New Japan Pro Wresting Perspective
MikJC here, back after a week of a lot of wrestling. Not gonna talk too much about WrestleMania weekend we all experienced it, but just to say if you didn't watch some of the other shows throughout the weekend definitely go check out some. Two in particular that I watched were Josh Barnett's Bloodsport, and the Wrestleconn Supershow, both were unique in their own way and are definitely worth watching.
So on to what's really on my mind, today I'm talking about New Japan Pro Wrestling, (sometime soon I'll have one for Ring of Honor as well). New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) is different and that's good, for the hardcore fan of wrestling as a whole it's a good alternative, and I enjoy it very much. NJPW is hard hitting, it's physical, it's very much it's own world. Unlike WWE, NJPW doesn't have weekly TV on a particular day, in America there is a weekly show but that just recaps the shows that already happened. Most time's they just have a series of events across a few days, leading up to the bigger show, unless it's a tournament which can be an accumulation of over a dozen shows that lead to the big finale show. For me, when Ring of Honor actually had weekly TV on a network my cable provider carried in 2015, that was my first exposure to New Japan through their partnership with ROH. I started to become more fond of their talent and enjoy it more and more. This resulting in me being a huge Bullet Club fan as I still am today (I lost count how much Bullet Club merchandise I have).
Unfortunately just like WWE, New Japan has a booking style that has become too predictable. New Japan's thing seems to be the over usage of 50/50 booking. What this means (for those who don't know) is when people feuding trade wins. Also if a feud is already established usually they will build to the first match with tag matches a lot of times with the people in said feud not getting pinned and culminating in a marquee match at a big show. They will usually wait a while and build to the rematch. The perfect example of this, and part of the reason I have this gripe, Jay White just won the IWGP World championship in February, then lost it in his first defense because he already defeated Kazuchika Okada once before, so they built to the rematch, this time for the title, and Okada won. Now I understand New Japan is a Japanese company and a lot of times it's very rare for foreign born talent to be champion for long periods of time, but it isn't enough to establish a talent by just saying he's been champion or already has a win over the golden boy, a few successful defenses, especially in a system like New Japan, is how you build someone. Kazuchika Okada is the chosen one and I get that, Hiroshi Tanahashi was basically the John Cena over there (for about the same amount of time as John Cena), making Okada basically the Roman Reigns in this scenario. Jay White is a great talent and a great heel to boot, and deserved a longer run with the championship. Also it would definitely help to establish a young talent like Jay White by giving him two straight wins over an already very established Okada, it doesn't hurt Okada to lose two straight to White because Okada is as I said, already established and basically can't be hurt, him not being champion for an extended period can only help especially when you really build to his eventual crowning once again further down the road.
Another way they do this a lot is, when a champion loses a non-title match, resulting in the victor getting a title opportunity but losing the title opportunity. They do this a lot more because a lot of times it's just book a match on a card that doesn't have World Title match on it. Just for a point of reference this happened recently, Chase Owens, a solid performer but hasn't really gotten a lot of opportunities in New Japan, he's been treated like the lackey of a group that takes the loss for a group in a tag match, for years. Owens beat Juice Robinson, the IWGP United States Champion in the first round of a single elimination tournament (again people might already know what this just clarifying for people that might not). So this got him a title opportunity of course and because there was no World Title match on the final show of this tournament it was treated like a big match, and Owens didn't stand a chance. My biggest gripe with this and all the tournaments in New Japan, the champions shouldn't be in them.
One thing I will say New Japan should take from WWE, build feuds on social media. This will help to really establish the feuds and build feuds for the lower titles. The fact that they always put every single champion in the tournaments doesn't make sense to me, there's no weekly TV, but if you have these tournaments going on you can still have feuds for other titles going on and also focus on those tournaments. All of these shows are over three hours, stop putting six man tags and eight man tags with no value except to give young lions air time or to fill out the card, put some mid card feuds for titles under the tournaments. Can still have young lion matches, but just add title matches to extra days of these tournaments. If Okada is the champion to me, he shouldn't be in the G1 especially since your going to diminish his reign by having him lose tournament matches, and giving a title shot to everyone who beat him in that tournament, then building a huge feud with whoever wins the G1 only for that person not beat him.
To me a lot of these formulas are getting ridiculously predictable, NJPW has one thing and it's sometimes even though these matches are so predictable I can probably tell you the winner just by following the booking to the letter, they have great matches. I don't want that to stop, just end using the same formulas, give people opportunities who deserve them, have title matches on tournament shows and not just the finale shows and stop putting champions in tournaments. There's ways around all of these problems, but like all wrestling promotions there will always be something we don't like.
Okay, I went on long enough. If you agree, disagree, are indifferent whatever, share my site and let people know about what I'm doing here, and thanks for reading what I had to say, this is MikeJC signing off.