Hiroshi Tanahashi Reveals Future After Surprise NJPW Move

Hiroshi Tanahashi NJPW

NJPW is making major moves as the company looks to get back on track for 2024 and the responsibility for that now lies with Hiroshi Tanahashi.

NJPW recently released a statement confirming that Tanahashi will take over as President and Representative Director replacing Takami Ohbari and Michiaki Nishizawa effective December 23rd. The full statement reads:

After a meeting of New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s board of directors and shareholders today, December 23 2023, the following personnel change has been made in Company management.

Reason for personnel change

Alterations to management structure

Newly appointed officials

President & Representative Director: Hiroshi Tanahashi

Director: Hitoshi Matsumoto (Chief of Business Production, TV Asahi)

Director: Taro Okada (President & CEO, Bushiroad Fight) *Mr. Okada’s position is on a part time basis

Effective December 23, Takami Ohbari and Michiaki Nishizawa will step down from their positions as President/Representative Director and Director respectively.

Newly appointed President/Representative Director profile

Hiroshi Tanahashi was born November 13 1976 in Ogaki City, Gifu. After graduating in law at Ristumeikan University, Tanahashi joined NJPW in 1999 and debuted that October. He won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the first of a record eight times in 2006, achievements along with four time pro-wrestling MVP status that have led him to be called the ‘Ace’ of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

Press conference

There will be a press conference on December 26 at 1PM JST concerning the changes made above.

Message to fans

Thank you for your ongoing support of New Japan Pro-Wrestling. On January 4 at Belc Presents Wrestle Kingdom 18 in the Tokyo Dome, Hiroshi Tanahashi will address the fans directly in his new role as President. NJPW looks forward to your continued support under the new leadership structure.

Hiroshi Tanahashi To Stay On The Road For NJPW

At that press conference, Tanahashi revealed that his big goal is for the company to sell out the Tokyo Dome and believes getting fans to shows in smaller markets can help them achieve that goal:

As a wrestler our goals years ago was to first get 500 in smaller towns, then 1000, then more. If we pack those markets, then a sold out Tokyo Dome is achievable.

Tanahashi then revealed that he will remain on the road with the company when it is touring but when in Tokyo, he’ll be in the office and still has goals in the ring:

I’ll be on the road with NJPW when the company is on the road, but when New Japan is in Tokyo, I will be in the office.

As an active wrestler I still haven’t won the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship and there is a lot left undone, but an Ace can be an Ace on both sides of the fence, I thought. There’s an extent to where I have to live in this dual role a bit to find out just what it’s like, and how much I can handle. But I’ve never been tired, so I think I’ll be fine.

NJPW’s owner Takaaki Kidani illustrated why the change has been made and said the goal is to get more people out at shows:

Right now, I think the next level for NJPW is to get more people in the building, not just to pre-pandemic levels, but beyond that and to have them enjoy the live experience even more. With that in mind, we decided to make amendments to the management structure and this is the result. I’d like to see (Ohbari) continue his efforts, but with a new era, a new representative director was necessary.

NJPW has revealed the full line-up for Wrestle Kingdom 18 on January 4th where Tanahashi will challenge Zack Sabre Jr. for the NJPW World Television Championship.

h/t NJPW Global’s translation