New Japan Pro-Wrestling has announced it will make a major expansion into the U.S market in November with a new U.S. subsidiary, New Japan Pro Wrestling of America.
The company, which will be based out of California will be 100% owned by New Japan Pro Wrestling and plans to serve five key areas for touring.
The touring structure for NJPW of America will see events run in these areas.
- WEST: 6 cities across 4 states
- MID: 7 cities across 6 states
- TEXAS: 4 cities
- SOUTH EAST: 6 cities across 4 states
- EAST: 4 cities across 3 states
The company aims to run up to 25 events in 2020, and is looking at venues with the capacity of 2000.
During a press conference Monday, NJPW of America CEO Takami Ohbari answered some key questions from the media.
As NJPW runs more events in America, what are the differences between the two markets?
Ohbari: I’ve been involved with and working in the market for over a year now, and in my experiences, what you see in America is more of a range. There’s a bigger range of ages, from kids to the elderly, and part of that comes from it being so pervasive on television I think, that the whole family ends up watching. Audiences also skew more male; in Japan, our male female balance at events is 60:40, while in America it’s more 80:20.
That said, you do have that diverse age range, and also diverse tastes, I feel, to where American fans enjoy a mix of several different styles of wrestling. Also because there are a lot of young fans, they often view content digitally rather than through TV, and that’s something we hope to take advantage of.
Will there be plans for longer tours in the US, of the order of the three to four week Power Struggle tour that crosses the whole country, as distinct from the condensed Super J-Cup and Fighting Spirit Unleashed weekends?
Ohbari: You saw the map as part of the presentation earlier, and I think we’ll be keeping to tours taking place in those areas and not outside. It isn’t practical to be jumping between the east and west coast, but you’ll have the west coast tour, and then the Texas tour later, then the central tour and so on. That’s the plan.
Will tours in the US run concurrently with Japanese tours, or could it be that American and Japanese tours run at the same time?
Ohbari: The main idea will be that US events will take place while the Japanese schedule is between tours. If there is high demand from fans, simultaneous tours may become a possibility.
What are your plans in terms of scale of events?
Ohbari: We’re currently running and looking at venues in the 2000 seat range, that may be lower depending on circumstances. We are a live event company, and the first priority of a live event company is to run in more venues. Once people are in those venues, then we can fire them up and have them ready to spread the word to larger and larger audiences. First though, it’s about growing the number rather than the size of venues. The long term plan will absolutely be to run big venues on a regular basis.
Do you have plans for a certain number of events per year in the US?
Ohbari: This is something that I’m discussing with Chairman Sugabayashi, but with 12-13 events run in the calendar year 2019, I think that we could be in the region of double that next year.
Will events be primarily broadcast on NJPW World? Also will there be dark match only Dojo events?
Ohbari: As much as is humanly possible, we plan for events to be live on NJPW World. Where we can’t arrange for live broadcast, they will be on demand. As far as Dojo events are concerned, that isn’t decided at all, but we have a large space in the LA Dojo and it may be a possibility in future.
Will the increase in American events necessitate a reduction in the number of Japanese events?
Ohbari: There are no plans to reduce the number of Japanese events.
So there will be more total events on the calendar?
Can you give any details with regards to television rights?
Ohbari: Up to now we have been working very well with our partners at AXS TV, and plan to continue doing so. As events increase in number in the US, we would like to be able to make more opportunities for fans to watch those events live and in real time on TV, and those are opportunities we’re excited to discuss with TV partners going forward.