The tale of Tetsuya Naito is one of failure and redemption.
First rejected by fans for failing to connect as a boring babyface, a detour to Mexico gave him a new personality and a new look on life.
This helped him to avenge his rejected by fans at Wrestle Kingdom 8, and prove to himself and New Japan that he was truly a top star in NJPW.
A Fan Vote Cost Tetsuya Naito The Wrestle Kingdom 8 Main Event
In 2013, Tetsuya Naito won the G1 Climax to earn himself a match with IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 8.
This would normally be the de facto main event of the show, as the Heavyweight title was the biggest title in the company.
Sadly for Naito, this was not to be. This was mean to be his big chance to become the face of the company, but his push was soon rejected by the NJPW fans.
They did not like Naito as a bland babyface, and rejected him in favor of stars like Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi.
This was a crushing blow to the Stardust Genius, who had worked his whole life to become a star in NJPW.
Sensing that fans were not happy, NJPW did something nobody had ever seen before. They released a fan poll, asking them which match should be the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 8.
The two choices were:
- Tetsuya Naito vs Kazuchika Okada (IWGP Heavyweight Championship)
- Shinsuke Nakamura vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (IWGP Intercontinental Championship)
Much to his disappointment, the fans overwhelmingly voted Naito out of the main event, promoting the Intercontinental title into the final match of Wrestle Kingdom.
This disappointment prompted Naito to go to Mexico and redefine himself, with great success.
Tetsuay Naito Went To Mexico To Join Los Ingobernables
After defeat at the Tokyo Dome, everything changed for Tetsuya Naito.
He soon lost his NEVER Openweight Championship to Tomohiro Ishii, as well as suffering many losses over the year.
He performed poorly in the G1 Climax and World Tag Team, as well as long to Okada (again) in his bid to become number one contender for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
It was a torrid year in NJPW for Naito, who ended this run losing to Jay Lethal at ROH Global Wars 2015.
After failing to win the ROH Championship, he made his way to Mexico to join up with tag team partner La Sombra (Andrade El Idolo in AEW) in CMLL.
Here, he continued teaming with La Sombra as part of Los Ingobernables, which saw him develop a new heel persona, that emphasized the concept of Tranquillo.
This new gimmick made Tetsuya Naito a huge star upon his return. For years, the Stardust Genius put his body and soul on the line for NJPW, only for the fans to reject him as a star.
He returned instead with a new attitude. He no longer cared about the company or the fans, and refused to try as hard to please them as he once did.
His new attitude saw him disrespect every aspect of New Japan, including throwing the title belts around and treating them with great disrespect.
This made Naito a huge star. Fans began to love this gimmick, which showed a new side of the previously bland babyface.
It was especially entertaining he formed his own chapter of the Los Ingobernables faction, known as Los Ingobernables de Jopon, as one of the leading heel factions in the company.
With the help of new teammates like Bushi, Evil and the debuting Sanada, Tetsuya Naito defeated Kazuchika Okada at Invasion Attack 2016 to finally win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Naito has since gone from strength to strength, becoming one of the top stars in New Japan.
Testuya Naito main evented Wrestle Kingdom 14, exorcising his demons by beating Kazuchika Okada to win both the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championship – both belts that caused his downfall at Wrestle Kingdom 8.