New Japan Pro-Wrestling
|Headquarters||Nakano, Tokyo, Japan|
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 major 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. From its creation in 1972 until 1986, it was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance. NJPW has had agreements with various MMA and professional wrestling promotions around the world, including WWE, World 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 originally founded by Antonio Inoki in 1972, after he left the Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance promotion. The first card took place on March 6, 1972, in Tokyo. Inoki was president of the promotion until 1989, when he stepped down to pursue a political career as a member of the Japanese House of Councillors.
New Japan Pro Wrestling, also known as "Shin Nihon Puroresu", is considered the top 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 blowout show held every year on January 4 at the Tokyo Dome, currently billed as Wrestle Kingdom, which is 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 seven titles: the IWGP Heavyweight, IWGP Junior Heavyweight, IWGP Tag Team, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team, IWGP Intercontinental, 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 Pro Wrestling 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 promotion 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 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 National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) as well as holding more shows in Thailand, Singapore, and Taiwan. Also announced was the Lionsgate Keikaku ("Lionsgate Plan"), which would feature 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.
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 owner 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|
|Tournament||Last winner(s)||Last held||Type||Created||Notes|
|G1 Climax||Kenny Omega||August 14, 2016||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||Tetsuya Naito||March 12, 2016||Openweight||2005||Single-elimination tournament|
|Best of the Super Juniors||Will Ospreay||June 7, 2016||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 other promotions 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||Tournament that is not held every year.[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
(Birth name)[Note 5]
|1||2007||Inoki, AntonioAntonio Inoki
|NJPW founder and first IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Also won many top titles, including the WWF Heavyweight Championship, NWA United National Championship and NWF Heavyweight Championship.|
|2||2007||Sakaguchi, SeijiSeiji Sakaguchi||Three-time NWA North American Tag Team Champion and one-time NWF North American Heavyweight and WWF North American Heavyweight Champion.|
|3||2007||Hoshino, KantaroKantaro Hoshino
|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 Rusher Kimura, Masa Saito, Tatsumi Fujinami, Osamu Kido, Mitsuo Momota, Satoru Sayama (the original Tiger Mask) and Hiro Saito.|
|6||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.|
|7||2009||Maeda, AkiraAkira Maeda||Two-time IWGP Tag Team Champion. Founder of the Japanese UWF and Rings|
(Víctor Manuel Mar)
|One-time National Junior Heavyweight Champion and Naucalpan Tag Team Champion.|
|9||2010||Hamaguchi, AnimalAnimal Hamaguchi
|Trainer and two-time All Asia Tag Team Champion. Also four-time IWA World Tag Team Champion.|
|10||2010||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.|
- 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.
- Entries without a birth name indicates that the inductee did not perform under a ring name.
- This section mainly lists the major accomplishments of each inductee.
- "Company Profile". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved August 28, 2015.
- 新日プロ・手塚要社長が退任 団体“Ｖ字回復”の立役者. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). February 22, 2016. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
- 新役員人事決定のお知らせ. New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). September 25, 2013. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
- "Pro Wrestling: New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV in United States". Miami Herald. November 24, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
- "New Japan Pro Wrestling comes to the U.S.". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. October 3, 2010. Retrieved October 4, 2010.
- Caldwell, James (January 5, 2011). "NJPW News: New Japan to introduce new title on U.S. tour, officially announces dates & venues for "Invasion" tour". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
- Caldwell, James (January 31, 2012). "NJPW News: New Japan sold to new owners, change-over taking effect February 1". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
- Caldwell, James (August 1, 2012). "NJPW debuting on iPPV this weekend". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
- "10月8日『キングオブプロレスリング』 ＰＰＶ配信が更に規模を拡大して「全世界」へ！ Ustream all over the world !". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). September 28, 2012. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
- Caldwell, James (September 28, 2012). "NJPW offering Oct. 8 show on iPPV". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
- "あの『NEVER』がリニューアル!! "無差別級王座"も新設!! 11.15＆11.19Shibuya Axで再出発!!". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). October 5, 2012. Retrieved October 5, 2012.
- "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.
- Carapola, Stuart (February 22, 2014). "Live ROH HonorCon coverage: the big announcement". Pro Wrestling Insider. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
- 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. Retrieved June 21, 2014.
- Caldwell, James (November 4, 2014). "NJPW/GFW news: Tokyo Dome Show to air on U.S. PPV". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
- "AXS announces New Japan TV deal, official details, time slot, debut date and more". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. November 24, 2014. Retrieved November 24, 2014.
- Meltzer, Dave (July 27, 2015). "July 27, 2015 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: The Undertaker returns at Battleground, NXT/ROH insanity with Liger booking, and more". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California: 24. ISSN 1083-9593.
- Caldwell, James (June 13, 2016). "New Japan's English-language TV series to air on Fight Network". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
- Caldwell, James (December 1, 2014). "NJPW news: New Japan announces streaming service like WWE Network, will include live shows". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
- "新日本プロレス３～５年後上場目指す". Daily Sports Online (in Japanese). Kobe Shimbun. July 18, 2015. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- "木谷オーナーが「ファーム設立プラン」「21世紀のIWGP構想」、そして「新日本プロレスは株式上場を目指す」と宣言! 【7.18戦略発表会】". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). July 18, 2015. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- 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 21, 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.
- 新日が“至宝”オカダ流出阻止へ２億円プロジェクト. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). February 13, 2016. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
- Rose, Bryan (January 4, 2016). "NJPW stars Nakamura, AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson headed to WWE". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- 中邑 新日プロ退団しWWEへ！世界に羽ばたく日本プロレス界最高のカリスマ. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). January 8, 2016. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
- Csonka, Larry (August 11, 2016). "Will Ospreay Discusses Not Signing With Evolve, Taking Less Independent Dates, More". 411Mania. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
- "IWGP Heavy weight class". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved November 15, 2016.
- "IWGP Inter Continental champion". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved November 15, 2016.
- "IWGP Heavy tag weight class". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved November 15, 2016.
- "IWGP Jr. Heavy weight class". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved November 15, 2016.
- "IWGP Jr. Heavy tag weight class". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved November 15, 2016.
- "NEVER open weight class". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved November 15, 2016.
- "NEVER open 6 men tag class". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Retrieved November 15, 2016.
- "Asia Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles.com. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
- "Asia Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles.com. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
- "Greatest Wrestlers". New Japan Pro Wrestling. Retrieved July 3, 2014.
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