New Japan Pro-Wrestling
New Japan Pro-Wrestling Co., Ltd. (新日本プロレスリング株式会社 Shin Nihon Puroresuringu Kabushiki-kaisha) (NJPW) is a Japanese professional wrestling promotion based in Nakano, Tokyo. Founded in January 1972 by Antonio Inoki, the promotion was sold to Yuke's, who later sold it to Bushiroad in 2012. TV Asahi and Amuse, Inc. own minority shares of the company. Naoki Sugabayashi has served as the promotion's Chairman since September 2013, while Harold Meij has served as the President of the promotion since May 2018.
NJPW logo since 1972
|New Japan Pro-Wrestling|
|Shin Nihon Puroresuringu Kabushiki-kaisha|
|Founded||January 13, 1972|
|Headquarters||JR Tokyu Meguro Building, 16F, 3-1-1 Kamiosaki, Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan|
(Representative Director of Bushiroad)
(President and CEO)
|Revenue||¥4.9 billion (2018)|
(majority owner - 85%)
(minority owner - 10%)
(minority owner - 5%)
Number of employees
Owing to its TV program aired on TV Asahi, NJPW is the largest professional wrestling promotion in Japan and the second largest promotion in the world. It was affiliated with the National Wrestling Alliance at various points in its history. NJPW has had agreements with various MMA and professional wrestling promotions around the world, including WWE, World Championship Wrestling, American Wrestling Association, World Class Championship Wrestling, Impact Wrestling, WAR, UWFi, Ring of Honor, Pride Fighting Championships, and Jersey All Pro Wrestling. NJPW's biggest event is the January 4 Tokyo Dome Show, held each year since 1992 and currently promoted under the Wrestle Kingdom banner.
The promotion was founded by Antonio Inoki in 1972 after his departure from the Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance promotion. The first NJPW event took place on March 6, 1972, in Tokyo. Inoki would serve as the president of the promotion until 1989, when he stepped down to pursue a political career as a member of the Japanese House of Councillors. The promotion was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) from 1975 to 1985 and once more from 1992 to 1993. NJPW was briefly reaffiliated with the NWA in the late 2000s to the early 2010s as well.
Also known as "Shin Nihon Puroresu", NJPW is considered the top wrestling promotion in Japan and is comparable to WWE in the United States in terms of popularity in the country. They promote events throughout Japan with their biggest event being their annual supercard held every year on January 4 at the Tokyo Dome, currently billed as Wrestle Kingdom; this serves as Japan's version of WWE's annual WrestleMania event.
In the past NJPW has worked with WWE, World Championship Wrestling (WCW), Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), Global Force Wrestling (GFW), and Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw), among others. The company currently has working agreements with five foreign promotions—Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) and The Crash Lucha Libre in Mexico, Ring of Honor (ROH) and the NWA in the U.S., and the British Revolution Pro Wrestling (RPW). Occasionally, NJPW will also host cross-promotional matches with other Japanese promotions, such as All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) and Pro Wrestling Noah.
The promotion is currently owned by Japanese card game company Bushiroad, which parlayed its entry to the world of professional wrestling into a best-selling trading card game, King of Pro Wrestling, and appearances from NJPW stars in its various franchises.
The promotion also has its own governing body, the International Wrestling Grand Prix, shortened as IWGP. NJPW currently has eight titles: the IWGP Heavyweight, IWGP Intercontinental, IWGP United States Heavyweight, IWGP Junior Heavyweight, IWGP Tag Team, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team, NEVER Openweight and the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships. It also holds several tournaments each year, including the G1 Climax, World Tag League, New Japan Cup and Best of the Super Juniors.
The promotion debuted a new series called NEVER in August 2010, designed to be a series of events spotlighting younger up-and-coming New Japan talent and feature more outsider participation in the promotion. The final NEVER event was held in November 2012.
On January 4, 2011, New Japan officially announced the NJPW Invasion Tour 2011: Attack on East Coast, the promotion's first tour of the United States to be held in May 2011. The tour featured shows in Rahway, New Jersey on May 13, New York City on May 14 and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 15, as well as cross-promotion with American independent group Jersey All Pro Wrestling (JAPW). As part of the tour, NJPW introduced a new title, the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. On January 31, 2012, Yuke's announced that it had sold all shares of New Japan Pro-Wrestling to card game company Bushiroad for ¥500 million ($6.5 million).
New Japan aired its first internet pay-per-view, the fourth day of the 2012 G1 Climax, on August 5, 2012. The October 8, 2012, King of Pro-Wrestling pay-per-view marked the first time viewers outside Japan were able to order a pay-per-view by the promotion through Ustream. On October 5, 2012, New Japan announced the creation of the NEVER Openweight Championship, which would be contested for on the NEVER series. A two-day tournament to determine the inaugural champion was held between November 15 and 19, 2012.
In February 2014, New Japan announced a partnership with ROH, which saw the promotion return to North America the following May to present two supershows; Global Wars in Toronto and War of the Worlds in New York City. During the tour, New Japan wrestlers also took part in an event held by Canadian promotion Border City Wrestling (BCW). A year later, NJPW and ROH announced another tour together to produce four more supershows; War of the Worlds '15 on May 12 and 13 in Philadelphia and Global Wars '15 on May 15 and 16 in Toronto.
In June 2014, New Japan announced a partnership with the new American Global Force Wrestling (GFW) organization helmed by Jeff Jarrett. In November 2014, GFW announced that it would be broadcasting NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom 9 in Tokyo Dome on pay-per-view in the United States as a four-hour event. Also in November 2014, the American AXS TV network announced it had acquired rights to rebroadcast a series of thirteen episodes of NJPW matches from TV Asahi. The series premiered on January 16, 2015, airing weekly on Fridays. Averaging 200,000 viewers per episode, the show was considered a success, leading to AXS TV and TV Asahi signing a multi-year deal to continue airing the show. In June 2016, the show was also acquired by the Canadian Fight Network. On December 1, 2014, NJPW and TV Asahi announced NJPW World, a new worldwide streaming site for the promotion's events.
On July 18, 2015, NJPW announced the "New IWGP Conception", a global expansion strategy centered on their international partnerships with CMLL, GFW, ROH, RPW, wXw and the NWA as well as holding more shows in Thailand, Singapore, and Taiwan. Also announced was the Lion's Gate Project, which would feature NJPW rookies as well as up-and-coming outsiders working trial matches in an effort to earn a spot in the promotion. Finally, it was announced that there were plans to take the company public with a listing on the stock market within three to five years.
On December 21, 2015, NJPW announced the creation of its seventh active title and the first six-man tag team championship in the promotion's history, the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship. On January 5, 2016, NJPW announced a partnership with the Amuse talent agency with the goal of making the promotion's wrestlers internationally recognized stars in the vein of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
In March 2017, NJPW partnered with the New Zealand-based Fale Dojo, a pro wrestling training facility run by NJPW performer Bad Luck Fale. NJPW will utilize the partnership as an opportunity to scout talent from Oceania. The following month on April 24, 2017, it was announced that NJPW would co-present the Japanese qualifiers for the Pro Wrestling World Cup tournament hosted by the British What Culture Pro Wrestling (WCPW) promotion.
On May 12, 2017, NJPW announced the creation of a new title: the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship, with the inaugural champion to be crowned during the promotion's G1 Special in USA shows in Long Beach, California on July 1 and 2. Four days later, NJPW held a press conference to announce plans to establish a subsidiary company, including a dojo, in the United States. A Los Angeles office was scheduled to be opened before the end of 2017, with a dojo scheduled to be opened at the start of 2018. NJPW's second American event, Strong Style Evolved, took place on March 25, 2018, also in Long Beach. In November 2017, NJPW signed a television deal with Discovery Communications, which would see the company's programming brought to 70 million Indian homes through DSport. In 2017, NJPW produces the best matches of the year. In January 2018, NJPW announced the four-show Fallout Down Under tour, the promotion's inaugural tour of Australia spanning from February 16–19. In March 2018, New Japan opened the NJPW LA Dojo with Katsuyori Shibata serving as head trainer and ROH wrestler Scorpio Sky serving as assistant trainer. On May 13, 2018, New Japan hired its first foreign president, Dutch businessman Harold Meij. In February 2019, NJPW re-established their partnership with the NWA and entered into a new partnership with The Crash Lucha Libre.
Up until the 1980s, NJPW signed its workers to multi-year contracts, before changing to a system, where the promotion signed its wrestlers to one-year deals that expired at the end of every January. Following the departures of A.J. Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura, NJPW chairman Takaaki Kidani announced in February 2016 that the promotion was returning to the multi-year contract system. The contracts forbid negotiations with other promotions. Any side contracts or agreements offered to wrestlers under NJPW contracts, need the promotion's approval before being signed. New Japan is unique among other major promotions as they allow freelancers to work for the company, as well. Their partnerships also allow wrestlers contracted to other companies to have prominent runs in Japan (see The Young Bucks for example).
|Championship||Last champion(s)||Reign||Date retired||Notes|
|IWGP Third Belt Championship||Shinsuke Nakamura||1||February 17, 2008||Unified with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship after Nakamura defeated the previous champion Kurt Angle.|
|IWGP U-30 Openweight Championship||Hiroshi Tanahashi||2||June 7, 2006||Vacated by Tanahashi at the age of 29 and soon deactivated.|
|NWF Heavyweight Championship||Shinsuke Nakamura||1||January 4, 2004||Unified with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship after Nakamura defeated the previous champion Yoshihiro Takayama.|
|J-Crown||Shinjiro Otani||1||November 5, 1997||A unification of eight different junior heavyweight championship titles from different promotions and countries, including the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. The first unified champion was The Great Sasuke, crowned in a tournament held on August 1996. The J-Crown was dissolved after the WWF reclaimed the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship, with Otani keeping the IWGP title and returning the remaining belts to the original promotions.|
|Greatest 18 Club Championship||The Great Muta||1||August 16, 1992||Muta retired champonship, in order to focus on his IWGP Heavyweight Championship title defenses.|
|WWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship||Antonio Inoki||2||December 31, 1989||Contested in matches billed as shoot wrestling fights.|
|IWGP Heavyweight Championship (original version)||Antonio Inoki||2||May 11, 1987||The championship was deactivated and replaced by the current IWGP Heavyweight Championship, that was awarded to the winner of the IWGP League 1987.|
|WWF International Heavyweight Championship||Tatsumi Fujinami||3||October 31, 1985||Abandoned after the NJPW and the WWF ended their working relationship.|
|WWF International Tag Team Championship||Kengo Kimura and Tatsumi Fujinami||1
|October 31, 1985||Abandoned after the NJPW and the WWF ended their working relationship.|
|WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship||The Cobra||2||October 31, 1985||Abandoned after the NJPW and the WWF ended their working relationship.|
|NWA North American Tag Team Championship||Riki Choshu and Seiji Sakaguchi||1
|April 23, 1981||It served as NJPW's primary tag team championship between 1973 and 1981. Abandoned for undocumented reasons.|
- Wrestle Kingdom
- The New Beginning
- NJPW Anniversary Show
- Wrestling Hinokuni
- Wrestling Dontaku
- King of Pro-Wrestling
- Power Struggle
- Summer Supercard (with ROH, CMLL, NWA)
- Fantastica Mania (with CMLL)
- G1 Supercard (with ROH)
- Global Wars (with ROH)
- Global Wars UK (with RPW)
- Honor Rising: Japan (with ROH)
- War of the Worlds (with ROH)
- War of the Worlds UK (with ROH, CMLL, RPW)
|Tournament||Latest winner(s)||Date won||Location||Notes|
|G1 Climax||Hiroshi Tanahashi||August 12, 2018||Chiyoda, Tokyo||Defeated Kota Ibushi in the tournament final to win.|
|World Tag League||Los Ingobernables de Japon
(Evil and Sanada)
|December 9, 2018||Takizawa, Iwate||Defeated Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) in the tournament final to win.|
|New Japan Cup||Kazuchika Okada||March 24, 2019||Nagaoka, Niigata||Defeated Sanada in the tournament final to win.|
|Best of the Super Juniors||Will Ospreay||June 5, 2019||Sumida, Tokyo||Defeated Shingo Takagi in the tournament final to win.|
|Super Junior Tag League[Note 1]||Roppongi 3K
(Sho and Yoh)
|November 3, 2018||Osaka, Osaka||Defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (Bushi and Shingo Takagi) and Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado) at Power Struggle in a three-way tournament final to win.|
|Young Lion Cup[Note 2]||Katsuya Kitamura||December 21, 2017||Shinjuku, Tokyo||Defeated Tomoyuki Oka at Lion's Gate Project 10 in the last round to win.|
|Tournament||Last winner(s)||Last held||Type||Created||Notes|
|Super J-Cup||Kushida||2016||Junior heavyweight||1994||A sporadic single-elimination tournament, featuring junior heavyweights from all over the world. The tournament has been hosted by other promotions other than New Japan Pro-Wrestling.|
|J Sports Crown Openweight 6-Man Tag Tournament||Apollo 555
(Hirooki Goto, Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi)
|2011||Openweight six-man tag team||2010||A single-elimination six-man tag team tournament, held in 2010 and 2011.|
|G2 U-30 Climax||Hiroshi Tanahashi||2003||Openweight||2003||A tournament for wrestlers under the age of 30. It was held only once, in 2003.|
NJPW Greatest WrestlersEdit
The NJPW Greatest Wrestlers is New Japan's hall of fame, established in 2007 to honor wrestlers who have wrestled for the promotion. From 2007 to 2011, the inductions begin on March 6, the anniversary of the promotion's founding.
|NJPW founder and first IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Also won many top titles, including the WWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship, NWA United National Championship and NWF Heavyweight Championship.|
|Seiji Sakaguchi||Three-time NWA North American Tag Team Champion and one-time NWF North American Heavyweight and WWF North American Heavyweight Champion.|
|One-time IWA World Tag Team Champion with Kotetsu Yamamoto as the Yamaha Brothers. Also known as a promoter and manager.|
|One-time IWA World Tag Team Champion with Kantaro Hoshino as the Yamaha Brothers.|
|Winner of the 1976 Karl Gotch Cup. Famous as the debut opponent of many legends, including Kotetsu Yamamoto, Rusher Kimura, Masa Saito, Tatsumi Fujinami, Osamu Kido, Mitsuo Momota, Satoru Sayama (the original Tiger Mask) and Hiro Saito.|
|2009||Kuniaki Kobayashi||One of NJPW's top junior heavyweights of the 1980s and of a few to win the junior heavyweight titles in both New Japan and All Japan Pro Wrestling.|
|Akira Maeda||Two-time IWGP Tag Team Champion. Founder of the Universal Wrestling Federation and Fighting Network Rings.|
(Víctor Manuel Mar)
|One-time Mexican National Junior Heavyweight Champion and Naucalpan Tag Team Champion.|
|Trainer and two-time All Asia Tag Team Champion. Also four-time IWA World Tag Team Champion.|
|Shinya Hashimoto||One of the Three Musketeers. Three-time IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Tag Team Champion. Founder of Pro Wrestling Zero1.|
|One-time WWC Caribbean Tag Team Champion. Best known as an underdog and comedy wrestler.|
- TV Asahi (1973–present, currently broadcasting weekly highlights show World Pro Wrestling and live specials)
- Fighting TV Samurai (1996–present, currently broadcasting live specials, retrospective shows and magazine show NJPW Battle DX)
- AbemaTV (2014–present, online linear television service, live-streaming episodes of World Pro Wrestling)
- Eurosport (mid '90s–2007, Europe, dubbed episodes of World Pro Wrestling and major shows for various continental markets)
- The Wrestling Channel (2002–2005, UK & Ireland, dubbed and undubbed broadcasts of major shows)
- AXS TV (2014–present, United States, currently broadcasting World Pro Wrestling and major shows, dubbed with English commentary)
- FITE (For Wrestle Kingdom 13, Southern Showdown, and Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-jo Hall (2019)).
- The Fight Network (2016–present, Canada, broadcasting the AXS version of World Pro Wrestling)
- DSport (2017–present, Indian Subcontinent, broadcasting the AXS TV version of World Pro Wrestling, started in November 2017 with Season 3, then Season 4 in November 2018)
- J-One (May 2018–present, France, dubbed with French commentary)
- FX (2019–present, South Korea, broadcasting the AXS TV version of World Pro Wrestling)
- NJPW has previously held other round-robin tournaments for junior heavyweight tag teams: the Junior Heavyweight Super Grade Tag League in 1996, won by Eddie Guerrero as Black Tiger II and The Great Sasuke; the G1 Junior Tag League in 2001, won by El Samurai and Jyushin Thunder Liger; and the Super J Tag League in November 13, 2010, won by Jado and Gedo.
- NJPW held the Karl Gotch Cup between 1974 and 1976, a similar style rookie wrestler tournament. In 1989, 1991 and 2002, NJPW held tournaments under the name Young Lion Tournament, which are not considered part of the Young Lion Cup lineage.
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