Kazuchika Okada: "We Can Make 2020 A Banner Year For Pro Wrestling, Still"
A little optimism from "The Rainmaker"
Five-time IWGP Heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada took part in an interview for NJPW's website, offering his perspective on current world events.
In regards to social distancing and the crackdown on large gatherings due to the possible spread of coronavirus, Okada spoke about the challenge that wrestlers would face working in empty venues.
While agreeing that the distancing is wholly necessary, Okada notes, "Wrestling involves a lot of punishment. A lot of bumps, a lot of moves you have to take from opponents. To not have that encouragement of a live crowd, I’m not sure how I’d deal with that.
"If someone takes a hell of a chop, say. You feel and hear that contact but there’s no reaction, no encouragement. I’m not sure in an empty environment that a wrestler can give all they have, and give any audience something they’d be happy with. I know the audience reaction is incredibly important to me. It’s a reaction from a live crowd that makes me know whether I’m having a good match."
But Okada remains optimistic that life will return to normal, saying to New Japan's supporters, "Save all that emotion up. It’s not like we’re going away forever. Not just the fans, but the wrestlers, the staff, all of us have a lot of pent up tension, and when the time’s right I want us all to release that, all at once.
"I think in a way, we can make 2020 a banner year for pro-wrestling, still."