28th March 2018
On the 29th April, Atsushi Kotoge will challenge Takashi Sugiura at the Niigata City Gymnasium for the GHC Heavyweight Title. "He is 47. I am 32 years old, and it will be hard for me to break through to the top unless I get the results here" he said looking determined.
At "Great Voyage in Yokohama 2018" on the 11th March he declared his challenge after Sugiura had beaten Kenoh (33) and delivered a head-butt to the fourth time champion.
"I am struck by the fact that the 47 year old middle aged man is working hard at the front, but for everyone else here, when Sugiura and Marufuji are not here, what will happen to Noah? It will be hopeless!" He says it was this thought that moved him to action.
However, the reaction of the fans to his challenge was harsh. Although the venue was full of enthusiasm for the re-emergence of the Sugiura era, Kotoge received loud boos and unforgiving scoldings. Even after making the challenge he said, "It was frustrating, but I am not going to pretend it wasn't heart-breaking". So he had to pretend that nothing was wrong.
This is not the first time he has faced a hostile crowd. When participating in Osaka Derby (Cerezo Osaka vs Gamba Osaka) on March 17th 2012 during his time in Osaka Pro, he supported Cerezo Osaka which caused provocation with the opposition team. He was booed by 10,000 Gamba Osaka supporters and was highly criticized through SNS*.
Currently he is participating in "Global Tag League 2018" teaming with Naomichi Marufuji and looks to it saying, "I will use my own strength, and not rely on his". He will concentrate on Global League first before the battle with Sugiura.