We wrestling fans live in a time of such a broad culture in the industry. No longer are we restricted to just North American promotions, as we can look to all four corners of the globe for alternatives.
While America still attains its golden value within the industry, Japan have been taking the industry by storm; enter New Japan Pro Wrestling. The critically acclaimed promotion has served up some phenomenal spectacles this year.
Events such as Wrestle Kingdom, Dominion & the G1 Climax have all been wonderful. Additionally they have also proven why NJPW is the number one wrestling promotion on the planet. Also let us not forget how many stars they have taken out of the sky! Within just one calendar year, NJPW have hosted two six-star matches.
Now let’s take a more detailed look at the fabric of success from NJPW in 2017.
World-Class NJPW PPV’s & Shows
On January 3rd of this year, Wrestle Kingdom 11 emulated from the Tokyo Dome. It is fair to say no one was prepared for what went down, as wrestling was literally re-written and re-invented on that night.
Firstly, the PPV itself was brilliant. Despite the show being absolutely stacked with a huge card including the pre-show, the show flew by. This is because the promotion created a solid foundation to the build of the show’s main-event, point in case; Wrestle Kingdom 11. There is no doubt that in my mind Wrestle Kingdom 11 will go down as one the greatest wrestling events of all time.
Then in June just months later, Dominion served up another world-class event. However I would like to specifically point to one match which took place at Steel Dominion; Kushida VS Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Truly a spectacle of a bout between two of Japan’s hottest stars, a match which has already made my personal top 10.
Also, we cannot forget the G1 Climax Tournament. Perhaps the most anticipated tournament in wrestling today did not disappoint this year. The G1 is a display of the best talent NJPW has to offer, on a global scale. Eventual winner Tetsuya Naito shall challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, on January 4th 2018 at Wrestle Kingdom 12.
NJPW: Where clouds become stars
If one looks at the broad roster NJPW possesses, there are some familiar names. The likes of Cody, Young Bucks and Ricochet are all recognized names globally. However specifically some names ring a familiar tone in a different manner.
Juice Robinson is one of NJPW’s fastest rising stars, where as two years ago he was barely used in WWE. Don’t remember Robinson in WWE? While in NXT, Robinson was known as CJ Parker but his tenure in the company was short-lived. Having signed with NJPW in August 2015, Robinson has since become a rising star. Robinson a prime example of NJPW creating stars that have not even shined prior to signing with the promotion.
At no point during his NJPW run has Juice Robinson been overexposed as a character, as this is something NJPW nail perfectly; the storytelling is not within the character, it is within the ring and matches.
“Getting over” is not an important element in NJPW, as ones success shall be accredited to their ability in-ring. Another example is current reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada; the man himself. Ranked no.1 wrestler of 2017, Okada was once a product of TNA back in 2010, he failed to even make an appearance on the main-show. Now he is the best professional wrestler on the planet, as he has carried the torch for the best part of two years.
There is something admirable about the way NJPW create stars, even without the excess of previously ever being a big name elsewhere.
Kenny Omega VS Kazuchika Okada Series
Six-stars, twice. Kenny Omega VS Kazuchika Okada have faced off on three occasions this year; at Wrestle Kingdom 11 & Dominion, both bouts being rated at six-stars plus. For the first time in a very long time, wrestling had a feud that captivated the industry.
Their first bout spanned over 45 minutes at Wrestle Kingdom 11, then their second bout at Dominion went for an entire hour, thus the bout was deemed a draw.
Omega VS Okada alone has catapulted NJPW to heights unfathomable, as their matches have become potentially the most anticipated matches in wrestling today. Two of the industry’s biggest stars have led by example with two amazing matches, which may take some years to best from anyone.
So, what will the remainder of 2017 bring from NJPW? More importantly, what will NJPW have in-store for the wrestling industry in 2018?
Make sure you follow Aaron on Twitter @AaronPatel97.
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