The New Japan Pro Wrestling President and CEO, Takami Ohbari, has given his thoughts on wrestlers crossing between promotions following the recent appearances of NJPW stars on AEW and IMPACT Wrestling shows.
In an interview on NJPW’s English-language website, Ohbari, who took over the role of NJPW President and CEO from Harold Meij in October 2020, revealed how he believes the wrestling industry should focus on the wrestlers. This means that, if a wrestler requests a match with someone from another promotion, NJPW should do everything it can to make it happen.
“For me to say ‘NJPW is doing business with company X, so you need to go over there and wrestle’, that’s backward to me. I will say this until I’m blue in the face: this is a star-driven business, and the wrestlers are the focus. So if our wrestlers say ‘I want to wrestle that guy’ ‘I want to test myself against that guy’ ‘I want to show that I’m better than that guy’. Then it becomes our job as a company to do what we can to back them, make it happen and make it successful.
“We’re in the dream business. Presenting them, and making them real. Having a linear approach to business, that only restricts us and it stops fans getting invested.”
Ohbari went on to say that, while the current situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic prevents US-based wrestlers from travelling to Japan, the door is open for them to appear on the promotion’s US show, STRONG.
“When you look at things overseas right now, especially in the US, there are a lot of wrestlers who want to come to Japan, and can’t, right? Even if you get into the country, you have to quarantine. But STRONG is there for those guys. That is authentic, genuine New Japan Pro-Wrestling. If you want to be in NJPW, and you’re good enough, this door is open: come in, come do what you can do, and we’ll make sure the world can watch it. That goes for the fans too; if there’s a match you guys want to see, we’ll do what we can to make it happen.”
Since NJPW star KENTA opened the ‘forbidden door’ by appearing on AEW Dynamite, a slew of wrestlers have crossed between AEW, NJPW, and IMPACT Wrestling. This has included NJPW’s FinJuice defeating the Good Brothers to become the IMPACT Tag Team Champions, AEW’s Kenny Omega defeating Rich Swann to become the IMPACT World Champion, and it has recently been announced that NJPW’s El Phantasmo will also be appearing on IMPACT in the near future.