Tuesday, June 24, 2014

AJPW and the Jun Akiyama Era

During AJPW's existence of four decades, the company has experienced a number of regimes: Giant Baba, Mitsuharu Misawa, Keiji Mutoh, Masayuki Uchida, and Nobuo Shiraishi. On July 1, a new era will begin as Jun Akiyama becomes the new president of AJPW. Although it has yet to be confirmed what Akiyama's plans are, the main rumor is that AJPW will be presented as a new company. This reminds me of the relaunch plan that Eric Bischoff had for WCW as he and Fusient Media prepared to buy the company in 2001.

In fact, AJPW's current situation is very similar to what WCW's was in at that time. WCW's best years were 1996-1998. Eric Bischoff was firmly in control of the direction of the company, and ratings indicated that fans were pleased with the product. In 1999 however, he was replaced and the quality of the WCW product decreased to the point that WCW was a shell of its former self and was tarnished in the eyes of many fans. Laying low for a while and giving fans time to forget about the bad period of WCW before returning with a big relaunch is exactly what would have returned the company to its former glory. AJPW's image problems started as a result of leadership changes occurring often. Giant Baba ran AJPW for 27 years- he had established a run and created a style for the company that fans became familiar with. Mitsuharu Misawa was president of the company for less than one year. Keiji Mutoh ran AJPW for nine years, and was then replaced by Masayuki Uchida for almost two years. Uchida's replacement was Nobuo Shiraishi, a presidency which will have lasted a little over a year.

That's five leaderships in the past four decades, and only two of them lasted two years. And with every leadership change came a change in the style of the company. With so many style changes during AJPW's existence, the company no longer had an image, despite still having a talented roster. So the cosmetic change of presenting AJPW as a new company will help them, giving AJPW the opportunity to start fresh and create a new image for the company, without critics being able to say, "Oh here we go again- ANOTHER leadership change."

I'm looking forward to seeing what Jun Akiyama does with AJPW. He has been involved in the pro-wrestling industry for almost 22 years, and although Akiyama has never been involved in the business end of a wrestling company, he is very experienced with being aware of what fans want to see take place in the ring. Now that Akiyama will be president of the company, he will have more control over what the fans are presented with entertainment-wise, and that is what will impact the company the most financially.

And a rejuvenated AJPW couldn't happen at a better time for them. With Wrestle-1 having a working relationship with TNA, and NJPW having working relationships with ROH and Jeff Jarrett's GFW, the wrestling/puroresu scene is getting more attention than it has had in a while, so now is the perfect time for AJPW to reinvent itself as a company with an image that will make an impression on fans who will be exposed to AJPW for perhaps the first time. A successful AJPW would not only be beneficial to the company, but it would also potentially give more talent a new place to work, as well as provide a new source of entertainment for pro-wrestling fans.

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