How I started watching Japanese wrestling

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How I started watching Japanese wrestling

Post by Adam D on Tue 07 Apr 2015, 1:29 pm

http://v2wrestling.com/5/post/2015/04/how-i-started-watching-japanese-wrestling.html







by Prometheus

I’m sat in front of www.njpwworld.com.  For some reason Google translate doesn’t want to have anything to do with it.  So, I have a screen full of Japanese characters and a picture of a grimacing AJ Styles.  If you’ve not been introduced to njpwworld.com it is the New Japan Pro Wrestling equivalent of WWE’s Network, an online portal that delivers PPV events for 999 (in this case ¥en, which is around £5.50) per month.

So, how did I end up here?

Maybe, I should start at the beginning.  When I was a kid my dad took me to wrestling on a regular basis, it was the 1970s wrestling from World of Sport, which has become synonymous with Big Daddy and in comparison to the WWE many may find just a bit tacky.  But there were some fine wrestlers in the time.  Jim Breaks, Marty Jones, Rollerball Rocco and Fit Finlay were all names who dazzled and entertained me in the ring.

One wrestler who appeared with little ceremony in our local hall was Sammy Lee.  Some wrestling aficionados will recognise that name, or his real name Satoru Sayama, or even the legendary Tiger Mask who wrestled The Dynamite Kid to matches that would still comfortably headline shows today. 

Sammy Lee had been sent to England by New Japan to develop his craft, particularly because of his relatively sleight size.  If you get opportunity I’m sure you will find grainy highlights of him wrestling on YouTube.  In an era where we had just discovered Bruce Lee films and martial arts were sweeping the country, he was doing moves in the ring that looked like they had just come out of a film.  And I guess that hooked me.

So, fast forward three decades.  Like many wrestling fans, my love of the sport has waxed and waned over the years.  Back into wrestling for a couple of years, I’m afraid that the most globally accessible wrestling wasn’t giving me what I wanted.  Too much talking, too little action, too many middle of the road matches.  I was losing interest in wrestling and gaining interest in UFC, if you like I’m the non-wrestling CM Punk.

Looking for more, I decided to go back in history and took an account for WWE’s network to allow me to relive some of the old WCW and WWE events.  Once I had the network I quickly found NXT.  And when I found NXT I found wrestlers who they had just acquired from Japan, who managed to recapture the in-ring excitement I was looking for.

My curiosity was already piqued when I heard a podcast talking about New Japan’s upcoming Wrestle Kingdom 9.  And they practically promised me this event would not disappoint in the ring.  I was already interested when it was announced that Jim Ross would give an English commentary on the event.  I decided to give it a go.

I’ll be honest, it started off as a bit of a culture shock.  The early matches on the card just had so many men in the ring and so many that I didn’t recognise that I found it all a bit confusing (as JR did too).  It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, but I’d almost decided that it was just a bit hip to like this because it wasn’t WWE and, while I didn’t regret my purchase, it probably wasn’t for me long term.

Then Shinsuke Nakamura and Kota Ibushi took to the ring in the penultimate match.  And this was like feasting on the finest food.  The scales fell from my eyes.  This match started good, got better and then was just plain amazing.  I’d never seen either wrestler before, I’d no idea of their history, but the story they told in the ring was completely compelling.

My final step was a small step, from watching this PPV to registering at njpwworld to enjoy previous and future events.  I’ve dipped back in history to Wrestle Kingdom 8, I’ve watched the G1 event from last year.  (I only really know how to work the ring icon to find matches, there's probably a lot more I could do if my Japanese were better or Google Translate would help me out).  And so here I am, looking at their champion AJ Styles and lining up a second viewing of his recent title fight with Kota Ibushi at Invasion Attack 2015.

And, if you’ll give me another minute I’ll be honest with you again.  Don’t believe that everything New Japan does is great and everything WWE does isn’t.  That’s not true.  When WWE get it right, like the Lesnar / Cena / Rollins match, or the cash-in during the Wrestlemania event, or just the showmanship of Wrestlemania, they get it right.  NXT is a wrestling vehicle I very much enjoy.  And, New Japan has wrestlers I don’t really get or enjoy so much, they have matches that I fast forward.  But in my very humble opinion they deliver more 4* plus matches than all the other wrestling federations that I watch put together. 

I know that many fans have enough wrestling with TNA on Challenge TV and what can be found on the web.  Others get Sky Sports and have their fill with WWE’s Raw and Smackdown.  I know that many are now spending 9.99 to watch WWE’s PPVs and weekly NXT episodes.  But if you have a little more time for wrestling and another 5.60, give New Japan a go.  Just don’t come to me if Google Translate won’t help you find a way to unsubscribe!


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Adam D
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Re: How I started watching Japanese wrestling

Post by Adam D on Tue 07 Apr 2015, 3:27 pm

Nice piece, P!

I will be honest and havent watched any Japanese wrestling (unless it involves a ladder defending the title).

Will try and dig out the stuff from WK9

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Re: How I started watching Japanese wrestling

Post by Fernando on Tue 07 Apr 2015, 3:55 pm

If you would like a link to WK 9 let me know

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