Otaku wins the championship
Where to begin. So much happened at NJPW Dominion 2018.
As I mentioned in my piece on Wrestle Kingdom https://animeright.news/ecchioujisama/shin-nihon-puroresu-wrestle-kingdom-12/ Okada Kazuchika has been on an incredible run as champion. Through very aggressive tape trading back in the day I’ve seen most of the major things that happened in Japanese wrestling back to the late 70s and in America from the early/mid 80s. The only other run someone has been on to rival it was Kobashi Kenta’s legendary run from 2003-2005, which you can see in full on Youtube.
Kenny's victory is special in ways that are not immediately apparent. Yes, he is an open otaku, so in that sense, he is one of us. Beyond that, he is only the 6th foreigner to have ever held the title. That puts him on the list with Big Van Vader, AJ Styles, former UFC Champion Brock Lesnar, Scott Norton and K-1/PRIDE megastar Bob Sapp. Even though Norton doesn't get the love he deserves outside of Japan, this is seriously elite company. If you're not Japanese, you're there to make the Japanese look good. It's an immense mountain to climb.
His matches with Okada have been like something that has never been seen before. Dave Meltzer, the writer/editor/publisher of the Wrestling Observer, is well known for his match ratings operating on a 5-star scale. Prior to this match Omega and Okada wrestled 3 times, going 1-1-1. Each match broke the 5-star scale and got 6 stars from Dave, with this latest breaking 6 and hitting 6.25. After their first, second and this match he's said it was the greatest match he's ever seen. He's not prone to that kind of hyperbole; he had the Misawa Mitsuhara vs. Jumbo Tsuruta match from June 8, 1990, as the best match of all time until these guys wrestled for the first time last year.
You may have to drop the 999 yen for NJPW World (available in original Japanese and English dub) to see the match itself, but the celebration has been uploaded to Youtube. I literally could not be happier for the guy. Between this and making his home in Nerima (where most anime is made and all of Takahashi Rumiko's manga takes place), he is living the dream.
tldr: Omega and Ibushi Kota (the Japanese guy celebrating with him) were best friends known as the Golden Lovers for years in DDT (another Japanese wrestling company). When Omega came to Shin Nihon he became evil and joined the Bullet Club. Then one time the Bullet Club was going to beat the crap out of Ibushi, Omega defended him and they were friends again. Also the culmination of the Young Bucks standing by Omega after he defended Ibushi. It has been quite a point of contention in the Bullet Club in recent months.
Harold Meij becomes President of Shin Nihon Puroresu
NJPW is making a huge push to expand into the US. To facilitate this they made a very uncharacteristic move and hired a foreigner to run the company. This...does not happen in Japan. A gaijin can put money in, can have a minor role, but being in charge is extremely rare in Japan as a whole and unprecedented in puroresu.
Meij (pronounced May) is a Dutch businessman who moved to Japan as a child due to his father's work and learned to speak Japanese as a child. He has experience with several real Japanese companies and is here to run the thing like a serious business, while also having the international chops to get things done outside of Japan. The stuffed animal seen above is his brainchild and has been selling far better than you would expect.
It's not like they're hiding this either, as might be expected. The Japanese public knows about the change, and he opens Dominion by addressing the crowd. Many of you who butcher the Japanese language could learn from this; proper Japanese pronunciation is not that hard and native Europeans can do it rather easily.
Meij said he was a fan of Antonio Inoki and Tiger Mask. He probably meant the wrestler Sayama Satoru, the first wrestler to use the Tiger Mask name, although Meij would have been a child in Japan when the Tiger Mask anime that gave birth to the character was on TV. He's said that watching Tanahashi over the last 10 years has made him an even bigger fan.
Even if you're not interested in puroresu this is something to watch and potentially support. If it works you will see more Japanese entertainment properties expand into the west.
New Japan running the Cow Palace in San Francisco on Tanabata
Shin Nihon has been slowly testing the waters for running shows in the US for the last few years. They've been running smaller buildings in Long Beach, CA with a capacity of about 3000, and selling them out handily.
So far it's roughly half sold out with nothing advertised and most of the best tickets gone. Now that Dominion has happened more specific advertising will be coming which should move the rest of them. If you want to go, buy tickets now to avoid scalper prices.
This is a key show for Shin Nihon from a business standpoint. For as long as BushiRoad has owned it their mentality has been that the American fanbase is a small niche audience that won't support larger shows.
Should the show flop it will likely slow their expansion plans. While Shin Nihon is in the black by 300-500 million yen depending which numbers you believe, that isn't enough to lose hundreds of thousands of US dollars on big American shows and stay the course. This show is not being bankrolled by a Japanese TV station so the tickets need to sell.
Fozzy frontman Chris Jericho becomes Intercontinental Champion
This is another move that shows their seriousness about American expansion. He is the biggest name they have for the casual wrestling audience, and due to his insistence on reinventing himself each time he has gone to WWE, he hasn't gotten stale the way many wrestling acts do in their late 30s or 40s.
Unlike the Intercontinental titles in WWE and boxing which are practically worthless props held by top-of-the-bottom guys, in Shin Nihon it reserved for top performers and essentially makes the holder the official #2 fighter in the promotion. It is arguably the second most prestigious championship in all of professional wrestling.
Chris makes a good impression on entertainment people when given the opportunity, and is a name known by more people than you'd think between various small TV projects and the success of his band Fozzy. While he'll probably always be part-time at best due to Fozzy commitments and decades of physical damage from wrestling, he moves the needle for Shin Nihon.
And I haven't even said anything about the fact that he and Naito Tetsuya had an insane street fight that made my jaw hit the floor. High expectations demolished.
The fact that he won means he's going to be back, and that is only going to open doors.
Metal fans should definitely check out Fozzy's latest album Judas. It's legitimately great.
Young Bucks become IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions
This is significant because these guys are not heavyweights in any weight definition of the term; they are junior heavyweights which traditionally can't hang with heavyweights in Japan. It's changed a little in recent years, but not enough for this not to raise eyebrows.
Moving them up to this higher spot is shows the expansion mindset. They are one of the most successful acts Shin Nihon has among hardcore American fans. They have ties to the Hot Topic retail chain which distributes merchandise for them. This is a logical business move that suggests more immediate plans of moving into the US. Under ordinary circumstances, there wouldn't be this many White champions simultaneously.
If this interests you at all, head over to njpwworld.com and give them 999 yen. You'll be hard-pressed to get a better value in this genre of entertainment. From top to bottom WWE (formerly WWF) has never put on a show at this level, not even the beloved Wrestlemania X-7. There is plenty of archived footage so you'll never run out of good wrestling to watch. If you watch Dominion and don't like it, this is just not for you. And you're a racist Japanophic lionphic anti-wrestling extremist bigot hater racist poopyhead meanieface too.