Wrestling: New Japan Pro Wrestling

"Baba-san's is a showman style. Mine is a strong style."
Antonio Inoki, establishing the style of his company.

New Japan Pro Wrestling was one of two wrestling promotions (the other being All Japan Pro Wrestling) to split off from the JWA in the 1970s. Founded by Antonio Inoki in 1972, it competed with AJPW for supremacy in the wrestling field. Despite floundering during the 1990s due to AJPW's dominance, NJPW is currently the largest wrestling promotion in Japan and one of the largest in the world.

From its creation in 1972 until 1986, NJPW was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance, although All Japan was able to block most Western talent from working in New Japan; the main holdouts were André the Giant, Hulk Hogan, and Stan Hansen (who eventually jumped to AJPW, becoming the highest paid wrestler in Japan in the process). Traditionally, New Japan was the least "Westernized" of the two major league promotions, working a more realistic, submission and kick-based style based on Eastern martial arts. While more of a "sports entertainment" presentation used by NJPW compared to its AJPW counterpart somewhat offsets this (although this situation got reversed when AJPW entered the "Puroresu Love" era), the company is also known for openly engaging in working agreements with various MMA and pro wrestling promotions around the world, including: World Wrestling Entertainment, World Championship Wrestling, TNA, Ring of Honor, PRIDE Fighting Championships, Pro Wrestling NOAH and various other MMA and pro wrestling promotions. Their biggest yearly show is the January 4th Tokyo Dome show, Japan's equivalent to WrestleMania.


Tropes associated with New Japan Pro Wrestling:

  • Acrofatic: Big Van Vader.
  • Action Girl: As is tradition in Japan, wrestling promotions are strictly single-gender, but New Japan averted this in 2002 bringing Joanie Laurer to its roster. She stayed only two months in the company, but got impressive wins against male workers.
  • Air Guitar: Hiroshi Tanahashi does this often. Yohei Komatsu did it with a broom while he was supposed to be sweeping in front of the New Japan Dojo.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Antonio Inoki to All Japan's Giant Baba, their own nWo to WCW's. Captain New Japan to Marvel Comic's Captain America.
  • Arrogant Judo Guy: Naoya Ogawa and Kazunari Murakami.
  • The Artifact: Tiger Mask IV. His style and gimmick are somehow outdated and he is not a very exciting part of the junior division anymore, but is a pretty solid performer and receives occasional pushes.
  • Ass Kicks You: Shiro Koshinaka's signature move.
  • Author Avatar: Antonio Inoki, later, Gedo and Jado became bookers.
  • Ax-Crazy
    • Takashi Iizuka, even in real life. He sent Kazunari Murakami to the hospital during the 1.4 Incident.
    • Akira Maeda was fired from NJPW for kicking Riki Choshu in the face and breaking his orbital bone. Even later, he didn't have a single year free of legal troubles due to his tendency to assault people. He even vowed to kill Yoji Anjo and was arrested for it.
    • Big Van Vader, though less so away from the ring.
  • B Show: New Blood Evolution Valiantly Eternal Radical, NEVER! A showcase of young and independent wrestlers. Got it's own Open Weight title belt in 2012.
  • Bad Ass Grandpa: Most today such as Yuji Nagata, Jushin Thunder Liger, Manabu Nakanishi, and others are in their late forties and early fifties having been competing since their twenties. They can still go and kick plenty of ass.
  • The Bad Guy Wins
    • This was Masahiro Chono's calling card.
    • Bad Intentions.
    • No Remorse Corps did this to Apollo 55.
    • This is Bullet Club's trait as of late.
  • Bash Brothers: Gedo and Jado.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: As the best native shoot-style wrestler, Yuji Nagata has been in charge to wrestle every shooter or mixed martial artist who came to New Japan during the 2000s. Unfortunately for him, this was the reason Inoki sent him to fight in MMA bouts against Cro Cop and Fedor.
    • Currently, Shinsuke Nakamura has taken his mantle, partially due to his more succesful MMA career.
  • Bishōnen: Kota Ibushi.
  • Boring but Practical: The cross armbar (juji-gatame) is the most basic finisher in strong-style, as it has proved to be a very effective move in MMA and other martial arts.
  • Boring Invincible Hero: Since his beginnings as NJPW founder, Antonio Inoki made himself invincible against all odds through purely self-centered booking and became the absolute hero of Japan. Even now, he is known for his refusal to pass on the torch.
    • The first Tiger Mask (Satoru Sayama) managed to avert the boring part. He retired from New Japan with zero defeats, but the crowd loved him until the end.
    • A common complaint leveled at Hiroshi Tanahashi, though he subverted it hard with several major losses, not least of which included losing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship back to Kazuchika Okada, as well as a major loss before that against Karl Anderson in the G1 Climax (which, despite it having been a non-title bout, ended up de facto guaranteeing a title shot for Anderson).
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Many over time, most recently Tetsuya Naitō.
  • Butt Monkey: Commentator Shinpei Nogami. In the finals of the 2012 World Tag League he had to do commentary in the winter of an unheated arena after being tied up and having his shirt ripped off, for example.
  • Canon Immigrant: Probably the best example is the main character of the '70's manga and anime Tiger Mask, who was brought to New Japan to be played by breakout cruiserweight Satoru Sayama. His Evil Counterpart Black Tiger was a similar case, regularly played by foreign wrestlers. Both of them were turned into Legacy Characters.
    • In the same line, Keiichi Yamada was endorsed with the Jushin Liger gimmick years after.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Not as prominent as Dragon Gate, but long haired pretty boys make up a portion of the roster.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Keiji Muto, both in kayfabe and real life.
  • Confusion Fu: Shinsuke Nakamura, Kenny Omega.
  • Cool Mask: Many, although mainly Jushin Thunder Liger.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Inoki plucked Tiger Jeet Singh from relative obscurity outside the Toronto area and made him an international star. So blame him.
  • Crossover
    • As mentioned in the description, they have them pretty frequently, especially with CMLL, whom will defend their belts on New Japan pay per view and will even do commentary on New Japan's shows in exchange for NJPW doing the same. As of 2010, the two have agreed to work together at least once a year on the Fantasticamania event, though the events often end up including two shows and sometimes as many as five.
    • New Japan belts have been defended in TNA shows, including pay per views. Its had a series of collective pay per views with Ring Of Honor as well as going to "war" with NOAH.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Great Muta, if he's a face.
  • Delinquent Hair: TAKA Michinoku. Mitsuhide Hirasawa looks the part but is much better behaved.
  • Determinator:Jushin Thunder Liger is the standout example. He was starving himself just to become a professional wrestler and has not let brain tumors stop his career.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Most of Montel Vontavious Porter's music was his own doing. In fact, despite NJPW remixing VIP Balling into "Most Valiantly Person", they actually included more of the original song than WWE, whom he originally wrote it for.
  • Dreadlock Warrior: Willie Williams, the bear killer
  • Engrish: Lots of it, even those who speak it as a first language often get saddled with Engrish monikers, such as World Greatest Tag.
  • Facial Markings: The Great Muta, Tama Tonga, Doc Gallows.
  • Fat Bastard: Koji Kitao.
  • Feel No Pain: The Great Sasuke broke his skull doing a Diving Kick against Último Dragón during the J-Crown tournament and continued wrestling restlessly.
  • Fingerless Gloves: Used by many wrestlers due to the MMA rise, specially the legit shoot-trained ones.
  • Folk Hero: Big Van Vader's gimmick was supposed to be based in a strong warrior from the Japanese folklore who once fought for his village seventy-two hours straight (it was actually based on a character created by Go Nagai).
  • Follow the Leader: Started phasing out a lot of "American" wrestling tropes and conventions until Toryumon's first graduating class came back from Mexico and started using such cheats and ref bumps to much success. Though it took New Japan going into painful slump before they finally relented and followed suit.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: The gaijins of the Bullet Club swear like sailors, but because it's all in English, the TV executives pay it no mind. Doubles as Getting Crap Past the Radar.
  • The Giant: Many. Giant Silva, Giant Singh, Big Titan, and most recently Akebono and Giant Bernard.
  • Hero Antagonist: Nobuhiko Takada during the UWF-i invasion. Although he posed as a heel in New Japan, he was the top face of his own company and had his own fanbase.
  • Hero Killer: Naoya Ogawa. He beat Shinya Hashimoto to his retire.
  • I Know Karate: Due to the strong style penchant for legitimacy, it's almost a requirement to new wrestlers in NJPW to have martial arts/combat sports background.
    • Satoru Sayama was the best example, as he knew judo, amateur wrestling, catch wrestling, muay thai, kickboxing and sambo.
    • Shinya Hashimoto's moveset was based in his judo and karate background.
    • This was the theme behind the Fighting Club G-EGGS, composed by former martial artistas and real fighters. Their members were Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi (amateur wrestlers), Yutaka Yoshie (judoka), Brian Johnston (mixed martial artist) and Masakazu Fukuda (sumo).
    • In an interesting twist, Masahiro Chono knew soccer, in which he based his powerful kicks.
  • Japanese Politeness: While the wrestlers coming out of here are notorious for being anything but, the crowds who attend New Japan have become increasingly nice and subdued as time went on, especially after a riot against Vader beating Antonio Inoki lead to New Japan being banned from its first home venue, Sumo Hall. Later at NJPW Power Struggle 2012 when Alex Koslov demanded that they rise for the singing of the Russian National Anthem, they complied and politely clapped when he was done!
  • Jerkass: Minoru Suzuki.
    • The former yokozuna Koji Kitao. He had a notorious hostility with Riki Choshu, who thought Kitao didn't deserve his push, and was fired for taunting him with ethnic discriminationnote .
    • Akira Maeda is an older example.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Akira Maeda did this against Riki Choshu during his consequently last match in New Japan.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Antonio Inoki.
  • Lethal Chef: Sho Tanaka wants to be the king of culinary, but his soup has nearly killed other wrestlers.
  • Licensed Game
    • Virtual Pro Wrestling is nominally a WCW series but the "Neo Strong Wrestling" section of the roster is filled with New Japan wrestlers.
    • New Japan Wrestlers have appeared alongside wrestlers contracted to other companies in the King Of Colosseum series.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The other prerequisite for competing there, seemingly.
  • Martial Arts Headband: Shinya Hashimoto.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Hiroshi Tanahashi's selling point.
    • Kota Ibushi.
    • Prince Devitt has become one of the most popular foreigners in any puro company, and not without good reason.
  • My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: A recurrent motif.
  • No Sell: Koji Kitao's main trait, done a la Hulk Hogan.
    • The "test of will" spot relies on this - mid-match, two wrestlers take turns punching or kicking each other as hard as possible, and the first to show signs of pain loses the test.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The International Wrestling Grand Prix is not an event(unlike the Japan Grand Prix), but a governing body. The IWGP Championships are not events either, but title belts, which makes things confusing around the time of CMLL's Universal Championship, which is an event (for a title belt).
  • One Steve Limit: The reason Giant Majin is called such instead of Giant Titan (already have a big Titan) or Giant Magnum (already have a Magnum Tokyo, and Giant Majin is from Tokyo too so that simply won't do). On the other hand, he was teamed up with New Strong Majin and Super Strong Majin in the Makai Club, which also had eight guys called Makai (and claimed sixty nine).
  • Praetorian Guard: Club 7 (Giant Singh and Giant Silva), Masahiro Chono's giant bodyguards.
  • The Quisling: Kazuo Yamazaki, who deserted from rival promotion UWF International seeking his opportunity to shine. He didn't get it, but helped to promote the shoot-style wrestling in the NJPW Dojo, where he was instructor for a time.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Keiji Muto's Bad Ass Translate Trading stable.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Yutaka Yoshie, who is called "The Pink Warrior" for his jolly pink attire.
  • Rival Dojos: Inoki's policy about presenting his pro wrestling as the strongest martial art caused a lot of dojoyaburi or dojo challenging from real martial artist who wanted to expose them as the "fake fighters" they were. Unfortunately for the challengers, the New Japan Dojo produced very tough people to boot. As Josh Barnett said:
    "Judo guys and karate guys showed up at the dojo because of advertisements saying pro wrestling is the strongest martial art in the world. Those guys would show up to prove that wrong. They'd close the doors and the New Japan guys would trash everybody."
  • Sadist Teacher: The NJPW Dojo is known by his extremely harsh training regime, and his most famous instructors have always been feared by their trainees. Kotetsu Yamamoto and Yoshiaki Fujiwara are the best examples.
    • It's said that Kensuke Sasaki (accidentally?) killed a trainee named Hiromitsu Gompei in a training session. Details remain unknown.
  • Scary Black Man: Bob Sapp.
  • Serious Business: Can't defend you championship, you lose your belt, don't expect any circumstances to change anyone's mind.
  • Shoot the Dog: The 1.4 Incident. During the third match between Naoya Ogawa and Shinya Hashimoto, Ogawa broke kayfabe and bloodied the unaware Hashimoto with legit strikes, after which he grabbed a microphone and taunted the crowd. Soon, the NJPW staff got into the ring and Ogawa's cornermen (including his bodyguard Gerard Gordeau and Kazunari Murakami) had to gang up to protect Ogawa from the wrathful Riki Choshu and his minions in the subsequent brawl. It's said that Inoki ordered Ogawa to shoot on Hashimoto to increase his popularity, and Ogawa took the opportunity with no second thoughts.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Scott Hall gave the Bullet Club his blessing to use The Kliq's hand sign. That the Kliq is one of the most hated groups in all of professional wrestling is all else you really need to know.
    • Former NJPW president Masakazu Kusama used to call himself "Kusa-McMahon", which was probably one of the reasons Inoki fired him.
  • Start My Own: One of the earliest in what would be a long trend of this sort of thing, leading to Pride Fighting somewhere down the line
  • Take That: When NJPW launched New Japan World they announced the price was 999 yen per month, similar to how The WWE Network was and still is daily advertised with a month price of $ 9.99
    • Gets better, if you look into it, 999 yen rounds up to eight and a half dollars meaning its cheapter to purchase than WWE's own network.
  • Took A Level In Bad Ass: This happens to Young Lions, graduates of The New Japan Dojo who spend their first years in opening matches and losing a lot only winning against other Young Lions. After having worked enough and deemed ready, most are sent overseas to other promotions for seasoning. When they come back, they have developed their own characters and are now accepted on the main roster. Most notable example is Okada.
  • Tournament Arc: While NJPW has many recurring tournaments, the G1 Climax is their most prestigious and the one that garners the most mainstream attention. It's a round robin style tournament where the winner receives a world title shot at NJPW's biggest event, Wrestle Kingdom.
  • Trope 2000: Masahiro Chono's Heel faction Team 2000, which was initially NWO Japan without the Great Muta.
  • Tweener: Yuji Nagata has been this during almost his entire career.
  • Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain: Shinya Hashimoto against any of his enemies, most notably Nobuhiko Takada and Naoya Ogawa.
  • Ur Example: NJPW is credited with popularizing the junior/cruiserweight style of wrestling.
  • The Worf Effect: Captain New Japan's win loss record is deceptively skewed towards losses. He wins in enough team up situations and such to look competent but gets beat to establish threats a whole lot.
  • Worked Shoot: The "Different Style Fights" were a tradition back in the old days of NJPW, when Inoki was establishing the strong style. They were essentially worked Mixed Martial Arts-like bouts which showcased Inoki and other New Japan wrestlers proving themselves against legit martial artists, who normally were in the losing end. Later Shinya Hashimoto revived them, what led him to the infamous Hashimoto vs Ogawa feud.
  • Wrestling Doesn't Pay: Bruce Tharpe, the NWA Attorney (who is a real attorney)
  • Yakuza
    • Masahiro Chono's gimmick, at least in his beginnings.
    • Tiger Jeet Singh, in Real Life.