Wrestle Kingdom: New Japan Pro Wrestling fandom in English-Speaking Markets

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference presentation/ephemera


Whilst there is a growing body of scholarship on professional wrestling fandom (see Laine 2016; Jansen 2018; Litherland 2014 and Ford 2014); the majority of scholarship on this topic has been focused through the lens of WWE, the pseudo-monopolistic market leader of the industry. This paper examines the emergent
fanbase in English-Speaking markets for New Japan Pro Wrestling, the market leader for the Japanese Pro Wrestling industry and consistently the most critically acclaimed promotion in wrestling fan circles for the past decade. This paper first examines Western fandom of Japanese Pro Wrestling in the pre-Internet era; in
which fans congregated primarily through tape-trading and newsletters. Secondly, the paper examines the global audience that New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) has cultivated from 2012 onwards and seeks to understand how this audience has been developed through technological development (SVOD), disaffected WWE fans, importance of critical acclaim within the wrestling community and the popularity of the foreign villainous faction Bullet Club. The growth of NJPW internationally has seen it become a draw for foreign fans,
with over 6000 international fans at their 2019 event at the Tokyo Dome (Meltzer 2019) as well as running events in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. The paper concludes by looking at the significant damage done to NJPW’s international expansion by the exodus of key talent to a new start-up: All Elite Wrestling.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 10 Dec 2019
EventFame and Fandom: Functioning On and Offline - University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
Duration: 8 Dec 201910 Dec 2019


ConferenceFame and Fandom: Functioning On and Offline
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