Chris Jericho voices his opinion about what went wrong in NJPW's U.S. expansion.
New Japan Pro Wrestling has been expanding into the United States for two years now. The first show that the company independently promoted in the U.S. was the G1 Special in the summer of 2017 when Kenny Omega went to distance in a tournament to crown the first-ever IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Champion. Since then, New Japan has ran the Cow Palace, 'Walter Pyramid', the Anaheim Convention Center and more venues in the United States.
This year alone, New Japan has hosted shows in North Carolina and Nashville. The company's 2019 G1 Climax tournament will kick off at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas and NJPW will also make their presence felt in the United Kingdom when they head over to London on August 31st for their 'Royal Quest' show. Former IWGP Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho spoke about where New Japan went wrong in their global expansion when he joined Wrestling Observer Radio and added that the company should've targeted bigger buildings from the beginning and discussed how important perception is in today's landscape of professional wrestling.
“Yeah it’s tougher [to run back-to-back Tokyo Dome shows] and why even put yourself in that position? Like I said, we wanna do it. Let’s do it. Let’s make it happen. What do you got? Let’s make it work, and to me, there’s always a little bit of ego involved in wrestling. There’s always a little bit of Schadenfreude as Dennis Miller would say. You want people to fail. Of course with this new company, ‘How long is that gonna last for?’ Stop. Let’s just work and make money and do business and put on matches that people want to see and that we want to do." Jericho said of AEW. "You know, it’s even like the show in Dallas. New Japan in the states, I think they made a mistake right out the gate by going to Long Beach and not doing The Forum and not doing the Staples Center because they did Long Beach a couple of times. Then, suddenly one doesn’t sell out then they do the Galaxy Theater? What the f*ck is that? Like what happened? You guys had it, and now when you start working… can you imagine if the WWE did a show at the Galaxy Theater? You’d be like, ‘What!?’ Perception is reality. If you build it, they will come. If they would've done The Forum, people would’ve went to The Forum and now you might have lost your chance in Los Angeles. [Madison Square] Garden was great but let me ask you this, how many people bought tickets for New Japan at the Garden thinking they would see Kenny Omega versus Okada, or The Young Bucks or Jericho or whatever. I wonder if there’s a lot of people going, ‘Well who’s even gonna be on this show? We kind of know Okada because we saw him on AXS, but who are the rest of these guys?’ So, you gotta be smart with the buildings that you choose and if you’re gonna choose these big buildings, you have to put on the show and put a card out quicker than frickin’ three weeks before, ten days before.”
On top of the forthcoming shows that were mentioned in this article, NJPW will be running back-to-back Tokyo Dome shows in 2020.
If the quote in this article is used, please credit Wrestling Observer Radio with an H/T to Fightful for the transcription.