New Japan Pro Wrestling

Took something special to steal that show.

Coming into 2017 I made the decision that from now on I was going to watch less WWE. With five hours of Raw and SmackDown and two PPVs a month enough was enough, and it was dampening my enthusiasm for other wrestling. Alongside that, I vowed that this would be the year I finally got into New Japan. I’ve watched a couple of Wrestle Kingdoms in the past, but it is time for me to give it the effort it deserves. With that in mind, the last two days have seen me sign up to New Japan World and tune into Wrestle Kingdom 11 and New Year Dash and as this is the internet in 2017, here are some things I learnt.

They Know How To Do Main Events

I think we’re going to see a lot of Omega this year.

By now, those that care will have seen Omega vs. Okada, and with Meltzer having awarded it six stars I don’t know if I can say anything to add to the hype. I will echo the comments already made, though, to say that it was incredible. It took a while to get going but once it did I was on the edge of my seat, and I had no connection to the story coming into this match. This was wrestling at its best. However, it was following three other brilliant matches. Takahashi vs. Kushida, Goto vs. Shibata and Naito vs. Tanahashi were all outstanding efforts, and I could wax lyrical about each of them for another thousand words. No one really wants to read that sadly so let’s leave it there.

Big Shows Are For Matches

Let’s all wrestle.

Throughout all of Wrestle Kingdom and New Year Dash the camera never once left the ring and ringside area. There was no backstage skits or cheesy authority promos. It was about the wrestling, and as someone who has watched as much WWE as I have, that was refreshing. Now, I don’t know enough yet to know if that is the NJPW style or if smaller shows do have backstage interviews and set-ups but I don’t really care. This felt like a big event where all the action was focused around the ring.

Kevin Kelly Explaining Anime Is Perfect

Tiger Mask W winning with a move that definitely wasn’t Ibushi’s Last Ride Powerbomb

The opening match of Wrestle Kingdom 11 was between Kota Ibushi and ACH. Except it wasn’t really, it was between Tiger Mask W and Tiger Mask Dark, two characters from an anime show in Japan. Kevin Kelly trying to explain the concept of these characters coming to life and wrestling was brilliant. About half way through he finally gave up and I don’t blame him. Also, Ibushi made no effort to hide who was under that mask.

The Bucks Have Outbucked Themselves

All the gold.

I love The Young Bucks. I love their approach to wrestling, and their devil may care attitude and yet their match with Roppongi Vice fell a bit flat for me. From what I’ve read elsewhere, it was a nice piece of storytelling with Rocky Romero and the match wasn’t actually bad, but I’ve come to expect incredible from these teams. Baretta’s dive to the outside aside (which looked painful as hell) I felt like we’d seen this before, a sad state of affairs considering how incredible some of it was. Sadly, we are at the point where to be good, the Bucks and Co now have to be incredible.

Bandages Sell Injuries

With some of these matches, the bandages were probably needed.

One of my favourite things about New Year Dash was the fact that nearly every wrestler who had competed the night before came out with a bandage covering a part of their body. They all worked slower, and they all sold the effects of the injuries they had maintained from what was supposed to be one of the biggest nights of their life. Those bandages were a tiny touch, but they got across the wars these men had been in, so why don’t we see it more? Sure, the likes of Cesaro have used it in the past, but the day after ‘Mania nearly every man should be coming to that ring strapped up. It’s a tiny touch but it works.

I Have So Much To Learn

I know fuck all about them, but I’m still excited.

From wrestler names to backstories, I have so much to catch up on in NJPW. At the end of New Year Dash Suzuki-Gun returned to the promotion, and while the crowd went crazy, I frantically turned to Google to try to find out who they were, and that was a common occurence during these two shows. The various groups that NJPW has set up and the members of each one are hard to get a grasp on, and I imagine it is going to take me a bit to figure it all out. The important thing, though, is that I can’t wait to find it all out.

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