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The New Japan Professional Wrestling Promotion
New Japan Professional Wrestling referred to as Puroresu in Japan is a major promotion for Japanese wrestling.
Antonio Inoki founded the NJPW back in 1972. Prior to this, the other forms of wrestling in Japan were promoted by JWA which had started after the end of World War Two, but only picked up after a Korean born sumo wrestler, Rikidozan, came along.
Rikidozan was responsible for the growth of wrestling in Japan since he was the first to compete internationally. He was also active in bringing international wrestlers to compete in Japan. This helped increase the recognition of Japan internationally as far as wrestling was concerned.
After the death of Rikidozan in 1963 at the age of 39, there was some sort of vacuum. He had left so many projects unfinished therefore; JWA had to continue with the emerging wrestlers. These were the likes of Inoki and giant Baba, who went on to be famous in the 1970's. Later these two became bitter rivals and started their own wrestling organizations. Giant Baba's organization was known as All-Japan Pro Wrestling while Inoki's was the new Japan Pro-Wrestling. The success achieved by these two led to the collapse of the JWA.
NJPW through Antonio Inoki did a lot in promoting the sport as well as elevating its status to a real fighting form. In the 1970's he uplifted the perceived legitimacy of the game by fighting judo fighters, karate fighters and even boxers. The most recognizable event in the history of NJPW was the 1976 fight between Antonio and Muhammad Ali. However, critics of the sport classified the event as heavily promoted but not well fought. This was due to the number of restrictions that were imposed on what the fighters could or could not do.
The Popularity of NJPW
Apart from the different fighters featured in NJPW, its popularity was also increased by its TV program aired on ASAHI TV. The wrestling promotion was also a member of the National Wrestling Alliance until 1986. NJPW is also known for openly engaging in working agreements with other mixed martial arts and pro-wrestling promotions all around the world. Most notable is its close association with World Wrestling Entertainment, Total Non-stop Action Wrestling, Ring of Honor, PRIDE Fighting Championship and World Championship Wrestling.
The biggest annual event of the NJPW has taken place every January 4th since 1992 at the Tokyo dome. The new Japan professional wrestling has its own governing body referred to as the International Wrestling Grand Prix.
Under the IWGP there are four titles founded on different years. The first one is the IWGP heavy weight championship followed by the IWGP tag team championship, IWGP junior heavy weight championship and finally the IWGP junior Heavy Weight Tag Team Championship. There are also different NJPW tournaments held consistently or sporadically. These include the junior heavy weight wrestlers' tournaments such as the super J cup and the best of the super juniors.
There is also a rookie wrestler's tournament referred to as the young lion cup. Although other mixed martial arts such as k-1 are gaining more popularity in Japan, the popularity of Puroresu shows a steady decline. This can be attributed to the slow decline of the NJPW after Inoki sold it to yuke's in 2005 and the disintegration of the AJPW after Baba's death.
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