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.
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.
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 His style and gimmick are somehow outdated and he is not a very exciting part of the junior division anymore, but is a pretty solid performer and receives occasional pushes.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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. It used to they'd riot, against the Evil Foreigners such as when Vader beat Antonio Inoki. Later when Alex Koslov demanded that they rise for the singing of the Russian National Anthem, they complied and politely clapped when he was done!
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 Choshu is Korean-Japanese.
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.
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 got it, but helped to promove the shoot-style wrestling in the NJPW Dojo, where he was instructor for a time.
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.
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: One of the earliest in what would be a long trend of this sort of thing, leading to Pride Fighting somewhere down the line
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.
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.