Kenta Kobashi also has great expectations for him. How is Kobashi looking at Kiyomiya? What is Kiyomiya's future path?
Q: What was Mr. Kobashi's opinion when he saw Kiyomiya when he returned from Canada?
Kobashi: I noticed his hairstyle had changed at first. I had to compare photos before I uploaded one to Twitter. He looks better now.
Kiyomiya: Thank you very much! I wanted to change and return home. I did not have the strength, but I could change my appearance and I wanted to return home and start anew.
Kobashi: I think its a good look. You have more female fans too.
Kiyomiya: I thought that people would boo, but they seemed happy to support me, so I thought it was good that I changed.
Kobashi: Why did you think people would boo you?
Kiyomiya: When I entered Korakuen the venue was excited over Kenoh's win, so I did not know how they would react to me. When I entered, the audience became quiet and I was a bit scared.
Kobashi: I did not notice it was so different. However, you made a good enough impact to turn it into cheers.
Q: How has the change in the body and the fight style been?
Kobashi: Before you went to Canada, I told you "please focus on wrestling". Anyway, I guess you took it to heart and pushed ahead in Canada. You made a big leap when you came back, better than I thought. I think that you are growing, such as in physical strength and power.
Kiyomiya: Thank you. I also think I have gained strength. Even when you fight heavyweight wrestlers, you cannot beat them by tackling them. It was hard to lift them at first, but I began to be able to do it at a push. There are many things you realize during matches.
Kobashi: How much do you weigh now?
Kiyomiya: Just 100kg. When I was in Canada, I went up to 105kg or so, but breathing became hard for me during the match, so I had to find the weight and adjust it a little.
Kobashi: That's the way, increase it, stretch it, fall, increase it again, fall. That way you understand your proper weight. It is hard to grasp what you cannot do in the ring otherwise.
Kiyomiya: I use the dropkick, and I found it wasn't possible to have control over my body if it was so undecided.
Kobashi: Why do you care so much about the dropkick?
Kiyomiya: Before I debuted, Marufuji had been watching me practise and he said "your dropkick is good, cherish it". That is why I cherish it.
Kobashi: Because it is one of the most representative moves in wrestling, I think it is good to heighten it. Do drop kicks get noticed in many places? Speaking of them, I hope fans will be more likely to argue over it and say "that guy is amazing", "No! THIS guy is amazing". It used to be like that in the past, and everyone fought about it.
Kiyomiya: Not so much now.
Kobashi: There used to be a sense of tension in the past between both fans and athletes. When going to a wrestling grand prize ceremony, wrestlers from different companies are not allowed to speak with each other, company employees are also forbidden to speak. It was useless to speak in that atmosphere.
Kiyomiya: I think I am on good terms with other wrestlers now.
Kobashi: In the past fans were fighting, "All Japan is going up!" and "No, New Japan is more amazing!". If the wrestlers say there is no such thing, they will be lying. I felt so tense when I thought of how intense fans got. I want you to become a wrestler who carries the fans thoughts, it was like this a long time ago in Noah amongst the cliques; Misawa vs Kawada's clique, Kobashi's clique vs Taue...
Kiyomiya: I think it was that way (laughs)
Kobashi: I guess fans are killing each other about what is important now. Even so, I cannot read the times, but if Kiyomiya keeps going forward as he is, I think he will go to the top.
Q: Marufuji also says that "Kiyomiya will go to the top within three years".
Kobashi: We will see. He may pick up a bad injury, or else become useless through scandals involving women.
Kiyomiya: I will not (laugh)
Kobashi: I was a triple crown champion in All Japan, and I decided in Noah that "now, it is my era". I had my foot operated on. When I faced Akiyama at the first Noah show and I look back on it I thought, "I am going to do it now", but my legs would not move the next day. I thought it might have been said to the God of Pro-Wrestling, "you don't need him". After that I had knee surgery performed, partially ruptured the ligament again in the return battle, and was off again for half a year. It was painful to hear that "Kobashi is over", but I got back in there and became a champion. Although there may be such things for you, do not give up on yourself, Kiyomiya.
Q: Kiyomiya, do you feel you have hit the wall at the moment?
Kiyomiya: Not now. I think I am at the stage where it is only walls, and whether this particular wall can be broken today. There may be many things, but now it is only a challenge.
Kobashi: I was the same at 21, I saw it all before me. You have to go forward and Kiyomiya is in an important position.
Q: For Noah, Kiyomiya is a key person.
Kobashi: In addition to the youth, it is necessary to put together various things, such as dignity and polish. All the fans can see your progress. They can grow up with Kaito. Many people told me that they had become my fans, even though I did not have a strong push with the company then and no proven track record. Because there was support of the fans, I think we were all able to grow up together, and I would like you to take care of that as well.
Kiyomiya: Since I am only 21 years old, I think I would like to grow with my fans.
(A volume 2 of this interview is scheduled to be released)
Link to original article (Nikkan Spa) in Japanese