New Japan Pro Wrestling President, Takaaki Kidani, was recently interviewed by Tokyo Sports and it sounds like 2018 will be a very interesting year for the company.
As we noted a couple of days ago, they had 34,995 people that paid to be at the Tokyo Dome and the total attendance was over 43,000 fans. That would be the largest attendance in Japan in 15 years. Kidani said that this year’s attendance was what they were projecting for 2020 but they did it 2 years ahead of schedule.
Kidani said that it is important for them to build a foundation in the United States and they don’t have an adversarial relationship with WWE but they are willing to spend money to get more WWE talent on their shows. That is something they will do until WWE decides that they want to work with them. Perhaps he is talking about a talent excahnge similar to what they do with Ring Of Honor. The most obvious name that comes to mind would be Daniel Bryan when his contract expires in September. Bryan has already expressed interest in wrestling for promotions like CMLL and NJPW.
Kidani also said that NJPW needs more younger stars, specifically a heavyweight star in his 20’s. He also noted that the New Japan fan club had 1,890 members in 2012 and now has 12,000. Dave Meltzer reported that, as of January 5th, the NJPW World streaming service had 95,000 subscribers. They gained 25,000 in 2 days for Wrestle Kingdom. Meltzer noted that the number is considered a “real big success.” The number is more impressive when you consider that people in Japan are not used to paying for streaming services like people do for Netflix or the WWE Network in other countries.
Yes, 2018 will be an interesting year for pro wrestling.
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