Tetsuya Naito is undoubtedly one of the most accomplished stars in the history of NJPW, who has seen great heights over the last few years. He is set to headline Wrestle Kingdom next year but it appears Naito has acknowledged that his career is nearing its end.

Tetsuya Naito won this year’s G1 Climax tournament, after defeating the likes of Will Ospreay and Kazuchika Okada in order to book his ticket to the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 18 next year.

At the age of 41, Naito still has a lot left in the tank. While speaking with NJPW, the former IWGP Heavyweight Champion acknowledged that he is nearing the end of his in-ring career.

“I said as much on the mic, but I hate the word ‘forever’. Time waits for no man, after all. I heard that talk when I watched the match back on World. But to give the flip side to that comment, I was at Ryogoku as a fan when Chono [Masahiro Chono] won his last (in 2005), and backstage when Tanahashi [Hiroshi Tanahashi] won his last (2018). I think if you put Chono at 41 against Tanahashi at 41 and me at 41, I’m better than them, and I have more in the tank.


Well, if you watch those other matches back, they’re a lot less mobile at that point than I am now, I reckon. I definitely feel I have a lot further to go yet. At the same time, I know my time is limited. I have knee troubles, eye troubles. The end of the line, that image of retirement that was so far away for so long is now coming into focus a little. But I think that’s just another reason to enjoy where I am as a wrestler and to live in the now, right now. I need to make the most of every moment. That’s not just in the ring, either. Being in the gym, it’s a big motivator for me to push harder, knowing I can’t afford to delay anything.”

Tetsuya Naito is set to square off against Jeff Cobb at NJPW Destruction In Kobe on September 24. It remains to be seen when the legendary NJPW wrestler will finally hang up his pro wrestling boots.

Will you be sad when Tetsuya Naito retires? What’s your favorite Naito match? Let us know in the comments!

Subhojeet Mukherjee

Subhojeet is a professional wrestling fan for over 22 years. He got captivated by the sport during the Monday Night Wars and has a passion for it ever since. He also enjoys TV shows, movies, anime, novels and music, which broadens his perspective and appreciation for wrestling. He is a knowledgeable and respected voice in the industry.

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