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NJPW announces big change to their strategy on women’s wrestling

Earlier today, New Japan Pro Wrestling held a Business Strategy Presentation at Ueno’s Hikosen Theater.

One of the announcements made during this press conference is the return of fans cheering and booing at live events on Sept. 5 & Sept. 6 at Korakuen Hall. Here is how NJPW’s web site describes the situation:

“September 5 and 6 will see special events in Korakuen Hall with half capacity to allow for a cheering section and allow fans to finally use their voices. Rules and details are to be announced for these cards which will also feature separated sections for fans less comfortable with using their voices”

This is a big change for NJPW, as fans have been discouraged from cheering and booing since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The atmosphere for a pro wrestling match just isn’t the same when fans are limited to clapping their hands or stomping their feet. AEW wrestler Bryan Danielson has even mentioned that, while he definitely wants to wrestle in Japan, he won’t do so until fans there can cheer and boo again.

It’s worth noting that NJPW’s upcoming G1 Climax tournament runs from July 16 through Aug. 18, and fans won’t be cheering or booing at those events.

Another major announcement at this event involved NJPW’s strategy on women’s wrestling. The company acknowledged that they need to make some adjustments when it comes to incorporating women’s wrestling into their product, and also emphasized the importance of attracting younger talent in general to seek careers in pro wrestling:

Here is how NJPW’s web site characterized President Takami Ohbari’s comments on this topic:

“Ohbari then cited the AEW Women’s world Championship match at Forbidden Door as an example of how all male or all female cards overseas are rare. As a result, Ohbari stated, women’s matches will be a fixture in NJPW of America events in the future, and that the world’s premier women’s wrestling company (and Japan’s no.2 overall promotion in scale), STARDOM will be a major source for that talent.”

This means some of the women’s wrestlers from Stardom will be competing on NJPW of America cards going forward. Up to this point, Stardom has never been involved with NJPW of America. Stardom and NJPW are both owned by the same company, Bushiroad.

Owner Takaaki Kidani also indicated there will be around two mixed tag team matches at the joint event between NJPW and Stardom on November 20. He went on to express optimism for the future of Stardom, citing their rapid growth over the last couple years:

“To go back to STARDOM, there was a time when many STARDOM women went over to WWE. Over there over the last few years, society has been increasingly non-gendered. There’s a problem when there aren’t enough female voices in your company, or female matches in your promotion. In Japan, that time has not arrived yet. But very soon there will be those voices within Japan that ask ‘why aren’t there women’s matches in NJPW?’ It isn’t yet, but that day will absolutely come. To prepare for that, I started going to STARDOM events and started talking with people there about coming together.

Back then, this was two years ago, their sales weren’t even at 200 million Yen. They couldn’t afford to keep the women under proper contract. We started from there and in the last two and a half years, their earnings have shot up 500%. Profits are up. The wind is blowing that way. Olympic wrestling is split evenly with the men and women, is it not? Even if people argue that people watch the men more than the women, that’s no excuse to give the women less air time or what have you. they have to be treated evenly, and it’s with all that in mind that I and Bushiroad acquired STARDOM.

Then as they were growing, NJPW advanced into the US and the UK and now here we are. STARDOM have gone from tiny venues to bigger and bigger buildings and their growth is exceptional. Although their subscriber count is low, they have the most monthly active users and views on YouTube of all channels in the Bushiroad Group. So I have high hopes for them, and for the crossover with NJPW as we create something new together.”

A third announcement made during this presentation involved NJPW’s return to the United Kingdom, which will happen in October. NJPW has not held any events there since 2019, prior to the global pandemic.

Kidani closed out the press conference by discussing his vision for NJPW 2.1, which he believes will begin at this month’s G1 Climax tournament.

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