Tama Tonga: “Now I need to see what I can do as a singles competitor”

Aug 9, 2020 - by James Walsh

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Tama Tonga said that he was hoping to prove himself as a singles star in NJPW after previously dominating as part of a tag team. Here are highlights:

On proving himself as a singles wrestler: “I’ll be honest, after everything that has happened this year, and thinking about everything I’ve accomplished as a tag team wrestler, this tournament has made me think a lot about being a singles competitor. I never gave it that much consideration before. You’ve seen my G1 matches [filled with outside interference] in the past where I’ve thrown a lot of tournaments away, but this year has really made me do a turnaround and reconsider. I’ve accomplished being IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion six times. I think I’ve got my fill of that. I’ve been off for nearly half of the year, and I’m excited to be back. This tournament has given me a taste of being a singles competitor. Do I need to prove something? Maybe. Maybe I do. I’ve proven myself in a tag team. Now I need to see what I can do as a singles competitor.”

On why he shaved off his beard: “The coronavirus and the year 2020 made me shave off my beard. I had too much time at home. I’ve been working out, making sure I was prepared physically and endurance-wise, but I took it a step further. I thought about cutting my hair, but then I thought, let’s start with the beard. There’s been a pretty big reaction so far, but it’s good to have a change. That’s what I needed. It was time to do something different.”

On if he wants a match with Jon Moxley for the IWGP US Heavyweight title: “I’m not too eager about it. If you’re not the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, then what are you? You’re last. That’s the way I look at it, everything else is second place. That’s the way I’ve looked at it my whole career. The tag team championship belt, the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, that’s first place among tag teams. Anything else is second place. So if I’m going to be a singles competitor, then my only goal is to be the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. This tournament, to me, is to get my feet wet and start sharpening my skills to go after the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. That is my only goal.”

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