Hikuleo acknowledges the rumors, but he’s focused on winning first and foremost.
AT NJPW New Year Dash!!, Jay White challenged Hikuleo to a Loser Leaves Japan Match, which was subsequently confirmed for the New Beginning in Osaka event on February 11. At the time, rumors about WWE’s interest in Hikuleo and White’s potential free agency started circulating. As a result, the looming clash between White and Hikuleo quickly became even more fascinating, given the factors that were in play.
Speaking with NJPW’s website, Hikuleo was asked to comment on the rumors. He noted that being able to stay in Japan was important to him, as he has a lot left to do there.
“It goes back to me being early on in my career,” he said. “I’ve still got so much to learn. I only just came back in the fall of 2022, and the amount of reps I can get, the discipline I can develop, the things that I can achieve in Japan? There’s still so much that I have to do, still.”
Hikuleo continued by noting that he knows White is a valuable performer, and it felt “nice” to know that other promotions value him as well. He stated that winning the match is the main objective, as being the one who made “Switchblade” leave Japan would take his own status to new heights.
“I know that Jay is valuable anywhere,” Hikuleo said. “It’s nice to know that I am too. But at the end of the day, this is about winning. At the end of that day in Osaka, one of us is leaving Japan, and people will remember tat for a long time to come. It’s destiny. When you think of what Jay White has achieved in the last five years, it puts us on entirely different levels, and I can instantly make my value skyrocket if I’m the guy that made Jay White leave Japan.”
The powerhouse went on to preview the match by comparing it to a game seven situation, as it’s win or go home, and he’s facing plenty of pressure. However, he brought up the saying that pressure makes diamonds.
“If you go back to his comments after Wrestle Kingdom, he was blaming that loss on me,” Hikuleo said. “But it’s all on him. I don’t know what he expected from me, I don’t know why he really expected that I wouldn’t go back to my brothers, that me being loyal to my family was such a shock to him. But something that small, surely that natural clearly hurt so badly that he feels it led to his loss.
“He just wrestled for the IWGP World heavyweight Championship in the main event of the Tokyo Dome, and I was in the kickoff match. So he’s put me on a much higher pedestal here, and that’s great for me in a sense, but it’s a game seven scenario- it’s either win or go home and that’s nerve wracking for sure. There’s a lot of pressure, but pressure builds diamonds.”
WrestleZone will have coverage of NJPW The New Beginning in Osaka once it airs on February 11.