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Japanese pro-wrestling on the way here
PRO-WRESTLING fans are in for a rare treat when New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) makes its way to town for its first-ever full-length show on Nov 15.
The show, to be held at Marina Bay Sands (MBS), promises to be an exciting night as top stars Hiroshi Tanahashi, "Rain Maker" Kazuchika Okada, Jyushin "Thunder" Liger and Kenny Omega dazzle fans with their unique brand of story-telling through high-flying action.
Fans can expect the very best from NJPW, promised current owner and Bushiroad Inc CEO Takaaki Kidani at a press conference at MBS on Sept 1.
"We will be bringing the exact same production as those seen in Japan. Fans can expect the same spectacular wrestler entrances and enjoy the show from start till end," said Mr Kidani who spoke through an interpreter.
Encouraged by fans' response to CharaExpo at Singapore Expo where NJPW has had exhibition matches last year and this year, Mr Kidani said the change of venue this time was a deliberate one.
"We wanted to encourage people from neighbouring countries to come as well. Singapore is a perfect place because it's the hub of the region and has all the infrastructure."
Wrestlers Tetsuya Naito and BUSHI were also on hand to add excitement to the event.
"We are always at 100 per cent and we will give a 100 per cent experience to our fans in Singapore," said Naito, who, together with BUSHI, are part of the dastardky Los Ingobernables de Japan faction.
Surge in interest
Fans such as catering executive Naufala Noor, 26, have been relishing the opportunity to watch NJPW live for many years.
"I like the realism of the wrestling and how they tell stories through it. As you are watching them, you can feel that you're in their world, as if you're in the ring together with them," said Mr Noor, who's been a fan since he was four.
Japanese wrestling has seen a recent surge in interest with NJPW's revival in fortunes.
Founded by Japanese wrestling legend Antonio Inoki in 1972, NJPW had changed ownership twice.
In 2010, sales were down to one billion yen (S$13.3 million), a quarter of what it had been in the late-1990s.
In 2012, Bushiroad, the card game company, took over the business and has since revived it through aggressive advertising and social-media campaigns.
"We placed an emphasis on letting people know more about NJPW and promotion. We got all the wrestlers to open Twitter accounts. They are now very active on social media. said Mr Kidani. "There are existing pro-wrestling fans because it's a popular sport. People who were previously fans, picked this up and spread it through word of mouth, to say, NJPW looks exciting these days and is having really good matches," he added.
In the United States, NJPW alumnus Shinsuke Nakamura as well as female wrestler Asuka are respectively the NXT champion and NXT women's champion in rival organisation WWE.
The high quality of wrestling and strong technique are assets that Japanese wrestlers have, reckoned Mr Kidani. They are very expressive and their passion towards wrestling can easily be seen, he pointed out. "Those who have been part of NJPW can join any organisation in the world and become very successful."
- Wrestling World 2016 takes place at Hall B, Sands Expo and Convention Centre in MBS on Nov 15, 7pm. Doors open at 6pm. Tickets, ranging from S$48 to S$228, are available now on all Sistic platforms