Yes!…You read that correctly. You see the title of this article and immediately think “this guy is crazy…..He’s just plain NUTS!” I get it, I really do…. But as a lifelong WWE fan and a fan of all forms of wrestling, the WWE may have found themselves a competitor that one day may be able to stand toe to toe with them and potential steal a substantial piece of the market.
New Japan Pro Wrestling just finished an incredible US tour, the first ever New Japan show on American soil, with the G1 US Special in Long Beach wrapping up on July 2, 2017. The 2-night tournament was completely sold out both nights and the crowd was vocal, supportive and nothing short of amazing.
Night one was broadcast on AXS TV while night two was streamed on New Japan World and New Japan’s viewing audience is a buzz for more.
When Kenny Omega won the first ever NJPW US Title tournament and was crowned its FIRST United States Champion, he humbly thanked the audience and gave them all the credit for why he fought so hard to bring New Japan to America. Omega assured the New Japan leaders that if they came to America in response to the outcry heard from the US fans, the wrestlers of New Japan would show everyone what New Japan Pro Wrestling brings to the table. With the mainstream appeal of such figures as Kenny Omega, Okada, and The Bullet Club (this generation’s NWO/DX hybrid), fans around the world would so appreciate the talent that is in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Because of the great success of this inaugural tour, it was announced early in the night that the company will be back to tour the United States again in 2018 in what now seems to be a yearly excursion for the company.
So, what does this have to do with WWE? We all may remember the saying “Rome was not built in a day”, but after this past highly successful weekend, New Japan Pro Wrestling has gained a foothold and began to build a foundation for a rivaling titan in the world of professional wrestling in the United States. The fan outcry was already there…All New Japan had to do was listen…and deliver. And did they ever!
The number of fans enjoying New Japan Pro Wrestling continues to grow by the hundreds daily because it reminds hardcore fans of Attitude Era WWE. New Japan does not hold anything back when it comes to storylines, actions in the ring, and what the wrestlers say (which is a breath of fresh air) compared to the fully scripted world of WWE. They pride themselves on their “strong style” which is basically wrestling in the most realistic and brutal way. It’s a very physical style of wrestling and if you want a benchmark, take what WWE superstar (and former top star and Champion of New Japan) Shinsuke Nakamura does in the ring and rev that up to 100… then you may understand the physicality that is New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Superstars such as AJ Styles, Finn Balόr, The Club and the aforementioned Shinsuke Nakamura have all flourished in New Japan Pro Wrestling and brought with them a huge following of overseas fans. People follow great wrestling and great wrestlers…. and right now the best of both worlds reside in New Japan.
Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada have set the internet ablaze this year with their critically acclaimed matches and wrestlers like Testsuya Naito and Hiroshi Tanahashi are two of the best wrestlers in the world. New Japan is stacked with talent throughout their roster and its only getting deeper. Cody Rhodes (son of the late WWE star Dusty Rhodes) left the WWE and made a home and a huge name for himself in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Rumor has it that Dolph Ziggler potentially may follow suit and seek greener pastures in the land of the rising sun.
New Japan Pro Wrestling needs but one thing to compete with WWE….a major TV deal. Currently their shows are only aired on AXS TV (in delayed timeslots) with limited offerings only found with certain paid TV packages. The question is who is going to take a flyer on the growing giant and give it a home? Could Spike TV or HBO take a chance with the violent combat and “colorful language” of New Japan and potentially fall into a gold mine?
This competition, if you can even call it that right now, is in its preliminary stages between the two companies (WWE vs New Japan) but who knows? As you may have noticed, the WWE has gotten complacent and their product is starting to lose traction with its primary audience. Many hardcore wrestling fans are extremely thankful for the success of WWE’s developmental brand, NXT, as it continues to shine and grow to a worldwide brand and give fans what they want to see, great wrestling and less “entertainment” as seen weekly on Monday Night RAW and Tuesday night Smackdown. NXT understands the challenges faced by professional wrestling….they keep things simple within their storylines and their product is driven by the incredible in-ring work of their talented wrestlers. This is the same formula utilized with such great success by New Japan.
As wrestling fans, we should all be hoping for New Japan to continue to succeed and grow in the US and hopefully, one day, rival the WWE. If this were to happen, I feel wrestling fans worldwide would be in a state of bliss because the “war” between these two brands would bring out the best in one another. After all, a little competition brings out the best in competitors. Always has….Always will.