New Japan Pro Wrestling announced yesterday a new U.S. based subsidiary called New Japan Pro Wrestling of America. The company will be based in California and begin operations in November. CEO Takami Ohbari presented the three phases of their expansion plan.
-Phase One: Discovering new wrestlers in markets outside Japan and developing talent through the LA Dojo.
-Phase Two: Run events in the US, including at Madison Square Garden and Dallas this year, both independently and with the assistance of other promotions.
-Phase Three: Establish a company within the US, and be ingrained in the everyday fabric when it comes to fans’ wrestling consciousness.
Phases one and two are already completed, and phase three is set as NJPW of America will be putting on twenty-seven live events across eighteen states in 2020. Arenas with twenty-five hundred seat capacity will be the targeted cites for the shows.
This is interesting considering WWE recently tried to purchase two wrestling promotions in Japan to create NXT Japan. Pro Wrestling NOAH and women’s promotion Stardom ultimately turned down their respective offers.
New Japan has made some promotional errors in the U.S., which can be chalked up to a difference in business culture. The opening night of the G1 Climax in Dallas only drew five thousand people. It should have drawn more; however, New Japan promoted the show like they usually do in Japan when they announced the card a few days before the show.
That kind of promotion won’t work with a U.S audience because we’re used to getting the lineup at least a month before the event. People need time to decide if they want to spend their money on event tickets, travel plans, and hotel accommodations.
New Japan also announced they’re staying on AXS TV for the foreseeable future. However, AXS is now owned by Anthem, the parent company of Impact Wrestling (Formerly TNA). Impact’s weekly television show debuts on AXS this evening. Odd are Impact will be the station’s priority, not New Japan.
While some feel New Japan is starting off its American expansion too slow, I think it’s just right. Slow and steady wins the race. NJPW of America needs time to adjust to the American way of promotion and marketing.
WWE is the industry leader. Their lackluster storytelling, however, has led to decreasing ratings, which has ultimately led to the emergence of All Elite Wrestling. Wrestling fans want quality matches and storytelling, and other companies are moving in to fill the void.
Arguably, New Japan has the best in-ring product in the game today. It will take more than suitable matches to get over in the U.S. on a mainstream level. I think New Japan realizes this and doesn’t mind moving slowly with its expansion while ensuring the product doesn’t take a single dip in the quality.