Interviewer: May 5th...I heard that you put your name out there to be Mitsuhiro Matsunaga's opponent at Kawasaki Stadium...is that true?
Kanemura: Yes. It hasn't been decided yet. No, even if it has been decided, but I really want to be his opponent on this day.
Interviewer: I'm guessing in response to Matsunaga's "indefinite rest declaration" that he made.
Kanemura: I didn't want to hear that kind of thing from Mr. Danger's mouth, but...he knows the best about his physical condition than anyone else, and even during W*ING, he was the one who continued to participate even when he was not feeling well. I don't know how long he will be absent for, but if Mr. Matsunaga is going to leave for good, that means that one of the legends of W*ING career is going to be over.
Interviewer: That's true. Starting with Balcony Dive, it was Mitsuhiro Matsunaga who always opened up the possibility of indies.
Kanemura: I want to show the world who Mitsuhiro Matsunaga was, what what was W*ING...I want to do it at Kawasaki Stadium to confirm it to everybody...in a big venue that W*ING couldn't reach...maybe this might be the last death match with Mr. Matsunaga. If the match can take place, I think I can make a new history of W*ING with Hosaka and Hido. Actually, I think that even Hido would like to fight with Mr. Matsunaga on the show as well... Oh, I was featured in Weekly Pro the other day as one of the six young wrestlers in FMW, but I am seriously aiming to be on the cover of the magazine one day.
Interviewer: In the feature you had the biggest resistance when discussion about the majors came up.
Kanemura: Well, I think that the theme of "against the majors" that the independents have is a problem that has been faced by various indies, but now it has come to the forefront as a problem for the entire industry. Because New Japan is trying to crush us now. Are we really going to overthrow New Japan? There is no way we can win, in terms of attendance. But if you think about the significance of the existence of independents, even if only 100 people gather at Kawasaki Stadium, if you can satisfy all 100 people, I think that's worth it.
Interviewer: But in Sapporo (on March 15, 1996), Mr. Onita said while pointing to you, "20,000 people cheering or 20,000 people booing are the same crowd of 20,000 people!!!"
Kanemura: I didn't think Hosaka and I would receive such words from Mr. Onita on that occasion. If it were Matsunaga and Pogo saying that to me, it would be one thing, but Onita-san is a rival. When I joined FMW, I had the thought "I can fight with Atsushi Onita!" but those words he said have stuck in my heart, and I don't know why I was so moved by them.
Interviewer: I think it's because you have something in common with Mr. Onita in terms of your love for the indies. When I saw the mic appeal at Korakuen on March 30th, I thought W*ING Kanemura had inherited Mr. Onita's genes more than anyone else in the new FMW.
Kanemura: On that note, Hayabusa doesn't get it!!! Let me tell you one thing: stop complaining and get your ass back in the death match ring. If you don't like it, you should go to the majors. Hayabusa's debut match was in the New Japan ring.
Interviewer: Oh, I see. I remember that his debut in Japan was at the "Super J-Cup" hosted by New Japan.
Kanemura: I'm also one of those who had the basics hammered into me at New Japan's dojo.
Interviewer: Oh? Really?! Why?
Kanemura: During the Pioneer Sensei era, I was taught by Mr. Ryuma Go at the New Japan dojo in the middle of the night. The basics of the basics, you know. I remember that Hase-san and others were still in the training camp at that time. Anyway, he was very strict. Of course, in terms of the quantity of training, they were no match for the New Japan people, but in terms of the "quality" of training, there wasn't much difference. I am really grateful to Mr. Go for giving me such a strict help. And if you ask me what I could have done after having gone through so much pain, becoming a pro wrestler, and getting into the W*ING ring, I couldn't have done anything. In the indies, there was no freedom to choose your own style. The only way for W*ING to survive in the world of professional wrestling was to run death matches. Back then, if I was told to do it with a girl, I had no choice but to do it. Does Hayabusa really understand the harshness of the indies? You should make Tanaka the ace, if you don't understand.
Interviewer: But Hayabusa is injured...
Kanemura: What the hell, everyone's injured!! I was injured, Hosaka was injured, and even Bad Nurse Nakamura was injured at one point in her career. Even Mr. Onita didn't take a day off until he became critically ill, and I don't remember Mr. Pogo ever taking a day off, except when he went missing (when he left for W*ING in 1991). That is why he is the King of the Death Match. But if Hayabusa returns on May 5th and takes over the leading role, it will screw Tanaka! Now, I'm having more fun wrestling than when I was in W*ING, and I'm living a very fulfilling life, and with us six (Kanemura, Hosaka, Hido, Tanaka, Nakagawa, and Kuroda), There is no other organization with such a young average age, right? I think there is a lot of potential in this group!
Interviewer: What will happen to the indies after May 6th?
Kanemura: You can say whatever you want with your mouth, but...people say that the indies are in its worst period right now, but as I said earlier, we are fulfilled in the ring, and although Editor-in-Chief Yamamoto wrote that "there will come a time when all the indies go bankrupt," I will not go down without a fight! When I came to Tokyo to become a wrestler eight years ago (1988), that was the year the indies were established. My life as a wrestler has always been with the indies, and I know the sour and sweet sides of the indies better than Tanaka and Hayabusa. And if I go down here, all of my years of experience will be negated, right? Isn't that right? I also want to ask the W*ING freaks through the magazine. What exactly do you want to see? Do you only want to see us do dangerous things and bleed? If you do, then W*ING will be over soon. If you criticize my comments about that, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to hate you guys.
Kanemura: Because of the W*ING freaks, we were able to jump into the big world of FMW. Come to think of it, long ago Riki Choshu criticized me. When Mr. Matsunaga left W*ING, I got down on my knees bowed down to the audience. But at that time, there were W*ING freaks in Korakuen Hall who were worth it! If you remember how frustrated you were when W*ING was being bashed, now is the time to lend your strength to the indies! Not only W*ING freaks, but all indie fans should come to Kawasaki Stadium. It is the passion of indie fans that can stand up to the massive power of the majors!
Interviewer: That may be true. 30,000 people at Kawasaki Stadium are more passionate or powerful than 60,000 people at Tokyo Dome. It makes you feel the heat or the power.
Kanemura: If we don't get through this, if we don't make May 5th Kawasaki a success, the indies are really screwed... It doesn't matter if it's FMW or W*ING. We have to protect them together...so I want the fans to lend us their strength. If everyone gathers at Kawasaki Stadium and we can't put out something good... then I'll admit that I lost to the majors for the first time.
Postscript of the interview
The long absence of Matsunaga, whom Kanemura had looked up to as a big brother since his debut, came as quite a shock to Kanemura. Perhaps this would be the last time they would face each other...such a thought prompted Kanemura to request a change in the card. Kanemura has already lined up a tag-team match up with Nakamaki, which is one of the main attractions of the May 5th Kawasaki event. Matsunaga's opponent is "under negotiations", and if negotiations are concluded and Kanemura is announced as the opponent, then "King of Death Match" title would be removed from the card and the match title would become a "W*ING LEGEND Death Match," a match that would send out the "indie spirit" from Kawasaki Stadium to the majors. Regardless of the card, Kanemura's willingness to take on the majors is a symbol of May 5th Kawasaki, and I hope people will pay close attention to it!
Interviewer: In response to Mr. Onita's statement, "If I lose at Kawasaki Stadium, I will never enter the ring again," you said, "I don't want that, and I don't believe it."
Kanemura: I don't think anyone would believe me if I said it would never go to the ring again if I lost. I don't think that's what's important. I'm betting on W*ING, which I've been sticking to since my debut. I asked Mr. Onita to bet something, and this is what he said... I wanted him to join W*ING if he lost, instead he just said he won't step in the ring again if he loses.
Interviewer: If Mr. Onita were to join W*ING, it would not only put an end to the abominable history of W*ING, but also put an end to the history of indie wrestling that was based on Atsushi Onita, wouldn't it?
Kanemura: Even though we tried, W*ING could never surpass the existence of Atsushi Onita. Then W*ING was fed a cold shoulder by Atsushi Onita when we arrived in FMW. I will change that history no matter what it takes. If you look at magazines, they say that the explosion matches are like Onita's garden, so there is no way he can lose, but I may be the one who knows the fear of explosions even more in a way. The big burn match I had in Nagoya (September 1, 1996)...I know the pain and fear of explosions that even Onita-san doesn't know.
Interviewer: Mr. Onita said that he would "destroy W*ING", but it won't be that easy.
Kanemura: I think Onita-san is a man who revolutionized the world of professional wrestling. For example, if you go to a local area, even people who don't know much about pro wrestling know the names of Mr. Inoki and Mr. Baba. Mr. Onita has become such a presence, too. Onita received a lot of criticism because of the death matches, but it didn't matter, did it? The fans followed him. That's a great thing. I respect him, but...now he is just an enemy that I have to defeat in order to protect W*ING. I've given up on the extra respect.
Interviewer: You are going to have to overcome Atsushi Onita, but the Kawasaki match has turned out to be a dangerous death match as you hoped. The most dangerous death match in FMW history.
Kanemura: I'm actually scared of death matches now. I was so nervous when I did the exploding barbed death match with Tanaka in Shiodome. I was so scared that I almost puked. The same was true when I got badly burned in a fire death match. At that time, I wasn't afraid of anything. But when I started working at FMW, I became very nervous... especially in the past one or two years.
Interviewer: What caused that change of mind?
Kanemura: Well...what I thought to myself was that I had become quite defensive, because during my W*ING days, I was working hard without thinking about the future.
Interviewer: Isn't that the result of thinking more deeply about wrestling rather than being on the defensive? Since coming to FMW, Kanemura's fights have focused on getting the crowd excited with technical offense and defense, rather than recklessly getting the crowd excited. So the less reckless you've become, the more scared you've become of death matches.
Kanemura: Maybe so, but to change history, I have to overcome that fear. That's why I told Onita-san to prepare the most dangerous death match. Watch, because I will make September 28th the anniversary of the Indie Revolution.
Interviewer: You want to make Kawasaki known for being Kanemura's W*ING.
Kanemura: Yes! After the match I want to place the W*ING flag in the ring.
Interviewer: Also, I wanted to ask you this...what do you think of the recent fan reaction at Korakuen? You've been getting a lot of harsh comments like, "Kanemura, you're all talk, aren't you?"
Kanemura: I know that there are more and more people saying that, and the W*ING fans are aware of it. The W*ING freaks' view of Kanemura has also changed. And I think the general public's viewpoints started to change after I got involved with the Fuyuki Army. I used to feel I had make the audience roar with excitement at Korakuen and put on a good match, but now I don't have that sense of fulfillment.
Interviewer: Fuyuki's army and W*ING did not mesh well together. Kanemura is the kind of person who raises his spirits and wrestles with all his heart, but I think your feelings were spinning in the face of Fuyuki's dexterity and toughness. It's undeniable that some fans began to criticize, saying, "This is a super indie? It's no big deal."
Kanemura: Well, I guess the fans may feel that we are not doing anything after all the big talk, but if they don't like it, they are free to go ahead and say what you want. I'm not happy if I'm criticized out of hand when I'm trying to do something about the problem by accepting it head-on.
Interviewer: That's why you bit at the critical voices at Korakuen, saying, "Shut up!" But that turned the fans completely against you, and the booing got louder and louder.
Kanemura: Anyone who wants to boo can do it. I can't worry about that.
Interviewer: Maybe I carried too much weight with my super indie statement.
Kanemura: I don't really feel that.
Interviewer: After FMW was reborn, FMW fans must have seen Kanemura as a comrade like Hayabusa and Tanaka, and they supported him because he put his body on the line and showed fights that promoted the indie scene, just like them. He had built a relationship of trust with them, but... Kanemura was impatient that the wheels had gone haywire. The fans became skeptical, wondering if he was just talking. It is a vicious cycle that has led to the current situation.
Kanemura: I am always going to be defiant. I am always going to go as hard as I can, as long as I can, and when I am done you can just throw my body in the river.
December 16, 2000
Interviewer: First of all, I would like to ask you about the Tanaka match at the Yokohama Bunka Gym.
Kanemura: I was really happy. We had been doing a lot of singles matches. I think the last time I won was when we did the exploding barbed wire match. I haven't won in a couple of years since then.
Interviewer: And you won the hardcore championship, which is your specialty.
Kanemura: Tanaka has formed a great presence before I knew it, he won the ECW title. When I was in the U.S., I was in the ECW ring with Tanaka, and I saw him, I thought, "Oh, that's amazing," but at the same time, I felt jealousy. I challenged Tanaka's ECW twice in the U.S., but I couldn't beat him then either. I was happy to finally win in Japan.
Interviewer: You and Tanaka will continue to fight, right?
Kanemura: The last win was just one win. It's not over yet. So I think we will fight until one of us retires.
Interviewer: In that match, for the first time in a long time on the FMW mats, a barbed wire bat also made an appearance. What was the true meaning behind it?
Kanemura: It doesn't really have a deep meaning. I had been thinking that I would eventually take out a fire bat or a barbed wire bat at some point. But it wasn't like I was going back to W*ING or anything. It was just something I always had in mind, and it just happened to be in Yokohama.
Interviewer: It's been a long time since you mentioned W*ING. Did that comment have any meaning?
Kanemura: That was just a joke, so it doesn't have a deep meaning. W*ING is completely non-existent, and now I've changed my ring name to "Kintaro Kanemura" and I'm doing my current style. I just have to try not to forget how I felt back then.
Interviewer: You said that from now on, in parallel with such feelings, you will also show the part of comedy, which is your forte.
Kanemura: I will do my best (laughs). I said I was going to abandon comedy, but that was a great story, too.
Interviewer: On a different note, about the hardcore belt you hold, I think it's safe to say that it's already synonymous with Kanemura.
Kanemura: Well, Hosaka and Sasaki won the hardcore tag team belts, but I am not conscious of being hardcore. I think it's fine to just be my normal self, and I think it's fine to say that I am a synonym for "hardcore."
Interviewer: I think that hardcore style and death matches are the same. Do you believe hardcore and death matches are the same thing?!
Kanemura: I agree with you. It's just difficult. If we do things as normal without thinking of them as hardcore, then Hosaka and Sasaki are just out there spinning around out of control. On the contrary, I do it without worrying about it.
Interviewer: What do you think about Mammoth Sasaki? He has been growing remarkably lately, and challenged you to a hardcore singles for the first time recently, didn't he?
Kanemura: But he's no match for me, not yet. He has a lot of ability, though. I've been doing this style of fighting since my debut. I think he's already reached the point with his skill that he can beat anybody at any time though. I think he is a fighter who will carry the future of FMW on his shoulders. But when it comes to a test, I can't lose either, and there are some things I can't back down from and can't compromise on.
Interviewer: After the championship with Mammoth, you also said, "Hardcore is also difficult."
Kanemura: In that match, I felt I went a little too much on the brutal side. The basic concept of wrestling is wrestling. The chairs and tables should not play the leading role. I think the main actor is the wrestler and the wrestling.
Interviewer: In the midst of all this, Hayabusa will be sidelined for six months.
Kanemura: I think that after Atsushi Onita is gone, the head of FMW will be Hayabusa and Fuyuki. So, Hayabusa's disappearance is a negative for the company. I could tell from the matches that he was not in good condition, well, he is not the only one who is injured. But six months is a long time, and I think he felt it was a desperate decision for him to miss the matches.
Interviewer: Is it painful for Hayabusa to be absent?
Kanemura: I think the level of competition will improve as the wrestlers who are in poor condition leave. The rise of Sasaki is another example of that.
Interviewer: There are many wrestlers who have asserted themselves, notably Kuroda, saying that now with Hayabusa out of the picture, they have a chance.
Kanemura: There's no need to say there's a chance. Then it would be like saying, "You've been held back all this time." So it doesn't matter if it's a chance because he is gone or not. There are always equal chances. But now that I think about it calmly, I am now teaming with Kuroda, I can now get the best out of him now.
Interviewer: In Yokohama, Gannosuke also retired.
Kanemura: He's an idiot. He really has a brain the size of a cat. He said it on his own. I don't think a wrestler should say they will "retire." Well, he must have said it on the spur of the moment, betting on his retirement. I don't know how he feels now, but I would be happy if he came back regardless of the company's intention. I'd like to team up with him again. I feel more comfortable teaming up with him than fighting him.
Interviewer: He also teamed with H for a certain amount of time.
Kanemura: He lost everything when he teamed up with H, didn't he? He was completely eaten up by H's character. A wrestler who takes away from his tag team partner is no good, Gannosuke.
Interviewer: Are there any episodes about the two of you that you can say now?
Kanemura: Truly, I got along very well with him. We had a little trouble, and we even got into a fistfight, but we made up soon after. I called him an idiot, but I still miss him, because he is not on the tour. Well, I am worried about him.
Interviewer: Have you heard from him since?
Kanemura: There has been none. Gan-chan, I will wait for you in nirvana. I believe Gannosuke will understand that.
Interviewer: Finally, what are your goals for the 21st century?
Kanemura: The entertainment part is all about having the customers enjoy themselves and leave. So, in that sense, I would like to further improve the entertainment aspect of my work. In the past, I used to say it was for W*ING, but people change from their old ideas. So the best thing is for the customers to go home happy. With that as my goal, I also want to continue to defend my hardcore belt. I have defended my belt against many wrestlers, but there are only a limited number of hardcore wrestlers in FMW. That's why I'd like to work with someone from an outside company.
Interviewer: Will it be Big Japan?
Kanemura: (Ryuji) Yamakawa and (Shadow) WX treat me well, and they are real good friends of mine. FMW is important to me, but I would like to move up a bit. Last time I was in Big Japan at the Yokohama Bunka Gym I fought against CZW, I was gouged by a lawn mower, and it was painful, but it was a pleasant pain. We used to do death matches and FMW, but Big Japan has something that FMW doesn't have now. So, if the company would allow it, I would like to compete with outside fighters for the belt.
Interviewer: Do you have any goals within FMW?
Kanemura: I still don't have a clear picture of myself in FMW, so for now I'm focusing on hardcore and comedy, and I'm sure I'll find another theme if I keep doing that. In the next two years, I would like to own my own restaurant while wrestling. A stylish shot bar style izakaya.
Interviewer: Are you serious?
Interviewer: Yasuyuki Kaneko