Twitter users who are fans of both Hannibal Buress and Japanese wrestling got a weird surprise back in January. Buress was doing a stand-up tour in Japan and found himself with nothing to do in Tokyo one night. It was January 4, which every wrestling nerd will tell you is the biggest day of the year for Japanese wrestling. New Japan Pro Wrestling holds its biggest show of the year at the Tokyo Dome every year on that day. Currently known as Wrestle Kingdom, the yearly show is basically the Wrestlemania for Japanese wrestling, with the biggest stars in the biggest matches in front of the biggest crowd. With nothing better to do that night, Buress bought a ticket, and wound up tweeting live from Wrestle Kingdom throughout the show. As both Paste’s comedy editor and unofficial wrestling editor, I completely fall in that Venn diagram set of Buress and New Japan fans, so when I talked to him recently about his new Netflix special, I immediately asked about Wrestle Kingdom. If you’ve ever wanted to know what Hannibal Buress thinks about Japanese wrestling and wrestling entrance music, well, here you go.
Paste: I hear you were in Japan.
Hannibal Buress: I got back from Japan a couple days ago so I can’t… I’ve been going to sleep at like 7 and shit, 7 AM, 8 AM and yeah, I’ve been a bit off.
Paste: How was Wrestle Kingdom? I saw you were there.
HB: It was cool, man. It was a good time. You know I didn’t really know any… I don’t think I’ve ever been to a live wrestling event, so it was cool to see. I didn’t know the wrestlers. The wrestling was really good. It was very technically on point. Japanese fans are interesting. It’s very polite. Not polite, but they watch it in a way like it’s theater, almost. They really clap at certain points, like even though they know the guy’s not going to get pinned, when the guy jumps out of a pin after a crazy flurry of moves they clap for that, they give a nice applause break. It was a cool thing to go to over there. It’s a lot of Japanese people over there.
Paste: Were you just walking around and saw it was happening and bought a ticket?
HB: I tweeted out asking what’s going on in Tokyo and somebody said Wrestle Kingdom was happening. I looked it up and so I went buy there and just bought a ticket. It wasn’t totally sold out. Walked up and got a ticket.
Paste: For wrestling fans, for the type of fans who pay attention to wrestling beyond just WWE, that’s like the biggest show of the year. You saw the Wrestlemania of non-Wrestlemania wrestling.
HB: I didn’t realize—I knew it was popular but people were writing me like “holy shit! You’re there?” It was a good time, though. The music—people disagree with me, I forgot the guy’s name, but his music sounded like fucking Street Fighter music. And everybody was defending this song. I guess the guy’s coming to WWE because people said WWE bought the rights to this song.
Paste: Shinsuke Nakamura.
HB: Yeah, Nakamura’s song. People are defending that song and I’m hearing it and I don’t hear what you guys hear. I checked it out on my laptop afterwards, I heard it on a huge sound system in the Tokyo Dome, and I’m just not feeling it. But you know music is subjective. I know there are people who don’t like the same stuff I like.
Paste: What do you have against Street Fighter music? You say that like it’s a bad thing.
HB: Well videogame music is videogame music and real life music is real life music. I just compared it more to the epic songs from WWE and WCW. Obviously the Japanese wrestling, or at least what I saw, that little sample, is a bit more technically sound than WWE and what WCW was, but what WCW/WWE was, just the production was crazy. So those entrances, like the DX song, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the Rock, fuckin’ Razor Ramon’s music, NWO’s music, Hollywood Hogan with Jimi Hendrix, even like Hogan with “Real American”—all of these, the songs were just crazy, where you hear them and they hit in a different way. But maybe because this was my first time hearing the song so I didn’t connect to it. That’s what I thought of—I compared them to those epic wrestling entrance songs.
Paste: So you were a fan when you were younger, of American wrestling?
HB: No, not at all. I just ran off ten songs of different wrestlers, but no not a fan at all.
Paste: Hey, if you’re a certain age, that stuff was so huge that I could see people picking some things up even if they didn’t really watch it that much.
HB: Eh, not that much. But yeah I was a fan up until pretty much like high school—through high school. Then pretty much fell off with it after… well I watched a little bit in college but after that I wasn’t into it that much. In passing. I’d hear about people. I’d know who some of the stars are and stuff. I’m aware of CM Punk and John Cena and a couple other people but I’m definitely not super into it anymore.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s comedy and games sections. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.