Previously on NJPW: Hiromu retained the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and became champion of mixed signals, Taiji and Yujiro united their loves of bone soldiering and just plain boning, and Juice had to register a hand as an illegal weapon.
You can watch New Japan Pro Wrestling shows on their streaming service, NJPW World, which costs 999 yen (about 9 USD.) This specific show was exclusively on CEO Gaming’s twitch channel, though. You can also watch certain NJPW shows with commentary by Jim Ross and Josh Barnett on AXS.
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And now, the best and worst of CEO x NJPW: When Worlds Collide, a New Japan Pro Wrestling branded show at a video game convention in Florida that included Kenny Omega’s first in-ring appearance as IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Somehow the fact that this show happened is not the weirdest thing about it.
Worst: A Quandary Over Quality
New Japan Pro Wrestling is currently working on expanding outside of Japan. Over the past few years, they’ve made their online content way more easily accessible to English speakers, started releasing DVDs outside of Japan, and had two (soon to be three) fully NJPW branded wrestling shows in the United States. They’ve also done crossover tours with sister promotions Ring of Honor in North America and RevPro in the U.K. Now their small number of shows in the U.S. includes this not super well attended shindig at the CEO 2018 fighting game convention because Kenny Omega is really into video games and has been CEO’s guest at these for the past few years and is now the IWGP Heavyweight Champion.
I bet this show was really fun to watch live. The crowd was mic’ed poorly (unlike the ring, which was really loud and squeaky) so it was hard to hear their reactions, but it looked like they were enjoying themselves. However, the twitch stream didn’t do the product any favors. It was hard to see, the cameras had different color balances so cuts between them were jarring and made matches look disjointed, and the crowd noise wasn’t there to help get the over ten thousand people watching online hyped. The show also started over thirty minutes later than originally advertised because, according to audience members tweeting about the show, the floor seats weren’t numbered so it took people a while to find their seats. There were also multiple surprise intermissions during which we watched a countdown clock and were treated to what was definitely some gaming personality’s soundcloud playlist.
I didn’t go into this expecting TV Asahi-level production quality, but I don’t think it’s nitpicky to say that, at minimum, watching a wrestling show shouldn’t make you check to see if your screen’s color balance is off, or make you turn up the volume to the point where the commentators are stupidly loud in order to hear any crowd noise. Props to the commentators, though! You could tell they were rookies to calling pro wrestling, but they were way less cringey than a lot of people who have been doing it for years.
Worst: The Dark Match That Only Got Darker
When CEO announced the card for this show, they said it would include two dark matches, performers TBA. It turned out these weren’t true dark matches because they were shown on the twitch stream! It also turned out these were truly dark matches in that they were very bad, and also the first one featured a convicted sex offender!