Part 1

Yamamoto: We have decided to accept Matsunaga Yamamoto's challenge. We will hold a dialogue with him in Weekly Pro Wrestling. Please say what you want to say, Mr. Matsunaga.

Matsunaga: I can usually tell when I read what you the editor-in-chief of the magazine writes in Weekly Pro-Wrestling. So I wanted to talk to you if ever given the opportunity. I have noticed that whenever you write a column for the magazine and other articles in various places, the words "W*ING" and "Matsunaga" are almost never mentioned. It is almost zero.

Yamamoto: When you put it that way, that is indeed true.

Matsunaga: I think it only appears occasionally, maybe once a year.

Yamamoto: No to be honest, I have never written the name "Matsunaga" before.

Matsunaga: I felt that you weren't interested in the project. I decided that if I kept quiet, this kind of project would never come to fruition, so I decided to try to sell it myself.

Yamamoto: So is this a challenge?

Matsunaga: It was a push. When I read "Minor Power" and other books, I thought, "I'd like to talk to him once."

Yamamoto: Why?

Matsunaga: What do you mean by that?

Yamamoto: Is this a quibble?

Matsunaga: In layman's terms, it's a quibble, but so-called "theoretical armament". I don't dislike it.

Yamamoto: Then that would mean we're similar.

Matsunaga: Yes, that's right. But it's a one-way street between myself and you. Because I am not the one writing down sentences.

Yamamoto: I've never heard a wrestler say that to me before.

Matsunaga: So why didn't "Matsunaga" appear in anything you wrote? Is "Matsunaga" of no interest to you? Or is he just a wrestler? Or is it just a matter of your taste? After all, everyone is not equal, right? You can have likes and dislikes, can't you? I thought I was not liked by you. I would like to ask you about that part.

Yamamoto: In the indies, I was only interested in Atsushi Onita of FMW. I can say this. Some people may be offended if I say this, but I saw wrestlers other than Atsushi Onita as "the others."

Matsunaga: How about the W*ING era...the heyday of the W*ING era? It was before I went to FMW.

Yamamoto: I know that W*ING was run by Mr. Kiyoshi Ibaragi. He was not a bad person, but he was 100,000 yen in debt on the advertisement fee that Weekly Pro-Wrestling charged to cover organizations. Normally, at that point, W*ING should not have even been allowed to appear in the Weekly Pro-Wrestling magazine at all. Do you understand?

Matsunaga: However, I can say that the wrestlers were innocent, and we are sorry for that.

Yamamoto: If the wrestlers were innocent, I wish Ibaragi had understood that even more.

Matsunaga: Yes.

Yamamoto: The other reason is for doing the Fire Death Match in Funabashi. I remember when Matsunaga beat Pogo in the small package. That was the moment I lost interest in W*ING.

Matsunaga: At that time, W*ING had enough momentum to eclipse FMW. Afterwards, I was told by everyone, "That's not going to happen."

Yamamoto: It's because of the small package, isn't it?

Matsunaga: That's right. I didn't think it would be the deciding factor, but W*ING went downhill after that.

Yamamoto: Atsushi Onita is lucky in that respect as well. Because his rival killed himself.

Matsunaga: I remember the article written by you at that time. It was called "Words on the Cover of This Week's Issue." You stated the W*ING organization had made a strong impact in the past, but this last small package made it clear that the W*ING was an imitation of FMW.

Yamamoto: I'm sorry. I don't remember the old days.

Matsunaga: By the way, as written in your book "Pro-Wrestling Strongest Management", wrestlers have to create things that others can't do. Do you think that W*ING has established this? Or do you think it ended up being just a second brew of FMW?

Yamamoto: Well, I think they got to a good point, but they couldn't surpass FMW.

Matsunaga: I think there are many reasons why W*ING could not surpass FMW.

Yamamoto: What are your reasons for this.

Matsunaga: Yes, W*ING was always second best, but in terms of quality, W*ING was superior to FMW. In terms of who was doing more dangerous death matches, or who was doing more extreme styles, W*ING was always far superior. But W*ING lost to FMW. I think there many reasons.

Yamamoto: What are those?

Matsunaga: I'll start with the smallest detail: barbed wire. I had been thinking for a long time about a death match that could be done easily in a local area and have more impact than barbed wire, but I just couldn't come up with it until the very end. A death match that is local, easy, inexpensive, and conveys pain to the audience. I couldn't come up with that no matter how I thought about it. It also goes well with pictures, because the audience can sense the pain the wrestler is going through. Also, we couldn't do electric current bombing matches. That was a big reason.

Yamamoto: Electric current bombing matches would have been impossible.

Matsunaga: Apart from whether it's actually dangerous or not, it's amazing when you hear the sound and the smoke comes out and you just hear ba-ba-ba-ba. That kind of thing doesn't exist in a Fire Death Match. The fire is melting, but there is no sound that comes with it. After all, in the sense of appealing to the five human senses, the fire death match is only visual where as you can smell the smoke. They couldn't get past the current blasts and for the smaller regions, they couldn't get past the barbed wire.

Yamamoto: On the contrary, you understand the greatness of Atsushi Onita.

Matsunaga: Also, you see, I was not considered the type of person who talks, so I was the one who created the character of a reticent and a silent person. But in reality, I am a person who talks a lot.

Yamamoto: Yes, that's right.

Matsunaga: W*ING fans would always ask for autographs. At that time, I was a little difficult to approach, so it is hard for them to ask for my autograph. It is said that fans have this image of me, but it's something I created myself.  Compared to me, Atsushi Onita is more dynamic. I think it's the "stillness" and "movement" comparison and "stillness" is no match for "movement." You have the example of Dory and Terry.

Yamamoto: What do you mean by the Funk Brothers?

Matsunaga: There are a lot of fans who like Dory better, but he still can't compete with Terry Funk's popularity. I feel like it was like that. I think that "stillness" can never be compared to "movement". There is a difference between expressing oneself without saying a word and expressing oneself with one's body to the fullest. That is the part where I could not match Atsushi Onita.

Yamamoto: You are Dory Funk? I see.

Matsunaga: W*ING was on the offensive for a while and got to a good point. But FMW, you know, Onita is in the entertainment business, and FMW has that "entertainment income." As a company, they receive a lot of income from Onita's appearances on TV.

Yamamoto: Onita was on TV a lot until he retired. This helped him gain publicity for himself, and he also used it as publicity for the FMW organization.

Matsunaga: When W*ING was on the offensive and FMW was struggling at the box office and could no longer sell tickets, they were able to make up for it with entertainment revenue. In contrast, when W*ING was struggling, they had nothing to make up for it. That was the main reason why they could not surpass FMW. I mean, we couldn't compete with them. We had nothing to make up for it.

Yamamoto: It's a source of funding.

Matsunaga: Sadly, W*ING ended in less than two years. I can't help but feel that it would have been better if it had been managed a little more decently, but JWP women's professional wrestling is still doing well.

Yamamoto: JWP was launched in April 1992.

Matsunaga: W*ING launched about the same time. I have a personal relationship with President Yamamoto.

Yamamoto: You mean Representative Yamamoto.

Matsunaga: Yes. I met and talked to him just the other day, and he said, "Oh, you lost to me," because W*ING was an organization that didn't last two years, and W*ING was created by a coup of the FMW front office, when he was in FMW.

Yamamoto: Yes, Mr. Ibaragi, who was in FMW, left and started W*ING.

Matsunaga: After all, an organization created by doing such a bad thing is often unlucky.

Yamamoto: Huh?

Matsunaga: Well, it is often said for FMW. "The weather is on your side!" Like the show at Kawasaki Stadium on May 5th the other day, it often rained heavily in the morning but stopped before the show started.

Yamamoto: That was strange.

Matsunaga: At the time I was there, W*ING had two fire death matches, and both times it rained. Yes, both times we had fire death matches in heavy rain.

Yamamoto: Where?

Matsunaga: Funabashi and Osaka. We are not blessed with such luck, or perhaps it is fate. The heavens were not on W*ING's side.

Yamamoto: Because they did something bad?

Matsunaga: It's a group that was caused by a coup, so there's nothing good about it. But that's not the wrestlers fault either.

Yamamoto: I see.

Matsunaga: That's right. The wrestlers were blameless, and we didn't have any grudge against FMW, nor did we have any feelings of "Son of a bitch! We just competed with each other because we were in the same line of work, but we were unlucky in many ways. For some reason, you the editor-in-chief never wrote down the word "Matsunaga." I think that many things are connected as a result.

Yamamoto: I'm sorry?

Matsunaga: I felt that without a certain amount of attention from the editor-in-chief of this magazine, it would be difficult for me to rise to the top in this industry. I really felt that way.

Yamamoto: Please don't blame me for everything.

Matsunaga: Are you not interested in W*ING?

Yamamoto: I wouldn't be so quick to say that.

Matsunaga: I think only W*ING still has fans of an organization that collapsed years ago still coming out to support them. There is no organization called W*ING anymore, but as long as there are W*ING wrestlers they will continue to support us. W*ING is the only one that has fans chasing after them.

Yamamoto: Besides Matsunaga, who else was in W*ING?

Matsunaga: Leatherface, Headhunters, Kanemura. There was also Jason and other wrestlers like that.

Yamamoto: Oh, they'll live on forever, won't they?

Matsunaga: That's right. The characters of W*ING have survived forever, and I think the only FMW character that has survived now is Gladiator. I don't know if this is the right thing to say, but Mr. Onita killed others in order to keep his own character alive.

Yamamoto: That's a bold thing to say.

Matsunaga: I would never have killed my opponent's character. Each star was a star who could stand on his own, appearing here and there. That's why FMW has now become the color of W*ING with foreigners, too. W*ING is the result of people who were in a world where they were not restricted, and they coordinated themselves individually without any restraints.

Yamamoto: That's an interesting story.

Matsunaga: That's why, even if the group called W*ING disappears, there are a lot of wrestlers from W*ING who say that they won't have trouble finding a ring.

Yamamoto: What was the goal of W*ING?

Matsunaga: It's a surprise even to the media. People in the media often go to see various groups, may say, "The match on the undercard makes me sleepy,'' or ``Oh, it's a boring match.'' For example, Mr. Pogo and I will go head-to-head at Korakuen Hall. There is a word that people in the media will say later. "Well, the press seats have all stood up for the first time in a long time.". In other words, pro-wrestling that surprises even those who know not only the front but also the back of the wrestling. That is what W*ING was aiming for. It is scary no matter who sees it. People are actually set on fire, and unthinkable things happen. Even if you do a five-sided nail match, you usually think, "no one is actually going fall, are they?"

Yamamoto: I really have a desire to see them fall, but they usually don't.

Matsunaga: They make you think that "they won't fall", but they always fall. The rules also announce, "The one who falls loses." Fans come to see that. That's why they fall. Even when you watch the videos, there were many times when you thought to yourself, "Oh my God, this happened, how did they survive?" And then there were times when kerosene was actually poured over their heads and they were burned. That's the kind of group we were.

Yamamoto: From the head!

Matsunaga: You don't remember the past, do you, Mr. Editor? It happened to me twice.. There is also the fact that I flew from the balcony of Korakuen Hall. The good thing about W*ING is that before Mr. Onita became famous, when he was introduced on "19:00 from Earth," he said, "We have sambo, karate, and judo, so it would be interesting if we put them together like this. It would be interesting to combine this and that. The dreams of the fans would grow. You never know what will come out of it. In the case of W*ING, it was a slightly different line. When you look at the poster, you see Pogo, Leatherface, and the Headhunters. So there is a Japanese guy with this kind of face who has blonde hair himself. There are monsters like Kevin Sullivan, and you wonder what would happen if you put this one and that one in a fight. Jason versus Leather Face. Jason versus Freddy. I think W*ING was the group that stirred up dreams in that sense.

Yamamoto: Ah, yes, there was a wrestler named Freddy.

Matsunaga: They all came out because of Jason's success. All of those characters have remained and there are no characters that have disappeared. I have a theory that only the indies can survive. Also, wrestlers who succeed in the majors can't succeed in the indies.

Part 2

Yamamoto: You said in last week's issue that wrestlers who are successful in the majors can't be successful in the indies, is that true?

Matsunaga: It's an interesting idea, isn't it? You don't actually know of any, do you?

Yamamoto: Hmmm. I don't know.

Matsunaga: There is not a single successful indie wrestler that has been formed by someone who has made it to a certain level in the majors, yes. This is an interesting idea. There is a difference between an indie star and a major star.

Yamamoto: Oh wow.

Matsunaga: There is one person who tried to break it...

Yamamoto: Who is that?

Matsunaga: Somebody tried to undermine my theory that only indie stars can survive doing the indie style of wrestling. It didn't come as a surprise when they said they were going to try and make it work by just wrestling in the indies. After that, they ended up being in a death match in less than a year. I was wondering if they could really do it, with their policy of "making do with wrestling," and I was paying attention to them, but it fell apart unexpectedly and quickly for them. Don't you think so?

Yamamoto: Oh, you mean that wrestler?

Matsunaga: I think so. When they strongly stated "I'm going to wrestle. I' m not going to do death matches!" I thought for a moment that if he was such a genius, he would defeat my theory. But it was nothing, and he didn't even last a year. I knew that only the best of the best could survive in the indie world.

Yamamoto: I feel sorry for Hayabusa when I think about it.

Matsunaga: I once had a conversation with Mr. Onita, and he said, "I succeeded because I was crazy." Then he said, ``You went that far with W*ING because you were crazy.'' People who have succeeded in the majors have pride. You can never go crazy, and you can't succeed in the indie scene unless you throw away all your pride. You have to go out of your way.

Yamamoto: That's true. Because pride is a troublesome existence.

Matsunaga: I may make enemies if I say this, but I think Heisei Ishingun is a good example. It's a recent example of a major wrestlers trying to making an indie and not being able to do it successfully. Even with all that financial backing and all those people, in the end it didn't work out. That is the biggest example.

Yamamoto: Come to think of it, yes.

Matsunaga: The biggest example of my theory is Heisei Ishingun, which I always thought would be difficult. The wrestlers who were young during the W*ING era are now scattered around various organizations, and they sometimes call me. They would tell me that New Japan Pro-Wrestling are going to make this great independent promotion. I said to them, "What are you talking about? No way, it's impossible."

Yamamoto: Mr. Matsunaga is an interesting person.

Matsunaga: Is that so. Oh, this is a personal matter, but Pro-Wrestling Weekly is now refusing to cover some shows. How did this happen?

Yamamoto: What do you think?

Matsunaga: As far as I read the book "Pro-Wrestling Style: The Strongest Management" written by the editor-in-chief (published by Keizai Shimbun), it is an extreme theory that Pro-Wrestling Weekly boasts low-cost management and perfect management ability, but there is no writing there. It's written, isn't it?

Yamamoto: Rather than being perfect, I'm saying that small is best. Doing things with a small group of people is optimal, I guess!

Matsunaga: There were many aspects that we could resonate with, saying, "Oh, I see, this is interesting."

Yamamoto: That book might indeed be useful for indie management.

Matsunaga: But it was a disappointment to publish that book.

Yamamoto: Yes, they conceded that.

Matsunaga: Yeah, I think there was too much of a presence Mr. Editor-in-Chief...

Yamamoto: Hmmm, the refusal of covering an event is one remote cause of the April 2, 1995 Tokyo Dome "Bridge of Dreams" show, isn't it?

Matsunaga: Also, when the editor-in-chief stood in the ring at Ryogoku Sumo Hall, there must have been boos. At that time, you wrote in Weekly Pro-Wrestling, "I want you to tell me the meaning of booing at me."

Yamamoto: I remember.

Matsunaga: Did you find the answer?

Yamamoto: I found the answer.

Matsunaga: Oh, is that so? Can I ask you what it was?

Yamamoto: Hmmm, I think I was being made fun of. It was like "you are a fan just like the rest of us, so why are you in the ring and in a privileged position? That's unforgivable."

Matsunaga: In the end, they went too far.

Yamamoto: From their point of view, it is outrageous. In a way, it's like jealousy...

Matsunaga: Oh, I knew you had it figured out. If you didn't understand what the booing meant and just went along with it, it would not have been that big of a deal.

Yamamoto: I guess I stood out too much. This may be one of the reasons for the rejection.

Matsunaga: I think so, too. Also, as for the "Yumeno Kakehashi (Bridge of Dreams)" at the Dome on April 2nd, which the editor-in-chief mentioned earlier, although everyone may have benefited in terms of money, I think there were quite a few organizations that did not really want to cooperate with the project. But the reason why they had to cooperate was because they were afraid that if they did not cooperate, they would get less written about them and only get small articles in Pro-Wrestling Weekly.

Yamamoto: No, I didn't intend to do that at all.

Matsunaga: We are in a business where we cannot make enemies with the media. So when I talk to the editor-in-chief, it's harder to talk to you than it than if I were talking to the W*ING president.

Part 3:

Matsunaga: Mr. Yamamoto, you once wrote a compliment to Mr. Onita right after he retired, saying "Look at Onita! This is a very graceful way to end a career." Now it is different. Mr. Onita is hanging around a little bit.

Yamamoto: Wow, that's a little bit of a stretch.

Matsunaga: Anyway, at the time you said,  "Learn from Onita!" But you know, even if Onita had pulled out of wrestling as he did, no other wrestler could have done what he did.

Yamamoto: Why can't they be like him?

Matsunaga: My body is starting to break down, right? When you become 30 years old and think, "Oh, I may not be able to wrestle anymore," you wonder what you should do to make a living, don't you?

Yamamoto: Yes, that's right.

Matsunaga: When you think like that, there is nothing you can do. Even now, the economy is bad. At a time when university graduates and new graduates are having trouble finding jobs, what in the world is a person who has been wrestling until the age of 30 going to do now? That's the kind of wall I'm talking about.

Yamamoto: Hmmmm it's hard to say.

Matsunaga: I am going to have to go out and and find a job I can do in a bad economy, because I am a technical worker. Everyone says a technical worker does physical labor, but the days of doing physical labor are over for me. I can't do a physical job like road construction anymore.

Yamamoto: You are absolutely right.

Matsunaga: When they retire, well, wrestlers open a tavern or some other kind of restaurant, and most of them have failed within a few years. There are very few people who have succeeded. Tenshin Yonemura, for example.

Yamamoto: He did chanko cuisine in Aizu.

Matsunaga: He also ran a training gym, but it closed down due to bankruptcy.

Yamamoto: Mr. Killer Khan ran a snack bar "Kan-chan" and it is successful.

Matsunaga: We have nothing to do, and therefore, even if we try to pull it off with hesitation, we can only wrestle. I'm trying now, though. I don't want that to happen to me. I don't want to retire and end up on the street. I don't want that.

Yamamoto: I dare not ask Mr. Matsunaga what kind of work he does. Anyway, I want you to do your best.

Matsunaga: I thought, "this is something I can't afford to lose." I think it's nice to see Onita-san being able to retire, but he made a fortune before quitting, and he's a person who can make money in the entertainment world. Or, he can accumulate funds to start other businesses. But if an indie wrestler that is 40 or 50 years old quits wrestling now, he would have nothing to do. So when people say, "Look at Onita did!" I feel that it is true that I should retire at the best possible time, but then I wondered what I could do after I retired. I felt that way especially after my body started to break down recently. In fact, I had nothing else I could do. So I thought what is the best thing I can do?

Yamamoto: That's true for us, too. I turned 50 this year. I've been working in pro-wrestling for 10 years, so it's impossible for me to do anything else. Wrestling is so fun.

Matsunaga: A man who entered professional wrestling in pursuit of what only he can do, if he thinks that he will be doing something that anyone else can do for the rest of his life, which is a very long time, it must be very tough. It is not easy to do. I think he would really be lost.

Yamamoto: I don't think you should take such things too seriously. Inoki-san's way of saying, "It's no big deal" is the best mindset.

Matsunaga: It is not easy to do so. However, as the editor-in-chief wrote in "Pro Wrestling Style: The Strongest Management," "Pro wrestling is interesting because wrestlers have no guarantees," and that is exactly right. It is a contradiction, isn't it? But, although it is a contradictory world, it is indeed interesting because there are no guarantees. It is a natural and reasonable thing to say, but if you do it with guarantees, you will never be able to do anything interesting. It would be a disaster if you said, "Let's just take it easy until retirement."

Yamamoto: No, that would be the worst thing.

Matsunaga: That's what happens, doesn't it? Once you reach retirement age, you will receive a pension. That's the world we live in now, isn't it? Compared to the interviews with other people, you are not saying that much Mr. Editor-in-Chief.

Yamamoto: That's not true. Since Matsunaga-san is talking so much fluently on his own I am in the position to just listen.

Matsunaga: Do you have any questions for me Mr. Editor-in-Chief?

Yamamoto: I'm sorry, I don't know which one is doing the interview. Well then, what is your relationship with Atsushi Onita?

Matsunaga: Now?

Yamamoto: How do you see Atsushi Onita...

Matsunaga: That's interesting. This will probably upset Mr. Onita, and I think it will upset the front office of FMW, but I'm going to tell the truth. I think that Atsushi Onita, who wields money and power, is a bad person. It is said that Mr. Onita founded FMW with 50,000 yen. He started the organization with a small capital, and he has been a person who has risen from the ashes of hardship.

Yamamoto: The hungry romance stirred Atsushi Onita.

Matsunaga: That's right. Onita-san is a man of money and power, isn't he? So, I remember how I used to feel about people who wielded power, and it makes me think of Onita-san.

Yamamoto: Mr. Matsunaga, you have a good point. So you were tricked by him into thinking he was a good guy?

Matsunaga: I pretended he was many times. But, of course, I had no choice but to accept reality. I am not mad at Mr. Onita. I was living in an apartment with no bathroom, and suddenly I was one of the highest paid people in the indies.

Yamamoto: That's a famous story.

Matsunaga: Then, to some extent, it didn't matter if they decided to kill me off or not, or what they wanted to do to me.

Yamamoto: Did you get paid well?

Matsunaga: Oh, temporarily....Yes, I am grateful to Mr. Onita for allowing me to do so, but I have no grudge against him.

Yamamoto: What's so great about him?

Matsunaga: What are Onita's strengths and takeaways? I don't understand the reasoning, but he has brainwashed his fans. Also, it's an interesting story, but he is someone who doesn't practice at all.

Yamamoto: You don't practice barbed wire or blow up matches. It's more important to be prepared than to practice.

Matsunaga: Even so, I still wonder why I was beaten by someone who does not practice.

Yamamoto: In the world of technology, practice is all you need, but in the world of art, practice is not the only way.

Matsunaga: If that is the case, will wrestling become a world where practice is unnecessary?

Yamamoto: No, it won't. For Atsushi Onita, thinking about professional wrestling was practice for him. Physical training is not the only practice. There is a word "image training," isn't there? Physical training should be done by young wrestlers. Experienced players need to train their image and thinking about wrestling every day.

Matsunaga: I understand what Mr. Choshu means. I think that Mr. Onita is a person who does not practice...but even so, he is a person who became a big star. I was taught that being serious is not the only way to be a good wrestler.

Yamamoto: That's right. Not all seriousness is a virtue, and that's one of the interesting things about wrestling.

Matsunaga: However, the main reason why we lost to Mr. Onita was, as I said before, that we had no additional income. This is the main reason why W*ING lost to FMW.

Yamamoto: By the way, what is wrong with the indies?

Matsunaga: What's wrong with the indies? I don't consider indies to be bad. I want to exclude from indie wrestling any organization that is late in paying even one paycheck or any organization that relies on sponsors. I don't want FMW to be like that.

Yamamoto: In reality, Atsushi Onita is a sponsor of FMW, right?

Matsunaga: That's the thing. I don't mind Mr. Onita cooperate in FMW, but I don't want him to give financial support anymore. That was just spoiling the wrestlers already. I can't speak ill of Mr. Onita, but I don't think there is any other organization in the indies that got off to such a good start as the new FMW.

Yamamoto: That's ironic, because FMW's creator was a founder in the corporate sense (as an entrepreneur, that is, a man who struck out on his own, but became a generous protector to his son, the second generation (the new FMW). Yes, that is strange.

Matsunaga: Mr. Onita left us some money, you know. But I don't want it to go any further. I appreciate the cooperation, but I think it would be better to avoid any form of assistance.

Yamamoto: Even if you are right, it's not going to change.

Matsunaga: I just wonder if the promotion will end up as just Tanimachi Pro Wrestling (pro-wrestling only surviving by a sponsor), or if it will end up being ruined by that. People from W*ING are surviving everywhere. The FMW graduates such as Tarzan Goto and Gladiator are the only ones still with us, all the rest are gone, and Masato Tanaka, for example, has been very popular recently

Yamamoto: Yes.

Matsunaga: There are Masato Tanaka, Tetsuhiro Kuroda, and Koji Nakagawa, right? What do you think, Mr. Editor-in-Chief, can you tell these three apart? For example, if you were walking down the street, would anyone notice Masato Tanaka? I don't think so. That is definitely not the case for an indie. An indie wrestler must look like a wrestler at first glance. You have to have a face that you can recognize after seeing it once or twice. If you don't have that look, you have to paint your face like Pogo or do something different. I had blonde hair myself and did a lot of other things. If I didn't wear a hat, I wouldn't be able to walk the streets. I stand out, and there is nothing I can do about it. When Masato Tanaka walks down the street, people would probably just say, "I wonder if he does judo somewhere, he has a nice physique." That is absolutely not enough. There is absolutely no coordination effort by Mr. Onita.

Yamamoto: But that's not something everyone can do.

Matsunaga: It's zero effort. Even if you make a great effort to coordinate your efforts in the ring, if you cannot coordinate yourself, your image will not expand.

Yamamoto: That was something you were great at, wasn't it?

Matsunaga: I am sorry to say, young people of FMW, but in this respect, they are not good at all. For example, when people who are not interested in wrestling see the faces of Masato Tanaka, Kuroda, or Nakagawa on TV, they may or may not be able to remember them after about 100 times. But if you see Mr. Pogo's painted face on TV, you will remember it in two or three times. If you are a fast learner, you will be able to remember it in your head in just one session. I think it will be put into your head.

Yamamoto: W*ING...

Matsunaga: I think they are easy to remember. People say that Mr. Onita looks like Tsurutaro Kataoka, but that type of face is easily remembered by the public. Not at all. The young players have no coordination skills at all. This is both frustrating and disappointing.

Yamamoto: You want to go that far?

Matsunaga: It is quite frankly pathetic. Also, these wrestlers have their own customers, the regular fans who usually come to the FMW venue. Of course, the regular fans know the faces of the wrestlers. They are the ones who support us. The people who have come to like FMW since the days of Mr. Onita know Masato Tanaka, and he is very popular. That kind of thing is called "popularity at the venue."

Yamamoto: Go on...

Matsunaga: As I discussed with Mr. Yamamoto-san (Representative Yamamoto) of JWP the other day, there is a difference between "popularity at the venue" and "ability to attract customers," yes. Once people enter the venue, they say, "Wow, Tanaka!" and someone who has the ability to attract customers to a venue are two different things.

Yamamoto: Hmm...I see..

Matsunaga: Therefore, people who are popular at venues, for example, young indie wrestlers, make the mistake of thinking that they have the ability to attract an audience if they are popular at venues. This is a big mistake, if you ask me. There is a difference between the popularity of a venue and the ability to attract an audience! If they can't even distinguish between the two, they will have to go away.

Yamamoto: Eh, yeah!

Matsunaga: It's also bad that there is no one to teach them. Taking JWP as an example, it seems that right now Hikari Fukuoka is the most popular at the venue.

Yamamoto: I'm sure you're right.

Matsunaga: However, it is Cutie Suzuki who has the most ability to attract customers. This is clearly evident at the local venues. Therefore, when Cutie leaves, JWP will be faced with a turning point or a wall. It will be a big fork in the road. You can understand that, can't you?

Yamamoto: I understand.

Matsunaga: So I found it interesting at the May 5th Kawasaki Stadium show...

Part 4

Yamamoto: You discovered something at the May 5th Kawasaki Stadium show.

Matsunaga: Nowadays, the most popular at the FMW venue is Masato Tanaka, and if it were W*ING, the most popular are Hido, Hosaka and Kanemura. However, there were a lot of non-FMW fans who came to see the show at Kawasaki stadium, right?

Yamamoto: Yes.

Matsunaga: With such a audience at a big building, the people I have just mentioned had a lackluster reaction to the bigger audience. So, when you look at New Japan Pro-Wrestling, you see that young wrestlers who are on the rise have become junior champions, and so on. But the casual fans who are not interested in such things hardly pay attention to them, don't they? That's the level they're at. When they get a big cheer at Korakuen Hall, they misunderstand their actual popularity. That is why they were not popular at all at Kawasaki Stadium. This is interesting, isn't it?

Yamamoto: What do you mean by interesting?

Matsunaga: They got absolutely no attention from fans of other promotions that attended the show.

Yamamoto: Matsunaga, how did you compare the reaction you got at the show with the other people?

Matsunaga: I am sorry to say this, but I was very popular on the show.

Yamamoto: Matsunaga, is that what you wanted to say?

Matsunaga: No, it's not that. At the usual Korakuen show, I'm less popular than Hido, but at Kawasaki Stadium, the result was the opposite.

Yamamoto: Hmmm.. I think that's because Matsunaga is much more interesting.

Matsunaga: When the fans of other organizations saw what I had done, it gave me confidence that I had made such a big impact. I think that they have understood the reality of the situation. Those wrestlers are popular within their own circle, but once they step outside, they are just thought of as "a young, energetic guy who has been appearing on the pages of magazines lately.' I don't know if they understand this or not.

Yamamoto: I'm going to bleed if I keep talking about this, so let me change the subject. Matsunaga, from your point of view, how do you see the wrestlers Sabu and Cactus Jack?

Matsunaga: Sabu and Cactus?  I don't know what to say about them myself. I think Mr. Danger, after all, is the person who does the most dangerous things. I know you Mr. Editor of this magazine once called Cactus 'the American Onita'.

Yamamoto: Yes, they did.

Matsunaga: I don't agree with that. Onita is more like Terry Funk. I think Cactus is closer to me than Onita. Cactus can be interesting when he is subdued, Sabu is kind of funny. I will have to face them in the ring one day and kill them.

Yamamoto: Eh?

Matsunaga: They are the ones I am going to have to beat one day. Although they have different shapes, they are similar to me in terms of how dangerous they can be, but I don't think I'm losing to them.

Yamamoto: Mr. Pogo is very popular these days with various organizations calling on him. What do you think about that?

Matsunaga: How popular is Pogo? My contract with FMW expires in June, but I've received invitations from multiple groups. I'm a little confused as to whether it would necessarily be a good thing if I were to join the ring of various organizations just for money next time. I'm a little bit confused.

Yamamoto: What happens if you get lost in the shuffle?

Matsunaga: Indie companies are short of stars right now. So when one interesting person leaves, he or she is pulled in from all different organizations. I wonder if I will be able to do that. But it is profitable, isn't it? I will probably make about 10 million yen ($100,000) a year.

Yamamoto: 10 million yen?

Matsunaga: Pogo is making the same now, but I am still thinking about it.

Yamamoto: For example, are you going to have a match with Yoji Anjo?

Matsunaga: I don't think I want to deal with those companies that he works for. I don't have any inspiration of being a major league wrestler.

Yamamoto: Ho ho! You are indie for life.

Matsunaga: I don't have a desire to be in the majors. For example, there are fans who want Hayabusa to go to the majors and make a splash, right? I don't think there are any fans of mine who want me to go to the majors.

Yamamoto: That is another masterful way of putting it.

Matsunaga: I really don't think there is any fan of mine that would want me to.

Yamamoto: But you went to New Japan for a little while, didn't you?

Matsunaga: That's right. There is another interesting story there. When I went to New Japan, there were people who often want to emphasize, "You're from New Japan! You are from the majors!" That's strange. Do you think that being fired from New Japan because it didn't work is what I should be proud of?

Yamamoto: Matsunaga, did you even consider yourself a New Japan wrestler?

Matsunaga: I don't know, it's not something I was proud of because it did not work out in New Japan. So I don't talk about it at all, but yes. Most of the people who were fired because they didn't make it in the majors use the indies as a springboard to survive. There are many people like that.

Yamamoto: I heard you were not willing to enter their dojo.

Matsunaga: I was only in the New Japan ring only twice myself, wasn't I? Both Onita and Pogo started in the majors, but in the end, despite being promoted while in the majors, they never sold tickets, and after time they just fizzled out. Such people say, "I'm not going to let it go on like this. I won't let it end!" They must have a willpower like that. I think they are doing it with the feeling that they are going to make me regret firing me. I think that's strange.

Yamamoto: You don't think it's funny?

Matsunaga: I think it's strange.

Part 5

Yamamoto: How was New Japan?

Matsunaga: It is hard to say. However, I am sure that I will have no contact with them in the future.

Yamamoto: You were there with Director Aoyagi, weren't you?

Matsunaga: That's right. Akitoshi Saito is still there to this day. He is a good friend of mine, or rather, a classmate of mine from high school. However, just because you are successful in the indie music industry, if you go to a major label with a big presence, you will end up like the director. There are many concrete examples.

Yamamoto: What do you mean?

Matsunaga: The director used to be very popular. When he was working with Mr. Onita. But that will never come back. That is why I have no desire to be a major wrestler. Even if I went there, I would never be accepted. If I don't change my mind and become willing to go to New Japan's dojo to train there, I will be crushed and that will be the end.

Yamamoto: Mr. Matsunaga is a man who does not hide his true feelings or his true intentions.

Matsunaga: By the way, Mr. Editor, I wonder if death matches are destined to disappear.

Yamamoto: I'm already tired of it.

Matsunaga: I guess you've reached your limit on the pursuit of death matches.

Yamamoto: I've reached my limit.

Matsunaga: Even Hayabusa ended up having a death match with me. I wonder if there will ever be anything other than death matches in the indies.... There are exceptions, though. Michinoku Pro Wrestling. They seem to be always living on the edge though. Will anything other than death matches remain?

Yamamoto: That is a difficult question.

Matsunaga: This time, Kanemura, Hosaka, and Hido created a new W*ING. I'm not going to cooperate with that either, but if they really can make a new W*ING with their own hands, I would be willing to join their army. So it would be great if they could create a new era. As long as the shadow of myself is still flickering, their time will never come, will it?

Yamamoto: What do you think?

Matsunaga: That's why I decided to disappear completely. For them, now is the time to win, isn't it? If you can make something new, I will go back and join their army. That's all I can say. Well, I guess I will have to bow my head and say, "Please use me." It would be no good if I stood behind him and said, "Go, Kanemura!"

Yamamoto: Yeah, no, you can't do that.

Matsunaga: It would be a second coming of Onita-san and Hayabusa at Kawasaki Stadium. You can't keep flickering such things forever. You have to cut them loose. They have confidence in themselves. They are confident in what they are doing, so I want them to give it their all. I wonder how far they can go.

Yamamoto: I feel like that would be difficult, but I think the people themselves would say, "What the heck!" and try to do their best.

Matsunaga: The problem is that the extreme pursuit of death matches, which is the fate of indies, has reached a certain limit, hasn't it?

Yamamoto: You can't do much more. It becomes impossible.

Matsunaga: No, they can't. Because they can't do more than I can. I've been with them and I know. There are a lot of dangerous death matches that I haven't done yet, but when I tell them about them, they can't do them, so they say, "No, that's a little bit too much...." I would like to see what they will do if they can't do extreme pursuit death matches.

Yamamoto: Won't Kanemura get angry when he reads this interview?

Matsunaga: You think so? Actually, I came up with an interesting idea. I want to fight a crocodile.

Yamamoto: Eh, crocodiles! But won't that never happen because of complaints from animal rights groups? There was a big problem with bears, you know.

Matsunaga: I have already studied the habits of crocodiles. I would like you to understand that I have read various articles written about them, so I have to decided to take this kind of strong approach about it.

Yamamoto: I've said it many times, but you won't find a wrestler like you anywhere.

Matsunaga: I am not trying to curry favor with anyone, but I am indebted to Weekly Pro-Wrestling. W*ING was helped so much in part by Weekly Pro-Wrestling.

Yamamoto: Is there a main reason you want to fight a crocodile?

Matsunaga: Humans are selfish and I am tired of dealing with humans, so now I would like to work with animals.

Yamamoto: It is true that there is no other creature as selfish as human beings.

Matsunaga: I don't do anything that I can't calculate. Even the five-sided nail when I was told, "If you fall on it, you will die!" I did a thorough study to see if I would die if I fell on it. That is why I took on this challenge. You probably didn't realize I was this kind of person, did you?

Yamamoto: I don't think so.

Matsunaga: Death Match are dangerous, so I research everything. I discovered that for a five-sided nail match will not kill you if you land on your buttocks during it. There are few kryptonite points. But if you fall on it with your chest, it would be a disaster. A comb-over was the end of the story.

Yamamoto: Thank you very much for the past five weeks.