Why TNA is involved with the wrong Puroresu Promotion
I wrote this back in 2005. This pre-dates the Alliance, but back then I was tuned into TNA. I also followed New Japan closely, because of the Inoki Dojo (which would become Championship Wrestling from Hollywood) connections. I’m not sure if this was ever published anywhere if I wrote it for some other reason, but take a look back to what I thought of TNA 9 years ago.)
Although it was believed to be a positive move, Total Non-Stop Action made a critical error when it searched out allegiances earlier this year. Now the connection with CMLL has proven to be very unsuccessful, i.e. Shocker’s inability to connect with TNA’s core audience, Hector Garza’s visa issues, and zero cross-promoting. But that isn’t even the biggest mistake that TNA has made this year. TNA’s biggest mistake was aligning with New Japan Pro Wrestling in lieu of aligning with All Japan Pro Wrestling.
A look into TNA’s past with New Japan is very limited. As the relationship is in its infancy, nothing has really happened. New Japan sent puroresu legend Jushin “Thunder” Liger to be slaughtered by current TNA X-Division Champion, Samoa Joe. Prior to this match, the only interaction the 2 companies had in public was the catastrophe in 2003 where a free-agent Hulk Hogan was taken to TNA by Jeff Jarrett at a New Japan press-conference in Japan. And since those events have passed, there has been no public interaction whatsoever. It is rumored that TNA may start to use the L.A. Inoki Dojo to train future TNA stars, but as it stands, the Inoki group may become distant from New Japan and as such who the dojo stands to lose its connections with New Japan. Making what was supposed to be a TNA/New Japan relationship into a TNA/Inoki relationship.
If one looks at the mere history of TNA’s involvement with both All Japan and New Japan there is clearly one promotion that has given more to TNA. In 2003, before any such allegiances were made, TNA announced a World X-Division Cup. Wrestlers from across the globe were giving the opportunity to compete on an American Stage to see who truly the best nations of wrestlers were. Mexico’s AAA won the series. Never the less the crowd was in awe of the Japanese Tandem from All Japan Pro-Wrestling. NOSAWA, Ebessan, Ryuji Hijikata, Ishikara Taichi, and Nobukazu Hirai made of the regulars of All Japan who competed as part of Team Japan. Not to mention there was a pairing of All Japan regulars who competed for TNA in 2004, Miyamoto and NOSAWA. And in 2005, TNA’s recently acquired Team 3D made there presence felt by winning the All Japan’s REAL World Tag League. The honor of winning the tournament is considered to be very prestigious for gaijin, or domestic wrestlers.
Opportunity is what TNA needs to gain world-wide recognition to capture as many international fans as they possibly can. By enlisting in the King’s Road of All Japan, TNA can complete several things.
First establish a talent exchange with a promotion that is in need of there talent. All Japan already is promoting Team 3D and has a tendency to use gaijin wrestlers more frequently. Also, All Japan is in search of a gaijin ace, meaning a foreign wrestler who they can use in main-events. Gaijin aces are usually of large stature and are usually over with the Japanese audience because of there size. 4 candidates could fill that role for All Japan; Abyss, Lance Hoyt, Monty Brown, or Samoa Joe. Abyss is treating as a monster in TNA; he would tower of the average All Japan wrestler and would be a suitable replacement for the recently departed Giant Bernard, former WWE wrestler A-Train. Lance Hoyt being taller than the other 4 could be used in a similar fashion to Stan Hansen from the late 80s early 90s. Monty Brown has a ton of charisma that an All Japan fan could want. Lastly Samoa Joe already wrestles a similar fashion and could easily mesh well into the style. TNA’s brightest X-Division stars could also impact the Jr. Heavyweight Division in All Japan. With talks of TAKA Michinoku ending his relationship with All Japan, TNA faces like Chris Sabin, AJ Styles, and Christopher Daniels could more than cover the slack. Also considering the likes of other X-Division wrestlers like Alex Shelly, Sonjay Dutt, Amazing Red, Petey Williams, along with Daniels already have a solid reputation in Japan, AJPW, would have very little promoting to do with these wrestlers because of that solid reputation.
Secondly TNA could use talent from All Japan to help create a buzz about TNA wrestling. There was a lot of buzz surrounding talk of Jushin Thunder Liger returning to the United States to compete in a TNA ring. Now imagine if former NWA World Champion and all around puroresu legend The Great Muta, Keiji Mutoh appeared in a TNA ring. Now with the signing of NWA/WCW legend Sting, what better way to generate buzz about your product than showcasing a feud that helped spark the industry. ROH celebrated much success when it delivered The Great Muta and Satoshi Kojima for a show not to long ago. How exciting would a match between Jeff Jarrett, the NWA’s World Champion against the All Japan Triple Crown Satoshi Kojima? Even New Japan earlier this year took advantage of the popularity of Kojima by putting there IWGP crown on Kojima. Imagine the exchanges between Jarrett and Kojima. TNA could stir up not only the American wrestling scene, but also the Japanese scene by creating a Unified 4 Crown Championship. Not to mention it would give some solid seasoning for TNA’s wrestlers who haven’t wrestled in the larger crowds that All Japan draws and it also provides a different style for TNA stars to wrestle, affording them the opportunity to develop into more complete wrestlers.
A joint pay per view has been all the talk lately between NJPW and TNA. However all the talks have amounted to nothing? The G1-Climax appears to remain a New Japan show, with no clue as to adding TNA regulars. Again All Japan’s REAL World Tag League did see involvement by TNA regulars. A TNA/All Japan dual pay-per-view could be the introduction that is needed to boost these promotions into the next level. The obvious choice is to hold the first of these pay per views in a venue in Japan. This could either be replayed on PPV for the US audience or could be shown for free on a TNA / Spike 2 Hours special, or the third option of running a web cast live on TNAWrestling.com or make it available to download.
Total Non-Stop action is considered to be the number 2 promotion in the United States. All Japan Pro Wrestling is considered to be the number 3 promotion in Japan. But working together towards a greater global success, the skies the limit. And with All Japan in the mix in lieu of New Japan, TNA will have a relationship that will facilitate a relationship of mutual growth.