Perhaps Al Pacino said it best in Scarface when he explicitly proclaimed that the world needs bad guys. When it comes to the world of professional wrestling, the success of an entertaining show depends on bad guys to give birth to heroes. But unlike wrestlers from the West, who would need little cajoling to get them to describe how they’ll crush their enemies in graphic detail, the Japanese proclivity for being polite can surprisingly be found even in two of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) most celebrated titans, Tetsuya Naito and BUSHI of team Los Ingobernables de Japon (The Ungovernables of Japan). Their name – a souvenir from their time in Mexico competing against Lucha Libre wrestlers – would have you believe that they bow to no one, but their bashful demeanour and cheery temperament present a very different side to the villains outside of the arena. Stopping by our shores before returning for the earth-shaking Wrestling World 2016 tournament in Singapore on November 15, the pair fill us in on how being bad feels so good.
What got you both into wrestling?
Testuya Naito: My father was a big fan of pro wrestling, so we watched matches together. When I was 15 years old, I became determined to become a pro wrestler.
BUSHI: I was 18 when I decided to become a New Japan Pro Wrestler.
What were the first moves you learnt? Did you try to emulate any role model wrestlers when you were young?
TN: The tackle. You start with basics and train physically first. When I was in school and I was wrestling with my friends, I was a fan of Mutoh.
Naito, you used to be a ‘good guy’ as Stardust Genius. Why did you switch to the dark side? Is it more fun being bad?
TN: We’re not heroes, we’re not bad guys – we are who we are, and we just do what we believe in. I’ve been in pro wrestling for 10 years, but now I feel more confident and have more fun.
Do you ever get used to the crowd booing you when you enter the ring?
TN: Even before I joined Los Ingobernables, I had fans booing me – even when I thought I was doing something good. When you are used to hearing the booing too much, you begin to think they’re cheering for you.
B: It’s better than nothing! Booing, cheering, it’s all the same.
Your name and masks are obviously inspired by Mexican wrestling’s Luchadores, and you’ve also wrestled in Mexico in Lucha Libre competitions. Have you ever considered moving there to go pro?
B: Only for two weeks, not for any longer [laughs]. Although, I do like Mexico.
TN: The Ingobernables team was made in Mexico, so I’m very thankful for what I learnt there. I really learnt a lot. When I decided to become a pro wrestler, I had already decided I would only be a wrestler for NJPW. I really like Mexico, but I wouldn’t move there to be a full-time wrestler.
Why do Japanese wrestlers like Tajiri quickly become heels or villains in Western pro wrestling?
B: Maybe to American people, Japanese people are foreigners, so it’s easier for them to think we’re villains. People will cheer for their own nationality – I don’t think it’s hate.
Do you have any particular pre-show rituals before entering the ring?
TN: Stretches, and Monster energy drink [laughs].
Do you have a message for your foes before the upcoming Wrestling World 2016 competition in Singapore?
TN: If I can say one thing, we have a title match in Japan next month, so we are going to defeat the champion and bring the champion belt to Singapore.
We were expecting something a little more aggressive! You guys are gentle when not in the ring.
B: That’s because you have pretty eyes…
Wrestling World 2016 Singapore brings the ruckus to Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre on November 15, 2016 from 6pm. Tickets from $48 to $218, available at sistic.com.sg.