The boxing legend ended up sending in a video instead.
This past May, New Japan Pro-Wrestling shared a video of Manny Pacquiao wishing TJP good luck in the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. TJP once trained with Pacquiao and played pickup basketball with him while TJP was still with WWE.
When Pacquiao sent that message in, he was in Japan and TJP attempted to get Pacquiao to appear at one of the Best of the Super Junior events at Korakuen Hall. He had been in contact with members of Pacquiao’s team and although the in-person appearance was not able to be lined up, Pacquiao sent a video instead. TJP recounted this story while on the All Real Wrestling Podcast.
Everybody was really excited to see Manny’s greeting and obviously it was really special to me and I didn’t know — I was actually working on seeing if he would come as a guest at Korakuen Hall because he was in Tokyo during the Super Juniors for a marathon I think, maybe a charity or something like that so he was there for, I don’t know, maybe a week but the Super Juniors tour was up in the north cities at the time and so we were coming home for a three-day stretch in Tokyo. Those were those Korakuen Hall shows and I was contacting with Team Pacquiao which is really who I knew better is guys from Pacquiao’s team. I’ve only met Manny a couple of times and the basketball game you were talking about, we played pickup basketball after training. I got to train with him one day. That was still when I was in WWE and so I was talking with my friends in Team Pacquiao and they were saying, ‘Well, you know, Manny’s in Tokyo right now. Send us your schedule. We’ll see what comes up.’ But they told me he had to leave actually the day before we were gonna return to Tokyo so I was like, ‘Okay, well that’s fine’ and I had a bunch of Team Pacquiao members as guests at Korakuen Hall, specifically the night that I wrestled Robbie [Eagles] because I wanted them to meet Robbie. They didn’t realize that Robbie had a connection to the culture too, you know? And they surprised me, they said, ‘Listen, Manny recorded this video so here you go…’ New Japan said, ‘Hey, can we put this up?’ I said, ‘Sure’ and yeah, it was very surprising. I don’t think anybody was as excited as Henare though. Aaron was the most excited.
— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) May 23, 2022
TJP is one-half of the reigning IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions with Francesco Akira. Back in August, Akira shared that he is not under contract with New Japan and in this new interview, TJP stated that he is not under contract either. They work with NJPW on a per tour basis and they sign contracts for specific tours.
No, neither one of us are [TJP nor Francesco Akira are signed to NJPW]. It’s like the Cruiserweight Classic all over again. We’re both gonna go to Monday Nitro with their titles and see if we can make a counter offer.
So we do sign tour contracts. I don’t know if that’s maybe something that people don’t realize. We kind of are under contract for short periods of time. The contracts will last a month, two months, three months, something like that.
Both Akira and TJP are on the ‘Burning Spirit’ tour which wraps up on September 25th. They’ll be defending their titles on that show against Ryusuke Taguchi and Master Wato, who they defeated for the belts in June.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit the All Real Wrestling Podcast with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.