Monday, May 22, 2017

The NJPW Invasion Is On Tap

Hiromu Takahashi will be one of the many stars in NJPW's landfall on American soil
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
New Japan Pro Wrestling, as I noted earlier in the week, is the second biggest wrestling promotion in the world and the only realistic shot to compete with WWE unless Sinclair Broadcasting Group really ramps up spending and promotion of Ring of Honor. As its American G1 Climax special nears closer and closer, plans for a full-fledged base of operations in the United States are becoming more of a reality. Takaaki Kidani, New Japan's chairman, announced in a press conference that he's looking for a stateside subsidiary by 2018. One could argue ROH is already NJPW's American subsidiary, but I'm sure both Sinclair and Bushiroad would have things to say about that train of thought.

Regardless, the ambition in and of itself is good news. Once again, I don't think NJPW can compete with WWE right away. However, it still is the only company with corporate backing that has a strong dedication to wrestling. It also has a pre-existing partnership with a cable network over here. AXS Television may not be the most widespread network right now, but given that ROH is in syndication on individual local stations, and Impact is on something called POP Television, NJPW isn't in the worst of situations to start out.

Speaking of AXS, the network will air night one of this G1 duo of shows on July 1 live. The July 2 show will be aired live on New Japan World, and AXS will air it on tape delay in its regular slot on July 7. Although no matches have been announced yet, the slated talent to appear is both impressive and a mix of NJPW, ROH, and Consejo Mundial Lucha Libre talents: Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega, Tetsuya Naito, the Young Bucks, Volador, Jr., Will Ospreay, Hiromu Takahashi, Dragon Lee, Cody (Rhodes), Titán, Tomohiro Ishii, the Briscoe Brothers, Zack Sabre, Jr., Jay Lethal, Marty Scurll, Jushin Thunder Liger, and many more. Hiroshi Tanahashi is also scheduled to be there, but he's currently injured.

Even if NJPW fails to follow up on this in a way that makes it have presence stateside, at least this attempt will certainly be a fun diversion at the very least, especially if one of the cards has some kind of meeting between Takahashi and Lee. Regardless, Kidani, Bushiroad, and New Japan have American ambitions, and again, wrestling will be better off if it succeeds.