Tetsuya Naito opens up about NJPW G1 Climax 33 victory, right eye issues & knee troubles

Photo Courtesy: New Japan Pro-Wrestling

Naito gets candid about where he’s at physically and his G1 victory. 

The 2023 NJPW G1 Climax tournament wrapped up with Tetsuya Naito versus Kazuchika Okada in the finals. In the end, it was Naito besting Okada to win his third G1 tourney

After Naito’s win, he went out to eat with Tokyo Sports reporter Yusuke Okamoto. Okamoto was able to get exclusive notes from Naito for an article he put together on Tokyo Sports’ website. Naito shared that he’s dealing with right eye problems again. He underwent eye surgery in 2022. When he came back to the ring, he said he had a total of six surgeries, two of which he’s chosen not to publicly disclose. 

Prior to the G1, Naito went to Mexico to be a part of NJPW x CMLL Fantasticamania and wrestled at several more CMLL events. He knee was giving him trouble and it began to swell. That pain eventually lessened and Naito went into the G1 14 days after wrapping up that tour in Mexico. 

Circling back to his eye issues, Naito deals with superior oblique palsy. The following note about superior oblique palsy is from the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus website:

The fourth cranial nerve innervates the superior oblique muscle, so weakness of the nerve is also known as superior oblique palsy. Weakness of the superior oblique muscle causes misalignment of the eyes. Misalignment is most often vertical, but can also be horizontal and torsional. Palsy refers to a complete weakness of a muscle while a paresis is a partial weakness. This condition is usually unilateral (one eye) but can be bilateral (both eyes). In bilateral cases, it may asymmetrically affect one eye more than the other. 

He stated that things are going back to how they were pre-operation. At the age of 41, Naito said he’s becoming more concerned.

The three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion expressed how everything he’s gone through/going through physically makes him want to appreciate being in the moment. He revealed that two years ago, his grandfather passed away during the G1 Climax tournament and last year, his grandmother passed. Pre-pandemic, Naito’s grandfather would come to shows. 

His grandfather was at the Tokyo Dome for Wrestle Kingdom 14 in 2020. On night two, Naito defeated Okada to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Title and become Heavyweight Champion. He did not get to do his signature sign-off, ‘De! Ja! Pon!’ because he was ambushed by KENTA

He wonders if the audience will be able to shout without masks at the Tokyo Dome on January 4th, 2024. Naito said it may have been his ‘destino’ to win the G1 and have that moment. 

Jeff Cobb approached Tetsuya Naito following his win. Naito has the right to challenge for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom but he must hold onto it in order to keep his title match secure. Cobb defeated Naito in their first match of this year’s G1.

About Andrew Thompson 8250 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.