An Amazing Alternative To The WWE’s Wrestlemania! New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestlekingdom

When we talk about pro-wrestling we immediately associate it with the WWE – rightfully so. The WWE is THE gold standard when it comes to professional wrestling, and its grand extravaganza Wrestlemania is the pro-wrestling showcase of the year, captivating the attention of millions of fans from across the globe. But guess what – there is an equally entertaining alternative that many fans are still to learn about.

One of Japan’s oldest pro-wrestling promotion, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) hosts its extravaganza WrestleKingdom – annually, every year in January – and boy is it GRAND! Keeping the language barrier aside, NJPW houses some of the best talent in the world boasting of a motley crew of styles including strong style, lucha libre, aerial and technical to name a few; providing viewers with a very entertaining wrestling product.

How NJPW differs from the WWE is in the fact that in New Japan, the actual art of combat is favoured over the character and ‘entertainment’ driven product that is focused upon by its American counterpart. However with the ever evolving industry NJPW has been gradually accepted as a wrestling standard across the globe with alumni such as Shinsuke Nakamura, Kota Ibushi, Karl Anderson and Finn Balor eventually gaining global recognition and going on to perform for the WWE.

WrestleKingdom serves as NJPW’s yearly showcase event that pits the best performers against each other in a program that has been critically praised in the past. Held yearly at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, the 4th January traditional event also features several performers from other promotions in Japan and across the world such as Ring of Honour (RoH), All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW), Pro Wrestling Noah and the Mexican Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL). The entire concept of seeing some of the world’s best performers coming together on a single platform for one-night-only, simply adds to the excitement surrounding the event.

This year, WrestleKingdom 11 features one of the most exciting match cards (or line-ups) in the history of the event. For the first time ever, in 2016, Kenny Omega became the first gaijin (person of foreign origin) to win the G1 Climax (NJPW’s equivalent of the WWE’s Royal Rumble) event since its inception in 1991, earning the right to face current IWGP Heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada at WrestleKingdom 11. Omega, known as the current leader of the infamous Bullet Club (the most globally recognised stable since WCW’s nWo) managed to win a tournament that many gaijin before him, including the likes of AJ Styles and Finn Balor, were unable to do. He has also earned a cult following due to his edgy video-game-playing comical-badass persona which is quite unique in itself. The title match pits him against one of NJPW’s veteran residents in Kazuchika Okada, who is already a four time IWGP Heavyweight Champion – making for a very interesting main event.

The rest of the card features some well-known faces from across the world of wrestling including Cody Rhodes, Juice Robinson (formerly NXT’s CJ Parker), the Bullet Club, the legendary Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger and NJPW veterans Hiroshi Tanahashi and Katsuyori Shibata to name a few. WrestleKingdom 11 is a great viewing option for wrestling fans that are looking for alternatives to the WWE’s Wrestlemania. The event is scheduled for the 4th of January, 2017, and is available on PPV as well as on NJPW World, the video streaming service owned by New Japan Pro Wrestling.

 

(This article has been co-authored by Rohan Engineer, a pro-wrestling fan and critic.)

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