Early this morning, New Japan Pro Wrestling announced that they are officially launching a US subsidiary: New Japan Pro Wrestling of America. With headquarters in Los Angeles, California, presumably in conjunction with the LA Dojo, NJPW of America is another move from the company asserting itself as a major player in professional wrestling in the USA.
The main focus of the press conference was the plan for even more New Japan live shows to take place in the United States going forward. New Japan hopes to run tours next year in the five regions they’ve divvied up the US into: the west coast, the east coast, the midwest, the south, and Texas.
Maybe a privilege of being IWGP US Champion is your home state gets to have four shows in it now, or maybe “Texas” is just the region, and they’re including parts of Louisiana in it. Either way, the announcement emphasized live shows and wanting to bring the live wrestling experience of New Japan to more audiences in the United States. CEO Takami Obari said that they are mostly looking at running venues around the same size as Korakuen Hall (2000 people), which is a marked difference between them and AEW and WWE. As exciting as it was to see Okada win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in Madison Square Garden, nothing beats the intimacy of a small space.
With New Japan parent company Bushiroad’s recent acquisition of Japanese women’s promotion World Wonder Ring Stardom (which helped create such stars as Io Shirai and Kairi Sane), I am very curious if there will be any women’s matches on these tours. No mention was made of it, although Obari did cite a gender attendance discrepancy between the US and Japan that’s pretty depressing. Men and women at New Japan events in Japan are split about 60/40, but in the United States? A grim 80/20. No wonder dudes get so excited about detecting bullet babes.