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YMMV / New Japan Pro-Wrestling

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: A grim real life example. Some think that the accidental death of Masakazu Fukuda by a stiff elbow from Katsuyori Shibata legitimately affected Shibata's mental health for the rest of his career and was the cause of his bizarrely ambivalent attitude towards pro wrestling altogether.
  • Americans Hate Tingle
    • Poor Captain New Japan. Puerto Ricans like him at least. The example is worse considering who is under the mask (see They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character below).
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    • Kenzo Suzuki had a terrible run in WWE. It's something many American fans have never forgiven him for.
    • Brock Lesnar is generally well liked in his home country (for the most part) but known as one of the worst IWGP Heavyweight Champions of all time in Japan. Reasons amount to being Simon Inoki's Creator's Pet, winning the title in a triple threat instead of a singles match, his reported unprofessional behind the scenes attitude, a very limited work schedule and some lackluster title matches (including a very, very anticipated one with Akebono that failed spectacularly). The fact All Japan had worked a program Goldberg before also brought complaints of copying, particularly of copying the wrong things, as Goldberg's tenure had been similarly unsuccessful.
    • While the Japanese see Bad Luck Fale as The Juggernaut, Americans in particular dislike him due to the fact that his top speed seems to be "plodding crawl" and his moveset is extremely limited.
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    • Cody Rhodes has always been viewed as a solid in ring talent with a respectable following. The same cannot be said about his reception in NJPW, where his reactions range from "acknowledgement" to "dead silence", even though he's had some good matches there. Turning on Kenny Omega and attempting to pull a Starscream on him for leadership of the Bullet Club made him the most hated man in all of wrestling… except for in Japan, where the reaction was less of the nuclear heat he received everywhere else and more of a "meh".
    • The same can be said of Jay Lethal, who was enjoying a critically lauded run as Ring of Honor World Champion, wrestling great matches, and generally being a top draw in the US independent scene, but he was greeted tepidly in his few appearances in Japan, even when defending that same championship in the Tokyo Dome. To be fair, this one can't be blamed on Lethal himself; the match didn't receive any buildup in Japan at all as Ring of Honor isn't aired there, and it didn't help that his match was thrown between two longer IWGP title matches. Most NJPW fans had no idea who he was or what his character was like, and assumed he was just brought there for Michael Elgin to have someone to beat.
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    • Adam Cole; despite being one of the most beloved wrestlers in the American indy scene, for one reason or another he's never been able to truly connect with the Japanese audience. This was particularly noticeable during his match at Wrestle Kingdom 11 for the ROH title where he failed to elicit any significant reaction from the Japanese audience.
    • Toru Yano is significantly less popular with the more wrestling purist western fans due to never working serious matches anymore, essentially meaning every match he has is 80% the exact same.
    • The Young Bucks are one of the most beloved tag teams in America, but in Japan, they're generally thought of as just "Bullet Club's obligatory junior tag team who do that superkick thing" and most of their matches are worked to very mediocre crowd reactions.
    • A number of tag team imports from Ring of Honor notably flopped. reDRagon, despite holding the Junior Tag Team Championships for almost eight months, never seemed to get any sort of a big pop. War Machine got oohs and ahhs for their destructive offense but didn't have a lot of fans beyond that. The Briscoes utterly flopped, to the point where many commentators started openly questioning the depth of New Japan's tag divisions if they had to keep relying on foreign part-timers so much.
    • In general, Ring of Honor has never elicited a very positive response from the Japanese crowd, probably due to the fact that NJPW is a huge company comparable with WWE, while ROH is an independent wrestling promotion that is at best the third-most important promotion in the United States. Added to that is that it's not broadcast in Japan, nor has it ever made a significant attempt to expand except for one tour (which was largely fought in small venues and relied heavily on New Japan talent in order to draw fans), and you get a perfect recipe for fans to consider ROH title matches on NJPW cards piss breaks. The only real success stories with regards to more ROH-affiiated talent breaking out with Japanese crowds are those who maintain a significant presence within the country's pro wrestling scene, like the Young Bucks and Zack Sabre Jr.
    • While Michael Elgin was a reasonably popular babyface in Japan, he became damaged goods among English-speaking fans after leaked screenshots of his text message conversations revealed that, among other controversies, Elgin mishandled a sexual harassment scandal at his wrestling school and repeatedly insulted his go-to tag partner, Jeff Cobb. At its peak, the hatred got so bad that, when Elgin made a surprise appearance at a Midwestern independent show, the fans got legitimately angry, booed him out of the building, and demanded refunds. As a result, New Japan stopped booking him for their American events, and he pretty much kept to Japan and Mexico until his contract was up.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Juice Robinson. A lot respect his desire to keep wrestling after being released by WWE and moving to Japan in order to get serious about training and improving. Others, while respectful of his heart, think he still just isn't good enough for NJPW and is taking up a spot a foreign indy talent could fill. Although in time he seems to have become universally liked.
    • Toru Yano. Though most agree he does have a valid reason to be in the G1 Climax every year (namely, giving everyone in one block a much needed short match with minimal bumping), most people are rather annoyed when he actually wins matches.note  However some people find him incredibly amusing and different and one of the MV Ps of the G1 Climax tournaments.
    • Kazuchika Okada has begun to fall into this; while no one really has an issue with his talent in the ring, many fans aren't so happy with his booking, which came to a head after he defeated Tetsuya Naito cleanly in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 12, in a match Naito was heavily telegraphed to win, a result that most fans and critics wanted. Some are accusing Okada of being a Boring Invincible Hero on the level of John Cena in his heyday whose inability to lose prevents anyone else from getting over, but others believe that his incredible wrestling ability means he deserves to hold the belt for as long as possible until someone who deserves it even more comes along.
    • "Switchblade" Jay White. Is he an intriguing character and a talented wrestler with loads of potential to become a star, or a bland personality whose disaffected Emo Teen appearance makes him harder to take seriously? How much did his loss at Wrestle Kingdom 12 against an injured Tanahashi affect his potential? Should he have joined Bullet Club? Was joining CHAOS instead a good move? Would he have fit better with Suzuki-gun or LIJ? Should he have even joined a stable at all? There's a myriad of opinions on all of these questions, and that's not taking into account how the questions will look when his plot develops further. His win of the IWGP United States Championship didn't help this, as it was treated more as a fluke and a plot device to get Kenny Omega kicked out of the Bullet Club rather than any endorsement of White's own talent.
    • Taichi. Did the quality of his in-ring work really improve with his move up to the heavyweight class because he's trying harder to put on good matches or is it largely do to him being carried by superior wrestlers like Tetsuya Naito, Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay, Hirooki Goto and Shingo Takagi? Is he being pushed do to losing his X-Pac Heat and gaining legit heel heat or is it because all the more talented wrestlers keep leaving for other companies (WWE, AEW, Impact Wrestling) and Gedo knows that Taichi isn't going anywhere cause he can't draw for crap on his own. The one thing every about Taichi everyone seems to be able to agree on is that his velvet, Miho Abe, is one of the most beautiful women to ever walk God's green Earth.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The Inoki Theater, a one night segment in which Inoki and Kengo Kimura came to the ring wearing Inoki masks and pretended to fight for minutes (no, not wrestling, but goofing around) before taking off their masks and returning backstage.
  • Broken Base: The decision to not included Minoru Suzuki in the G1 Climax 29. On the one hand, it's understandable. Suzuki was over 50 years old by this point and the quality of his matches have dipped over the last couple years. Plus, there is the fact that he is older than Yuki Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima and all four of them have retired from competing in the G1 years before, so the spot should go to a younger guy. On the other hand, Suzuki was still tarring the roff off arenas across Japan despite the natural wear and tear on his body and finished the previous G1 with a 5-4 record which made him, in the eyes of many fans, more deserving of a spot in the G1 half of the other participants that were announced.
  • Comedy Ghetto: For those who watch New Japan in search of more serious pro wrestling, Toru Yano is one of the last wrestlers they want to see, at least since his mid millennium breakdown. Yano has enjoyed much longevity in New Japan's upper mid card though because even NJPW appreciates comic relief.
  • Critical Dissonance: When Bob Sapp won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, pundits would have wanted his severed head on their desk, but he did draw enormous gates just like he did in K-1. Even if he is counted among the three cursed champions (him, Tadao Yasuda and Brock Lesnar), he is the only of them who was economically successful for the promotion.
  • Fandom Rivalry: New Japan has a lot of these.
    • NJPW vs. AJPW is legendary rivalry. Even wrestling magazines were on a side or another.
    • NJPW vs. Universal Wrestling Federation. If it was not as legendary as the previous, it was only because UWF and its incarnations were very short-lived (and because most of its offshoots tended to appeal more to combat sports fans than wrestling fans). Still, its last incarnation UWF-i had so much heat with NJPW that their interpromotional feud could have been the most succesful in its history.
    • Super World of Sports may have attracted the most amount of ire from New Japan fans in the quickest amount of time due to the perception it was using its corporate backing to buy up "their" wrestlers. Its next incarnation, Wrestle Association R, was seen in a better light, but not much.
    • Another heated rivalry was with Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, which embodied the cult fandom vs. mainstream product at its finest.
    • Pro Wrestling ZERO1's fanbase was bitter towards NJPW since its beginning, as the very existence of ZERO-ONE had been due to NJPW mistreating its top star Shinya Hashimoto.
    • At its time, Fighting Opera HUSTLE was one of the biggest threats NJPW ever faced in terms of rival popularity, not only for stylistic reasons, but also because it was backed by PRIDE, ZERO-ONE and AJPW, which were all enemies to NJPW and had a serious starpower when put together. It was only after PRIDE faded away and HUSTLE went on its own until its disappearance that it and NJPW stopped clashing with each other.
    • NJPW and Dragon Gate's fandoms are practically different niches, but they clash sometimes. Ironically, some NJPW wrestlers have talked well of DG and vice versa; Gedo and Jado from NJPW even used to share gym with CIMA from DG.
    • By the late 2000s, Inoki Genome Federation, given who is its owner.
    • Ever since the roster's kayfabe environment became that of a massively glorified multi-sided Mob War (ironically or not, very similar to Dragon Gate above), an internal Fandom Rivalry has risen between the fanbases of all the stables involved. Those being CHAOS, Suzuki-gun, Bullet Club, Los Ingobernables de Japon, and the many babyfaces that have to deal with them.
      • As of 2018, this has broken out within a single stable as a result in the split in the direction of Bullet Club between BCOG vs. The Elite.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • WCW's and CMLL's due to major collaborations.
    • Now with Ring of Honor, complete with both companies hosting crossover events in both America (War of the Worlds and Global Wars) and Japan (2016 Honor Rising).
    • The recent WWE acquisitions of AJ Styles, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson of the Bullet Club and Shinsuke Nakamura has caused a bit of overlap between both organizations' fanbases.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • IWGP Heavyweight Champion Bob Sapp? This isn’t exclusive to wrestling, he’s loved in MMA, commercials, a music video, just about everything he did.
    • The Kingdom have found an unexpected amount of success in New Japan, which just makes the resentment their home audience has for them grow even more.
    • In less than a year Los Ingobernables de Japon became a bigger than their Mexican originating group, though downplayed in that they are all Japanese, even BUSHI, and one of those things that made them significant was BUSHI winning the CMLL World Welterweight Title belt, making them like a hybrid between Ingobernables and La Ola Amarilla.
    • The sales of Cheeseburger T-shirts were curiously high compared to his prominence, or lack there of, in NJPW.
    • Four words: Bullet Club for life.
  • Growing the Beard: Tetsuya Naito is what happens when you grow a Beard of Evil. While always a talented wrestler, Naito was never able to gain the audience's support, with many claming he was just "Tanahashi lite". This resulted in him losing his main event spot at Wrestle Kingdom 8 to the original via fan vote over what the main event should be. This audience apathy continued until mid-2015, when Naito embarked on an extended tour with CMLL, joining their Los Ingobernables stable as well. When he returned to New Japan on that June, he had all new attitude and look. He never helped any of the New Japan Faces during tag team matches, his entrances took over two minutes and took even longer when taking of his entrance attire, and adopted the persona of The Slacker and it worked, it REALLY worked. Tetsuya Naito managed to turn the audience apathy towards him into complete rage and soon he became the most hated man on the New Japan roster even surpassing Bullet Club in terms of heel heat!
  • Heartwarming Moments: The Golden Lovers reunion at New Beginning in Sapporo 2018, after Kenny Omega was kicked out of the Bullet Club.
  • Memetic Loser: Akiya Anzawa, a former Young Lion who left wrestling to pursue his dream to be a cook. Many fans are still bitter towards him for this, as Anzawa was a very promising wrestler.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Mis-blamed: Masakazu Kusama was fired by Inoki for taking part in the disastrous Fujita-Sasaki title match, a match which he did not book (it was an idea of Fujita himself).
  • Narm:
    • Hiroshi Tanahashi claiming that he was "the viagra which was going to cure Tatsumi Fujinami's puroresu erectile disfunction."
    • Yoshi Tatsu on English commentary during Wrestle Kingdom 10. Yes, he did wrestle in WWE and was injured at the time, but maybe using someone whose first language isn't English to commentate to English-speaking fans just because he's known by them isn't that great of an idea...
  • Narm Charm: Before Jeff Hardy at Victory Road 2011, there was Jeff Hardy defending the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at the 2011 Wrestle Kingdom while high, which resulted in bad punches, blown spots and him generally acting like a babyface instead of any kind of heel "antichrist of pro wrestling" would suggest, which in turn made Tetsuya Naito, who ended up having to carry him, look like a villain the fans were cheering for and in turn made Yujiro Takahashi look like the rational one for his disapproval. Oh, and this was back when said title belt was the dark silver face plate on a purple strap. Still, the commentators did a great job of putting it all over.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • NJPW was banned from the Sumo Hall for years after the disastrous Big Van Vader debut, in which Inoki got trashed in an angle and it infuriated the audience so much that a riot broke out and the arena was ravaged.
    • A similar case happened with the Fukuoka Dome in 2001. Despite getting a 21.1% of TV rating for an anticipated tag team match with Ogawa/Murakami against Nakanishi/Iizuka, the event was a fiasco and NJPW got panned. Only years later they could return to the building.
    • Everybody remembers the beatdown suffered by Tokimitsu Ishizawa (Kendo Kashin) in a MMA match against Ryan Gracie. Nobody remembers the rematch in which Ishizawa dominated Ryan until the Brazilian got the towel thrown for what many at the time believed to be a fake injury to save face.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Shinsuke Nakamura he was pushed to the moon, winning his first IWGP heavyweight championship as a rookie due to his relatively successful MMA tenure and Antonio Inoki's early 2000s insistence on pushing fighters over actual wrestlers. As such, many were resentful of his ascent up the card, feeling that he was too green, hadn't paid his dues and had only got there because he was Inoki's Creator's Pet. It wasn't until a learning excursion to Mexico and returning, coincidentally around the time Inoki got ousted from the board, as a more well rounded wrestler, although it still took him three more years to become the massively charismatic King of Strong Style.
    • Tetsuya Naito's Face–Heel Turn and subsequent Darker and Edgier phase seems to have won him many more fans on both sides of the Pacific. Not bad for someone who once got his world championship match fan-voted out of the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 8, and who was once dubbed "the Bo Dallas of NJPW". He was even the crowd favourite in his championship match with Okada.
    • Michael Elgin, while still having some fans in North America, was generally seen as a bland monster heel that had worn out his welcome in the American independents. After his Ring of Honor contract was purchased by NJPW, a series of barn burners with Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito ironically earned him more American fans than he had while working there.
    • Taichi used to have fans chant "go away" at him, English commentator Kevin Kelly once mentioned X-Pac Heat to refer to him, and many said that his incredibly beautiful valet Miho Abe was the only reason anyone had to care about him at all. Fast forward a move to the heavyweight division later, he's proven himself to be a good wrestler and now the "go away" chants are shouted down with "let's go Taichi" chants.
  • Seasonal Rot: The early 2000s saw a shift to a more MMA-oriented product, with many events showcasing both MMA and shoot wrestling contests, largely due to Inoki's newfound obsession with said sport. However, the problem isn't so much the inclusion of these bouts, but rather their quality and booking, which were really poor. Also, Inoki developed the tendency to send his wrestlers to fight in MMA events, often getting them destroyed, which made them look weak and derailed several of their careers. This change in direction caused Keiji Mutoh, Kendo Kashin and Satoshi Kojima to jump to rival AJPW, as well as causing Riki Choshu and Kensuke Sasaki to leave the promotion to found the failed Fighting World of Japan. By all accounts, this rot was reversed after Inoki's departure in 2005, with NJPW adopting a more wrestling focused product again.
  • Shocking Swerve: After his contract signing promo, in which Kenny Omega reiterated that he would not be joining the Bullet Club, he made his official NJPW debut one month joining the Bullet Club. Tropes Are Tools: his latest NJPW run has been considered some of the best work of his career, to the point he eventually became Bullet Club's leader and a contender for best currently active pro wrestler on the planet.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: More than one international fan has expressed concern with how strongly foreign talent, especially part-timers, are booked in NJPW. It's rare to see a top import from the American indy scene that isn't pushed directly into a title feud, but as those wrestlers are loan talent who are more devoted to wrestling in their home country and only show up in NJPW for big events, the NJPW fans have little reason to know or care about them before they're pushed straight into a title shot, on top of obvious issues like the language barrier. This perception ended up turning several Ring of Honor tag teams and singles wrestlers that were supposed to be pushed as big deals into flops. Part of the reason why wrestlers like Rocky Romero, Kenny Omega, Michael Elgin, Juice Robinson, and Jay White managed to avoid this crowd indifference is the fact that they're dedicated to NJPW first and foremost, appear on house show tours, and generally manage to build a much stronger rapport with the crowd than some part-timer who shows up in Japan once every two months and leaves the rest of the time.
  • Tear Jerker: Akiya Anzawa's retirement, despite all the ill feelings that he would end up attracting.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Despite his attitude backstage and problems with other wrestlers, everybody involved was unanimous in that grand sumo champion turned wrestler Koji Kitao was a big lost chance for NJPW. Seiji Sakaguchi went to say that part of the problem was that Kitao got the wrong people to give him the wrong advice for his career, while Keiji Mutoh stated that NJPW committed a mistake too by giving him special treatment instead of trying to instigate discipline on him like every other rookie. Their booking of him was another point, as being pushed as babyface despite being one of the least likable celebrities in Japan was too much of a stretch; both Mutoh and Bam Bam Bigelow believed that Kitao could have brought a mountain of gold to the company only if the execs had booked him as a heel.
    • Antonio Inoki's refusal to give the uber-popular Akira Maeda the push everybody wanted for him (or merely to work with him in what would have been a record-breaking millionaire program) led Maeda and a bunch of very popular and talented workers to leave the company and never look back.
    • World judo champion Naoya Ogawa had the potential to be the next big thing, but Inoki's spoiling treatment and booking whims ended up killing not only Ogawa's NJPW career, but also Shinya Hashimoto's. Sakaguchi has claimed that, as the person in charge to create new talent, Ogawa was his second greatest failure after Kitao.
    • Mongolian wrestler Blue Wolf almost became a meme in Japanese wrestling tabloids because everybody asked for a push for him at least once every year, and yet he never received it. It's believed that this was what killed his aura and prompted his exit of the company.
    • During the Inoki-ism phase, Hiroyoshi Tenzan was subjected to Shoot the Shaggy Dog booking so many often that the Japanese fans ended up creating another meme, "Tenzan Must Suffer", to summarize the executives's opinion of him.
    • With the right booking, most of the Mixed Martial Arts guys Inoki brought to the company could have given great "different style matches" in the vein of Inoki's and Hashimoto's own tenures against martial artists. Instead, for some reason only Inoki knows, he booked most of them to go over NJPW's own native talent, which brought literally no benefit to the company (most of the fighters were sporadic workers or even one-night attractions and thus it wasn't possible to build them into pro wrestling stars) and only delayed the careers of many real wrestlers.
    • Mitsuhide Hirasawa was a decorated amateur wrestler when he stepped on the New Japan Dojo. Wrestling columns were all after him and other wrestlers talked wonders about his talent. He spent some uneventful years, was sent to Puerto Rico to train... and when he returned, he was given a comedy gimmick and became Captain New Japan. It became even worse when he joined Bullet Club, turned into Bone Soldier and became The Load to such an extent that they kicked him out in a relatively short period of time. Then he was fired by NJPW for gambling issues, something that is typically not as big deal as to grant a release. While not a lost chance at the level of the previous cases, it's just amazing how the company screwed Hirasawa over and over until losing him.
  • Tough Act to Follow: The G1 Climax may have been the world's best pro wrestling tournament of 2015, the entire year in the entire world. The G1 Climax of 2014 unfortunately might have been the best pro wrestling tournament of all time……until 2017 blew them both completely out of the water. 2016 was tremendous as well.
  • The Woobie: After decades pursuing the title, Manabu Nakanishi managed to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Hiroshi Tanahashi in 2009! …only to lose it a month later.
  • X-Pac Heat:
    • Koji Kitao was possibly the first example in NJPW history (not counting Takeshi Kitano). Trying to make a babyface out of a man who had been kicked out of sumo for allegedly striking an elderly master and his wife was Crazy Enough to Work at first, but when it was clear Kitao was not interested in improving on the ring, people started booing him nonstop and just demanding him to go away.
    • Tadao Yasuda was the result of the bookers learning all the wrong lessons from the Kitao fiasco. Although they managed to turn Yasuda into a much more efficient worker than Kitao ever was, they realized too late that Yasuda had nothing of Kitao's heat or potential, which led to a tepid fan reaction and an very underwhelming early career. However, when Inoki pressed to give him an entire stable and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship of all things as a reward for winning an easy MMA bout against a kickboxer, the crowds turned fully on Yasuda and only wanted him to disappear once for all.
    • Naoya Ogawa also fell on this for a short period, given how unpleasant he was in interviews and how adamant NJPW seemed in booking him over Shinya Hashimoto and other popular wrestlers.
    • The entirety of Suzuki-gun began to get this after their return to the New Japan ring, save for their leader, Zack Sabre Jr., and Taka Michinoku after he became ZSJ's hype man. Absence did not make the hearts of NJPW fans grow fonder in this case, as it corresponded to the rise of the far more popular Los Ingobernables de Japon and Suzuki-gun were viewed as unwanted fourth wheels in the feud between the ultra-cool Ingobernables, CHAOS, and Bullet Club. Not helping matters is that most members besides the aforementioned two were seen as average in the ring at best, and their matches marred by predictable interference.
    • Two third-generation Gracie brothers of Mixed Martial Arts fame were brought into the company in 2014 to challenge Kazushi Sakuraba in order to avenge their uncle Royce's first ever MMA loss... all well and good except they didn't know how to wrestle at all. Their tag match against Sakuraba and Yuji Nagata was greeted with boos throughout, and predictably, they have not been back.
    • To promote NJPW's first 2017 United States show, the company brought in a pushing-54 Billy Gunn to face Hiroshi Tanahashi... which went over with the Smarks about as well as you would expect. Although he was still in great shape and Jim Ross tried his hardest on commentary to sell him as a legitimate threat to Tanahashi, no one in the crowd that night was fooled.

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