NJPW: Naito’s reflections of his time in Los Ingobernables de Japon

They have become one of the most notable factions in wrestling today. In both North America and Japan, Los Ingobernables de Japon has emerged as a powerful group. They have engaged in rivalries with some of the biggest names in wrestling from all over the world. In their three short years of existence, the group has been embraced by fans everywhere. The faction is just as successful as their leader, Tetsuya Naito. Naito‘s character is of someone who apparently doesn’t care and is disenchanted, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. His rise in New Japan Pro Wrestling has been a gradual one, but his time in LIJ has cemented his place in NJPW’s present and future. The group includes the likes of EVIL, Sanada, Bushi, and Hiromu Takahashi.

During his time as leader of the group, he has faced obstacles both big and small. One of the most recent was a blindside attack at the hands of Chris Jericho, leading to a match between the two at NJPW’s Dominion. The animosity between Jericho and Naito began when the two, in separate interviews, had heated words for the others during the build for their matches at this past January’s Wrestle Kingdom event. The reason for their mutual animosity was with each thought their WK match was the main event. In the end, Naito did not retain the IWGP Intercontinental championship but rather lost it to Jericho. While the loss could have been seen as a setback, it could simply be part of the narrative that Los Ingobernables de Japan continues to tell.

Before this match took place, the date of May 27th was etched in Naito’s memory for not only being the anniversary of his time in NJPW but something equally if not more meaningful. In a post-match interview during NJPW’s recent Best of the Super Juniors Tournament, when Naito was still champion, he reflected on his time with the company. He focused, in particular, the formation and rise of LIJ in 2015. His comments are below:

No, no, no. Hey, today is Veintisiete de Mayo. It’s May 27th. Okamoto, from Tokyo Sports, I had you do homework yesterday, didn’t I? Now, do you know what today is? The day I debuted. Oh! In 2006, on this day, I debuted in Osaka. Was there anything else besides that? There was something else important to me, right? It’s my 12 year anniversary, right? Hey, hey, hey…how long have we known each other? I treat you as my amigo, that’s why I always take you to family restaurants.

Pay me back for all the minutes I used to call you. I’m serious. May 27th…2015 that was the day I received a Los Ingobernables T-shirt from La Sombra. In Mexico. That was the day I joined Los Ingobernables. That was the day I took a big step and found my voice. Even today, I had flashbacks to that day. It meant so much to me. Uh-oh, I did it again, I talked too much. As one of the fans, I’m enjoying this year’s SUPER Jr’s. The tournament matches are about to start. I gotta go. Then, Okamoto…I‘ll see you at the convenience store…I mean…at the family restaurant. I’ll see you guys in two days, in Tochigi. Adios.

His mood was jovial, as it should be. Throughout the world, Los Ingobernables de Japon continues to generate a reaction. His comments might have led some to believe that he would become quite emotional over the faction’s overall success. He knew within himself when he introduced the group to Japan that he was taking a step forward, and had truly found out who he was and his worth. Over the course of the past three years, from the inception of the faction to today. Naito has taken this model that he brought to Japan and led it to new heights. With the support of the aforementioned group members, Naito has continued to be successful. His appreciation for what LIJ has meant to him and how important it has been in his career cannot go unnoticed.

There are of course other factions in NJPW such as Chaos and Bullet Club in the company, but they do not have foreign origins like LIJ. For those unaware of how Los Ingoberables began, it was in 2014, when former NWA World Historic Welterweight Champion La Sombra, currently performing in WWE as Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas, came together with La Mascara and Rush in CMLL. Naito had the distinction of being made a member of the faction during an excursion to Mexico where he did a tour with CMLL. Naito is indeed a reflection of someone who cannot be ‘governed’.

He continues to be a prominent part of New Japan Pro Wrestling. With the support of those around him, taking part in meaningful and compelling matches, he has been pushing the LIJ brand forward, and there really isn’t anything stopping them. While members of factions may come and go, Naito‘s leadership and commitment suggest he isn’t going anywhere. Los Ingobernables de Japon is as much a part of Naito as Naito is a part of them. His success is mirrored by the rest of the faction as almost all of them have held titles. As well, with any good leader Naito will embrace the success of others in the faction.