I went to a New Japan Pro Wrestling pay per view (Back to the Yokohama Arena) with one of our friends who lives in Japan (Daryl) in Yokohama. This was the first ever-Japanese wrestling event I have attended and I was excited at the idea of comparing it to the RAWs and Smackdowns I have attended in Canada.
The first thing I noticed was that the crowd was much more diverse than what I’m used to seeing. Usually there are typically a bunch of alpha males, wrestling nerds and kids at WWE events. At this New Japan show the crowd seemed to be made up of a ton of women, couples and families with very small children.
And a lot these women were not a bunch of hags, no, no, no. There was plenty of fine eye candy to look at. It was such a wonderful bonus.
So what about Yokohama Arena itself? For me it’s comparable to the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary in regards to capacity. The view we had was 10 rows back from the ring and when one of us stood up we could see the commentators table and the cameras pointed towards our general direction.
Take a look at the video of the pre-show I managed to quickly record to get a better idea of what our view was like.
Here’s the complete match list:
Road to BEST OF THE SUPER Jr. XXI: Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask, Mascara Dorada & El Desperado vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Alex Shelley, KUSHIDA & BUSHI
Special 8 Man Tag Match: Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Tomoaki Honma & Captain New Japan vs. Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Yujiro Takahashi & Tama Tonga
NWA World Tag Team Title – 3 Way Match: Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima (c) vs. Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Rob Conway & Wes Brisco
Special Tag Match: Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka vs. Minoru Suzuki & Shelton Benjamin
Special Singles Match: Tetsuya Naito vs. Bad Luck Fale
Wrestling vs. Jiu-jitsu MMA Fight: Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Rolles Gracie
NEVER Openweight Title: Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. Kota Ibushi
IWGP Tag Team Title #1 Contenders Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe vs. Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata
IWGP Intercontinental Title – Wrestling vs. Jiu-jitsu MMA Fight: Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Daniel Gracie
IWGP Heavyweight Title: AJ Styles (c) vs. Kazuchika Okada
The match of the night was the NEVER openweight title match. I’ve heard of Japanese crowds being notoriously quiet during matches, but man did this match ever get everyone riled up. It was perfectly paced and really got the crowd into frenzy before the final ending sequence.
The other thing about the crowd is when the main event started. There was this one Japanese dude screaming random swears in English. I think the only people who really understood what was going on were Daryl, and myself and we were laughing like mad as this guy just screamed at AJ Styles during the ring intros.
This match was also great and had a hell of a build up. From what I understand the crowd had a better reaction to Styles than the first time he appeared in New Japan, even if it was all boos and the only people cheering for him were probably us 2 gaijin and a few other people.
Overall this was pretty great for my first live Japanese professional wrestling experience. The MMA vs. Wrestling matches were kind of meh when comparing them to the rest of the card but otherwise it was so much fun being in that kind of atmosphere.
After the wrestling it was off to Shibuya to try some spicy food and then to Shinjuku to have an actual meal of plentiful food at a 270 yen joint.