For the second year in a row, Tetsuya Naito has been voted MVP by the Tokyo Sports editorial board. He is only the fifth person to ever win the award two consecutive years.
Naito accepted the award at a banquet yesterday and made some bold claims in regards to what winning the awards means for him.
NJPW recently transcribed his acceptance speech.
Tetsuya Naito Tokyo Sports MVP Acceptance Speech
‘Representing New Japan Pro Wrestling and Los Ingobernables De Japon, your Tokyo Sports MVP is Tetsuya Naito. I’d like to thank the Tokyo Sports editorial board for naming me MVP. A lot of people saw me and Los Ingobernables De Japon as a flash in the pan, that just as quickly as we got popular, it’d all be over. Yet here I am, only the fifth in history to win this award two years straight. And I did this in a year where the IWGP champion held his belt from start to finish. What that means is that I exist on another plane. It means that Tetsuya Naito is bigger than the IWGP Championship. That’s not arrogance talking; that’s something that I’ve proven to everyone.
See, there’s one thing that I’ve said a lot recently: if you don’t speak your mind, you won’t get your feelings across to anyone. You might fly high, or you might crash and burn; no-one knows. But if you want to make a change, you need to not worry about the risks and take that first step. If there’s one message I want to transcend wrestling and get through to everyone out there, it’s that courage to take the first step. “
Asked about possibly surpassing current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada, here is what Naito had to say:
In my mind, I’ve already surpassed him, it’s just that now the numbers are finally agreeing. But make no mistake: I will be here this time next year having won MVP for the third year in a row. Look, Okada is tough, and I respect that, for sure. Toughness is the most important quality in a pro wrestler. But there’s a few areas where Okada comes up short, right? Naito has what Okada doesn’t. That’s why even if he stays champion he can’t be MVP. And if he doesn’t step up in those areas, I’ll be an easy pick for MVP again.