NJPW superstar Kota Ibushi spoke with the NJPW press about his victory in the G1 Climax, and his initial thoughts about this year's annual tournament being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlights from the interview can be found below.
Calls this year's tournament much tougher than last year:
“Last year we had the preview tag matches so I was wrestling more. So I figured this year would be a lot easier, but I actually think it was tougher. Even without the injury, I think this year was tougher. It’s really down to the current situation, you know…”
How he did feel the effects of their being smaller audience noise due to COVID:
“Right. I’ll be honest, I never really felt it before. Even when we were doing the empty arena matches, I really thought I could wrestle the same way whether people were there or not. But in something like this G1, you do feel the effect. It hurts your resilience. That lack of chanting and encouragement makes it harder to keep that mental strength you need to push through. We had applause, but no name yelling, no chants. So it meant there was the same level of noise in a regular league match and in the finals. There wasn’t quite the sense of urgency and the buzz from the crowd there is normally.”
Reflects on G1 Finals match with SANADA:
“It definitely made me think ‘him, huh?’. Come to think of it, just like Naito, it had been a year since I’d faced SANADA. And since we met last year, we had barely touched. I don’t even think in tag matches. This year we weren’t wrestling on days it wasn’t our block, so I didn’t even see his face for a month. Didn’t watch his matches. So it was definitely a strange experience stepping in the ring with him for the first time in over a year.”