A number of questions about New Japan Pro Wrestling have circulated and as they are asked, we will do our utmost to answer them in the best way possible. Fans of the promotion are all too familiar with the talent, the promotion’s content, and the history and lineage that is tied to the company. However, for those that are just beginning their journey into the world of NJPW, they ask an array of different questions, and answering them may help navigate them through that world. We will tackle a few burning questions to help readers achieve some clarity. Here is Big Tall Japan’s NJPW mailbag of questions.
What is New Japan Pro Wrestling?
New Japan Pro Wrestling, or NJPW, is a Japan-based wrestling promotion with one of the largest popular followings in the sport today. It was originally founded in 1972 by legendary wrestler and WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki. After 23 years of ownership, Inoki sold that majority ownership to videogame development company Yuke, who resold the company in 2012. The current majority owners are Bushiroad, who hold an 85 % ownership stake, while the remaining minority shares are owned by TV Asahi and Amuse Inc. While the company has seen a rise in popularity over the last decade, there were some lean years before that. Its growth has seen a similar growth in championships, divisions, and tournaments held in both Japan and the United States. It reportedly did over 4.9 billion yen in revenues in 2018 alone. The numbers are staggering, and suggest its financial growth matches the growth in popularity of its talent.
NJPW has had partnerships with promotions such as the National Wrestling Alliance, TNA’s Impact Wrestling, and most recently Ring of Honor. Its vital domestic growth is no less important than growth internationally, and their talent is being seen abroad which helps elevate the company’s overall exposure. A commonly used term when discussing NJPW is ‘gaijin,’ which means someone not from Japan. This is used to refer to talent from the US, UK, Australia and elsewhere. Currently the biggest star among NJPW’s gaijin contingent is the recently dethroned IWGP Heavyweight champion Kenny Omega, who is from Canada.
Where can I watch New Japan Pro Wrestling?
For those that can’t attend the events that are held all over Japan, or the handful of events they present in North America on their own or in partnership with Ring of Honor, there are a number of legitimate streaming options available. One online streaming provider would be the FITE Network. This streaming service can be used to watch Wrestle Kingdom, New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest event every year, for a one-time fee. FITE has a downloadable application available on iTunes or the Google Play store, as well as on Amazon Fire devices.
Another option is AXS TV, a cable station in the United States. AXS TV is owned by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. The station is only available in the U.S., however, and even the limited streaming offered on its website is exclusive to American customers. NJPW on AXS is also replayed on the Fight Network in Canada, but episodes typically air on that cable station a year after their initial U. S. airing.
A more universal way to access NJPW would be through YouTube. While it is normally free, it does come with advertisements that may impede your viewing pleasure. Full events are not on YouTube, but this is a good avenue for seeking out highlights or selected matches from the past.
But the fourth, and best, way to access NJPW content is through its NJPW World streaming service. For a monthly fee, viewers have access to an enormous archive of past content, as well as every event live, with commentary both in Japanese and English. It too can be accessed through various devices, and makes for an enjoyable New Japan Pro Wrestling viewing experience. These options are the most reliable and legitimate options available, and readers are encouraged to explore them to gain exposure to the past and present of the promotion.
What can fans anticipate for New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2019?
Fans can anticipate continued growth, if 2018 is any indication. The company’s desire to give fans in the United States greater access to its product appears paramount. With more tours, better established relationships with venues, and burgeoning partnerships with US-based companies, they clearly see that that they can and will succeed with their current business model. Having the likes of Kenny Omega, a Canadian that is also conquering the U.S market, has allowed for additional growth in more than one market.
Given the extensive success of talent such as Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada and Minoru Suzuki, the company is primed to heighten awareness of their stars and weave them into the fabric of wrestling fan culture all over the world. Coupled with the inclusion of rising gaijin stars such as Juice Robinson, Jay White and Will Ospreay, the company is sure to provide is something for all fans to watch and enjoy. As mentioned above, touring different countries such as Australia, which also has a growing pool of young up and coming stars, shows how the company continues to think globally. They have also opened up training dojos in cities such as Los Angeles, bringing the strong style mindset overseas.
As a wrestling enthusiast for over 30 years, my fondness for professional wrestling explores the irrational in a rational way. I will explore the details inside and outside the ring and hopefully have a laugh with you in the process. I've had the fortune to interview wrestlers from Lucha Underground, TNA, Ring of Honor, GFW, and former WWE talent as well. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram and feel free to visit my website Pro Wrestling Post.