With the world in chaos due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), people are looking for an escape from reality. MMA organizations like the UFC and Cage Warriors are still having events, while WWE and AEW have worked with empty arena live shows. New Japan Pro Wrestling have had to cancel a number of events due to the Coronavirus.
There is some hope that pro wrestling will be back in Japan and the world, according to NJPW President Harold Meij. Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Meji discussed how important wrestling is in today's world.
"The Coronavirus has impacted the entire world," said Meij. "However, throughout our 50-year history we have experienced and overcome numerous crises, not only emerging stronger as an organization, but also as a good social beacon bringing hope and excitement worldwide. NJPW sincerely believes professional wrestling will once again unite us all very soon, sharing our passion for wrestling together."
Events NJPW have had to cancel include Lion's Break Project 3 as well as the New Japan Cup. After initially canceling the first half of the tournament, restrictions and the virus spreading forced their hand. While they have lost money due to the cancellations, the concern of every fan and non-fan alike is the promotions ultimate concern.
"At this moment in time, our events, up to and including March 21, have been cancelled," Meij said. "Everyone involved in this situation wants to get back to business as usual immediately afterward, and we are working toward that. The situation is fluid, however, and we have to act responsibly.
"The Coronavirus has dramatically affected how sports and events-based businesses worldwide are able to operate," Meij continued. "Being the biggest professional wrestling organization in Japan put a spotlight upon us and gave us a significant social responsibility. It has been our duty to not just act in the best interests of our fans, wrestlers and staff, but of society at large."
Plans to reschedule the New Japan Cup may very well happen. One event New Japan is focused on taking place is Wrestle Dynasty in New York City this August. Until then, New Japan has found ways to get into people's living rooms without live events. The company released videos for their NJPW Together Project on NJPW World in replacement of the cancelled shows. Meij believes this will be a good holdover until things return to normal.
"We've thought about what we could do to boost morale of all our fans, and hence the 'Together Project' was launched," said Meij. "This project seeks to use our streaming service, NJPW World, to stream original content on a regular basis. This includes creating and streaming programs such as live talk shows by the wrestlers, never-before-seen matches, interviews, and the addition of wrestler commentary and point of view to their own matches, all with the goal to give fans unique content in these trying times. We were encouraged to see our first live talk session reaching the sixth highest trend on Twitter, and this content has also been made available in English, giving our international fanbase the chance to see another side of our Japanese talent."
The next NJPW show is supposed to be Sakura Genesis on March 31. The company is expected to release a statement soon on the status of the event.