Japanese wrestling, sometimes called Japan Pro Wrestling, is a relatively recent arrival in Japan when compared to its more ancient counterpart Sumo wrestling. As an adaptation of standard American pro wrestling, Japan Pro Wrestling wrestling never really kicked off in its home country until RikidMzan made it big by inspiring his countrymen right after World War II. From then on, the sport practically snowballed into a national sport that saw the rise and stay of professional wrestling in the Japanese culture.
RikidMzan’s death in 1963 had split the once-unified professional wrestling organization of Japan into two main factions, with two successors each taking a different approach to wrestling. One faction focused on turning wrestling into a simulated combat sport, while the other faction focused more on storytelling and performances.
Japanese wrestling would be associated to a few fights and names under them. This would include: manabu nakanishi, shinsuke nakamura, taguchi & prince devitt, black tiger & jado, togi makabe & tomoaki, makabe & tomoaki honma, takashi iizuka & tomohiro, iizuka & tomohiro ishii, and many others.
Being the ‘left-wing’ style of wrestling, combat (or shoot) wrestling incorporates moves you would rarely see on American wrestling: kicks and punches accompany a wrestler’s plethora of moves; aiming primarily to create a ‘fight’ rather than a ‘show’ to its fans. This makes combat wrestling a notch more dangerous and realistic than its flashier and more dramatic counterpart.
If you ever watched American wrestling, then you would be familiar with how the King’s Road approach to wrestling took off: submissions, brawls and some background stories all work together to create a cinematic effect – traditional America wrestling in its purest form.
The End Result
Neither side of pro wrestling in Japan actually ‘won’ as time passed. In fact, the lines differentiating both styles of Japan Pro Wrestling blurred; resulting in a style of wrestling that is uniquely Japanese in nature.
Watching most American pro wrestling matches is like watching a noontime soap drama – except with more muscles and testosterone attached. Japan Pro Wrestling is a bit more different: the matches are designed as actual wrestling matches with a very real interest in victory rather than some fabricated personal agenda for the wrestlers.
Even the energy of the matches is different – Japan Pro Wrestling has a more competitive and edgy feel to it than its American counterpart. This edgy feel is not generated by the fluff surrounding the matches, but by the wrestlers themselves as they duke it out for the titles. It would be really convincing if you didn’t know from the beginning that the matches were scripted all the same.