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Hiroshi Tanahashi Reflects on Anger Toward Antonio Inoki’s Leadership for NJPW in Early 2000s

September 30, 2020 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Hiroshi Tanahashi

NJPW1972.com recently interviewed Hiroshi Tanahashi, who discussed an incident in Hokkaido on February 1, 2002 with Antonio Inoki and being fed up with Antonio Inoki’s leadership. Below are some highlights.

Hiroshi Tanahashi on the incident: “Right. Wow, 18 years ago now… At least in the end, I bore those words out, but I wasn’t really thinking much at the time. Yeah, I was pissed off. Really pissed off [at Inoki]. Yeah. If I were to say how I felt I would have told him ‘this whole thing is f***ed up’. He would have said ‘who are you mad at?’ and I would have said ‘you’. But I just couldn’t be as straightforward as that.”

Tanahashi on being fed up at the time: “That’s what Inoki’s vision for NJPW was at the time.”

On the criticism being put toward NJPW at the time: “I don’t want to speak all that ill about my own company, but… I think in the Inoki-ist mindset that was a way of bringing new support into NJPW, but in the end it only became a negative. … It was like our own boss was saying ‘don’t buy what we’re putting out, it’s s**t.'”

Tanahashi on Inoki pushing the concept of Strong Style: “I don’t think I ever really understood what it was. I think then, and now, I really just see it as just some words, branding. Marketing strategy really. A long way back, I did an interview with Inoki for Weekly Playboy magazine. I asked him just that same question, what Strong Style meant. He said ‘that? That’s just something everybody just started saying and it got carried away’ (laughs).”