Japanese wrestlers grapple in Singapore
Japan's answer to the WWE makes its debut at CharaExpo 2015.
Last weekend, Youth.SG went down to CharaExpo 2015 to experience the debut of New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). The wrestling event was one of the main highlights and garnered a huge turnout. But what makes NJPW so appealing?
Decked in shinning sequins and high boots, NJPW’s wrestlers are clearly identified by their own distinct costumes that make their personas even more convincing in the ring.
Captain New Japan for example, clad in his full superhero outfit, is depicted as a righteous hero. While Nakamura, also known as “The King of Strong Style”, wears leather pants and rocks his bad boy attitude with his Skrillex hairstyle.
Additionally, the power dynamic between the teams is refreshing: each team is either clearly good or bad. Resembling a children’s show, both teams are pitted against each other in a battle of ‘heroes’ against ‘villains’.
During the fight, the heels (bad guys) will ignore the rules and cheat while the faces (good guys) abide by the rules. One prominent example would have the heels ganging up on a solo face. Since only one member from each team is allowed to enter the ring, the faces remain outside, while the heels enter the ring together and make mischief.
How NJPW is different from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
While a lot of effort has been placed into NJPW’s visual display and performance, WWE has lesser emphasis on costumes. Their visual appearance plays a small role in defining the wrestlers.
However, WWE focuses more on its narrative and each wrestler has a back story. Most of them have a long history with other wrestlers unlike the clear-cut ‘Good vs Evil’ theme in NJPW.
In some fights, WWE wrestlers spend plenty of time thrash talking and acting, turning the ring into a makeshift stage.
Sulaiman Daud, 27, a longtime wrestling enthusiast, said: “In the WWE, being entertaining on the microphone (like The Rock) is more important than in-ring skill. NJPW seems more clear-cut, because it’s what a Japanese audience expects.”
More wrestling options
With NJPW venturing out of its native country, wrestling fans can expect more than WWE’s story lines.
“It’s a bit tough for wrestling fans because, for a long time, the WWE dominated the landscape and there were few alternatives. But since NJPW were advertising their subscription to their network at the CharaExpo (for 999 yen per month), it’s so much easier to watch international wrestling now,” said Sulaiman.
For those who are new to the wrestling entertainment scene, NJPW is an attractive option with its clear cut good versus evil themes. Furthermore, NJPW differentiates itself as it focuses on more realistic and athletic skills. For long-time supporters of WWE, the NJPW is a refreshing take without the baggage of soap opera storylines.
As the international wrestling scene diversifies, fans are given more options to follow. With its successful debut at the CharaExpo 2015, NJPW might just take root in Singapore.