A part of me hears this news and is legitimately excited because New Japan Pro Wrestling is the BEST pro wrestling going on right now in the world. For a lot of MMA fans it is hard to reconcile professional wrestling having a close relation to MMA when they tune into WWE programming and see some of the goofy, over-the-top stuff that WWE presents. WWE is cartoony and outlandish in a lot of ways, but still valuable in its own right. It’s like a very distant cousin, though, with the focus being on entertainment and appealing to their traditionally younger audiences.
The real meat and potatoes kind of stuff goes on in Japan, where the lines have always been blurred between pro wrestling and MMA. Antonio Inoki helped to blur those lines in the 80’s and guys like Akira Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada, Minoru Suzuki and later Kazushi Sakuraba helped to keep those lines blurred over the years. Current New Japan is about putting forth some of the most athletic, brutal and demanding pro wrestling imaginable.
That right there is Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Katsuyori Shibata from 2004, both men have legitimate martial arts backgrounds and legitimate professional fighting records (although Shibata’s success was minimal). Those two guys are two of the guys that carry the torch for New Japan right now and why it is as great as it is. If you were planning on ever checking out pro wrestling but thought that it was too cartoony, silly or fake, New Japan’s January 4th offering might be for you, and now, for the first time ever, you’ll have a chance to see it live on PPV in English.
Today Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling, which up until now has been nothing but a name, announced that they will be presenting New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 9 event on January 4th live on PPV. They have yet to announce the pricing just yet, but it won’t be too expensive (probably in the $30 range) and it should be a show worthy of your time and money. The fact that they’ll be presenting it in both English and Japanese is great. There are talks about them using Jim Ross and possibly Chael Sonnen for English commentary, but nothing is set in stone just yet. So keep that in mind, but don’t bank on anything until it’s set in stone.
And of course, if you are a jackass like me, you’ll just watch it in SAP in Japanese because you’ve been watching Japanese wrestling and fighting since the mid-90’s and wouldn’t know how to process Japanese wrestling with English commentary.