An Introduction to New Japan UPDATED

New Japan Pro Wrestling Announces Return Date and Teases ...
Updated 02/04/21

New Japan has been around for over 45 years. They call themselves the Kings of Pro Wrestling and many agree with that claim. Below is a quick run down of the promotion as it stands today along with links to content to aid in fully helping newcomers embrace them. This was made for one person in particular and then updated for another but I hope it's of use to others, too. Note that if you enjoy what you see, they have a streaming service called New Japan World that is well worth subscribing to. Here is a guide to sign up. Also, their YouTube which features loads of great content is worth checking out. It might also interest you to know that they are teaming with Roku and starting 02/11/21 they'll be airing weekly at 5pm. A deal with Pluto TV also is set to be announced soon. Lastly, an American based series titled NJPW STRONG airs on both the World app as well as Fite showcasing US talent alongside names like KENTA and more and has a fun dojo feel if that's your kind of thing.

Lets dig in!

CURRENT CHAMPIONS OF NEW JAPAN
The championships of New Japan are under the governing umbrellas of International Wrestling Grand Prix (IWGP) and NEVER Openweight monikers. I've listed the titles in by general importance. The top two prizes were recently unified in January of 2020 at New Japan's WrestleKingdom show (think NJPW's WrestleMania).

SINGLES:
-IWGP Heavyweight/Intercontinental Unified: Kota Ibushi
-NEVER Openweight: Tanahashi Hiroshi
-IWGP United States: Jon Moxley (working for both AEW and NJPW)
-IWGP Junior Heavyweight: Hiromu Takahashi

TAG TEAM:
-IWGP Tag Team: Bullet Club (G.O.D.-Tama, Toa)
-IWGP Junior Tag Team: Bullet Club (El Phantasmo, Ishimori)
-NEVER Openweight Six-Man: CHAOS (Ishii, Yoshi-Hashi, Goto)

UNITS
New Japan is largely broken up into units working together. Here is a list of the units, including a brief summary along with a list of members.

CHAOS
The main faces of New Japan, CHAOS started as a top heel unit formed around Shinsuke Nakamura. Now, they are united behind company ace, Okada.

-Okada
-Ishii
-Goto
-Eagles
-Roppongi 3k (Sho & Yoh)
-Nicholls
-Yano
-Yoshi-Hashi
-Romero

Watch the history of CHAOS here.

BULLET CLUB
Started behind Prince Devitt (WWE's Finn Balor), Karl Anderson, and Doc Gallows, the Bullet Club remains one of the most popular groups in the world and, in many ways, the modern version of the nWo. They're the cool dicks of New Japan, basically. Jay White is their current leader. Of course, this looks just at the official NJPW unit and doesn't include the "US Bullet Club", Balor Club or whatever, etc.

-White
-EVIL
-KENTA
-Ishimori
-G.O.D. (Tonga & Loa)
-Bad Luck Fale
-El Phantasmo
-Chase Owens
-Yujiro
-Gedo & Jado
-Dick Togo
-Hikuleo

Watch the history of the BC here.

LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON
Tranquilo! This group is a splinter off of a faction from CMLL with Tetsuya Naito serving as the leader. They are anti-heroes and beloved by all! The biggest thing to know right now is that EVIL just broke off from the group, while still holding a championship with two of the LIJ members. Here is a clip of the turn. After, he beat Naito in a very polarizing move and claimed ownership of the two top prizes of New Japan. Naito dethroned him later. They often seem to allow each other to get beat to shit without caring most of the time, but that's likely just off booking instead of meant to be taken as anything kayfabe. There is a branch called La Faccion Ingobernable in ROH that includes Rush, Dragon Lee, and Kenny King and other splinters out there, too.

-Naito
-SHINGO
-Hiromu
-SANADA
-BUSHI

SUZUKI-GUN
Minoru Suzuki is a monster. When people say Brock Lesnar is the toughest dude in wrestling, it's because they don't watch anything outside of WWE. Suzuki-gun is a group of assholes united behind the king asshole.

-Suzuki
-Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi, Sabre)
-El Desperado
-Douki
-Taka Michinoku
-Kanemaru

TAGUCHI JAPAN
Taguchi Japan is an open door, loose formed group and easily the most lighthearted unit of the bunch. They are irregular in frequency of uniting.
-Taguchi
-Tanahashi
-Juice
-Finlay
-Toru
-Yano

UNITED EMPIRE
Ospreay split off from CHAOS recently. His wife, Bea, works as his manager. He has Cobb and O'Khan alongside him and looks to be aiming upwards with his career which is scary seeing as he was already one of the most complete workers in the game.

-Ospreay
-Cobb
-O'Khan
-Bea Priestly

TEAM FILTHY
Behind Tom Lawlor, Team Filthy is a unit featured on NJPW STRONG. Due to Tom's weed habits and Japan's strictness with the plant, don't expect to see him on a non-US New Japan show any time soon.

-Lawlor
-Dickinson
-Limelight
-Kratos

MAIN UNIT/FREELANCERS
This is an umbrella grouping made up of talent that are not in any of the promotion's factions.

-Kota (teams with Tanahashi as Golden Aces)
-GBH (Togi, Honma)
-Jericho
-Nagata
-Moxley
-Fredricks
-Kojima
-Henare
-Tenzan
-Tiger Mask IV
-Master Wato

NJPW STRONG
The US based series has a set of talents that are specifically for this show. While NJPW proper names like KENTA frequent the show, the following are the main core signed for STRONG.

-Rosser
-Amazing Red
-Lio Rush
-TJP
-ACH
-Barrett
-Quest
-Blake Christian
-Skyler
-Clearwater
-Riegel Twins
-Misterioso
-PJ Black
-Rey Horus

Young Lions
The young lions are the company rookies. They largely work multiman dark matches and openers alongside old vets. The company also sends select talents out on excursions to learn new styles. I won't list them here due to their status. Note that they do have special events for these talents that are help periodically under the banners Lion's Gate Project and Lion's Break Project and that each year a tournament titled the Young Lions Cup takes place, too. There is the NJPW Dojo, Fale Dojo, and L.A. Dojo. Clark Connors, Ren Narita, Shota Umino, and crew have a lot of potential and it's always fun figuring out who's likely going to be a star in a few years.

NJPW'S PARTNERS
New Japan has official partnerships with major feds around the world. Ring of Honor, lucha libre fed CMLL, and UK's Revolution Pro were the main three. They hold co-branded shows, share talent and championships, and help each other spread brand awareness. Note that New Japan's parent company also owns STARDOM. The big news took place this week, though. After a lot of teases and a rushed table taking place due to COVID, AEW and NJPW are officially working together putting All Elite as arguably their top partner instantly. Time will tell.

BIG SHOWS
Wrestle Kingdom is the biggest annual show New Japan has on their calendar, taking place on January 4th each year. This year, it was a two-night event. They also run a huge series style tournament each Summer called the G1 Climax where the winner gets the right to main event the next Kingdom event.

Here is a general list of the marquee events of New Japan:
Main Shows
Wrestle Kingdom
The New Beginning
NJPW Anniversary Show
Wrestling Hinokuni
Wrestling Dontaku
Dominion
Wrestle Dynasty
Destruction
Fighting Spirit Unleashed
King of Pro-Wrestling
Power Struggle
Tournaments
G1 Climax
Best of the Super Juniors
New Japan Cup
World Tag League
Super Junior Tag League
Super J-Cup
Young Lion Cup
Colaboration Tours/Shows
Fantastica Mania (with CMLL)
G1 Supercard (with ROH)
Global Wars UK (with Revolution Pro)
War of the Worlds (with ROH)

MORE
Above, I suggested subscribing to their YouTube channel. One of their regular releases is a series called, "The Recount". I highly recommend watching these for short history lessons. Two such links are even included above in playlist form for CHAOS and BC. 

If you want more information, I'm easy to reach. Try @BridgingSuplex on Twitter or shoot me an email to: redswrestlingblog@gmail.com for quicker replies!

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