The WWE is the biggest wrestling promotion in the world. There is absolutely no doubt about that. It is very much The Big Dog. But, coming in a distant second is a wrestling promotion from Japan that goes by the name of New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Now, NJPW might not be as big as the WWE in terms of size and popularity, but amongst the hardcore professional wrestling fandom, it is miles ahead of the WWE. It is considered by the hardcore fan as the best wrestling promotion in the world for good reason.
After all, NJPW boasts the most number of five-star matches from renowned professional wrestling journalist, Dave Meltzer, and it’s events are widely considered as the pinnacle of professional wrestling. The Japanese promotion does a lot of things better than the WWE does.
But, this offers Vince McMahon and his team a chance to study, learn, and adopt. Things that work for NJPW can do wonders for the WWE. So, without any further ado, here are 5 things WWE can adopt from New Japan Pro Wrestling:
#5 Collaborations with indy promotions
One of the most striking aspects of New Japan Pro Wrestling is the collaboration with other indy wrestling promotions such as Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerilla, and others. This not only helps bolster the roster of all the parties involved, but it also helps in improving their reputations in other markets that they might not have an entry into otherwise.
It also serves to help the wrestlers themselves, as they are exposed to a wide variety of wrestling styles, opponents, and match types. It is the perfect system for everyone involved. So, why can’t the WWE make use of something like that?
With NXT repeatedly poaching indy talent, a collaboration can see the WWE Universe get acquainted with wrestlers before they are ever signed with the WWE and it also acts as a great platform for these wrestlers to showcase their talents.
Unfortunately, knowing what a control freak Vince McMahon is, this is the most unlikely option on this list. Moving onto something more feasible...
#4 Making good use of stables
One of New Japan Pro Wrestling's greatest strengths is the use of a number of different stables who battle it out for superiority on a regular basis from event to event. There some truly world class factions here including the likes of Bullet Club, CHAOS, Los Ingobernables de Japon, Suzuki-Gun and more.
This not only helps create a sense of identity and belonging for wrestlers, but it also brings back one of the greatest aspects of The Attitude Era when factions ruled the roost. There is also the added benefit of cashing in on merchandise sales.
Just look at how popular Bullet Club merchandise is on the indy scene and you will get a great idea as to how much money can be made by creating top notch stables the way NJPW has. The recent popularity of The Shield, The New Day, and even SAnitY in NXT shows that stables are still a viable option for the WWE.
#3 Creating a Junior Heavyweight Division
One of the most impressive things that New Japan Pro Wrestling has done is create a Junior Heavyweight Division that matters almost as much as its Heavyweight Division. This Junior Heavyweight division gives a chance for some smaller wrestlers – both in name and in stature – an opportunity to truly shine.
After all, Finn Balor made his name as a nine-time Junior Heavyweight Champion in NJPW before making the jump over to the WWE. The Cruiserweight Division is a shadow of what it could be and the NJPW’s Junior Heavyweight division is the perfect example of what the WWE should be aiming for instead.
#2 Focus more on the wrestling
It’s a pretty big warning sign that Vince McMahon considers the WWE to be Sports Entertainment rather than wrestling and the performers to be Superstars rather than Professional Wrestlers. It shows you where McMahon’s priorities lie. And, that’s exactly what’s wrong with the WWE today.
If the product focused more on the actual wrestling itself, the way New Japan Pro Wrestling does, then the company would enjoy way more popularity with the dedicated wrestling fanbase. Of course, there needs to be a balance in order to entertain casual fans as well, but the balance is skewed too much towards the entertainment rather than the wrestling.
Things have improved in recent times with NXT and the influx on wrestlers from the indy scene but there’s a long way to go yet before the WWE product is on par with the NJPW product when it comes to the actual wrestling.
#1 Place more importance on secondary titles
The IWGP Intercontinental Championship held by Tetsuya Naito in New Japan Pro Wrestling is one of the most prestigious belts in the world. Matches for this championship have headlined mammoth PPVs for NJPW. That’s the level of respect it holds in the wrestling world.
The Intercontinental and US Championships – the WWE’s equivalent of the IWGP Intercontinental Championship – are usually mid card belts at best. On most cards, their championship matches are relegated to a lower spot – sometimes even the undercard – and sometimes it isn’t featured on the PPV at all.
This needs to change as soon as possible. The more important these belts feel, the more important the wrestlers who carry them feel, and it is a win-win situation for everyone involved. The WWE can really learn some lessons from NJPW on how to make sure these titles gain the respect they deserve.
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