NJPW President addresses women’s wrestling, US division reaching profitability, friendship with Tony Khan and more

Photo Courtesy: New Japan Pro-Wrestling

New Japan Pro Wrestling President Takami Ohbari has said that male-only pro wrestling is “outdated.”

He made the comment in a wide-ranging interview with Thom Fain of Monthly Puroresu, which was published on Tuesday.

When asked about the growing presence of women’s matches on New Japan branded shows, Ohbari said:

Many traditions in Japanese pro-wrestling derive from professional sumo wrestling. There are no women wrestler in Japanese professional sumo. On the other hand, the ratio of men and women participants in the Olympics is almost 5:5.

The world has changed and the speed of change has been exponential. We cannot stick to the outdated ideas of male-only professional wrestling. We often say that professional wrestling is a mirror reflecting the world. All wrestlers and all matches should be appreciated, and any wrestlers should be provided fair opportunities in the ring regardless of gender or anything else. If we can maximize the business value of that, then so much the better.

I think this will be realized in the US first, and then in Japan. In the last few years since STARDOM has become one of Bushiroad’s group companies, I think Japanese pro wrestling fans’ way of thinking is getting closer to a global standard. The first time we had STARDOM wrestlers participate in our Tokyo Dome show, we faced major criticism from fans and our partners in and outside the company. But now, it is taken for granted.

He also spoke about the current state of NJPW’s expansion into the United States, five years on from the opening of the promotion’s Los Angeles dojo. He noted that NJPW of America had become profitable for the first time in the previous financial year.

Our goal is to create a synergy between Japan and the US. We used to hold occasional shows in the States, sending a lot of talent and staff to handle it, meaning we couldn’t run in Japan and the US at the same time. So that’s a big cost in flights accommodation, and we miss the opportunity for Japanese market.

Now, we’re close to an ideal. NJPW in the US is more of an established brand now. We still send some of our talent, but not all, to the US. So we can run Japan and the US concurrently. LA Dojo and NJPW Academy is also paving the future for NJPW in the US. In the previous financial year, which ended in June, NJPW of America was profitable for the first time, and they helped NJPW as a whole reach its second highest revenues in company history, which is a really impressive feat.

Elsewhere in the interview, Ohbari addressed his personal relationship with AEW CEO Tony Kahn:

We certainly keep in touch personally and professionally, and we’ve exchanged gifts. Friendship between us is vital to make dream matches like at Forbidden Door happen, and it can only be beneficial for both companies to expand the professional wrestling market in both Japan and the US.

About Neal Flanagan 840 Articles
Based in Northern Ireland, Neal Flanagan is a former newspaper journalist and copy editor. In addition to reporting for POST Wrestling, he co-hosts The Wellness Policy podcast with Wai Ting and Jordan Goodman.