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Controversial NJPW Booking Decision Explained

Cold pragmatism infects creative.

NJPW1972.com

New Japan Pro Wrestling - quite fittingly, given the circumstances surrounding the event - split their audience in half after the controversial conclusion of Dominion on July 12.

Only the second major wrestling event globally to be held in front of a real live crowd since March, New Japan elected not to ease its fandom back in. In a shock move, former Los Ingobernables de Japon stable member and recent Bullet Club defector EVIL dethroned IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito in just his second defence of the big one that was four long years in the making.

This was a shock most are still processing. An audacious move that set ablaze what was a middling return to action - beyond Toru Yano and Hiromu Takahashi's ingenuity, the empty arena shows were very much "B-level New Japan shows, only in front of no fans" - the poor execution of an incredibly optimistic idea did not help. The near 40-minute duration exposed EVIL's range, and he didn't possess the charisma nor ring generalship to get a match that long over.

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Only top guys win the IWGP Title, and EVIL is not that. Not yet, at least. The fading charm of a Bullet Club with no identity didn't help - their interference felt tired and obnoxious - nor did the reveal of ageing puro legend Dick Togo as EVIL's benefactor.

Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer reveals that, in the absence of top foreign talent unable to fly in as a result of the ongoing global situation (like Jay White), Gedo went with EVIL to strongly establish a new top heel.

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A sensible decision executed bizarrely, New Japan has earned the faith of investment - but "Storyline development X sucked, but let's see how storyline development Y turns out" rarely turns out well.

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Contributor
Contributor

Former Power Slam Magazine scribe and author of Development Hell: The NXT Story - available NOW on shop.whatculture.com!