The wonderful world of wrestling has been pretty wild this year already, and while it has been known that WWE had planned to create a NXT branch in the land of the rising sun, it is New Japan Pro Wrestling and their owners Bushiroad who, once again, took the world by storm with two major announcements.The first one being STARDOM being bought by NJPW’s parent company, and what we will dive into today, the imminent launch of “NJPW of America”, New Japan’s subsidiary in the West. Without further ado, let’s depict the official announcement released on New Japan’s official website, on October 21st.
After two years of dipping their feet in the American market, making their presence known little by little, and garnering as much information as they can, New Japan’s expansion in the West process is now reaching its third phase (according to BUSHIROAD’s plan) with the creation of NJPW of America. This new promotion will, apparently, start operating next month. Does “operating” here has anything to do with the upcoming New Japan Showdown shows in San Jose and Los Angeles ? Probably, but in the meantime, who knows really. Before asking any more questions, I suggest we look at what we actually know. The plan is pretty self explanatory, as CEO Takami Ohbari explains that the goal will be to grow in terms of consciousness in the minds of American fans, by doing multiple live events within five areas of the country, covering a total of 27 cities across 19 states. This plan is not about booking a lot of big shows while running big venues, but giving a regular viewing experience for fans in America, just like in Japan. Ohbari has also declared that the idea was to possibly double the number of events in the US next year, in comparison to this year (which lies at a dozen), which would mean around 25 events outside of Japan in 2020. Ohbari also added that, while for now, the US tours would be held while there is no tour going on in Japan, depending on the fans demand, the possibility of running simultaneous events or tours in both countries wasn’t to exclude.
The second point which needs to be highlighted is about the L.A Dojo, which will be “upgraded” as more of a bigger and more global facility, in order to support business as well as talents, still per Ohbari. The point of this being that New Japan wants to open its doors to wrestlers in the US who are passionate about the company, or its style of wrestling, and there is a will to let these wrestlers represent New Japan, whether or not they can make the trip to Japan to do so. Adding to that, tryouts and camps are planned on being ran, so NJPW of America, most likely through the L.A Dojo, will have its own development of future talents, again, just like in Japan. The possibility of running shows within the L.A Dojo has even been mentioned !
Sugabayashi & company weren’t lying about “bringing New Japan to America”, and not the opposite.
Now that we ran through most of what was important within the announcement itself, outside of Ohbari discussing the different ranges of American wrestling fans (which won’t be relevant here), let’s now to the part where I bring up my thoughts and expectations, regarding NJPW of America.
The first thing I would like to point out is that, by the looks of the announcement, NJPW of America does not seem like an “secondary promotion”, like some have supposed soon after the press conference report was released. If anything, this very likely is New Japan setting up a secondary Head Quarter in the USA, in order to be able to keep the expansion process going with more ease (In reference to the L.A Dojo becoming more of a global facility). To me, that would mean that you, most likely, shouldn’t be expecting a specific roster of wrestlers for NJPW of America, as it simply wouldn’t make much sense for New Japan to do that. Fans will demand to see the wrestlers they can mostly watch through NJPW World, primarily.
As for the second and last thing I’d like to bring up, let’s talk about the scheduling and its impact on the current roster. Since New Japan doesn’t intend on slowing down regarding the events they run in Japan every year, and who knows if they will add dates there as well in the future, adding around 25 dates in the United States may seem like a bit too much, especially when some of your top workers tend to work injured, or at least not at 100%, multiple times in the span of one year. While no company can, obviously, prevent all injuries, from the nagging ones you can bear with, to the ones putting you on the shelf for weeks, no smart company wants to put the talents in a situation where they just can’t perform at their highest level regularly. With New Japan doing a tour pretty much every month in their home country, adding more tours in America might be damaging to the talent, as well conditioned as they are. It doesn’t even have to be actual injuries coming in play, it can simply be accumulating fatigue because of all the traveling and performing in fairly short spans, at a high level.
However, while I believe there is legitimate worry to have in regard to the wrestlers themselves, and the wear and tear this new schedule can get them through, New Japan probably has more than one idea to work things out. One of these being already talked about, as New Japan wants to open its doors to pretty much any wrestler wanting to take their chance within NJPW of America. Meaning that, depending on how NJPW of America is actually organized, there will be a base of wrestlers within America who will be able to represent New Japan there, and work these US tours without much issues. However, the American audience will want to see Okada, Naito, Ibushi, Tanahashi, Ishii, Ospreay and company first and foremost, which only brings back the scheduling issues regarding your talents mainly working in Japan, and I really believe there are still unanswered questions when it comes to that topic.
Now, to conclude, this news should be welcomed with open arms by the American audience, whether we are talking about New Japan fans or not. Some of you have craved for something different for quite a long time, and while AEW has brought up a breath of fresh air within the American wrestling scene, seeing more regular Japanese wrestling events on American soil couldn’t be any closer to what an alternative is. It will also be very interesting to see the impact (no pun intend) of New Japan running American venues more regularly in the future, when it comes to companies like Ring of Honor, IMPACT Wrestling, and quite possibly AEW as well.
With all of that in mind, this is where this article wraps up ! What are your thoughts regarding NJPW of America ? What are your expectations ?
Picture source : njpw1972.com