New Japan Pro Wrestling legend Hiroshi Tanahashi has shared his feelings on Brock Lesnar.
Speaking to NJPW’s website as part of the Aces High series of interviews about his career, Tanahashi detailed his thoughts on Brock Lesnar, after a match between the two was cancelled in 2006.
“I’ve been through my fair share of bumps in the road in my career, but this was a huge shock. I remember we were in Kushiro when we found out; I was in the locker room when I heard [former NJPW head booker Riki] Choshu bellowing in the room next door ‘what the f***!’ kind of thing. Then a few minutes later one of the young boys comes over and says ‘Tanahashi, Mr. Choshu wants a word with you’. I was thinking ‘oh, boy.’
“I go in there and he says ‘Lesnar’s not coming’. I was just stunned, like the world had gone into darkness in front of me. I never knew the real ins and outs of the contract issue, but I do know he had a really special money situation going on, and I would imagine that was what was at the heart of it. It was really an unprecedented set of circumstances when it comes to IWGP title matches."
Lesnar was IWGP Heavyweight Champion, and after disposing of Shinsuke Nakamura and Giant Bernard (WWE’s Albert) Tanahashi was next in line to attempt to end Lesnar’s reign. However the match was not to be, as Lesnar left NJPW in a cloud of controversy, with contractual and Visa issues playing a part in The Beast’s exit.
“To be brutally honest, I could never get into any of what I saw of Lesnar.” Continued Tanahashi, “It was all one sided, a completely selfish way of wrestling. I saw him come up in the early 2000s, and he was just pounding people, you never got to see anything from his opponents. I just didn’t understand his deal at all.
“I think to be honest Lesnar didn’t really care where he was wrestling as long as he got his payoff. That wasn’t the case with Bernard and other foreign guys like that. It really took me aback that there was someone who cared absolutely nothing for the place they were working. That was part of my motivation for that match.”