NJPW's expansion plans are reaching their next phase.
At a press conference overnight, NJPW officially announced the formation of an American subsidiary. It's named New Japan Pro Wrestling of America, and it was noted that this is phase three of NJPW's international business plan. Step one was searching for talent, while step two was running shows in the United States and other countries and markets.
Operations are scheduled to begin next month. A map of markets New Japan Pro Wrestling of America is focusing on for events was shown at the press conference:
Here are notes from NJPW's English-language Twitter account.
[CEO Takami Obari]: There is plenty still to be undertaken when it comes to furthering the brand in the US. Fans though, have a very close association to talent and core concepts of strong style, as evidenced by market research in Dallas.
Obari: Live events will be an important basis of New japan of America. It is important that fans get close to our wrestlers and see our wrestling close-up.
Obari: What fans in America value is the NJPW brand and concept, and the style of wrestling that represents. The NJPW brand is important, hence the name of New Japan of America.
Obari: There is absolutely no plans to sell the Japanese market short. An office in the US allows for better talent relations in the US, and allows talent to further our brand within the American market, while allowing American fans to more easily support the brand.
Obari on key differences between US and Japanese markets: America is skewed more toward male fans, and they consume content digitally as opposed to through TV.
In the immediate future, US tours will take place while the Japanese schedule is between tours, but there may be cases where tours run simultaneously, with talent schedules an important factor.
Obari: The plan will be to broadcast American events live on World wherever possible. Where that isn't feasible, they will be available VOD on delay.
Obari: 2020 schedules are still being considered, but there could be as many as double the 2019 slate of 12-13 events. There will not be a reduction in the number of Japanese events.
Obari: We have worked well with AXS TV, and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Other partnerships may be something we can discuss and consider as we move forward.
Obari responded to a question about the scale of the events NJPW plans to run in the US: "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."
NJPW's next shows in the US are set for next month. New Japan Showdown in San Jose is taking place at the San Jose Civic on Saturday, November 9, while the Globe Theatre is hosting New Japan Showdown in Los Angeles on Monday, November 11.
The San Jose event will feature Jushin Thunder Liger's final US match. Kota Ibushi, Juice Robinson, Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA, Jay White, Chase Owens, Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, and Taiji Ishimori have been announced for both New Japan Showdown shows. Liger, Kazuchika Okada, and Will Ospreay will only be appearing on night one.
NJPW held their first set of solo shows in the US in 2017. The IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship was introduced then and is currently held by Lance Archer.
NJPW's US dojo in Carson, California opened last year. Katsuyori Shibata is its head coach.