NJPW legend Tetsuya Naito has admitted retirement is starting to become more of a reality to him now he’s turning 40.
Naito spent a large part of 2021 out of the ring with a knee injury, and in an interview with NJPW, admitted he struggled with his weight while he was injured.
“I lost weight heading into the G1. A lot of it was stamina for a run of singles matches, but while I was rehabbing, I figured I’d actually lost a little too much weight, so I ate a lot while I was off. My knee was a big part of that. The more weight you have on a bad knee, the worse it gets.”
He then went on to discuss potentially retiring in the not too distant future. He was careful not to put any kind of date on it, but did reveal the idea is more prominent in his mind now.
“To tell the truth, when I started in the business, I thought I’d go until I was 40. As I’ve gotten nearer, I’ve started to become more conscious about retirement. I’m not saying I’m going to hang it up tomorrow. It’s just that the word ‘retirement’ is looming in my mind. That’s a sad thing for sure, but it’s motivating at the same time. Time waits for no man. But that means if I don’t enjoy everything to its fullest now, I’ll regret it later. If anything, being aware of my use by date has made me stronger than ever. I’m not going to carry on just to carry on.
“When I’ve lost sight of a goal, I’ll stop then and there. Goals are important to me. If I have them I can do anything, without them, nothing. I think once I don’t have a goal left, I’ll switch to civilian mode, in a heartbeat. Every time I’ve gotten one goal, I’ve had the next in mind. When I can’t think of what’s next, that’s when I’ve hit the finish line, I think. You never know, all that might take until I’m 70, and I’ll be active until the day I die.”
Naito’s next big match is on night 2 of Wrestle Kingdom 16 against Jeff Cobb. Wrestle Kingdom 16 starts tomorrow, January 4.