This is part 8 of Wild MOTHER Party – a round table discussion on the MOTHER/EarthBound series of video games with series creator Shigesato Itoi, musician Maximum the Ryokun (of Maximum the Hormone) and Kenny Omega.
You’ll probably want to start with Part 1 if you’re just joining in.
In this final installment, Shigesato Itoi invites Kenny and Ryokun to look into their future creative endeavors.
Itoi: It looks like we’re running out of time. Before we go, I’d like to hear about what’s coming up for the two of you.
Kenny, can we expect Japanese pro wrestling to get more interesting as long as you’re around?
Omega: I think you can. But, um, especially as the champion, it’s a little embarrassing to say so myself.
Itoi: Then let’s have Moegara say it for you. You go to a lot of wrestling events, right, Moegara?
Moegara: Yes, I do. Kenny’s next big match is on January 4, at Wrestle Kingdom – the biggest event of the year in Japanese wrestling. Kenny’s opponent, Hiroshi Tanahashi, is very popular, and an even match for skill. It should be a classic.
Omega: I’ll do my best.
Itoi: So, Moegara, what’s good in pro wrestling these days? It seems like the appeal is a little different from how it was back in Antonio Inoki’s day.
Moegara: That’s a fair assessment. The is divided inse days, NJPW’s roster is split into several warring factions, but even then it feels less like they’re fighting to tear each other down, and more like they’re fighting to make each other shine.
Moegara: Traditionally, wrestling’s all about grudges that arise as conflicting personalities and cliques collide. But nowadays the stories are more multilayered than before. The matches themselves aren’t only about destroying your opponent – they’re also about how you approach each different opponent to make yourself stand out.
Kenny himself got where he is today after a long, complex journey. He’s been a babyface, he’s been a heel – and kept the support of the audience all along – and now he’s the champ.
NJPW’s storytelling has a lot of layers that it hasn’t had before, and there are many different angles that fans can approach it from.
Omega: I think it’s a little odd to sort people into “good guys” and “bad guys.” Good, bad, black, white – every human has all of these inside them. I approach wrestling the same way.
One of my favorite TV shows is Breaking Bad. What makes Breaking Bad compelling? It shows a world full of shades of grey – “good” and “bad” aren’t enough to cover it. I think my matches convey that same sort of emotional range when you watch them from the start. That’s the kind of performance I want to put on.
Itoi: Most fighters talk as if they’re reciting a speech to get an audience fired up all the time, but I don’t get that vibe from you at all. You’re very soft-spoken.
Moegara: He is, isn’t he? Old wrestling promos are really blustery and dominating, but Kenny keeps them conversational. He’s always appealing directly to the audience, asking if they’re having fun and all that.
Itoi: That’s the impression I got. I’m not entirely sure why, but that personality type seems pretty common among MOTHER fans! [Omega laughs.]
Ryokun, what’s next after you put out a new album?
Ryokun: Well, Daisuke-han, one of our vocalists, is currently out with a hernia from overusing his neck…
Omega: Too much headbanging?
Ryokun: Yeah, actually, too much headbanging. So he’s gonna need surgery, and a lot of time in rehabilitation after that.
Omega: Wait, he headbanged so hard he needs surgery?!
Itoi: Wow, are you sure he’s not a wrestler, too?
Ryokun: I figure I might travel around and make a few presentations or something while he’s recovering.
Tanaka: To go back to what Mr. Itoi mentioned earlier, about standing up for what you personally enjoy, no matter how much it upsets your fans: Personally I think Ryokun might already be at that stage.
The song “Haikei VAP-Dono,” on their latest release, is a gentler, more pure rock song than Ryokun usually writes. It feels like he has that sort of music at his core. It made me think Maximum the Hormone may already be heading in that direction.
Ryokun: Ahh, that could be true.
Itoi: I see.
Tanaka: The comic included with it also seems very thoughtful, like Ryokun’s tired of his current approach and is working out a new one on the page.
My impression, at least, is that he’s starting to step a bit beyond only making extreme music for people who only want to hear extreme music. But I guess there’s no accounting for the pubes…
Itoi: I see someone doesn’t have a problem saying “pubes.” [Ryokun laughs.]
Tanaka: Guess we won’t be seeing that word on Hobonichi’s site.
Nagata: Sure we will.
Tanaka: Put it up there!
Nagata: As long as we put it in proper context, no problem. [Everyone laughs.]
Itoi: I’m looking forward to seeing what both of you do next. Hopefully I’ll be able to meet you again, on your own turf next time – I may be able to get someone to take me to see you perform in person. All that said, I think this is a good place to wrap it up. Thanks for your time today, both of you! [Applause.]
To be honest, I wasn’t sure how this was going to go when we started out, but I had a lot of fun.
Ryokun: Thanks, everyone!
Omega: Thank you very much!
Nagata: Alright, let’s give Kenny and Ryokun one more big hand – and take a group photo before everyone leaves!