NJPW, Japan’s largest wrestling promotion, is preparing to “establish a territory” stateside.
Earlier this year, New Japan Pro-Wrestling announced that they would be holding two US shows later this year as part of their 27th annual G1 Climax tournament. This is their first time holding their own shows in America, as opposed to the joint-promotion shows they often do with Ring of Honor. The G1 Climax 27 shows will take place on July 1 and 2 in Long Beach, CA, and are the first move in NJPW’s larger plan to gain a permanent foothold in the US.
In an interview with Weekly Pro Wrestling, translated by Chris Charlton on Twitter, NJPW owner Taakaki Kidani revealed the promotion’s plans for the new territory:
“[A North American New Japan offshoot] would be a localized product. If in Japan it’s 75/25 Japanese, then 75/25 American would be the best mix I think. For the New Japan product we run now, there’s still video. The plan would be to have California as a base and run tours in a similar way to how we run things here, with a few shows further afield.
“For the Japanese talent, there are all sorts of options. Some guys may want to tour there. Some guys may want to spend half the year there. Still others may want to take two years or so and move out there. There are a lot of ways around that and I’m open to opinion from the wrestlers.
“If we establish a territory in California, we’ll be able to produce more content cheaply. It has to be localized. If you look at WWE with their show business base, they really only have a strong business in the U.K., Canada and America. They sell their programming elsewhere, sure, but they need to actually be doing business in those areas. I said this on Twitter, but why do you think they’re pushing people to the network? It’s because they know cable isn’t going to be around forever and they have to make up that loss. That’s why they established a U.K. champion and set up that tournament. [ … ]
“Things start with the G-1 special, which we announced will take place on 7/1 and 7/2. That won’t include any actual tournament matches, but we may hold qualifiers. At that point, office staff will also be headed to the U.S. We will set up a dojo, likely with a monthly fee system. And as far as talent is concerned, from October of last year, we began signing wrestlers to long-term contracts, and this includes foreign wrestlers. [ … ]
“I have talked with the talent about this, but at that point it was less concrete than it is now. The plan is for thing to really get going in 2018.”
NJPW is home to famous Kamen Rider fan Hiroshi Tanahashi, and is known to dip their toes into tokusatsu and anime from time to time. International fans can watch New Japan’s events, many of which feature English commentary, through NJPW World.
Source: With Spandex