New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Hiroshi Tanahashi has spoken of his admiration of WWE star Daniel Bryan.
In the latest edition of the ongoing English language blog-come-autobiography, Ace’s High, Tanahashi recalled competing against the-then ‘American Dragon’ Bryan Danielson:
I remember that match, in Kobe World Hall! Danielson was just such a wrestler’s wrestler. To the very model; an orthodox opening, moving onto rope work, progressively bringing in bigger moves. He’s younger than me, but I was able to learn so much by wrestling him.
He’s great. A smaller guy, but so strong, put together, and an expert on the mat. He wholly deserved to be a top guy.
The contest took place back in 2004, with Tanahashi picking up the win via a bridging dragon suplex, and remains the pair’s only in-ring encounter.
Elsewhere in the blog, The Ace cast his mind back to life under Antonio Inoki and one particular occasion where the NJPW founder perhaps overstepped his boundaries.
Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura, both years off their respective peaks, were voted into the main event of an Osaka Dome card by the New Japan faithful.
However Inoki had other ideas and quickly vetoed the match. Tanahashi remarked:
It was a complete pain in the ass. I think at this point people had just about had enough with Inoki’s meddling.
(Of Inoki suggesting the bout wouldn’t draw) I don’t think me or Nakamura were anywhere near showing what we were capable of at that point, but even so, it really felt like we were fumbling around in the dark and fed bullshit the whole time.
Instead, the future multiple time IWGP champion was paired with Hiroyoshi Tenzan against the team of Toshiaki Kawada and Naoya Ogawa, the latter of whom had previously been involved in a vicious encounter with Shinya Hashimoto.
On January 4th, 1999, real life judoka Ogawa reportedly shot on Hashimoto, pummeling the unsuspecting grappler with strikes throughout.
The incident was not lost on Tanahashi, who admitted his reluctance in working with Ogawa:
I was caught between being in such a foul mood and knowing I had to do my best with the match. I do remember Ogawa using an overhead judo takedown and me popping right back up.
Post match, The Ace had some choice words for the former judoka, referring to him as a ‘no-name with no ability’:
I was bitter, straight up.
I still couldn’t let that match with Shinya Hashimoto slide.
I couldn’t forgive that. It was a mess, and the press were siding with Ogawa over the whole thing. Pro-wrestling is supposed to be about the two of you, it’s supposed to be about thinking of your opponent, but Ogawa was only in it for himself. He wasn’t thinking about the business at all. And I think in the long run, it ruined Hashimoto’s career.