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New Japan’s King of Pro Wrestling crowned in match/drinking contest

Take this as your occasional reminder that while it’s known for “Strong Style” wrestling and long, 5+ star main events — New Japan isn’t above a little pro wrestling silliness of the kind Americans get from things like WWE’s 24/7 title scene.

Their King of Pro Wrestling (KOPW) championship doesn’t come with a belt. Even though it is defended throughout the year, all those are provisional. Whoever wins the final bout of the year is awarded the trophy and named that year’s King. Matches all have stipulations, many of which would put Vince Russo to shame. The wrestlers each suggest one, then fans vote to pick the stip.

Heading into the Road to the Tokyo Dome show today (Dec. 24) from Korakuen Hall, Toru Yano was the provisional KOPW champion. CHAOS’ comic relief was King of Pro Wrestling 2020, the first year of the title’s existence. In order to keep the trophy, he needed to Yoshinobu Kanemaru in a “Year End Party” match. That involved doing shots every two minutes. If the wrestler couldn’t finish their drink in 20 seconds, they were disqualified.

Fan voting determined the beverage for the match: whiskey.

The wrestlers ended up doing four rounds of drinking and wrestling. Yano had trouble getting down the last two, but he managed to beat the clock. For fans of Jackie Chan’s old Drunken Master flicks, there was some woozy fighting. Mostly it was shenanigans, though. The finish saw Yano dodge Kanemaru’s attempt to “mist” him with the whiskey. That hit the referee in the face instead. A powerbomb set-up by a low blow made Yano King once again.

Pro wrestling, everybody!