Last night was the first show that New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) has ever run in Melbourne, as part of their very first Australian tour. For those who are wondering “WTF is NJPW?”, they’re the second largest pro wrestling organisation in the World, behind the WWE (formerly WWF, or World Wrestling Federation) but pretty much unanimously considered to be the promotion that has the best actual in-ring wrestling in the world. Obviously lots of the competitors are Japanese, but lots are American, along with many Canadians, Mexicans, Tongan, New Zealanders, British, Irish and so on…
A special thank you to Bad Luck Fale for being one of the driving forces behind the tour, and also to the group who I believe were his family, especially the older gent who told us to move forward when they left the show shortly after intermission. (If you happen to see this, Fale – please do pass on our thanks!) We had good seats which became great ones for the final three matches, including the main event.
It was pretty amazing to be able to see so many NJPW stars live, even those who have visited here before. Sanada, Evil, Okada, Kushida, The Young Bucks, Cody, Fale, Juice, Ishii, Suzuki, Jay White, Okada, Omega, Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa, Lance Archer, Rocky Romero (victim of a “No” chant!) The local guys – and I’m not that familiar with them all yet – acquitted themselves well, particularly Slex, Robbie Archer, Eliot Sexton and Rock.
The show was really cool. I’ve already used amazing in the previous paragraph, but seeing a Meltzer Driver live, Omega vs Okada (for awhile) live, Sanada, Suzuki… well, you get the idea. It was a bloody fun night, and made more special because we haven’t gotten NJPW here before, and it was the first time many of these stars have been in the ring here. We get expensive WWE tours roughly once a year, but it’s not like we can see higher profile guys regularly. The local indy feds have been much better than I expected when I saw my first shows, but we don’t have anything on the scale of RoH, or Progress, or PWG, or even WCPW/Defiant, so it’s a real treat to see the big international names from such a workrate-oriented promotion. Hopefully they made enough to make it worth their while to come back again next year.
Merch was a bit disappointing – they’d sold out of the AU Bullet Club Logo before the show at the outdoor merch stand, and had none left at the end of the show (aside from XXXXXL!) at the indoor merch booth when we were able to access it after the show. The line to see the wrestlers and but merch/photos was huge, and almost all were out of shirts by the time we got there. I did get to shake hands with and thank Kushida, Evil and Sanada, Minoru Suzuki (who felt like a really gentle (!) and humble guy in person in huge contrast to his brutal persona), Ishii (who looked tired and grumpy), and Jay White, who was well prepared with a suitcase full of shirts. We both got AU Lion Mark tour shirts, Marouda got a sleeveless T (and signed) by Sanada, and I got a shirt (and signed) by Jay White.
Photos were $20/photo/wrestler, which was a bit rich for me personally. I’d rather buy a shirt and have it signed than take two photos. Bring more merch next time so I can spend more!
Anyway, that’s it for this Professional Wrestling tangent. Tomorrow, back to the models!