First of all, I’m talking about American WWE style wrestling, not Sumo. Think Hulk Hogan, The Rock, or John Cena. Not Akebono, or Hakuho.
Wrestling is quite popular in Japan, and has been since the end of World War II. Every year, the main promotion, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) holds an event called Best of the Super Juniors, which features mostly younger wrestlers with smaller builds competing to win the Junior Heavyweight Championship via a round-robin tournament.
As luck would have it our favorite wrestler, Ricochet, is competing in this tournament and he has a couple of matches in Tokyo.
Here is the intro video giving some basic information about the wrestlers:
You may notice that some of the Japanese wrestlers are more flamboyant than their American counterparts. The best example of this is Jushin Thunder Liger (translated to Beast-God Thunder Liger), a very popular wrestler who has been in the ring for almost 30 years, and still manages to put on a good show for fans. He’s a famous and beloved wrestler in Japan, and not only has the best name and costume, but the best theme song as well:
There were some great exhibition matches for heavyweight Japanese wrestlers such as Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, and Kenny Omega (an American wrestler nicknamed “The Cleaner” who comes out with a broom and trash can. He’s great.), as well as some intense official tournament matches.
But, none more intense than Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay. Not only was it a phenomenal wrestling match, but one of the most impressive demonstrations of human physicality and athleticism I’ve ever seen. The crowd loved it. I’ve never seen Japanese people get so excited.
Here is the match in full HD. Quick note: a wrestler loses if their shoulders are pinned for a 3-count, or they “tap out,” or are out of the ring for 20 seconds.
We took some pictures during the event, but only a few turned out well; here they are:This was the view about 20 mins before the match from where we were sitting. There’s not really a bad seat in the house.
Wrestlers Beretta and Bobby Fish grappling on the corner ropes.
Wrestler Hirooki Goto’s awesome outfit.
Wrestler Kazuchika Okada basks in the glory.
A luchador from Mexico, Volador Jr. comes out with a light-up jacket.
Jushin Thunder Liger in all his glory.
Will Ospreay representing British wrestling.
And our guy Ricochet, after showing off his Tag Team Championship belt.
It really was a great experience, and we may try and see similar events in the future.