from time to time now when he lays his arm flat to his side, and he can move it below the elbow, but not at all above. He isn’t doing weight training or wrestling practice at all right now.

What he has been doing, however, is calligraphy. He has been writing just random characters with a brush pen to get back to normal everyday function with his right arm. He didn’t control what he wrote at first, but there are a lot of kanji apparently that he types on his smartphone that he wouldn’t know how to write in real life, so he has been practicing with those.

Murata says he gets him with those kanji, because he usually writes his memos for commentating by himself, but when there’s an option to write them on a PC and print them out it makes you forget even the most basic kanji if you don’t write them for a while. He thinks that writing practice is probably a good training for your brain as well.

After the intro, Murata stresses that this time, they will really try and get to as many questions as possible from the listeners [something they weren’t really able to do the last few episodes], but before that, he wants to ask Ibushi his opinion on the upcoming New Japan vs Noah event in January of next year.

Ibushi seems a little bit apprehensive. He says he doesn’t know what will happen or how things will go, but also that in this day and age [Corona, etc.] you never know if you can pull off something like this. Murata also remarks that so far, the card is rather small [just six wrestlers announced all in all]. However, tickets have been selling well, and everyone seems very interested in the event, mounting pressure on the wrestlers to deliver.

Ibushi explains that, as much as this is new and exciting, a part of him also feels like pro wrestling still has possibilities to evolve and spread like other sports, and that he has even bigger “dream match” and “big match” cards in mind, like the game-changing inter-promotion war between UWFI and New Japan from the 90s [see my summary for when he talked about that here]. He also feels that, as opposed to back then, pro wrestling in more its own thing these days, and MMA is its own thing, and the two and their fans don’t really mix with the outside world. He remains apprehensive about the event, even if he’s happy tickets are selling and people are looking forward to it.

Explaining further, he thinks that Kiyomiya vs Okada for example is a good match to have on the card, but that he also kind of wants something else, something even bigger and more exciting. He says he hopes for something that is big enough to bring pro wrestling to the attention of the “normal” people outside the wrestling world.

Murata asks him about what kind of opponent he would like to face and what kind of match he would want to have if he wasn’t injured right now, since he was probably scheduled to play a part in the Noah vs New Japan event. Ibushi says he doesn’t really watch Noah, but that if he had to choose something that’s not on the card, he’d like to face Marufuji. He has never faced him in singles. Of course, he’d also like to face Mutô Keiji. He has only faced him in tag matches.

Murata says that Mutô vs Ibushi would probably be one of those things that would make wrestling and New Japan popular with the outside world. Ibushi says that is one of the reasons why he would face someone like Mutô. Maybe after the Yokohama event in the future.

Next, they talk about Best of the Super Junior. Ibushi says that he feels like lately the borders between heavyweight and junior heavyweight have been crumbling, and that it’s often difficult for him to properly see the lines. Murata adds that he feels there’s been a paradigm shift where it’s no longer “if junior heavyweight and heavyweight fought, who would win?” and instead to bring the junior heavyweights to the forefront of New Japan’s mainstream presence.

Ibushi says that he always thought of himself in terms of “openweight” instead of any one weight class. He focused on who he wanted to challenge next, instead of their weight class. Murata adds that Kenny Omega had much the same way of thinking. He goes on to say that as opposed to Ibushi’s way of thinking, put simply, Hiromu and the other juniors want to make this an age where it’s normal and expected for junior heavyweights to be in the main event of the Tokyo Dome.

While Ibushi wasn’t able to wear both the IWGP Junior and Heavyweight belts at the same time, but there were teases of him going against heavyweights as a junior etc, but when asked by Murata he says that he didn’t think at the time juniors would be able to make it as main eventers. However, he could see that with people like Low Ki etc it was slowly becoming that way. He thought that despite how the company wanted to present it, there were times when he definitely thought the juniors were “better” than the heavyweights, at least as a whole.

For Ibushi, it’s sad that people still think there needs to be this clear distinction between the classes, and he thinks that maybe it would be better to make the junior division into an openweight division once it enters the main event scene. In the past, the difference between heavyweights and juniors might have been bigger, especially in size, but that is no longer really the case. Murata admits that the Openweight champions were all heavyweights, and that it’s not like there is a rule forbidding juniors from challenging the World Heavyweight champion. Ibushi says he looks forward to how things in the weight classes are going to develop in New Japan.

Then, they turn to answer questions. The first question asks about the things they talked about, what Ibushi thinks of the current junior division and if they should main event the Tokyo Dome etc and where he thought juniors would evolve when he was still a junior heavyweight, so they skip it. The next question is about the UWFI vs NJPW event again. It asks who Ibushi would have liked to face if he had appeared on that show, and what kind of of match he thinks it would have turned out to be.

Ibushi answers that he would have liked to fight in all the matches on the card. But when prodded by Murata, he says that if he could have only faced one, he would have liked to mix it up with Takada [Nobuhiko]. He feels the most like a proper leader [of UWFI] to Ibushi out of all of them, and it would have been a match with the most weight to winning and losing. Murata expresses that he would have loved to see Takada in his prime against current day Ibushi. They talk some more about how the match would have turned out (Ibushi saying they would beat each other to a pulp), the UWFI event and who would win.

As the discussion moves on to pro wrestling styles and MMA again, Ibushi tells a story from his time at K1 [MMA organization] where he wanted to do a Phoenix Splash. It wasn’t a cognitive decision, and he didn’t know where his opponent would be or from where he would even do it, not to speak of breaking the rules, but he just knew he wanted to get it in there somewhere. Murata says that for someone who thinks like Ibushi, a inter-promotional event is probably really fitting, and Ibushi stresses once more that before that, he plans to fully heal this time.

The last question asks what the most painful experience or move was Ibushi has ever had. Ibushi says at first that his job [as a wrestler] involves pain, so there isn’t really a time when he’s not hurting. Murata interjects that with the recent dislocation it was his first time seeing Ibushi in that much pain. He has seen Ibushi in much pain throughout the years, and in pain from [something that wasn’t physical as well], but if he knew nothing about him, he would say for sure the current dislocation ought to be the most pain Ibushi has ever been in.

Ibushi explains once again that it was an excruciating pain, but that if someone told him to go through it again, he would accept and do it. He goes on to explain that as a child, he experience many times pain that was worse than anything he went through as a wrestler. The dislocation of his left shoulder doesn’t even enter his “top three”. In summation, he doesn’t know what his most painful experience was because there have been so many in his life, particularly as a wrestler, and he can’t rank the different kinds.

Murata says his most painful experience was at the dentist’s, and Ibushi tells a story of how he once had a tooth dislocation [which can usually be permanently fixed by reinserting or correcting the tooth] and, feeling the tooth would fall out anyway, went to pull it out himself, but when he did, it hurt a lot due to the nerve still being attached etc. In the end, he had it reinserted professionally.

They end the episode by talking a bit more about how painful anything related to teeth is, and how Murata knows many wrestlers who are scared of tooth related injuries and injections, and he wonders why that is, because they do so many more dangerous and painful things in the ring. Ibushi himself seems scared of needles, at least, if he doesn’t have time to prepare himself. He’s had times when he moved during injections even though he shouldn’t, and was punished by an extreme pain.