New Japan Pro-Wrestling President Takami Ohbari discusses the growth of women’s wrestling in NJPW.
NJPW crowned the inaugural IWGP Women’s Champion at Historic X-Over in November 2022. The title was then defended at Wrestle Kingdom 17. NJPW added the NJPW STRONG Women’s Champion to the mix and crowned the first champion at NJPW Resurgence.
In an interview with Monthly Puroresu, NJPW President Takami Ohbari was asked to speak about the growing position female competitors have in the company. Ohbari noted that many traditions in Japanese wrestling stem from sumo wrestling, where there are no women competitors. He stated that the world is changing, so it’s important to adapt.
“Many traditions in Japanese pro-wrestling derive from professional sumo wrestling. There are no women wrestlers in Japanese professional sumo,” Ohbari said. “On the other hand, the ratio of men and women participants in the Olympics is almost 5:5.
The world has changed and the speed of change has been exponential. We cannot stick to the outdated ideas of male-only professional wrestling. We often say that professional wrestling is a mirror reflecting the world. All wrestlers and all matches should be appreciated, and any wrestlers should be provided fair opportunities in the ring regardless of gender or anything else. If we can maximize the business value of that, then so much the better.”
Takami Ohbari continued by stating that he believes this change will first be seen in the United States before it is evident in Japan. He also highlighted STARDOM’s growing prominence.
“I think this will be realized in the US first, and then in Japan,” Ohbari said. “In the last few years since STARDOM has become one of Bushiroad’s group companies, I think Japanese pro wrestling fans’ way of thinking is getting closer to a global standard.
“The first time we had STARDOM wrestlers participate in our Tokyo Dome show, we faced major criticism from fans and our partners in and outside the company. But now, it is taken for granted.”
The NJPW STRONG Women’s Championship was defended in a buzzworhy bout at IMPACT x NJPW Multiverse United 2. More information is available here.
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AEW Original Confirms They Will Never Leave For Another Wrestling Company
Darby Allin will “live and die in AEW.”
While the bulk of All Elite Wrestling’s day one roster remains with the company to this day, some formerly up-and-coming prospects have garnered the attention of top wrestling companies around the world. Names who started out small, like Maxwell Jacob Friedman and Ricky Starks, have grown to be world champions and tournament winners in AEW, and that skyrocketed success is not lost on competing promotions. MJF especially has made his imminent free agency a part of his on-screen persona, regularly teasing the “bidding war of 2024” between AEW and WWE when his contract expires next January.
That said, not all AEW talent are keen to see if the grass is greener on the other side.
Speaking on the Jon Chuckery Show, AEW original Darby Allin re-emphasized that he will wrestle in AEW until his career is over.
“I haven’t shied away from this, I tell (AEW President) Tony [Khan] that I’m maybe the worst businessman in pro wrestling because there is never going to be a bidding war for Darby Allin. I love AEW so much,” Allin said. “I’m not playing games. I’m not going to be like, ‘What if I went somewhere else?’ No, I’m just being real. Darby Allin is going to live and die in AEW.”
Allin debuted with AEW at AEW Fyter Fest in June 2019, going to a time-limit draw with Cody Rhodes. He went on to be part of AEW’s day one roster upon the company’s televised launch that fall. Allin is a two-time AEW TNT Champion and has main-evented AEW Dynamite multiple times.
Beyond his in-ring accomplishments, Allin stressed how grateful he is to have the creative freedom to be himself within AEW.
“I can’t say enough good things about working with Tony Khan. It baffles me that people can take it for granted. I don’t know if people realize how fortunate we are to be wrestling at such a high level with such an open-minded owner,” Allin said of his boss. “What you see out there is 100% Darby Allin. Nobody tells me how to walk, talk, or act. It’s 100% me. To have that free reign to collaborate with Tony and create such good storylines leading to Wembley, you can’t say enough good things. I’m super stoked about everything and my whole growth with AEW, but them letting me be me.”
Allin teams with Sting to take on Swerve Strickland and AR Fox in a coffin match this Sunday at AEW ALL IN: London.