MAO: When to Hit Your Boss with a Van

(This interview originally appeared in Japanese in Rolling Stone Japan under the headline “Why did pro wrestler MAO hit Sanshiro Takagi with a car?”)

Employing several dozen wrestlers across multiple sub-brands, Dramatic Dream Team has reached the point where it’s hard to call it an indie promotion. One wrestler who stands out among their roster is 22-year-old wunderkind MAO. One half of the graceful, acrobatic tag team Moonlight Express (along with Mike Bailey), MAO carved out his place in professional wrestling in DDT’s infamous Street Wrestling events – an off-the-wall format that fits him to a T.

Some fans call MAO “the second coming of Kota Ibushi” for his physical prowessand also his affinity for nonsense. Why is it that he prefers such a bizarre style? We caught up with MAO as he prepares for DDT’s Wrestle Peter Pan 2019 event, coming soon to Tokyo’s Ota City Central Gymnasium.

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The Big Kaiju Raids Again! Interview with Shoko Nakajima

The following interview with Shoko Nakajima originally ran in Japanese in Weekly Pro Wrestling issue 2009.

Shoko Nakajima, the “1.47-Meter Big Kaiju” of Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestler, has kept a comfortable distance from TJPW’s title scene recently. But that all changed at Shinkiba First Ring on April 13, when she issued a heartfelt challenge to Miyu Yamashita, the current Tokyo Princess of Princess champion. As her May 3 title match with Yamashita approaches, Nakajima bares her feelings towards her fellow wrestlers, as well as towards the belt that she’s yet to claim for her own.

Interview by Yuuki Ishii.

“Yamashita = Champion” — A hard truth to swallow, but the truth

What’s your impression of Miyu Yamashita right now, as you prepare to face her at Korakuen Hall?

Yamashita’s been the ace of TJPW since the moment it was founded, right? She’s carrying the whole promotion, right? I don’t think she was even aware of her position at first. But once she got the belt, I think the idea started to sprout in her head, like, “Okay, I’m the one who’s gonna lead this promotion.”

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Wild MOTHER Party – Part 8

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.

Parting Comments

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.

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Wild MOTHER Party – Part 7

This is part 7 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.

Styles Clash

Ryokun: Kenny, when you’re wrestling, which do you consider more important – your own performance, or the audience’s response?

Omega: My thinking about this has changed a bit lately. At first, I was only focused on my own performance and the reactions I got from the live audience.

But social media and video streaming are a huge part of wrestling these days. The audience isn’t limited to the people sitting in the stands anymore; it’s spread out all over the world. I’ve been trying to take the fans watching from afar more into account.

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Wild MOTHER Party – Part 6

This is part 6 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 installment, Shigesato Itoi has some professional advice for Maximum the Hormone.

Senpai Notices Ryokun

Ryokun: There’s one thing I wanted to ask if I ever got to meet you, Mr. Itoi.

Itoi: What is it?

Ryokun: When you first brought your pitch for MOTHER to Nintendo, I heard they pretty much ripped it to shreds. Is that true?

Itoi: Everyone tells it so dramatically, but truth be told, the whole process was more professional than the stories make it sound. I went in expecting to be showered with praise for my ideas. On my way to Nintendo, I felt like [seminal Japanese rock musician] Eikichi Yazawa, back when he was on top of his game – “I’ll blow ’em away in one hit!”

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Wild MOTHER Party – Part 5

This is part 5 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.

Of MOTHER 4 and Mr. Saturn

Omega: EarthBound, the international version of MOTHER 2, came in a much bigger box that other Super Nintendo games. Was that your idea, Mr. Itoi?

Itoi: Nintendo of America came up with that.

Omega: Ahh, okay. It was really surprising to see that huge box.

The first time I saw EarthBound was back in Canada, at a game rental place. I was looking through the shelves for a game to rent, and suddenly saw this huge box among all the others. “Whoa,” I thought, “what the heck is this?” It made quite an impact.

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Wild MOTHER Party – Part 4

This is part 4 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.

This installment brings the focus towards the series’ distinctive soundtrack.

An Ear for Music

Itoi: No matter what specific role they play, when you’re working on a game, everyone on the team is focused on figuring out ways to make the game fun. But it’s important to give consideration to how you’re going to make the parts that aren’t fun, too.

Omega: Ahh.

Ryokun: Now that you mention it…

Itoi: Thinking through how to make the parts of a game that aren’t fun is like laying down a base coat of primer before you start painting a picture.

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Wild MOTHER Party – Part 3

This is part three 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.

At the end of the second installment of Wild MOTHER Party, Kenny Omega mentioned Porky – a major antagonist in the second and third games in the series. In part three of the round table discussion, Omega, Shigesato Itoi and Maximum the Ryokun continue talking about…

A Villain Named Porky

Nagata: Mr. Itoi, you consider Porky to be central to the series’ overall theme, isn’t that right?

Itoi: There’s a very special place in my heart for Porky. Taken as a whole, MOTHER is Porky’s story, really.

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Wild MOTHER Party – Part 2

This is part two 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.

An Unnameable Discomfort

Nagata: Mr. Itoi, you often say that creating MOTHER has led you to meet all sorts of people. Do you mean that there’s something different and unique about MOTHER that brings you into situations like this?

Itoi: Yes.

Nagata: I’m sure everyone here plays all sorts of other games. What do you think is special about MOTHER that draws people in?

Itoi: I think what it is, is that MOTHER is kind of uncomfortable.

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Wild MOTHER Party – Part 1

Hobonichi (“Almost Daily”) is a Japanese company that designs and creates a popular line of notebooks and day planners. The company’s founder, Shigesato Itoi, is more widely known as the creator of the beloved MOTHER series of roleplaying video games. MOTHER 2 was released outside of Japan as EarthBound in 1995. The series has long influenced game designers all over the world – and, apparently, professional wrestlers and nu-metal musicians as well.

Hobonichi recently hosted a round table discussion about the MOTHER series with Itoi, IWGP Heavyweight champion and known gamer Kenny Omega and Maximum the Ryokun, guitarist and vocalist for Maximum the Hormone. They’ll be posting transcripts of the talk on their website throughout December, and I’ll be translating them one at a time.

Without further ado, let’s start off with the first section of the discussion transcript

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