New Japan Pro-Wrestling
|Headquarters||Nakano, Tokyo, Japan|
|Revenue||¥3.7 billion (2017)|
New Japan Pro-Wrestling Co., Ltd. (新日本プロレス株式会社 Shin Nihon Puroresu Kabushiki-kaisha), operating as New Japan Pro-Wrestling (新日本プロレス Shin Nihon Puroresu) and sometimes referred to as NJPW or simply New Japan, is a Japanese puroresu (professional wrestling) promotion founded in January 1972 by Antonio Inoki. In 2005, Inoki sold the promotion to Yuke's, who later sold it to Bushiroad in 2012. Naoki Sugabayashi has served as the Chairman of the promotion since September 2013, while Katsuhiko Harada has served as the President of the promotion since February 2016.
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, Total Nonstop Action 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), and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), among others. The company currently has working agreements with the Mexican Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) promotion, the American Ring of Honor (ROH) promotion and the European Revolution Pro Wrestling (RPW) and Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw) promotions. 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, who parlayed their entry to the world of professional wrestling into a best-selling trading card game, King of Pro Wrestling, and appearances from NJPW stars in their various franchises.
The promotion also has its own governing body, the International Wrestling Grand Prix, shortened as IWGP. They currently have 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. They also hold 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 New Japan Pro Wrestling 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 What Culture Pro Wrestling (WCPW)'s Pro Wrestling World Cup tournament.
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. On May 16, NJPW held a press conference to announce plans to establish a subsidiary company, including a dojo, in the United States. A Los Angeles office is scheduled to be opened before the end of 2017, with a dojo to be opened at the start of 2018.
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.
|Championship||Last champion(s)||Date retired|
|IWGP U-30 Openweight Championship||Hiroshi Tanahashi||June 7, 2006|
|NWF Heavyweight Championship||Shinsuke Nakamura||January 5, 2004|
|UWA World Junior Light Heavyweight Championship||Shinjiro Otani||August 10, 1997|
|WWF International Heavyweight Championship||Tatsumi Fujinami||October 31, 1985|
|WWF International Tag Team Championship||Kengo Kimura and Tatsumi Fujinami||October 31, 1985|
|NWA North American Tag Team Championship||Riki Choshu and Seiji Sakaguchi||April 23, 1981|
|WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship||The Cobra||October 31, 1985|
|Asia Heavyweight Championship||Tiger Jeet Singh||May 21, 1981|
|Asia Tag Team Championship||Tiger Jeet Singh and Umanosuke Ueda||May 21, 1981|
- Wrestle Kingdom
- The New Beginning
- Sakura Genesis
- Wrestling Dontaku
- King of Pro-Wrestling
- Power Struggle
|Tournament||Last winner(s)||Last held||Type||Created||Notes|
|G1 Climax||Tetsuya Naito||August 13, 2017||Openweight||1991||NJPW's biggest annual tournament, primarily for heavyweights but there is no official weight limit. Mostly in a round-robin format[Note 1]|
|World Tag League||Great Bash Heel
(Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma)
|December 10, 2016||Tag team||1991||NJPW's annual tag team round-robin tournament.[Note 2]|
|New Japan Cup||Katsuyori Shibata||March 20, 2017||Openweight||2005||Annual single-elimination tournament, primarily for heavyweights but there is no official weight limit.|
|Best of the Super Juniors||Kushida||June 3, 2017||Junior heavyweight||1988||Annual round-robin tournament featuring top junior heavyweights from all over the world.|
|Super J-Cup||Kushida||August 21, 2016||Junior heavyweight||1994||Sporadic single-elimination tournament featuring top junior heavyweights from all over the world. The tournament has been hosted by promotions other than NJPW as well.|
|Super Jr. Tag Tournament||Roppongi Vice
(Beretta and Rocky Romero)
|November 5, 2016||Junior heavyweight tag team||1994||Sporadic tournament featuring junior heavyweight tag teams from all over the world.[Note 3]|
|Young Lion Cup||Hirooki Goto||2005||Rookies||1985||A tournament held by NJPW for younger wrestlers.[Note 4]|
|J Sports Crown Openweight 6 Man Tag Tournament||Apollo 555
(Hirooki Goto, Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi)
|June 23, 2011||Six-man tag team||2010||Single-elimination six-man tag team tournament held in 2010 and 2011.|
|G2 U-30 Climax||Hiroshi Tanahashi||April 23, 2003||Openweight||2003||Tournament for wrestlers under the age of 30.|
NJPW Greatest Wrestlers
The NJPW Greatest Wrestlers is New Japan's hall of fame, established in 2007 to honor wrestlers who have wrestled for the promotion. Individuals were inducted into the hall of fame from 2007 to 2011 on March 6, the anniversary of the promotion's founding.
|2007||Inoki, AntonioAntonio Inoki
|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.|
|Sakaguchi, SeijiSeiji Sakaguchi||Three-time NWA North American Tag Team Champion and one-time NWF North American Heavyweight and WWF North American Heavyweight Champion.|
|Hoshino, KantaroKantaro Hoshino
|One-time IWA World Tag Team Champion with Kotetsu Yamamoto as the Yamaha Brothers. Also known as a promoter and manager.|
|Yamamoto, KotetsuKotetsu Yamamoto
|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||Kobayashi, KuniakiKuniaki 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.|
|Maeda, AkiraAkira 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.|
|2010||Hamaguchi, AnimalAnimal Hamaguchi
|Trainer and two-time All Asia Tag Team Champion. Also four-time IWA World Tag Team Champion.|
|Hashimoto, ShinyaShinya 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 Returns 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 Returns)
- 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, America, currently broadcasting World Pro Wrestling Returns and major shows, dubbed with English commentary)
- The Fight Network (2016–present, Canada, broadcasting the AXS version of World Pro Wrestling Returns)
- New Japan Pro Wrestling World (streaming service, in partnership with TV Asahi, broadcasting most NJPW shows live, as well as on-demand classic, documentary and anime content, as well as content from other promotions, beginning with promotional partner CMLL's weekly Super Viernes shows)
- Before the G1 Climax, NJPW had had an annual single tournament since 1974 under various names: the World League (1974–77), the Madison Square Garden (MSG) League (1978–82), the International Wrestling Grand Prix (IWGP) League (1983–88) and the World Cup Tournament (1989).
- Before the World Tag League, NJPW had had an annual tag tournament since 1980 under various names; the Madison Square Garden (MSG) Tag League (1980–85), the Japan Cup Tag League (1986–87), the Super Grade Tag League (1991–98) and the G1 Tag League (1999–2011).
- NJPW has previously held similar tournaments for junior heavyweight tag teams, the first being the Junior Heavyweight Super Grade Tag League in 1996, won by Eddie Guerrero as Black Tiger II and The Great Sasuke. They also held the G1 Junior Tag League in 2001: it was won by El Samurai and Jushin Thunder Liger. On May 8, 2010, NJPW also held a one night, single-elimination tournament, under the name Super J Tag Tournament 1st, which was won by El Samurai and Koji Kanemoto. On November 13, 2010, NJPW held the Super J Tag League, a round-robin tournament, which was won by Jado and Gedo.
- In 1974, 1975 and 1976 NJPW held the "Karl Gotch Cup" 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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- Caldwell, James (June 13, 2016). "New Japan’s English-language TV series to air on Fight Network". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
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- 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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- 戦略発表会で、木谷オーナーが「2020年の東京ドーム満員を目指す」とコメント！さらにアメリカへの“本格進出”、道場の設立も視野に!!. New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). May 16, 2017. Archived from the original on May 16, 2017. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
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