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4 Reasons Why You Should Watch New Japan Pro Wrestling

4 Reasons Why You Should Watch New Japan Pro Wrestling

This Saturday Night/Sunday morning, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) will host Dominion, the most important match in the wrestling company’s history. The main attraction is a rematch between challenger Kenny Omega and Champion Kazuchika Okada for the International Wrestling Grand Prix World Title. Whoever wins will be the champion when NJPW makes its official US debut this July in California.

NJPW is the second biggest wrestling endeavor in the world, after the WWE, but it’s a much different kind organization. Instead of pure entertainment value, NJPW treats wrestling more as a sport, something that rewards dedicated fandom and those who value athleticism over showboating. Although there are smaller organizations (Ring of Honor, Lucha Underground) in the US that offer alternatives to the WWE monopoly, no one has effectively challenged them since the Monday Night Wars of the late ’90s. So just like the forthcoming main event between Omega and Okada, we are rooting for the underdog and hoping that NJPW has the successful start it deserves in the US.

Without further ado, here are the 4 big reasons you should pay attention to NJPW before they make landfall in the US.

1. The 6-Star Match

At Wrestle Kingdom XI (NJPW’s Wrestlemania) this past January, the first meeting between Omega and Okada was honored as the first-ever televised 6-Star match in wrestling history. Since all wrestling matches are rated on a 5-Star scale, 6 stars indicates the exceptional athleticism and storytelling ability of either contender during this match. For 45 minutes, Omega tried desperately to get Okada into his finishing maneuver, the One-Winged Angel (yes, Final Fantasy fans, he DID name it after that). However, Okada achieved the victory with his Rainmaker clothesline. Notably, rather than relying on the drama and build-up of interviews and promos outside the ring, Okada and Omega told their entire story within this one match. That is nothing short of an art form.

2. Wrestling *Is* A Sport

G1

While both the WWE and NJPW have over the top characters performing amazing stunts in the wrestling ring, either company’s values are completely different. The WWE wants you to view their matches and storylines like you were watching Game of Thrones. Will the villain get ahead YET AGAIN? Will the hero finally pull off a victory? NJPW wants you to view their product like you were watching the NBA Playoffs, tirelessly rooting for your side throughout an extended offseason. One of their biggest events of the year is the G1. It’s a round robin tournament that awards points for wins/losses/draws. The two wrestlers with the highest points fight in the finals, with the winner getting a shot at the world title. This gives fans the opportunity to follow their favorite wrestler through the tournament, much like following your favorite team through the playoffs. For wrestling fans that are more sports oriented, the G1 is the perfect way to combine two passions.

3. NJPW Promotes Independent Wrestling Organizations

While the WWE has been publicly scouting talent from the independent scene for some time now, NJPW has been working with organizations such as Ring of Honor in the US and CMLL in Mexico for years in a “talent collaboration” deal. NJPW will showcase stars from ROH, like Jay Lethal, or from CMLL, like Volador, Jr. on their shows, and vice versa. This past year at Wrestle Kingdom, an ROH World Title match was on the main card. Rather than looking at these companies as competition, NJPW sees them as a resource. It gives fans exposure to three different sets of wrestling stars and a chance to discover new favorites.

4. NJPW Is Crowning Its First US Champion

As part of the G1 Special in July, NJPW will hold a two-day tournament to crown the first ever IWGP United States Champion. Having a champion in the US signals NJPW’s dedication to reach the US audience on a more mainstream level.  It will provide new fans an entry point into the league with a hero to get behind (or a villain they can wish an untimely demise upon. It’s wrestling, remember?).

The WWE juggernaut has no plans of slowing down, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a new contender. NJPW provides a fun, great alternative for fans that love wrestling, and want to expand their horizons.

You can check out NJPW videos on their YouTube channel here, or watch them Friday nights on AXS TV.

So, what do you think? Are you going to give NJPW a try? Let me know on Twitter or sound off in the comments below.

Images: New Japan Pro Wrestling

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