Japanese professional wrestling is an enigma unto itself. While North America’s presentation primarily emphasizes spectacle over sport, Japan’s exhibition of the art accentuates the opposite. While it might look the same as the staged combat seen in the west, the eastern flavor has more kick.
While WWE is the industry leader, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) is Japan’s most prominent and longest-running wrestling promotion. Founded in 1972, NJPW is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Today, NJPW is arguably the second biggest promotion in the world and puts on great wrestling matches that have produced a global cult-like following. All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and New Japan will team up for their Forbidden Door pay-per-view event this Sunday.
There are many great matches from a multitude of events that epitomize NJPW. Consider this an introductory course for the uninitiated, citing ten matches that best illustrate the style and presentation of New Japan.
This isn’t a “best-of” list, and I won’t be teaching this class alone.
I called the Jobber Knocker Podcast’s resident NJPW expert Dennis Conway aka SSJPegasus. We’ll each pick five matches that are great introductory examples to New Japan Pro Wrestling.
If you’re watching AEW Forbidden Door this Sunday and are unfamiliar with NJPW, this one is for you.
Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada have engaged in what many have called the greatest in-ring rivalry of all-time. Four bouts with 25 ¼ stars ratings between them have changed the conversation on what makes for a stellar wrestling match. You can’t go wrong with picking one match over another. However, one encounter tickles my fancy more than most due to its simple and compelling story. Continue reading “Favorite Matches #2: Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega III”→
The unprecedented six-star praise of the first match between Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega on January 4th had many fans calling it “the greatest professional wrestling match of all time”. Their highly anticipated rematch occurred on June 11th in front of a capacity crowd at Osaka-jo Hall. Expectations were too high. How could Okada and Omega top their last outing?
Being that wrestling is subjective, I have a different perspective on what’s good and what’s bad than someone else may have. Instead of judging what was better, the question to ask is did Okada and Omega simply add to something great or improve upon the original design?
The match that many have called the greatest of all-time will get its second chapter. Kenny Omega will lockup with Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Title at NJPW Dominion on June 11, at Osaka-Jo Hall.
The match was made on Wednesday at Wrestling Dontaku when Okada called Omega into the ring after defeating Bad Luck Fale. Omega entered the ring for a staredown, looked to the camera and said that Okada is not the champion that people want.
Okada defeated Omega in January at Wrestle Kingdom to retain the championship in a 45-minute classic, which earned an unprecedented six-star rating by famed journalist Dave Meltzer. Those who missed out on their first encounter will no doubt look forward to the sequel.
New Japan Pro Wrestling announced the brackets for this year’s New Japan Cup tournament. This will mark the 13th annual Cup where the winner of this single elimination tournament will earn a title shot at any singles championship they wish to challenge for at Sakura Genesis (formerly Invasion Attack) on April 9th at Sumo Hall.
The first round matches will begin on March 11th (The right side of the brackets) and March 12th (The left side of brackets) the quarterfinal matches will occur on March 13th and March 17. Semifinal action will take place on March 19 and the finals on March 20th. The Wrestling Observer has confirmed that the last two days will air live on New Japan World while the rest of the shows will air on a delay.
These matchups make for some interesting possibilities. I’d expect Hiroshi Tanahashi to at least make it to the finals of his bracket. Besides Toru Yano, who he’ll face in the finals is anyone’s guess.
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Minoru Suzuki in the first round is just all sorts of awesome. Booking their match in this position is the right call because placing them anywhere else in the same bracket makes the outcome too predictable.
O Kenny! My Kenny! What do we do with Kenny Omega? “The Cleaner’s” white-hot popularity makes him the easy pick to win the whole enchilada, however, does New Japan plan on having the Okada/Omega II on April 9th?
The strong style of Japanese wrestling isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you prefer your squared circle theater to fiercely resemble the combative variety, New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 11 was topped off with a quadruple crescendo that will be impossible for any promotion to top or duplicate.
Hiromu Takahashi vs. KUSHIDA, Hirooki Goto vs. Katsuyori Shibata, and Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi would all be match of the year candidates if it weren’t for the main event.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer newsletter gave Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega his first six star rating. Many are calling the 46 minute classic the greatest match in the history of professional wrestling.
Adam Kohn and I ring in the New Year with our review of NJPW’s annual January 4th spectacular, which emanated from the Tokyo Dome. Every title in New Japan was on the line as the 11 match card was streamed live on New Japan World.
Any wrestling fan worth his salt knows what January 4th represents. It is the biggest day of the year for Japanese pro wrestling as New Japan Pro Wrestling puts on their annual Wrestle Kingdom event otherwise known as the Tokyo Dome show. The perspective magnitude of this event is equal to WrestleMania and boasts an impressive resume of spectacle and sport.
The build for Wrestlemania is heating up with six big matches announced.
The Rock vs. John Cena
Hell in a Cell: HHH vs. The Undertaker
WWE Title: CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho
World Heavyweight Title: Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus
Intercontinental Title: Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show
Randy Orton vs. Kane
Those matches are enough for any wrestling fan to throw down their $54.95. With such a stacked line up already would any other match just be a let down? There will be a Divas’ match added to the card and the drama between Teddy Long and John Laurinaitis will probably culminate with a five man tag to determine one General Manager. Look at the current roster of wrestlers to see who doesn’t have a match yet.