Wedy visits "New Japan Pro-Wrestling"
Wedy here with an exciting first segment in “Wedy’s Travel Guide”. Today I’ll show you the world of “New Japan Pro-Wrestling”.
You may be familiar with WWE in America, and this is the Japanese equivalent. Founded in 1971 by Antonio Inoki, the company has grown from strength to strength and has become one of the national sporting treasures of Japan.
NJPW promotes events throughout Japan and also puts on pay-per-view events on Japanese TV and the world alike. The most well known event is known as “Wrestle Kingdom”, held on January 4th 2019 at the Tokyo Dome. With a max capacity of 57,000 people you can imagine the excitement surrounding Wrestle Kingdom. That’s a mighty lot of wrestling fans all in one place!
“Road to TOKYO DOME”
Luckily I was able to attend one of the smaller events which NJPW was hosting at Korakuen Hall (Tokyo Dome’s smaller but equally as good cousin) unsurprisingly named “Road to TOKYO DOME”.
Here are a few pictures from the event on Friday night.
I was not expecting this at all. Before the event started there was an announcement, the “masked horse” was going to be brought in. Masked horse I wondered? Had I misheard? No, I had not. He was welcomed with loud clapping and cheers as he galloped into the arena. As it’s close to Christmas Mr Masked Horse had brought us gifts, how delightful. But there was one catch, you had to catch them as he shot them out of a cannon. So hilarious. Unfortunately I was unable to grab one of his Christmas presents but I felt being in his presence was good enough.
This was a highly anticipated match and the contestants were met with lots of cheers as each wrestler made their way to the arena.
My favorite wrestler of that match was Jyushin Thunder Liger, who I learnt has been wrestling since 1984, that’s even before I was born!!! For a 54 year old I was impressed by his strength and wrestling abilities. He was able to keep up with the younger members with ease. I hope to be as agile as him when I’m 54.
Takashi Iizuka certainly made an impression in this match. His entrance included walking through the crowd with a bane like mask on, then midway through the match it all started to go a little wrong… He was seen throwing chairs and pushing his way through the audience. He certainly won’t be winning “News Reporter of the Year” with that behaviour, even if it was all in good humour.
Kazuchika Okada was vey popular with the crowd. There were lots of people shouting out his name. I like his jacket a lot, I could see myself wearing that to the starting line of Kawa River Run when I interview the contestants. I’d be the most stylish person there!
This match was definitely the highlight of the show. There was drama, suspense, action. Everything you want from a wrestling match. Plus it featured headliners Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi. It may be one of the last times Kenny Omega performs in the Japanese Wrestling scene I’m informed so I was lucky to see him.
Toru Yano is a great comedian as well as a wrestler. His facial expressions in the match are great and although he was outshone by the more popular contestants he was still a great addition to the match. He can definitely be a contender for the Nippon Marathon trophy, I wonder if he knows how to enter?
Even with a rib injury Will Ospreay was a delight to watch and you can see that he will go far in NJPW. His acrobatic skills were incredible.
The match was won by Hiroshi Tanahashi, a real superstar in the world of NJPW. He entered the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame in 2013 and has been in the hearts of every NJPW fan ever since. Post match Tanahashi and Ospreay gave a speech to the crowd about their determination to win Wrestle Kingdom.
For my first NJPW event I had a great time. The venue was cozy but that meant every seat had a good view and didn’t feel too far away from the action. The atmosphere was buzzing throughout the whole match. It was like when Handsome Hazuki won his first ever marathon, you could bottle that excitement in a jar and sell it on the black market! I’d definitely recommend attending a NJPW match if you’re ever stuck on what to do in Tokyo, or you’re a fan of WWE wrestling.
HOW TO BUY A TICKET
As for buying tickets to this event and others similar:
Buying tickets can be difficult if you don’t speak Japanese or have a permanent address in Japan, but if you’re really determined you can find some. There are online ticket resellers (which are frowned upon), or you can actually visit your local Lawson or 711 and use one of their ticket machines to purchase a ticket on the spot.
Handy ay? They also have special standing tickets which are cheaper and can only be purchased on the day of the event, so if you’re on a budget or wanted to go last minute, this would be a great option for you. Again these can be purchased from your local Lawson or 711.
Best bring a Japanese friend along to help you decipher the Japanese on the screen, or you could always ask the staff at the counter. They’re always super helpful and will try their best to help. There are also services where you can reserve a ticket online and then pay later for them at a Lawson or 711. Some examples of them are here:
Lawson Ticket: https://l-tike.com/sports/mevent/?mid=188643
711 Ticket Pia: https://t.pia.jp/pia/artist/artists.do?artistsCd=11027310
So that’s all for now folks,
I’ve been Wedy Jones.
Keep it Real, Keep it Nippon.
All images are taken and edited by myself.
We are in no way affiliated with New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Wedy went as a long term fan of the show.
For more information about NJPW, please visit: https://www.njpw1972.com/
Information from the article was gathered from the following resources: https://411mania.com/wrestling/csonkas-njpw-road-tokyo-dome-review-12-14-18/ & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Japan_Pro-Wrestling