Over the past few weeks, a handful of Japanese wrestling companies tried to lead a return to performing in front of live crowds last month. It looks like that was premature.
Yesterday (Tues., April 7), as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a monthlong state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures as part of the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, three promotions who had been trying to restart announced cancellations.
Pro Wresting NOAH cancelled their April 25 & 29 and May 9 shows. Big Japan cancelled everything it had planned for April, moving several events to late June/early July. And Stardom called off everything through May 6.
New Japan, which like joshi promotion Stardom is owned by Bushiroad, has not attempted to re-start. Instead, they’ve announced cancellations in week-by-week waves, which theoretically will give them the opportunity to resume their schedule quickly when conditions allow. But with Abe’s emergency declaration, they’ve cancelled roughly the next month’s worth of shows - up until May 4. That means the next big events on their schedule, Wrestling Dontaku 2020, is now off.
The company’s announcement does say they’re looking into the possibility of doing what WWE, AEW and Impact have done - put on matches in empty arenas/closed sets - but “this would only happen if staff and wrestler health and safety can be protected to the highest possible standard.”