Since New Japan Pro Wrestling released their streaming service, NJPW World, fans across the world have had easier access to their shows. That has increased the fanbase at an unheard of level. Since then, wrestling fans all across the internet have heavily debated NJPW vs. WWE. Many believe that New Japan delivers the best wrestling on the planet, while others remain loyal to WWE.
The company certainly has a case for being that good. In fact, WWE could stand to learn a fair amount from them. However, not everything NJPW does is right and there are serious flaws. With that in mind, we've picked 5 concepts that WWE could benefit from stealing from them and 5 they need to avoid.
10 Avoid: Too Many Meaningless Matches
When it comes to their two biggest shows of the year, Wrestle Kingdom and Dominion, New Japan typically loads up the card. The entire event is a huge deal, but their other shows don't get the same treatment. They tend to space out most other shows, like Destruction, over several nights.
When that happens, the cards feature only one or two noteworthy matches. The rest of the time is made up of undercard tags previewing bigger matches coming up. It makes it so those shows feel unimportant and like a waste of time outside of the main events. WWE needs to avoid falling into that trap.
9 Steal: Title Matches Being Just About The Title
Far too often does WWE fall into the trope of adding a bit too much story into their title matches. Take a look at the AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe rivalry in 2018: Joe continually targeted AJ's family and that added a level of animosity that wasn't all that necessary. It could have just been about the title.
New Japan does this quite well. A lot of their title fights are simply about the championship. The guy at the top has the crown and the challenge wants it. It's simple yet effective. This also gives off a true sports feel to the whole thing. Sometimes, it can just be about competition.
8 Avoid: Too Many Factions
Practically everyone on the New Japan roster is a member of some sort of faction. You have the Bullet Club, CHAOS, Los Ingobernables de Japon, and Suzuki-Gun. Then there are lesser stables like Taguchi Japan. It works for the abundance of multi-man tags that clog up the undercards of their events.
However, this isn't an idea that WWE should look to mimic. When every viable star is part of a group, they can kind of lose their individuality. It also makes things too repetitive. Anyone who watches NJPW on a regular basis has seen countless tags pitting CHAOS against Bullet Club or LIJ. You can be over it pretty quickly.
7 Steal: Press Conferences
This probably seems like a banal choice but it makes a ton of sense. Before major shows and often afterwards, New Japan hosts press conferences featuring their top stars. It helps to build future shows, promote feuds, and adds depth to the characters involved. In that sense, it has plenty of benefits.
The positives behind utilizing press conferences go beyond what it does from a story perspective. It can also add to the WWE Network schedule. The company has countless hours to fill for their streaming service and press conferences would be more entertaining than the Kickoff Shows.
6 Avoid: Title Changes On DQs And Countouts
Remember watching TNA back in 2006? Sting lost the NWA Heavyweight Title to Abyss via disqualification. It felt so lackluster and was a huge letdown. Abyss' title reign never felt legitimate and it was all because of how he won it. New Japan has similar stipulations, where titles can change hands via DQ or countout.
In WWE, title changes can only occur by pinfall or submission. That gives the champion a slight advantage in every situation. They must be beaten to make victories mean a lot more. WWE should stick to this formula. Though a title hasn't changed hands this way in New Japan over the past few years, the fact that it is possible isn't good.
5 Steal: Have Other Championships Headline Shows
Other than the Raw Women's Championship, it is almost unheard of for a title that isn't the WWE Championship or Universal Championship to headline a pay-per-view. As noted earlier, New Japan often splits its shows to last several nights. That gives other titles the chance to close things out. In the past few years alone, we have seen the Jr. Heavyweight, NEVER Openweight, United States Heavyweight, and Intercontinental Titles all main event shows.
This kind of thing does a lot to make those titles feel more important. Think back to No Mercy 2016. The WWE Title opened the show and it should have closed with Miz defending the IC Title against Dolph Ziggler. Instead, they opted to end things with Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt. That would have been a huge boost to that title and is the kind of thing WWE should do.
4 Avoid: Overly Long Main Events
A lot of people seem to love them but if you take a second to pay attention, New Japan often has main events that go on for too long. It makes sense for the biggest occasions like Wrestle Kingdom or a huge IWGP Heavyweight Title match. But nearly every main event goes between 25 and 40 minutes.
Honestly, that's too much. These matches can feel like they are going long simply for the sake of saying that they went long. The recent Adam Cole/Johnny Gargano series in NXT has fallen victim to this. WWE can't fall prey to this. Matches should only be as long as the story calls for.
3 Steal: Working With Other Promotions
In the past five years, New Japan has worked with several other companies including CMLL, Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling NOAH, Michinoku Pro, All Japan Pro Wrestling, Dragon Gate, and more. Whether it is for major crossover shows or inclusion in tournaments, this has added diversity to their cards.
WWE has already shown this off a bit, including EVOLVE as something of a developmental brand. They even aired an EVOLVE show on the WWE Network this year. But there's potential for more. When WCW was routinely beating them in the ratings, they worked with Smoky Mountain Wrestling and ECW. Things like that could mix things up.
2 Avoid: How They Handle The Tag Division
If New Japan has one glaring weakness, it's their tag team division. Both the heavyweight and junior heavyweight divisions are consistently mediocre at best. It isn't even about the match quality. The teams feel unimportant, the titles switch from one team to another so often that nobody cares, and everything the division does is forgetful.
To be fair, WWE doesn't always showcase their tag teams in the best possible fashion. However, they usually do it better than NJPW. We have been treated to plenty of great matches and memorable tag teams. It would be a bad idea if WWE chose to follow New Japan's lead here.
1 Steal: Round Robin Tournaments
There is simply no better time to enjoy New Japan Pro Wrestling than when the G1 Climax rolls around. The tournament lasts about a month and is done in round-robin format. That means that if 10 wrestlers compete in the tournament, they have to face the other 9 once each.
This format allows it to be a true case of seeing who the best is. One fluke loss doesn't eliminate someone. These tournaments lead to intrigue over a long period of time. WWE tried this style with the Mixed Match Challenge, but doing so for a more prestigious tournament would be ideal.