At around 4PM this afternoon, New Japan held a press conference at the Marukai in Gardena for the G1 Special USA shows happening this weekend in Long Beach. The press conference was hosted by Christian Cole of CWFH fame, and featured the following stars of New Japan:
- Hangman Page
- Jay Lethal
- Zack Sabre Jr.
- Juice Robinson
- Tetsuya Naito
- Tomohiro Ishii
- “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega
- “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin
- Billy Gunn
- Hiroshi Tanahashi
- “The American Nightmare” Cody
- “The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada
The first part of the press conference had the eight men competing in the IWGP United States Championship tournament appear to give a statement about the weekend. Highlights include Page addressing his round one opponent Lethal, who in turn said he planned on winning this title and going on to become a two-time ROH Champion; Naito promising he’d toss the belt in the trash; and words between Omega and Elgin, or as Elgin himself put it, “two Canadians competing in New Japan Pro Wrestling for the United States Championship.”
Next up, Billy Gunn and Tanahashi came out to sign the contract for their Intercontinental Championship encounter on Night Two of the weekend. Gunn expressed gratitude for being able to compete in New Japan, but promised he was planning to defeat Tanahashi for the belt on Sunday. Tanahashi responded by saying he would “solve the mystery of Billy Gunn.”
The final part of the press conference had the men fighting for the IGWP Heavyweight Championship come out, first the challenger Cody and then the champion Okada. Cody said he respected the accomplishments of the champion, who’s held the title for 372 days. Cody then addressed the concerns of those who wondered why he got so many breaks, merely saying it’s because of who he is. The champion thanked the crowd for coming, and assured them he planned to retain the belt on Saturday night. With that, the two men signed their contact, and the press conference concluded.
I had an absolute blast going to this press conference. I’m glad NJPW allowed this to be open to the public, it was fun to see some of the stars competing in Long Beach this weekend. I even bumped into Kevin Kelly, who does commentary for ROH and has been doing English commentary for some of the recent NJPW events aired on New Japan World. I’m bummed I couldn’t get tickets to see this live, but I’m definitely going to watch it on AXS TV and New Japan World this weekend. I highly recommend you do the same, this is bound to be an amazing weekend of wrestling!
Here’s a look at some photos I took from today: https://flic.kr/s/aHskYg67YE