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Interview by Dan Mallmann with the RENEGADES after wXw World Tag Team Festival
1. First, I'd like to know the story behind your tag team name "Renegades."
Watase: Both of us used to be a part of the promotion DDT back in the day. When Irie-san returned from his excursion in the USA, he shared with me that the current DDT lacked the hunger and true fighting spirit that he believed was essential. He expressed his intention to dismantle the existing authority behind it. As an admirer of Irie-san, I decided to follow his lead and become a member of his faction.
Irie: In 2018, when I openly criticized DDT, the only Japanese wrestler who supported me and joined me was Watase. I named our faction "RENEGADES" to symbolize our movement against the DDT authority. Later that same year, I left DDT to become a freelancer. As a result, Renegades, which included myself, Watase, Jason Kincaid, Sammy Guevara, Façade, and Ryan Davidson, went on hiatus. I'm thrilled that Renegades has reformed here in wXw.
2. Question for Irie: The Renegades have reformed after a 5-year hiatus. How do you see the progress that Watase has made in the last 5 years?
Irie: Watase became the champion of Ganbare Pro-Wrestling, a subsidiary promotion of DDT. He also joined the main roster of the Tenryu Project promotion, where he received guidance from the legendary wrestler Tenryu. This experience has made him significantly stronger, both mentally and physically. Watase has evolved into a dependable tag team partner in the wrestling ring and has also matured as a person in his personal life. He's become capable of handling various responsibilities, such as cooking for friends and even traveling to third-world countries on his own.
3. Question for Watase: How has your experience been in Germany? Have you enjoyed being in the wXw locker room? Also, who is your favorite wrestler from this weekend, not necessarily a tag team, but a wrestler you saw for the first time?
Watase: This is my first time in Germany, and all the wrestlers in the locker room have been incredibly kind to me. Axel (Rotation) always comes over to check if I'm doing okay and offers his help. I'd like to adopt his kind manner when interacting with Gaikokujin (foreign) wrestlers once I'm back in Japan. During the World Tag Team Festival (WTTF) weekend, I witnessed Axel (Rotation) scaling the steel pillar and performing a Moonsault from there, which was both crazy and fascinating.
4. Renegades faced the Astronauts, Fuminori Abe and Takuya Nomura, another highly regarded Japanese tag team in the second round of the tournament. Can you share some insights about that match? It was also Takuya Nomura's first time abroad in his entire life.
Watase: Yes, it turned out to be an all-Japanese tag team match. The stakes were very high as the tickets to the tournament finals were on the line, but I stayed focused and maintained my fighting style, just as I do in Japan. Securing an upset win against one of the top tag teams in Japan is a significant achievement. With this newfound confidence, the Renegades are eager to challenge for tag team championships around the world. Nomura didn't display any nervousness during his debut abroad and fought as intensely as always.
Irie: I approached the match against the Astronauts the same way I would in Japan, as the location didn't make a difference. I'm also a regular member of Big Japan Pro-Wrestling, so the Renegades have every right to challenge for the BJW World Tag Championship held by the Astronauts in Japan. Nomura is one of the most formidable shooters in Japan, and he exhibited the same intensity here in Germany.
5. The Renegades didn't win the WTTF finals. What are your thoughts on the winners, Dennis "Cash" Dullnig and Hektor? Do you plan to pursue the tag team championship and attempt to take the belts from the new champions, Cash and Hektor?
Watase: I sensed a strong bond between Cash and Hektor, and they make an incredible tag team. Even if one of them is in a dangerous situation, they never give up or surrender, which ultimately led them to victory in the tournament. I respect them a lot.
Irie: Cash and Hektor make for quite an unusual pair. It's hard to predict whether their teamwork is helping or hindering their partner. I find them to be a very exciting tag team, and since Shigehiro Irie has found success worldwide, I'd love to challenge them for the wXw World Tag Team Championship.
(Note: Shigehiro Irie will team up with Kohei Kinoshita to challenge Dennis "Cash" Dullnig & Hektor Invictus for the wXw World Tag Team Championship in Bad Säckingen on November 4th)
6. Question for Irie: You lost the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship to Robert Dreissker at Drive of Champions 2023 (June 18th, Oberhausen) after defending the title against Mike D in the main event.
After you lost again to Dreissker in the 3-way final at WTTF, you mentioned in the wXw Vlog: "I am not championship material as I got pinned by Dreissker two times in a row," and you are refusing to challenge for Dreissker's Unified title again.
In my opinion, Shige, you are one of the best fighters in wXw, and I believe you should pursue another title shot. How do you feel about this now?
Irie: (Irie suddenly sad and nearly in tears) I returned to Germany with the aim of reclaiming the precious wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship, but I was pinned by Robert once again. I have lost my confidence when it comes to facing Robert, and I genuinely don't believe I deserve to challenge him for the Unified Championship.
7. Question for Watase: You wear suits in the ring, and at one point in the match, you take them off and change into your wrestling gear. This is a very unique approach. How did you come up with this idea?
Watase: Irie-san has a lot of respect for OI4K (Sami Callihan and the Crist Brothers), and Jake Crist used to wrestle in suits. So, wearing suits was his suggestion, and the idea to change into wrestling gear by removing the suits was mine. When I start to heat up, I just throw off everything!
8. You stayed at a traditional German hotel in Oberhausen during this WTTF weekend. What was your favorite German food at the hotel?
Watase: I really enjoy Currywurst, but my absolute favorite is Kebab, which is available at the stand next to the Turbinenhalle.
Irie: I typically order Schnitzel in the hotel, but after the evening shows, the restaurants in the entire Oberhausen area were closed. So, I often ended up eating at McDonald's or grabbing a Kebab from the stand next to the show venue. Sometimes, in a joking manner, I say to my fellow Japanese wrestlers dining there, "Welcome to wXw!"
9. Thank you for participating in WTTF 2023 and for your fantastic matches. Please share a message with the wXw fans.
Watase: The fans in Germany are incredible. Their energy, the resounding chants of my name, the applause, and the standing ovations... I will cherish these memories forever. It's addictive, and I'm eager to return to wXw and experience it all over again. You, wXw fans, have made another Japanese person fall in love with Germany!
Irie: My home country is Germany! When I fight in Japan, I consider myself a representative of wXw and Germany. Ich liebe dich! (I love you!)
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