CvC 2.0 Round 2
Best Wrestling Promotion Internationally
Tom Clark vs. Muzzy Daud
I must admit, I have not really kept tabs on this company in quite a while. But, when choosing NJPW as the best international wrestling promotion, it allowed me the opportunity to become reacquainted with some of the best wrestling in the world. It is safe to say that I will be keeping New Japan heavily on my radar from this point on.
For fans, just the name of the company automatically garners a response. When “New Japan” is uttered in pro wrestling circles, they are most often linked to other, very familiar words. Words like: respect, honor, tradition.
Here in the States, pro wrestling is “the business,” a hybrid of in-ring action and over-the-top entertainment. In Japan, however, pro wrestling is still all about the wrestling.
In the land of the rising sun, NJPW is as big as WWE is in America. Founded by Japanese wrestling legend Antonio Inoki in 1972, NJPW is the promotion for wrestlers to build their reputations and become certified stars.
To borrow a phrase, "If you can make it New Japan, you can make it anywhere."
One of the great elements of Japanese wrestling is the crowd itself. They are quiet during a match, near silent, as they respectfully sit and soak in the classic give-and-go that is often displayed in the NJPW ring.
The only time they pop is when the action is at a stand still, usually when both guys have just worked a lengthy spot. Neither man can get the advantage over the other, and they end up on their feet, in a staredown. When the crowd erupts into cheers and applause, I as a wrestling fan am inspired.
Not only is that what pro wrestling is supposed to be, this is how a pro wrestling crowd is supposed to act. Showing respect for the men and women in the ring who are giving their all to entertain, recognizing that talent, ability and hard work, go into making a good match a great match.
The IWGP Heavyweight Championship is the top prize in NJPW. The International Wrestling Grand Prix is New Japan’s own controlling body and the company features titles with that brand. The belt is considered one of the most prestigious trophies in all of professional wrestling, and is currently held by the “High Flying Star” Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Tanahashi is impressive in the ring. He is a 12-year veteran, and in his fifth reign as IWGP Champion. He has wrestled some of the greats in Japan, including Kensuke Sasaki, Masahiro Chono and Shinsuke Nakamura.
The IWGP Intercontinental Title is currently held by a familiar face to American pro wrestling fans, MVP. The belt is only a couple of months old, and while many fans felt that MVP didn’t quite get his due in WWE, he certainly seems to be held in high regard within New Japan.
Apollo 55 are the current IWGP Junior Tag Team Champions, and are a very dynamic tag team. Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi are a fluid, highly skilled tag team who are bringing it every time they step into the ring.
Kota Ibushi, the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, must be seen to be believed. He is as inventive, as innovative, as any pro wrestler for his size, that I have personally ever seen. He is a risk taker, who makes it look so easy, yet dangerous, all at the same time.
The fifth championship in New Japan are the IWGP Tag Team Titles. These belts are now held by Giant Bernard, known formerly in the U.S. as A-Train, and Karl Anderson. Train, like many other guys, headed to Japan to work the big stage of NJPW after spending most of his career in America.
The talent of New Japan is world class, and provide excitement and intensity in every match. NJPW knows how to put on a show, and offers some of the best wrestlers in the world to prove it.
The promoters of New Japan have been very smart through the years, by establishing working agreements with American promotions. NJPW actually began as a member of the National Wrestling Alliance, and other lucrative arrangements have followed over the years.
These arrangements, which have included WWE, WCW, Ring of Honor, TNA and more recently, Jersey All Pro Wrestling, have been mutually beneficial for both sides.
New Japan stars get mainstream exposure in the United States, and American wrestlers get the opportunity to work in front of an international crowd, which also helps their own worldwide exposure.
Van Vader, Scott Norton and Brock Lesnar, all American pro wrestlers, have each held the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, and several other wrestlers from the States have held gold in NJPW. But, these names are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the American stars who have worked for the company over the years.
And, that’s not even close to the entire list.
New Japan is known the world over as being one of the most prestigious organizations in the history of professional wrestling. They continue to pack arenas throughout Japan, and their biggest event, which is held every Jan. 4 at the Tokyo Dome, is their WrestleMania.
The event had its most profitable draw in 1993, taking in $3,200,000 in ticket sales and setting the attendance record with 63,500. NJPW is doing big business, and fans cannot get enough of the product.
The mission of any pro wrestling promotion seeking success as a company is to establish their name, and draw money in the process. New Japan has done this almost since day one, and continues to do it to this day.
While there are other companies in other parts of the world who are also respected, and loved by fans, NJPW is in a league of its own. For many of us in the U.S. who want the focus placed back on the in ring action, there are options out there for us to satisfy our appetites.
New Japan is the source of classic mat wrestling fused with the dynamic style of high flying superstars. The drama is in the wrestling match itself, and as I watch the events online, I come to one stark realization.
New Japan is what I want WWE to be.
Be sure to check out Muzzy Daud's column on his page.