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|
(President & CEO)
|Revenue||¥5.4 billion (2019)|
(majority owner – 85%)
(minority owner – 10%)
(minority owner – 5%)
Number of employees
New Japan Pro-Wrestling of America
Owing to its TV program aired on TV Asahi, NJPW is the largest professional wrestling promotion in Japan. 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 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.
Formation and early historyEdit
The promotion was founded by Antonio Inoki on January 13, 1972 after his departure from the Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance promotion. The first NJPW event, titled Opening Series, took place on March 6, 1972, in the Ota Ward Gymnasium in Tokyo, to a crowd of 5,000. The following year, NJPW signed a television deal with NET TV, now known as Asahi TV. The company was overseen by its governing body, the International Wrestling Grand Prix. In 1983, Hulk Hogan became the first ever IWGP Heavyweight Champion by defeating Inoki. However, this championship was later abandoned and the current version of the championship was established in 1987. Inoki would serve as the president of the promotion until 1989, when he was replaced by Seiji Sakaguchi.
On April 24, 1989, NJPW hosted Battle Satellite, its first show in the Tokyo Dome. 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. On January 4, 1992, NJPW partnered with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) to produce WCW/New Japan Supershow II, the first ever January 4 Tokyo Dome Show, an event that would become an annual tradition for NJPW and is considered their biggest event of the year and comparable to WWE's WrestleMania event. In April 1995, NJPW and WCW held the two-day Collision in Korea event at the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea. The event is the first professional wrestling event held in North Korea and also holds the record for most attended wrestling event of all time, with 355,000 people packing the stadium over the two days.
Decline and Inoki's departureEdit
In the early 2000s, the burgeoning popularity of mixed martial arts in Japan was noticed by Inoki, who wanted to integrate elements of shoot wrestling to make the company appear more realistic. The company would partner with martial arts organization K-1 and begin to insert wrestlers into MMA fights, with the goal of pushing NJPW in a more realistic direction and to make it appear as an actual sport. The company's new management was criticized by critics and fans, and the combination of MMA and professional wrestling was dubbed "Inokism". Inoki later departed NJPW in 2005 after selling his share of the company to Yuke's, and began his own promotion, the Inoki Genome Federation (IGF), in 2007. After his departure, Inoki's son-in-law Simon took over the company, before Naoki Sugabayashi was appointed president in 2007 after Simon also left NJPW to join Antonio in IGF. After the departure of the Inoki family, the company began to reintegrate its prior puroresu style of wrestling.
Resurgence and expansionEdit
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, both partnerships ended later in 2019. On October 21, 2019, NJPW announced the formation of a new American subsidiary of the company, named New Japan Pro-Wrestling of America. During 2019 they had run a record 13 shows in the United States, with plans to run double that in 2020. It was reported at the same time that NJPW and ROH had no joint shows planned for the future.
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).
The promotion 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.
|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.|
|Greatest 18 Club Championship||The Great Muta||1||August 16, 1992||Muta retired championship, 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.|
|NWF North American Heavyweight Championship||Tiger Jeet Singh||1||May 21, 1981||Abandoned for undocumented reasons.|
|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.|
|World Heavyweight Championship||Karl Gotch||2||1972||Abandoned for undocumented reasons.|
- Wrestle Kingdom
- The New Beginning
- NJPW Anniversary Show
- Wrestling Hinokuni
- Wrestling Dontaku
- Wrestle Dynasty
- Fighting Spirit Unleashed
- King of Pro-Wrestling
- Power Struggle
- Fantastica Mania (with CMLL)
- G1 Supercard (with ROH)
- Global Wars UK (with RPW)
- 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||Kota Ibushi||August 12, 2019||Tokyo||Defeated Jay White in the tournament final.|
|World Tag League||FinJuice
(Juice Robinson and David Finlay)
|December 8, 2019||Hiroshima||Defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (Evil and Sanada) in the last block match.|
|New Japan Cup||Evil||July 11, 2020||Osaka||Defeated Kazuchika Okada in the tournament final.|
|Best of the Super Juniors||Will Ospreay||June 5, 2019||Tokyo||Defeated Shingo Takagi in the tournament final.|
|Super Junior Tag League[Note 1]||Roppongi 3K
(Sho and Yoh)
|November 3, 2019||Osaka||Defeated Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) in the tournament final at Power Struggle.|
|Super J-Cup||El Phantasmo||August 25, 2019||Long Beach, California, U.S.||Defeated Dragon Lee in the tournament final.|
|Young Lion Cup[Note 2]||Karl Fredericks||September 22, 2019||Kobe, Hyōgo||Defeated Shota Umino in the last block match at Destruction in Kobe.|
|Tournament||Last winner(s)||Last held||Type||Created||Notes|
|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 (2014–19, United States, broadcast World Pro Wrestling and major shows, dubbed with English commentary)
- DSport (2017–2020, Indian Subcontinent, broadcast the AXS TV version of World Pro Wrestling, Season 3-5)
- FITE TV (for Wrestle Kingdom and Dominion LIVE)
- The Fight Network (2016–present, Canada, broadcasting the AXS version of World Pro Wrestling)
- 1Sports (2020–present, Indian Subcontinent, broadcast the AXS version of World Pro Wrestling)
- 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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The all-time pro wrestling attendance record would be for shows on April 28 and April 29, 1995 at May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea. The announced crowds for those shows were 165,000 and 190,000, although the real numbers were about 150,000 and 165,000. The first show was headlined by Scott Norton vs. Shinya Hashimoto and the second by Antonio Inoki vs. Ric Flair. While there were tickets sold, most of the people attending got in free, and were pretty much ordered to attend, so it's not really a fair comparison.
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- "今年5月、新日本プロレスが北米再上陸!! ROHとの共同開催で、5月10日カナダ、17日ニューヨーク大会が決定!!". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). February 24, 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
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- Meltzer, Dave (April 24, 2014). "Notes on New Japan/Border City main matches for 5-9 in Windsor, Ontario". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
- Caldwell, James (March 7, 2015). "ROH news: ROH adds fourth New Japan show to May tour". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
- "「G1」出場メンバー、各大会の主要カードを電撃発表!! 開幕戦で、中邑vs柴田が実現! 西武ドームにROH勢が参戦!!". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). June 21, 2014. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved June 21, 2014.
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- "AXS announces New Japan TV deal, official details, time slot, debut date and more". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. November 24, 2014. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
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- Caldwell, James (July 18, 2015). "NJPW news: New Japan announces big int'l expansion plans, including expanded N. America partnerships & NXT-like program". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- 【WK10】1.4東京ドームは“8大選手権”！ 第2試合は初代NEVER無差別級6人タッグ王座戦！ 第3試合はROH世界選手権に！ NJランボー参戦選手も追加！. New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). December 21, 2015. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
- Caldwell, James (January 5, 2016). "New Japan – tons of developments at post-Tokyo Dome show". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved January 6, 2016.
- "Fale Dojo Facebook page". Facebook. Retrieved 2017-03-15.
- "Japanese World Cup Qualifiers Hosted In Association With NJPW & RevPro". What Culture Pro Wrestling. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
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