Thursday, September 7, 2023

Independent Promotions in Japan with the Potential to Become More Popular

Pro wrestling has a long and rich history in Japan. From the promotions that were formed in the 1970s like NJPW and AJPW, to the promotions that were founded in the 1990s like BJW and Michinoku Pro, to the more recent promotions that were created like NOAH and ZERO1, Japan has always been a hotbed for pro wrestling.

While Japanese promotions of their level of popularity have been drawing much attention internationally, a number of new promotions have emerged. While some are better known than others, they are all flying under the radar by comparison, despite offering a unique and exciting alternative.

Here are some of the independent promotions in Japan that have the potential to become more popular:

Yanagase Pro Wrestling: I covered this promotion in detail recently. Based in Gifu, Yanagase Pro Wrestling has a great roster of versatile talent and also regularly brings in accomplished wrestlers from outside of the promotion.

Prominence: Based in Tokyo and shining out of the corona pandemic, Prominence is a promotion that mainly features women wrestlers and blends together hardcore wrestling, technical wrestling, and comedy.

Actwres girl'Z: Based in Tokyo, Actwres girl'Z has gone through many changes over the years, at one point being split into two rosters: Beginning and Colors, and now runs as one roster. No matter what format it uses, Actwres girl'Z always presents an entertaining product.

FREEDOMS: Based in Tokyo, FREEDOMS is best known for its hardcore matches, much like how BJW is. FREEDOMS is not as well-known internationally as BJW, but it is a great promotion. Many fans of hardcore wrestling consider FREEDOMS to be one of the best hardcore promotions in Japan, due to its innovative and high-risk matches featuring experienced talent.

Marvelous: Based in Chiba, Marvelous is a small promotion that presents a high-quality product in all areas, from in-ring to production. The first Marvelous show I attended was in 2019, and I was thoroughly impressed.

OZ Academy: Based in Tokyo, OZ Academy frequently books some of the best freelance women wrestlers available on their shows. After former Sendai Girls World Champion Hiroyo Matsumoto participated in WWE Mae Young Classic 2018, her next appearance a little more than a week later was at an OZ Academy event.

YMZ : Based in Tokyo, YMZ blends action and comedy in its own unique way. Although YMZ is not a comedy wrestling promotion, it's one of the funniest promotions in the industry.

Deathmatch Innovative Element: Based in Tokyo, Deathmatch Innovative Element launched in 2021 and is one of the newer hardcore/deathmatch promotions in Japan, but it was founded by Toshiyuki Sakuda, who has been a part of the scene for nine years.

These are just a few of the many independent promotions in Japan. These promotions offer a variety of styles and experiences, and they are all worth checking out for fans of independent wrestling. Which can make one wonder- why are they not better known?

The main reason these promotions are not better known is lack of exposure, which lessens the chance of their product getting in front of potential fans. Adding to that, there are many other independent promotions vying for the attention of those same fans, which can make it difficult for promotions to stand out. However, that does not mean that standing out is an impossible task to accomplish.

Streaming services like YouTube and TwitCasting are growing so much that the number of video streaming users worldwide is expected to amount to 4.6 billion users by 2027, which makes it easier for independent promotions to reach a wider audience. And social media can be a powerful tool for independent promotions to connect with fans and promote their events. In the end, a promotion improving its presence and publicity are the keys to becoming more popular.

To become more popular, a promotion can create a strong and active social media presence, using it to connect with fans and promote its events. And there is a potentially lucrative English market that is still very untapped. Several major Japanese wrestling promotions now provide information in English, and if an independent promotion does the same and connects with the English markets inside and outside of Japan, it will help them grow in visibility, show attendance, and streaming consumption. The popularity of independent wrestling has been growing in recent years, which has created a larger audience for these promotions- the English market is a part of that audience. A publicist can be very useful in helping a promotion reach this audience and build its brand. A publicist can be a valuable asset for any promotion that is looking to grow its audience and reach new markets. By working with a publicist, a promotion can increase its visibility, reach, and impact.

Partnering with other independent promotions, and building relationships with wrestlers/promoters, to cross-promote events would help all promotions involved reach a wider audience and get the promotions’ products in front of more people. The promotions can also work together to create joint promotions or tours. Additionally, getting involved with a community's local events and charities can build goodwill and promote a promotion.

And of course, continuing to produce high-quality matches will capture the attention of fans after the product successfully gets in front of them. If the matches are good, people will keep coming back.

Also, the promotions I mentioned should not be afraid to try new things, even though Japan has a mixed attitude towards trying new things. Japanese culture is known for its respect for tradition and history, so people may be hesitant to change things that have been done a certain way for a long time. However, Japan is also a very innovative country, and there are many examples of Japanese companies and individuals who have been willing to take risks and try new things. The promotions I mentioned can find success by following the example of these innovators and not being afraid to experiment. By being willing to try new things, these promotions can break out of the mold and reach their true potential.

Even though the independent wrestling scene in Japan is constantly evolving with new promotions emerging, promotions that can overcome the challenges they face and effectively promote their product have the potential to become more popular. I believe that the promotions listed above have the potential to succeed, and I am excited to see what they achieve in the future.

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