Saturday, September 5, 2015

Japanese Pro-Wrestling on TV in Japan (and Potentially Beyond)

A big topic as of late has been the decreasing of the amount of pro-wrestling shows on American television. This year, WWE, TNA, NJPW, ROH, CMLL, Lucha Underground/AAA, and the GWF (via ESPN Classic replays) have been presenting pro-wrestling on a weekly basis. However, the landscape may be changing as the year draws to a close, with there being rumors that Destination America will be dropping TNA's, "Impact Wrestling" program, and El Rey has yet to renew, "Lucha Underground".

Meanwhile, pro-wrestling has been thriving as a television product in Japan. NJPW -Japan's biggest pro-wrestling company- is seen weekly via the TV Asahi network. Unlike the United States, where fans are required to have cable in order to watch programs of the most popular companies in the country, cable is not required to watch NJPW programs in Japan on TV Asahi.

NOAH can be seen regularly on the Nittele G+ sports channel and Samurai TV via satellite. Samurai TV also shows JWP, Stardom, Pro Wrestling ZERO1, BJW, DDT Pro, AJPW, Legend the Pro-Wrestling, and more on their network. Meanwhile GAORA TV provides viewers with Dragon Gate, AJPW, Wrestle-1, and Oz Academy. In total, pro-wrestling fans in Japan are able watch at least 12 different companies on television regularly, with the biggest one being able to be viewed without needing cable or satellite.

Although the pro-wrestling scene is very healthy in Japan, it has the potential to be even healthier. Being that WWE is biggest company in the industry, they have made the United States the center of the pro-wrestling industry. Alexa (a web traffic and ranking website) shows how much attention WWE captures from fans who live in the United States, and how much of an impact they have on their traffic rank. According to Alexa, has a traffic rank of 1,468, with the majority of its visitors being based in the United States.

Japanese pro-wrestling companies branching out to the American market would enable them to potentially gain new fans from the same fan base that WWE has, as well as pro-wrestling fans who don't like the WWE product and are looking for something different. NJPW has already done this- they are currently featured on AXS TV, a network that presents the NJPW product to 200,000 American viewers every week. There are many other networks for the NJPW product to potentially be on, including ones that would be better than AXS TV, but the fact remains that NJPW's exposure has increased and has had a positive impact on the company. Alexa's report on 's traffic rankings from the past six months are proof of this. On March 4, 2015, had a traffic rank of 37,833. As of this writing, the website was ranked at 28,380 (the lower the number, the higher the rank).

Just as how NJPW has increased its exposure by branching out to the American market, other pro-wrestling companies in Japan can (and should) do the same. Every company has a style of wrestling that is different from what American pro-wrestling fans usually are exposed to, which surely would gain their attention. And along with exposure, the pro-wrestling company would gain the financial benefit of the American television network paying them to show episodes of the wrestling program on the American television network.

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