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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" approach is used by NJPW compared to its counterpart in AJPW (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, equivalent to Japan's 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.
  • 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 His style and gimmick are somehow outdated and he is not a very exciting part of the junior division anymore, but is a pretty solid performer and receives occasional pushes.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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Passing 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Creator Breakdown: This certainly happened to Antonio Inoki near the end of his run.
  • Creator Killer: During the MMA rise, Antonio Inoki became obsessed with adding (more) legitimacy to his company, so he started to bring MMA fighters to New Japan to book them victories over the stablished roster and send New Japan wrestlers to compete in MMA (getting from little to average level of success). This decision enforced his exit from an almost-dying New Japan few years after. Nonetheless, he kept his philosophy in his Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye events and his late company Inoki Genome Federation.
  • 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. Also, New Japan belts have been defended in TNA shows, including pay per views.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Great Muta, if he's a face.
  • Delinquent Hair: TAKA Michinoku.
  • Determinator
  • Facial Markings: The Great Muta.
  • Fake Nationality: Milano Collection A.T.
  • 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 (although it was actually a character created by Go Nagai).
  • 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.
    • Wrestling/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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 got it, but helped to promove 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.
  • 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.
  • Start My Own
  • 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.
  • 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 esentially 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.
  • Yakuza: Masahiro Chono's gimmick, at least in his beginnings.

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