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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Where Does GFW Potentially Stand in the Pro-Wrestling Industry?

Pro-wrestling companies based in the United States having working relationships with pro-wrestling companies based in other countries is nothing new. ROH works with NJPW, a Japan-based company that has existed for 42 years and is continuing to grow. TNA works with Wrestle-1, the newest major company in Japan. However, Jeff Jarrett's Global Force Wrestling has the potential to become the most international professional-wrestling company in the industry since WCW.

In the 1990's, WCW simultaneously had a working relationship with not only NJPW, but also AAA, one of the biggest pro-wrestling companies in Mexico (which will begin airing a weekly program on the El Rey network this fall, and will also be having PPV events). WCW and NJPW co-produced many PPV events, WCW took part in an NJPW-produced supercard in 1996, and the two companies traded talent on a regular basis. Meanwhile, WCW co-promoted a lucha libre PPV with AAA in 1994, and booked AAA talent for WCW events frequently in the mid-1990's. Out of all of the companies that defined themselves as being of worldwide status, WCW best represented that definition.

Now, Global Force Wrestling has positioned themselves where they can potentially be established in the same manner that WCW was as being a true GLOBAL company. GFW talent can appear on AAA-TV and PPVs, as well as NJPW iPPVs. Meanwhile, GFW could present American fans with talent from Mexico and Japan, names that they are familiar with as well as talent that they currently are unaware of but should know about. Not only would this legitimize GFW as a global company, but it would give AAA and NJPW increased exposure as well.

And the GFW's relationships with AAA and NJPW can go even further than that. With GFW still in its building stages, the company currently does not have a champion. This could set the stage for GFW to have a championship tournament of truly global proportions. If GFW were to have a championship tournament featuring talent from GFW, AAA, and NJPW, American fans would have the opportunity to see matches between top Mexican and Japanese talent. And a GFW Title tournament done in this fashion would provide the unpredictability that pro-wrestling fans enjoy, and opportunity that all pro-wrestlers desire.

The tournament could take place in either the United States, Mexico, or Japan. It could feature recognized talent from AAA (El Mesรญas, Cibernรฉtico), NJPW (Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Manabu Nakanishi), as well as recognized American talent currently working for NJPW or AAA (AJ Styles, Jack Evans). Who would the first GFW champion be? Someone from the GFW roster? An AAA or NJPW star? It would be anyone's guess, in a tournament filled with drama and suspense. And most importantly, the GFW title could be considered a true world title.

GFW has the potential to bring a style of surprise and excitement that would be unique to the current pro-wrestling landscape, and one that would benefit the industry on an international level. And pro-wrestling fans are always open to something different for them to enjoy. If Jeff Jarrett and GFW gives the fans action that they want to see and deserve, gives opportunities to currently underutilized talent, along with has a proficient team of creatives behind all of it, GFW can become one of the top organizations in the industry.

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.