By virtue of his victory over David Finlay in the finals of the New Japan Cup USA tournament, KENTA earns a shot at IWGP United States champion Jon Moxley.
Both KENTA and Moxley had very different paths through WWE in the previous decade: the latter enjoyed residence at or near the top of the main roster for years, while the former struggled in developmental, in part due to injuries.
KENTA told Sports Illustrated that he was motivated to win the tournament, because he covets the opportunity to face Moxley, while looking to erase some chapters from his past.
"I said many times that I'm going to prove that I'm the best pro wrestler in this business," said KENTA. "That's why I'm here. I've had ridiculous past feelings here in America, and I want to get rid of that humiliation. That's why this tournament is a great opportunity for me.
And I want to get the [IWGP US Title] belt from Moxley. Honestly, a few years ago, Moxley and I were at different levels. But I don't feel like that now."
He adds, "I'm going to be the first-ever Japanese IWGP U.S. Champion, and I'll bring that belt to a higher level. I've never forgotten my American humiliation. If I have the belt, it will get more attention from both Japanese and American fans."