Over the weekend, my finger slipped and I accidentally wrote 1,400 words on junior heavyweight wrestling, and how it’s been “killing the business” ever since Édouard Carpentier figured out that man was capable of leaving his feet to land some offense on an opponent. To condense what I was saying there: Wrestling, like any entertainment medium, must continue to evolve to fit the needs of its ever-changing fanbase. Such adaptations have (and always will) draw criticism from purists, and the recent Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay match from New Japan Pro Wrestling’s current Best of the Super Juniors tournament was seen as a flashpoint for discussion on what wrestling could/should look like as we move forward.
A lot of the arguments have been unfairly skewed due to how the match was viewed by the public. If you don’t have NJPW’s excellent streaming service, New Japan World, all you’ve seen of the match is probably 10-second GIFs created by dedicated fans. As I pointed out, it’s impossible to accurately convey the beginning-to-end story of a match in such a small chunk, so there’s been a lot of judging books by their covers lately. To rectify this, New Japan has released the match in its entirety, free of charge on both YouTube and New Japan World until June 7. Feast your eyes.
Personally, this feels like a stroke of genius from NJPW. Not only are they defending their reputation by releasing “evidence” that this match is nothing short of legit, it’s a great way to drum up publicity for New Japan World and bring in new subscribers. Check this out the first chance you get, and try approaching it with an open mind. And if this still isn’t your speed, switch back to Lucha Underground. That Prince Puma guy is something special, I tell you.