New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), like most Japanese promotions, struggled through the COVID lockdowns once they hit Japan. Because live gates were so much more important to New Japan’s financial success, the company wasn’t able to weather the storm as easily as WWE or AEW.
Even after the worst phase of the lockdowns ended and fans could attend New Japan shows live, there were still restrictions in place. One of the most notable of these was that NJPW fans couldn’t cheer, boo, or make any other vocalizations.
The only ‘reaction’ fans could make was clapping, so fan excitement was measured by how loudly and for how long fans applauded.
But that restriction will be lifted, albeit to a degree, in February 2023.
Crowd Interaction Ban To Be Lifted In New Japan
New Japan’s first big post-Wrestle Kingdom show will be The New Beginning on February 11th. The 2023 edition of that show will emanate from Edion Arena in Osaka. In preparation for the event, the venue is launching a sort of pilot project in which specific areas of will be designated as “vocal support areas”.
It is only in these specific areas of the venue that vocal support will be allowed. This project isn’t universal as different venues hosting NJPW wrestling will decide whether or not they want such a mechanism in place.
Additional info on this new policy of New Japan’s can be found here.
New Japan’s next big show is Wrestle Kingdom 17, which takes place over two (non-consecutive) nights. The first show will take place on January 4th and will feature Jay White defending his IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against 2021 G1 Climax winner Kazuchika Okada, as well as a crosspromotional match between NJPW’s Will Ospreay and AEW’s Kenny Omega.
Night Two of Wrestle Kingdom 17 will take place on January 21st. Its card has yet to be announced.