Image courtesy of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
Most people envision a professional wrestler as a bodybuilder in spandex, often wearing tassels and too much baby oil. While this idea isn’t too far from the truth, the behemoths that often look like they’ve jumped off the page of a comic book, aren’t necessarily the norm in what is now considered the face of modern professional wrestling.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), set to land at the Long Beach Convention Center this summer, is breaking the circus act stigma that has traditionally haunted professional wrestling by offering a combination of what audiences think they’re going to see, with a contemporary practicality that most other professional wrestling promotions haven’t been able to offer stateside.
Professional wrestling in Japan is based in a tradition called “Strong Style.” As in all professional wrestling seen on American television, one can expect to see the athletes of NJPW running the ropes, flying off the top turnbuckle and engaging in a unique blend of holds and submissions. However, their strong style of strikes, kicks and mixed martial arts creates a more combative approach that may feel similar to a UFC fight, displaying a caustic realism which has been largely absent from American professional wrestling. NJPW offers the alternative to the prototype body-builder with impressive feats of strength by replacing it with more functional athletes, and equally charismatic, yet relatable characters.
While most of NJPW’s athletes are of Japanese descent and have become wildly popular across the globe for those with access to their televised programming; they continue to be obscure to many casual wrestling fans in the states. The current NJPW Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada, is a young, charismatic showman who has drawn similar parallels with his work in the ring to Dwayne Johnson, known throughout the pro wrestling community as, “The Rock.”
Arguably the hottest draw on NJPW’s roster is not Japanese, but is a Canadian-born wrestler, Kenny Omega, whose popularity has grown across the American independent circuit.Omega is one of the many unique pro wrestlers who offers a blend of submission, high flying, strong style and mat wrestling that appeals to NJPW’s rabid fan base across the globe. Omega’s ability to incorporate humor with his Terminator-inspired gimmick, and combat video game move set, makes him a crowd favorite.
Both of these athletes, among many others, will appear at NJPW’s G1 special in Long Beach in July and offer the opportunity to see a different style and medium of production that other professional wrestling promotions haven’t matched in the United States. According to an article in Top Rope Press, this event will be the first step toward NJPW’s greater expansion into the United States. While this show and NJPW is exciting for all active professional wrestling fans, it will be even more important for the casual pro wrestling fan that has been looking for an alternative to the norm.
New Japan Pro Wrestling will be running a G1 Special event at the Long Beach Arena at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center (Hall B) on Saturday, July 1 and Sunday, July 2.
Tickets go on sale to the general public this Saturday, April 1 at 8:00AM and can be purchased here. Details and updates can be found via the website here.
The Long Beach Arena is located at 300 East Ocean Boulevard.