Many fans criticized that New Japan scheduled at Billy Gunn against Hiroshi Tanahashi on the second night of Special G1 , believing that their styles are very different. Gunn joined New Japan in November last year, when Yoshitatsu introduced him as the new member of the Hunter Club.
Gunn and Yoshitatsu competed together in the World Tag League , finishing with a score of three wins and four losses, but besides that and a participation in the New Japan Rumble of Wrestle Kingdom 11, Gunn has not appeared much in the Japanese company.
About his participation in the New Japan tour, Gunn was interviewed by Justin Barrasso for his Extra Mustard section of Sports Illustrated :
“It was a huge honor to work for New Japan in that fight. We went out and did our thing. Tanahashi is simply amazing, and I achieved the greatest experience I had had in a long time. It was Tanahashi who asked to fight me, which was flattering.
“I thought I would no longer have opportunities for high profile fights at this stage of my career. Also, I was pleased to see Jim Ross commenting on the fight, because I love when he recounts my work.
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) July 3, 2017
About your dates with the Japanese company:
“New Japan talks to me every time they need me, and I’m happy to do what I can to contribute. I always stay in shape in case someone requires my services, so I can still play at a high level, maybe not like nineteen years ago, but I still can.
“There is in me the desire to do what I am passionate about. I’m still able to fight, and it’s all about adjusting my workouts and listening to my body, which tells me what I can do and what not.
“I train smart, and my training partner is Matt Wichlinski, who was the strength and conditioning coach at the WWE Performance Center. He has helped me tremendously for the past five years and has made me stay the way I am. If you had told me ten years ago that you would be training with sleds, rubber bands and chains, I would have called you crazy.
“New Japan is a force to be reckoned with. I love working with them and with the independent companies, but at this point, I settle for having fun fighting and training the new guys. I’m an instructor at the Dudleys Academy, and I love sharing what I’ve learned. “
The 53-year-old wrestler, whose real name is Monty Sopp, was fired as NXT coach in 2015 , but he owns the rights to his wrestling name as he recorded it when WWE let it lapse.