November 13, 2014
GFW Staff (429 articles)

WK9 101: The Intro

Remember the first time you listened to The Foo Fighters? Watched “Breaking Bad?” Saw LeBron James go coast to coast and rock the rim?

All could be considered seminal moments, the kinds of things you race to be the first to tell your friends, moments in which to revel.

Wrestling fans are going to have the opportunity to experience one of those moments on Jan. 4, 2015, when Global Force Wrestling presents New Japan Pro Wrestling’s “Wrestle Kingdom 9” live on pay per view in North America. The show will emanate from the sold-out Tokyo Dome in front of more than 40,000 fans.

So, why should you care? Because you don’t want to hear from someone else what you missed. Don’t let it happen to you again. Admit it, Breaking Bad was halfway over before you finally tuned in. You already knew what happened to the Chicken Man in the Season Four finale before you watched it for yourself (but it was still way worth it).

NJPW is arguably the hottest wrestling promotion in the world. Its athletes are among the best in the profession. Spend a few minutes on YouTube and you’ll be amazed by the aerial attack of Hiroshi Tanahashi, the innovative moves of Kazuchika Okada, the theatrics of Shinsuke Nakamura, the submission prowess and aura of toughness of Minoru Suzuki.

Now is the time to get on board with NJPW. It has a partnership with Jeff Jarrett’s GFW, which promises to bring more of the Japanese stars stateside for major events. The red-hot “Bullet Club” also is a part of NJPW. The faction includes A.J. Styles, IWGP heavyweight tag team champions “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows, Jarrett and the Young Bucks.

Here is a primer on NJPW and the “Wrestle Kingdom” event:

  • Antonio Inoki: The legendary wrestler who once fought Muhammad Ali in a wrestler vs. boxer match founded NJPW in 1972. He also was its first champion.
  • IWGP: The governing body of NJPW is called the International Wrestling Grand Prix. Thus, it’s heavyweight singles title and tag-team titles are referred to as the IWGP champions. It also sanctions a junior heavyweight title as well as junior tag champions.
  • Strong style: NJPW is different than U.S. wrestling. Many of its wrestlers are or have been mixed martial arts fighters, so it features an often stiffer style.
  • January 4: NJPW has held its biggest event of the year on this date at the Tokyo Dome every year since 1992. It’s basically the start to the wrestling calendar in Japan, and it has featured virtually every big name in Japanese wrestling history including Inoki, Maso Saito, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Kendo Nagasaki, The Great Muta, Genichiro Tenryu, Riki Choshu and Masahiro Chono.
  • Wrestle Kingdom: This became the name of the Jan. 4 dome show in 2007. The event on Jan. 4, 2015, will be Wrestle Kingdom 9.
  • Key differences from American wrestling: You’re unlikely to see a disqualification in NJPW. Pretty much anything goes, though you shouldn’t take that to mean that a lot of action takes place outside of the ring and with illegal objects. Most of the action will be confined to the ring because the wrestling comes first. Also, count-outs are to 20, not 10.
  • Factions: Like the Bullet Club, much of the roster for NJPW is part of a stable. Unlike the Bullet Club or another tradition American group, these are fairly loose affiliations. Tag partners will come from within the group, but you won’t see a lot of in-ring interference from the NJPW factions.
  • Americans in the dome: Legendary tag team the Steiner Brothers have appeared on the Jan. 4 show five times, including the first four. Rick Steiner also wrestled once as a singles competitor, tying him with Scott Norton for second-most appearances for an American at the mega-event. “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson of the Bullet Club has made six consecutive Dome show events, and will tie the all-time record for an American, held by his former tag team partner Giant Bernard (Albert/Tensai).
  • Main event for Wrestle Kingdom 9: Tanahashi, who reclaimed the IWGP heavyweight title from Styles in November, will defend against Okada.