The following is a flashback to my Torch Talk interview with Chris Benoit published originally 15 years ago in the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter. Hundreds of Torch Talk interview installments are available instantly upon becoming a PWTorch VIP member, with more being added all the time in the form of either new Torch Talks or first-time online access to our deep archive of Torch Talks. For more info on becoming a VIP member, click here: www.pwtorch.com/govip
Torch Talk with Chris Benoit, pt. 2
Originally Published: December 16, 1995
Torch Newsletter #365
The following is the second installment of a "Torch Talk" series with one of WCW's Four Horsemen, Chris Benoit. Benoit talks about training at New Japan's dojo. The interview was conducted Aug. 16, 1995.
Wade Keller: What were some of the things you were told about the New Japan training dojos before you actually started there?
Chris Benoit: Just in terms of the training and the discipline and pretty well everything down to the food. I was pretty well ready for everything.
Keller: Tell me what the training was like. How many hours a day, what did you do during that time?
Benoit: We usually trained from ten in the morning until 1 in the afternoon. When I went there it was August and August and September are really warm over there and the New Japan dojo doesn't have any air conditioning and they don't have any heating in the winter, so you're training basically in the weather outside. They make you do squats and run and do push-ups and bridges.After the first day, the next day I had trouble walking down the stairs to our rooms because it was such a shock to my body because I was aching all over. I pushed myself to get out of bed and continue on.
Keller: What did you do during the other hours?
Benoit: I slept most of the time. It was such a shock to my body, not only the training but the food that really burned me out for the whole day. I went from eating meat and potatoes to rice and fish and different vegetables. It's a lot different than the diet I had been eating at home.
Keller: Have you found in the long run that it is easier to train with that type of food?
Benoit: Yeah, now I realize that. Right now I'm real strict with my diet. I eat a lot of rice and a lot of fish and a lot of chicken. I love going over to Japan because I fit right in there when it comes to diet.
Keller: How long did you train at the New Japan dojo?
Benoit: I was there for a year total, but I had gone home for Christmas here. A total of ten months all together.
Keller: Who else was going through the process with you?
Benoit: Daryl Peterson and Bryan Adams.
Keller: During that 12 months how often did you actually wrestle for New Japan?
Benoit: Yeah, I trained from August until January 1. I debuted in January.
Keller: How did your debut go?
Benoit: It was okay. I was really nervous. I was pleased with all the training I had done and all the preparation I had done. I wrestled Funaki.
Keller: How different was it wrestling in front of the New Japan crowd than Calgary?
Benoit: It's way different, totally different. It seems like over in America, Canada and the States, you always have your smart alecks in the crowd. A lot of times they don't appreciate the stuff you do. Whereas in Japan they respect you more as athletes and they appreciate a lot more the stuff that you do.
Keller: Behind the scenes how was it different in the locker room in New Japan vs. Calgary in the way you were approached and the way wrestlers interacted with each other?
Benoit: It's a lot more disciplined. Their dressing room atmosphere is a lot more disciplined than in Calgary. It's hard to explain. Just in the way they approach the match, a lot of the guys train for two hours before they even wrestle. They're like little warriors.
Keller: As opposed to wrestlers drinking beer and talking before the matches in the States?
Benoit: Yeah, or playing poker.
Keller: What happened after the dojo training was finished?
Benoit: Any of the other young guys who were done with the dojo would get sent away for a year or two before they were brought back. They knew I had worked in Calgary beforehand and it was pretty well understood I would go back to Calgary for a while until they were ready to bring me back. That's what I did. I wrestled a couple more years in Calgary and then New Japan gave me a call.
Keller: What was it like going back to Calgary after the New Japan experience? Were you treated differently by the guys?
Benoit: Not really, no. I was treated the same as before. Some of the guys had questions about what it was like, but I was treated like any of the other guys.
Keller: Did you come back with a bigger ego?
Benoit: No. If anything I was a lot more humbled because of what I had gone through to train. I had learned a lot more discipline than I had previously.
Keller: Did you feel in those next couple of years in Calgary that you continued to improve at a rapid rate?
Benoit: Definitely. I went back there and the crew they had in there was such a great crew and that's where I really polished myself and stepped up the latter in my workstyle and workrate. I was getting booked with guys who were such phenomenal workers. I was really lucky and fortunate.
Keller: Which opponents did it help the most to wrestle at the time?
Benoit: Bad News Allen helped me a lot. Jerry Morrow, Cuban Assassin, all of the Harts, pretty well everyone who was there. It was a real good crew.
Keller: Who do you think you had the best matches with at that time?
Benoit: Johnny Smith, by far.
Keller: When you got the call from New Japan, had you been waiting and anticipating the phone call or did you kind of know when to expect it?
Benoit: No, not at all. It came real suddenly. That's when things started going really bad for Stu and a lot of people were leaving and coming to the WWF. He was thinking of shutting down and I was sort of worried about where I was going to end up next, what I was going to do. That's when I got the call.
Keller: During that time did you think about working for the WWF, or the NWA, or some of the territories, or did you really want to follow Dynamite Kid's path and go to Japan?
Benoit: I always wanted to go to Japan and succeed in Japan, but that's sort of a place where they have to call you. It's pretty hard to call them. I wasn't sure. I wasn't sure about the WWF either. Back then it was still a big man's place. I was a no-name from Calgary. I was really unsure of where I was going to land.
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