Jushin Thunder Liger weighs in on Hiroshi Tanahashi becoming President of NJPW

Photo Courtesy: New Japan Pro-Wrestling

Liger chimes in. 

Hiroshi Tanahashi is officially the President and Representative Director of New Japan Pro-Wrestling. He’s given his formal comments about taking on the role and he’ll be addressing the public again at Wrestle Kingdom 18. 

Jushin Thunder Liger chimed in on Tanahashi’s new role and it was the focus of his latest blog post for Tokyo Sports. Liger was surprised to read the news but at the same time, he knows Tanahashi was one of the key pieces to the revival of New Japan. He added that Tanahashi is honest and never lies. Liger wonders how the eight-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion is going to balance his in-ring and office duties. 

He believes the number of matches Tanahashi participates in should be limited, but said Tanahashi is smart and has probably thought about everything he’s needed to think about. Liger feels there are advantages to a promotion being led by a wrestler, but said Vince McMahon was able to further build WWE because of his flexible ideas which stemmed from him not being a wrestler. Liger said the AWA and NWA were led by active wrestlers and those promotions did not survive. He closed by saying he has high hopes for Tanahashi.

Well, I was surprised (by Hiroshi Tanahashi becoming NJPW President). But when I think about it, Tanahashi was one of the key figures in reviving New Japan Pro-Wrestling after it hit rock bottom. I think the company has high expectations for him to lift New Japan’s momentum in the current situation where the number of customers is a bit down.

Hiroshi Tanahashi is a very honest man, and he never lies. He is a great human being…

In my past life as a pro-wrestler, I thought it was enough to think only about myself. Now, you have to lead the entire company. You have to think about the employees and their families. You also have relationships with other organizations… Considering the number of matches New Japan has now, I think it would be difficult to do it all at the same time.

Looking back, I think (Tatsumi) Fujinami’s time (as President & wrestler) was a bit half-hearted, so I think it would be better to limit the number of matches to some extent. Tanahashi is a smart person, and I think he is thinking about that part.

In recent years, wrestlers have not been involved in the management of New Japan. Of course, I think there are advantages to being the first wrestler and President in 19 years since Fujinami, but this is also subtle: WWE succeeded because of Vince McMahon’s flexible ideas because he was not a wrestler. They brought Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper into the ring and so on, and they gained new fans. In contrast, the NWA and AWA, which declined in the 80s, were all led by wrestlers. Like Verne Gagne, for example.

Tanahashi can think in a way that only a wrestler can, so of course we can expect a better communication with the field. But now there is a balance with the sales and administrative staff, and we also have to adapt to the temperament of today’s fans. I think it will be more difficult than you can imagine to manage that while fighting. Even Mr. Fujinami, whom Tanahashi looks up to as his mentor, experienced difficulties in his concurrent role. He also has the responsibility to finalize New Japan’s vision for the future.

Of course, there is nothing better than success. I have very high expectations for Tanahashi… 

If Tanahashi can create an environment in which he can take a leadership role, I think the organization will improve greatly. How will the ‘Tanahashi Cabinet’ move New Japan Pro-Wrestling? And how will the cabinet be formed? I’d like to keep an eye on it. Being a wrestler and President is definitely tough. That is why I wish him all the best.

At Wrestle Kingdom 18, Tanahashi is going to be challenging Zack Sabre Jr. for the NJPW World Television Championship. 

Tanahashi is currently one-third of the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions with Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii. 

About Andrew Thompson 8465 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.