Instead of posting new writings here over the last week (and trust me, I’ve got a whole bunch of stuff on the way, going back _weeks_ and probably horribly out of date by now but still worth writing about in my opinion) I’ve been enjoying a compilation of _puroresu_ TV tapings from May and June of this year, featuring New Japan’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament, courtesy of the good folks at Golden Boy Tapes.
For those who don’t know, _puroresu_ is the romanised Japanese term for professional wrestling, and New Japan Pro Wrestling is not only one of the most successful wrestling promotions in Japan, but also one of the biggest in the world. Its roster has featured some of the greatest professional wrestlers who have ever lived, including my all-time favourite, Jushin Thunder Liger. Seeing that Liger was competing in this year’s Super Juniors tournament — New Japan’s annual showcase for their top junior heavyweight talent — was all the incentive I needed to get myself a copy. And I wasn’t disappointed.
I haven’t seen New Japan wrestling in years, not since Ring Warriors came to an end on Eurosport back in the late 90s. The Japanese wrestling ‘strong style’ is quite different to the American product most people are used to; plotlines and feuds drive the action, but the stories are told in the ring rather than with silly vignettes. The emphasis is on solid mat wrestling mixed with high impact power moves, spectacular acrobatics influenced by Mexican _lucha libre_, and these days a heavy nod to the shootfighting style made popular by Pride, Pancrase and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. In other words, its just much more dynamic and exciting to watch (even if the commentary is all in Japanese).
Being sick to death with American wrestling as it is now — if you saw the crap they shoveled out with this year’s Survivor Series, you’d know what I mean — watching these New Japan shows has rekindled my love of the sport. I’m now looking forward to catching up on all the great stuff that I’ve been missing, as well as checking out some of the newer promotions that are setting Japan on fire like Pro-Wrestling NOAH, Toryumon and Osaka Pro (definitely Osaka Pro — home of the wonderful Ebessan, a deity of vocational prosperity with a bad-ass corkscrew moonsault).
And you never know, this gaijin might learn some Japanese along the way.