The Disturbing Truth Behind New Japan Pro Wrestling

Pro wrestling is a work.

Ospreay Lee

New Japan Pro Wrestling is an absolutely awesome pro wrestling promotion.

It is unremittingly awesome, in fact. In 2019, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay has graduated to become the best wrestler on the planet in critical circles. A phenomenal athlete who hasn’t so much perfected the aerial genre but transcended it, his rate of improvement is astonishing. Just last year, in a bid to refine his all-round game, Ospreay took to emitting howls of agony each time his battered neck struck the canvas. This overwrought selling almost amused some, and so Ospreay abandoned the approach. In 2019, he lands on his feet, somehow, having avoided a multi-rotation bump from his opponents’ most formidable weapon. That opponent, in turn, sells Ospreay’s impossible athleticism in awe.

Ospreay, in his execution and the psychological registering of it, has sold the last of the naysayers on his genius. He has replaced Kenny Omega as NJPW’s Best Bout Machine. The company continues to surpass itself. Its quality is guaranteed. Inevitable. That word develops a chilling connotation.

Will Ospreay stole the show at Dominion recently—but not the headlines.

Kota Ibushi and Tetsuya Naito inspired a fierce debate across the wrestling Internet following the third entry of what most hope is a mere trilogy of disturbing, neck-driven violence. In the turning point of the match, both men hovered on the ring apron. Naito rained down forearms on Ibushi’s back. Ibushi, prone, relinquished his grip on the ropes. Naito wrapped his arms around Ibushi, hoisted him in position, and drove his head onto the fringe of the ring apron with a German suplex. Ibushi’s neck only clipped it. The rest of his body twisted, disgustingly, in the opposite direction. For a harrowing split-second, he resembled the hanged victim of capital punishment—only, nobody could see the rope.

Not least of which Ibushi.

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Writer, podcaster and editor. Deft Punk. Author of Becoming All Elite: The Rise of AEW, which is available to purchase at the following link: