NJPW President Harold Meij was interviewed by Fox Sports earlier this month. Meij discussed if Wrestle Kingdom will become a two-day event going forward, and NJPW building up a subsidiary in the States.
Wrestle Kingdom 14 will take place at the Tokyo Dome on January 4 and 5 of next year. Meij noted the idea came thanks to the 2020 Olympics coming to Japan and how the country wanted to show off more of its nightlife, which included going to a wrestling event. Meij was interested to see if the fans would come out back-to-back nights, but didn't think the big two-day event would be the norm going forward.
"Our shows, generally speaking, all sell out," Meij said. "Our product is very popular here in Japan. Because 2020 is an Olympic year, so there'll be more global eyes on the sports and culture of Japan, we thought, 'Well, we're part of the culture of Japan, as well.' Particularly for the night-life. It's been said that Japan is very good for daytime tourism, but not so much for night-life—there are restaurants and bars and that kind of thing, but not so much other types of entertainment. So even the government is saying let's look at pro wrestling as a night-life alternative to just restaurants.
"Because 2020 is an Olympic year, and because the demand for our product has been so great, that's why we decided next year not to have just one Tokyo Dome day, but two. The planning for that was more than a year before that—trying to get the venue obviously, but also deciding whether we want to do it, because it's a risk for us as well. Can we suddenly double the number of people coming?
"We have to see how it goes, of course. Anything if you overdo it becomes stale. We want to keep the specialness of it, so I don't foresee doing it every year—hopefully every so often, that would be wonderful, but we'll have to see how the fans react the first time."
Back in October, NJPW announced it would open a new subsidiary in the States that would feature shows in every part of the country. The tours will be taking place while the regular NJPW Japanese tours are on hiatus, but in the event the two run simultaneously, talent schedules will be factored in. The current plan is to broadcast American events live on New Japan World, but the alternative of VOD on delay and AXS TV utilization is possible.
The NJPW President was asked why NJPW decided to hold numerous smaller shows in the States, rather than just handful of bigger events.
"One of the biggest handicaps we have is the time difference," Meij admitted. "We can't do a lot of live events on US prime time—if we do one at 6 or 7 o'clock at night, it's 3 o'clock in the morning in the US, depending on where you are. You're not going to wake up, unless it's a Wrestle Kingdom or something. Of course, you can still do near-live or streaming, but one of the biggest things is we need to create the understanding of what New Japan stands for.
"The best way to do that is really like sampling. It's a sampling marketing strategy. By doing smaller-scale shows in a lot of places, people can physically see what our product is like, come to love it and then join into the streaming service or watch the TV broadcast."