The logo of New Japan Pro-Wrestling
NJPW headquarters in Tokyo, Japan
|Trading name||New Japan Pro Wrestling|
|Romanized name||Shin Nihon Puroresu|
|Founded||January 13, 1972|
TV Asahi (10%)
|Headquarters||JR Tokyu Meguro Building, 16F, 3-1-1 Kamiosaki, Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan|
|Key people||Takaaki Kidani|
(President of Bushiroad)
(President and CEO)
Streaming network service
|Revenue||¥5.4 billion (2019)|
|Sister||World Wonder Ring Stardom|
|Number of employees||83 (2019)|
|Divisions||New Japan Pro Wrestling World|
NJPW Music Group
NJPW LA Dojo
New Japan Pro-Wrestling of America
NJPW Music Group
NJPW New Zealand Dojo
|Website||Official Japanese Website|
New Japan Pro-Wrestling Co., Ltd. (新日本プロレス株式会社 Shin Nihon Puroresu Kabushiki-Kaisha), operating as New Japan Pro-Wrestling (新日本プロレス Shin Nihon Puroresu) and sometimes referred to as NJPW or simply New Japan, is a major promotion founded in January 13, 1972 by Antonio Inoki. In 2005, Inoki sold the promotion to Yuke's, who later sold it to Bushiroad in 2012. TV Asahi and Amuse, Inc. own minority shares of the company. Naoki Sugabayashi has served as the Chairman of the promotion since September 2013, while Takami Ohbari has served as the President of the promotion since October 2020.
Owing to its TV program aired on TV Asahi, NJPW is the largest wrestling promotion in Japan in terms of attendance and revenue. From its creation in 1972 until 1986, it was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance. NJPW is known for openly engaging in working agreements with various MMA and professional wrestling promotions around the world, including WWE, World Championship Wrestling, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, WAR, UWFi, Ring of Honor, Pride Fighting Championships, and Jersey All Pro Wrestling. NJPW's biggest event is the January 4th at the Tokyo Dome show, held each year since 1992 and currently promoted under the Wrestle Kingdom banner.
The promotion is currently owned by Japanese card game company Bushiroad, which parlayed its entry to the world of professional wrestling into a best-selling trading card game, King of Pro Wrestling, and appearances from NJPW stars in its various franchises.
- 1 History
- 2 Contracts
- 3 Roster
- 4 Broadcasters
- 5 Current championships
- 6 Defunct championships
- 7 Events
- 8 Tournaments
- 9 NJPW Greatest Wrestlers
Formation and early history
The promotion was founded by Antonio Inoki on January 13, 1972. The first NJPW event, titled Opening Series, took place on March 6, 1972, in the Ota Ward Gymnasium in Tokyo, to a crowd of 5,000. The following year, NJPW signed a television deal with NET TV, now known as TV Asahi. The company was overseen by its governing body, the International Wrestling Grand Prix. In 1983, Hulk Hogan became the first ever IWGP Heavyweight Champion by defeating Inoki. However, this championship was later abandoned and the current version of the championship was established in 1987. Inoki would serve as the president of the promotion until 1989, when he was replaced by Seiji Sakaguchi.
On April 24, 1989, NJPW hosted Battle Satellite, its first show in the Tokyo Dome. The promotion was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) from 1975 to 1985 and once more from 1992 to 1993. NJPW was briefly reaffiliated with the NWA in the late 2000s to the early 2010s as well. On January 4, 1992, NJPW partnered with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) to produce WCW/New Japan Supershow II, the first ever January 4 Tokyo Dome Show, an event that would become an annual tradition for NJPW and is considered their biggest event of the year and comparable to WWE's WrestleMania event. In April 1995, NJPW and WCW held the two-day Collision in Korea event at the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea. The event is the first professional wrestling event held in North Korea and also holds the record for most attended wrestling event of all time, with 355,000 people packing the stadium over the two days.
Decline and Inoki's departure
In the early 2000s, the burgeoning popularity of mixed martial arts in Japan was noticed by Inoki, who wanted to integrate elements of shoot wrestling to make the company appear more realistic. The company would partner with martial arts organization K-1 and begin to insert wrestlers into MMA fights, with the goal of pushing NJPW in a more realistic direction and to make it appear as an actual sport. The company's new management was criticized by critics and fans, and the combination of MMA and professional wrestling was dubbed "Inokism". Inoki later departed NJPW in 2005 after selling his share of the company to Yuke's, and began his own promotion, the Inoki Genome Federation (IGF), in 2007. After his departure, Inoki's son-in-law Simon took over the company, before Naoki Sugabayashi was appointed president in 2007 after Simon also left NJPW to join Antonio in IGF. After the departure of the Inoki family, the company began to reintegrate its prior puroresu style of wrestling.
Resurgence and expansion
Also in 2007, NJPW hosted its first ever pay-per-view (PPV) event Wrestle Kingdom I.
The promotion debuted a new series called NEVER in August 2010, designed to be a series of events spotlighting younger up-and-coming New Japan talent and feature more outsider participation in the promotion. The final NEVER event was held in November 2012.
On January 4, 2011, officially announced the NJPW Invasion Tour 2011: Attack on East Coast, the promotion's first tour of the United States to be held in May 2011. The tour featured shows in Rahway, New Jersey on May 13, New York City on May 14 and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 15, as well as cross-promotion with American promotion JAPW. As part of the tour, NJPW introduced a new title, the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. On January 31, 2012, Yuke's announced that it had sold all shares of to card game company Bushiroad for ¥500 million (6.5 million) of dollars or (4.4 million) of euros.
New Japan aired its first internet pay-per-view, the fourth day of the 2012 G1 Climax, on August 5, 2012. The October 8, 2012, King of Pro-Wrestling pay-per-view marked the first time viewers outside Japan were able to order a pay-per-view by the promotion through Ustream. On October 5, 2012, New Japan announced the creation of the NEVER Openweight Championship, which would be contested for on the NEVER series. A two-day tournament to determine the inaugural champion was held between November 15 and 19, 2012.
In February 2014, New Japan announced a partnership with ROH, which saw the promotion return to North America the following May to present two supershows; Global Wars in Toronto and War of the Worlds in New York City. During the tour, New Japan wrestlers also took part in an event held by Canadian promotion Border City Wrestling (BCW). A year later, NJPW and ROH announced another tour together to produce four more supershows; War of the Worlds '15 on May 12 and 13 in Philadelphia and Global Wars '15 on May 15 and 16 in Toronto.
In June 2014, New Japan announced a partnership with the new American GFW organization helmed by Jeff Jarrett. In November 2014, GFW announced that it would be broadcasting NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom 9 in Tokyo Dome on pay-per-view in the United States as a four-hour event. Also in November 2014, the American AXS TV network announced it had acquired rights to rebroadcast a series of thirteen episodes of NJPW matches from TV Asahi. The series premiered on January 16, 2015, airing weekly on Fridays. Averaging 200,000 viewers per episode, the show was considered a success, leading to AXS TV and TV Asahi signing a multi-year deal to continue airing the show In June 2016, the show was also acquired by the Canadian Fight Network. On December 1, 2014, NJPW and TV Asahi announcedNJPW World, a new worldwide streaming site for the promotion's events.
On July 18, 2015, NJPW announced the "New IWGP Conception", a global expansion strategy centered on their international partnerships with CMLL, GFW, NWA, ROH, RPW, and wXw as well as holding more shows in Thailand, Singapore, and Taiwan. Also announced was the Lionsgate Keikaku ("Lionsgate Plan"), which would feature up-and-coming outsiders working trial matches in an effort to earn a spot in the promotion. Finally, it was announced that there were plans to take the company public with a listing on the stock market within three to five years.
On December 21, 2015, NJPW announced the creation of its seventh active title and the first six-man tag team championship in the promotion's history, the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship. On January 5, 2016, NJPW announced a partnership with the Amuse talent agency with the goal of making the promotion's wrestlers internationally recognized stars in the vein of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
In March 2017, NJPW partnered with the New Zealand-based Fale Dojo, a pro wrestling training facility run by NJPW performer Bad Luck Fale. NJPW utilized the partnership as an opportunity to scout talent from Oceania until 2020 when it become their New Zealand-based dojo with Fale serving as a head trainer. The following month on April 24, 2017, it was announced that NJPW would co-present the Japanese qualifiers for What Culture Pro Wrestling (WCPW)'s Pro Wrestling World Cup tournament. On May 12, 2017, during the third night of the War of the Worlds tour, co-produced by New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) and Ring of Honor (ROH), NJPW United States Ambassador George Carroll announced the creation of the IWGP United States Championship. The following day, NJPW revealed the title's official name as the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship. On May 16, NJPW held a press conference to announce plans to establish a subsidiary company, including a dojo, in the United States. A Los Angeles office is scheduled to be opened before the end of 2017, with a dojo to be opened at the start of 2018. NJPW's second American event was Strong Style Evolved and took place on March 25, 2018, in Long Beach. In November 2017, NJPW signed a television deal with Discovery Communications, which would see the company's programming brought to 70 million Indian homes through DSport.
In January 2018, NJPW announced its inaugural Fallout Down Under tour, a four-show tour of Australia spanning from February 16–19. In March 2018, NJPW opened the New Japan LA Dojo, with Katsuyori Shibata serving as a head trainer and ROH wrestler Scorpio Sky serving as an assistant trainer. On May 13, 2018, New Japan hired its first foreign President, Dutch businessman Harold Meij. On July 6, it was announced the Lion's Break Project a counterpart of the Lion's Gate Project shows in Japan, which would feature NJPW Young Lions trained in the USA dojo.
In February 2019, NJPW re-established its partnership with the NWA and entered into a new partnership with The Crash Lucha Libre. On October 21, NJPW announced the creation of its American subsidiary named New Japan Pro-Wrestling of America, based in California, with the goal of expanding in the American market. On December 27, NJPW ended its television deal with AXS TV. On February 10, 2020, NJPW established its own dojo in New Zealand with tryouts taking place on May 9 and 10.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
On February 26, 2020, following recommendations by the Japanese Ministry of Health regarding the coronavirus outbreak, NJPW canceled the events between March 1 and March 15 including the promotion's Anniversary Event and the first and the second round of New Japan Cup. On March 23, NJPW also canceled the 2020 Sakura Genesis event, which was originally scheduled to take place on March 31. On April 8, NJPW canceled more events from April 11 through May 4, leading to the cancelation of both nights of 2020 Wrestling Dontaku and would also cancel the whole Best of the Super Juniors tournament as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on May 6. During this time, NJPW wrestlers and staff created the NJPW Together project in order to do bring content to NJPW World with interviews and old archived matches. On May 6, NJPW announced that their Wrestle Dynasty event would be postponed to 2021, due to the effects of the 2019-20 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. On June 8, during an online press conference, NJPW Chairman Naoki Sugabayashi announced that the promotion would start to held shows on June 15, starting with the Together Project Special and the return of the 2020 New Japan Cup between June 16 and July 11, with all shows being held behind closed doors. It was also that the finals of the New Japan Cup and the Dominion in Osaka-jo Hall would be the first shows to allow fans into the arena, but only a third of the venue's normal capacity, after the Japanese Government lifted some restrictions on many regions in Japan. On September 29, it was announced that Harold Meij would resign as President and CEO and would departing the promotion in October, being replaced by NJoA's CEO Takami Obari. On October 6, it was announced that the 2020 Best of the Super Juniors would be resumed alongside the 2020 World Tag League, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, with the tounaments taking place between November 15 until December 11. With both tournaments consisting of ten nights, taking place on alternate days opposed to each other with the exceptions being the first round on November 15, final round on December 6 and the finals on December 11. On November 8, during a press conference, NJPW Chairman Naoki Sugabayashi revealed that since July 11, NJPW had promoted 54 live events, with an combined attendance of 72,706 paid fans, due to their guidelines, there were no positive cases, arising as a result of its live events.
Up until the 1980s, NJPW signed its workers to multi-year contracts, before changing to a system, where the promotion signed its wrestlers to one-year deals that expired at the end of every January. Following the departures of AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura, NJPW owner Takaaki Kidani announced in February 2016 that the promotion was returning to the multi-year contract system. The contracts forbid negotiations with other promotions. Any side contracts or agreements offered to wrestlers under NJPW contracts need the promotion's approval before being signed. NJPW currently has partnerships with several promotions across the world, including Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL), Ring of Honor (ROH) and Revolution Pro Wrestling (RPW).
- TV Asahi (1973–present, currently broadcasting weekly highlights show World Pro Wrestling Returns and live specials)
- Fighting TV Samurai (1996–present, currently broadcasting live specials, retrospective shows and magazine show NJPW Battle DX)
- AbemaTV (2015–present, online linear television service, live-streaming episodes of World Pro Wrestling Returns)
- Eurosport (mid '90s–2007, Europe, dubbed episodes of World Pro Wrestling and major shows for various continental markets)
- The Wrestling Channel (2002–2005, UK & Ireland, dubbed and undubbed broadcasts of major shows)
- AXS TV (2014–2019, United States, broadcasted World Pro Wrestling Returns and major shows, dubbed with English commentary)
- The Fight Network (2016–2019, Canada, broadcasting the AXS version of World Pro Wrestling Returns)
- DSport/Eurosport (2017–2020, 2021–present, Indian Subcontinent, broadcasting the AXS TV version of World Pro Wrestling, with Season 3-5)
- 1Sports (2020, Indian Subcontinent, broadcast the AXS version of World Pro Wrestling)
- J-One (May 2018–present, France, dubbed with French commentary)
- FX/MX (2019–present, South Korea)
- New Japan Pro Wrestling World (streaming service, in partnership with TV Asahi, broadcasting most NJPW shows live, as well as on-demand classic, documentary and anime content, as well as content from other promotions, beginning with promotional partner CMLL's weekly Super Viernes shows)
- FITE TV (2019–present, streaming service, broadcasting most NJPW big shows live, as well as on-demand classic)
|Championship||Current champion(s)||Reign||Date won||Days held||Location|
|IWGP Heavyweight Championship||Kota Ibushi||1||January 4, 2021||56+||Tokyo|
|IWGP Intercontinental Championship||2||January 4, 2021||56+|
|IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship||Jon Moxley||2||January 4, 2020||422+|
|IWGP Tag Team Championship||Guerrillas of Destiny
(Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa)
|7||January 4, 2021||56+|
|IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship||Hiromu Takahashi||4||January 5, 2021||55+||Tokyo|
|IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship||Suzuki-gun
(El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
|2||September 11, 2020||171+|
|NEVER Openweight Championship||Shingo Takagi||2||November 7, 2020||114+|
|NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship||CHAOS
(Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii and Yoshi-Hashi)
|1||August 9, 2020||204+|
|KOPW 2021||Toru Yano||2||January 5, 2021||55+|
- Wrestle Kingdom
- The New Beginning
- Sakura Genesis
- Wrestling Dontaku
- Sengoku Lord in Nagoya
- Kizuna Road
- King of Pro-Wrestling
- Power Struggle
- Fantastica Mania (with CMLL)
|Tournament||Last winner(s)||Last held||Type||Created||Notes|
|G1 Climax||Kota Ibushi||October 18, 2020||Openweight||1991||NJPW's biggest annual tournament, primarily for heavyweights but there is no official weight limit. Mostly in a round-robin format|
|World Tag League||Guerrillas of Destiny
(Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa)
|December 11, 2020||Tag team||1991||NJPW's annual tag team round-robin tournament.|
|New Japan Cup||EVIL (Japan)||July 11, 2020||Openweight||2005||Single-elimination tournament|
|KENTA (USA)||August 21, 2020|
|Best of the Super Juniors||Hiromu Takahashi||December 11, 2020||Junior Heavyweight||1994||Annual round-robin tournament featuring top junior heavyweights from all over the world.|
|Super Jr. Tag League||Roppongi 3K
(Sho and Yoh)
|November 3, 2019||Junior heavyweight tag team||2010||Annual round-robin tournament featuring junior heavyweight tag teams from all over the world.|
|Super J Cup||El Phantasmo||December 12, 2020||Junior heavyweight||1994||Sporadic single-elimination tournament featuring top junior heavyweights from all over the world. The tournament has been hosted by other promotions than NJPW as well.|
|Young Lion Cup||Karl Fredericks||September 22, 2019||Rookies||1985||A tournament held by NJPW for younger wrestlers.|
|Tournament||Last winner(s)||Last held||Type||Created||Finished||Notes|
|World League||Seiji Sakaguchi||1977||Heavyweight||1974||1977||NJPW's biggest annual tournament, only for heavyweights. Mostly in a round-robin format. The tournament was replaced by the G1 Climax.|
|MSG League||André the Giant||1982||Heavyweight||1978||1982||NJPW's biggest annual tournament, only for heavyweights. Mostly in a round-robin format. The tournament was replaced by the G1 Climax.|
|International Wrestling Grand Prix||1988||Heavyweight||1983||1988||NJPW's biggest annual tournament, only for heavyweights. Mostly in a round-robin format. The tournament was replaced by the G1 Climax.|
|World Cup Tournament||Riki Choshu||1989||Heavyweight||1989||1989|
|Top of the Super Juniors||Pegasus Kid||1993||Junior Heavyweight||1988||1993||Annual round-robin tournament featuring top junior heavyweights from all over the world. The tournament was replaced by the Best of the Super Juniors.|
|MSG Tag League||Antonio Inoki and Tatsumi Fujinami||1984||Heavyweight||1980||1984||NJPW's annual tag team round-robin tournament. The tournament was replaced by the World Tag League.|
|Japan Cup Tag League||Tatsumi Fujinami and Kengo Kimura||1987||Heavyweight||1986||1987||NJPW's annual tag team round-robin tournament. The tournament was replaced by the World Tag League.|
|Super Grade Tag League||Satoshi Kojima and Keiji Mutoh||1998||Heavyweight||1991||1998||NJPW's annual tag team round-robin tournament. The tournament was replaced by the World Tag League.|
|G1 Tag League||Minoru Suzuki and Lance Archer||2011||Openweight||1999||2011||NJPW's annual tag team round-robin tournament. The tournament was replaced by the World Tag League.|
|J Sports Crown Openweight 6 Man Tag Tournament||Apollo 555
(Hirooki Goto, Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi)
|June 23, 2011||Six-man tag team||2010||2011||Single-elimination six-man tag team tournament held in 2010 and 2011.|
|G2 U-30 Climax||Hiroshi Tanahashi||June 16, 2005||Openweight||2003||2005||Tournament for wrestlers under the age of 30.|
|Karl Gotch Cup||Shunji Kosugi||1976||Rookies||1974||1976||Tournament that is not held every year. The tournament was replaced by the Young Lion Cup.|
NJPW Greatest Wrestlers
The NJPW Greatest Wrestlers is NJPW's hall of fame, established in 2007 to honor wrestlers who have wrestled for the promotion. Individuals were inducted into the hall of fame from 2007 to 2011 on March 6, the anniversary of the promotion's founding.
|NJPW founder and first IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Also won many top titles, including the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, NWA United National Championship and NWF Heavyweight Championship.|
|2||2007||Seiji Sakaguchi||Three-time NWA North American Tag Team Champion and one-time NWF North American Heavyweight and WWF North American Heavyweight Champion.|
|One-time IWA World Tag Team Champion with Kotetsu Yamamoto as the Yamaha Brothers. Also known as a promoter and manager.|
|One-time IWA World Tag Team Champion with Kantaro Hoshino as the Yamaha Brothers.|
|Winner of the 1976 Karl Gotch Cup. Famous as the debut opponent of many legends, including Rusher Kimura, Masa Saito, Tatsumi Fujinami, Osamu Kido, Mitsuo Momota, Satoru Sayama (the original Tiger Mask) and Hiro Saito.|
|6||2009||Kuniaki Kobayashi||One of NJPW's top junior heavyweights of the 1980s and of a few to win the junior heavyweight titles in both New Japan and All Japan Pro Wrestling.|
|7||2009||Akira Maeda||Two-time IWGP Tag Team Champion. Founder of the Japanese UWF and Rings|
(Víctor Manuel Mar)
|One-time National Junior Heavyweight Champion and Naucalpan Tag Team Champion.|
|Trainer and two-time All Asia Tag Team Champion. Also four-time IWA World Tag Team Champion.|
|10||2010||Shinya Hashimoto||One of the Three Musketeers. Three-time IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Tag Team Champion. Founder of Pro Wrestling Zero1.|
|One-time WWC Caribbean Tag Team Champion. Best known as an underdog and comedy wrestler.|