by Daniel Johnson
A bright spot for TNA, a company which just narrowly escaped death by signing a television deal with Desitnation America, is there relationship with WRESTLE-1, a Japanese promotion headed by legendary star, The Great Muta. Yet, for all the benefits this may give TNA it will be poison for young Japanese talent when in the not too distant future other Japanese promotions won’t want them, TNA won’t want them and WWE won’t want them.
Before looking at the bad, let’s admit the good. WRESTLE-1 working with TNA means Muta on American television. Aside from having a great aura as a performer the man has a great eye for talent and always works to develop young wrestlers, if not always put them over. The shinning example in his recent TNA run has been Seiya Sanada.
Before his joint TNA/WRESTLE-1 contract Sanada worked for AJPW, which may not be willing to hire him back if Sanada decides to return when TNA can’t afford him or if WRESTLE-1 run into trouble. This would not be out of spite, but out of necessity since Japan is experiencing a full blown recession, which has caused much concern among the country’s youth. If WRESTLE-1’s young lions are not worried about this then they should be.
AJPW, once a haven for non-Japanese stars to come to the land of rising sun and flourish currently counts among its foreign talent Canadian muscleman, Joe Doering and…well he’s about it. AJPW also joins the likes of NOAH and ZERO 1 as companies that may be unable to weather the storm that is Japan’s continuing financial problems.
It may not be too absurd to say that AJPW is struggling to keep Doering, a man who has toured the world for over 10 years and brings something distinct to the table, which could draw in fans. If that is absurd then it is laughable to think the same company would bring in considerably less experienced talent who have been struggling to draw a few hundred people in a third rate American venue for TNA. If TNA continues to use WRESTLE-1’s young lions they run the risk of having this label
Of course not all Japanese wrestling companies are declining and NJPW is unquestionably the biggest exception to the rule. Especially given recent developments like NJPW getting a television program on AXS TV. Yet, NJPW is becoming increasingly like WWE from a business standpoint. For goodness sakes the company just launched NJPW World, their answer to the WWE Network. If NJPW mirroring WWE extends to their hiring practices then…well just think of how many wrestlers who made their bones in TNA are on WWE’s full-time roster. More on that later.
If Japanese companies aren’t willing or able to take in WRESTLE-1 talent as they grow then perhaps they can dominate TNA. Well, that could be true if news about TNA’s financial troubles weren’t such a common topic that it has become more interesting than their in-ring product. Heck, the major reason Spike dropped TNA could have been as simple as a lack of resources.
Some wrestling purists or the most delusional TNA diehards may argue, “TNA can’t let great talent slip away. TNA will keep them.” To which I answer simply, Kazuchika Okada. However, not everyone is Okada and can survive being mishandled by TNA.
Another argument may be, “If the talent is really that good they will find a way to stay in TNA and be successful.” This becomes nearly tragic because at TNA Bound for Glory 2014 in a tag match that received zero promotion Jiro Kuroshio and Yusuke Kodama wrestled El Hijo del Pantera and Andy Wu in an outstanding nine minute match.
Not to get too sidetracked, but that final wrestler, Andy Wu in particular shows promise and has had some worthwhile matches. Even if his vignettes going into WRESTLE-1 were a little odd.
Then again his partner for the bout, El Hijo del Pantera once wrestled a match for Wrestling New Classic (WNC) that was promoted by him watching a man eat a ton of hot sauce. Seriously.
Back to the point nine minute matches are rarely classics, but this one showed hints of greatness. The reason it borders on tragedy is because it will quite possibly be the biggest exposure at least one of these men ever gets to an American audience aka the biggest wrestling market on the planet. Even if TNA somehow emerges from their money worries, business picks up and more eyes are on them than ever before all of these men have next to no chance of being signed. How do we know this? Look up TNA X Cup.
In case you don’t feel like reading all about the TNA X Cup tournaments to summarize they were a series of international tournament that put on a variety of exciting moments. The foreign talent brought in for these events stayed around. Well, stayed around for the duration of the tournaments usually anyway. After that TNA gave them the old, “Bye bye, thanks for coming. Sorry you couldn’t stay longer.”
Lastly, WRESTLE-1’s young lions are beyond screwed if they believe WWE will take them in. Kenta Kobayashi, their most recent Japanese hire, only signed with WWE after busting his ass for nearly 15 years. And even he still had to change his name to Hideo Itami to appease Vince McMahon.
Kobayashi didn’t have the stink of TNA on him either. AJ Styles probably made at least as much, if not more, sense for WWE to sign, but that didn’t happen. With few exceptions wrestlers who achieved anything in TNA do not get picked up by WWE unless they had prior history with the company. If AJ Styles has no chance than what chance does Jiro Kuroshio have?
Categories: Smooth Runs