A Guide To The Japanese Wrestling Being Released For Free While COVID-19 Postpones New Shows

The spread of COVID-19 has just begun to impact the professional wrestling industry in the U.S. and UK, but those who follow Japanese wrestling have already seen the virus have a huge impact on their hobby over the past few weeks, with lots of shows being canceled and a few no-fans events being held. Some promotions have responded to this absence of new wrestling by making older matches and full shows available for free, something that happens to make a lot of wrestling easily accessible while people are opting to hang out inside.

Not everything mentioned in this article was released in response to coronavirus cancelations, but I decided to mention all the stuff that’s recently become available for free from the Japanese scene, no matter the reason, just because the timing works out that these matches and shows are easily available during a time when new wrestling has become less available. I haven’t watched even close to everything on this list, but I’m looking forward to watching a lot of it while listening suspiciously to my roommate cough in the other room because of what’s almost definitely just a cold.

DDT Was Readier For This Than Anyone

DDT, a company with plenty of experience putting on wrestling shows in unusual circumstances, seemed to adapt most easily to the Japanese government’s request not to hold large public events for a few weeks. DDT and its women’s brand, Tokyo Joshi Pro, both turned some events into empty dojo shows after the wave of cancelations began, and DDT held a no-fans explosion match outside of Saitama Super Arena earlier this week. They’re also putting out by far the most free content during this time, with twenty shows being made available between March 11 and March 31 for no money on the DDT Universe streaming service.

The newly free shows feature a variety of wrestling from DDT, Tokyo Joshi Pro, and Ganbare Pro Wrestling (a smaller, mostly men’s company.) Two of DDT’s infamous street wrestling shows are on the list, and they are honestly what the world needs at this time, in addition to hand-washing and easily available coronavirus testing.

Rojo Pro Wrestling in Tokyo Dome, the final match (for now) in the rivalry between DDT president Sanshiro Takagi and Minoru Suzuki, who was New Japan Pro Wrestling’s NEVER Openweight Champion when this match took place in 2017. It’s two middle-aged men with top-notch comedic chops fighting in an empty baseball stadium (empty except for the weird characters they encounter during their brawl) and it’s one of the best comedy matches I’ve ever seen. A show from DDT’s most famous series, Campsite Pro Wrestling, is also free for your “watching a bunch of people do insane things in the woods” needs.

DDT is also putting out some of its best “normal” wrestling this month, with Judgement 2011 featuring a Dick Togo vs. Kota Ibushi main event, DDT Special 2014 including Daisuke Sasaki vs. Shighiro Irie, and an All Out vs. Strong Hearts trios title match on the 2019 New Year special. Some of the best of Tokyo Joshi Pro is on display too, with matches like Shoko Nakajima and Yuka Sakazaki vs. Mizuki and Riho for the tag titles and Reika Saki vs. Miyu Yamashita for the company’s top title at Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling ’18, the amazing Hyper Misao vs. Jun Kasai match on Yes! Wonderland, the extremely stacked card of Tokyo Joshi Pro ’20. DDT is putting out way too much quality wrestling for free to even go over in an article that also talks about other things, so if you’re interested in catching up with DDT at all, this month is the perfect time to do that.

Open The Classic Indie Wrestling Gate

Dragon Gate Network

Dragon Gate doesn’t usually put much free stuff online, but in the absence of new shows, they’ve put up some classic Toryumon matches and shows the Dragon Gate Network that you can watch without paying anything. Along with collections of matches from 1999 and 2000, every Toryumon anniversary event can now be watched for free. Unfortunately, many of the undercard matches on these shows are clipped, but the main events are intact.

I haven’t watched most of these yet, but I watched the 2003 anniversary show Dragon Gate’s English translator called “the quintessential Toryumon show if you were only going to watch one” and my less valuable two cents are that I also think it’s definitely worth checking out. The trios title match and Cima vs. Magnum Tokyo main event are very impressive and entertaining.

May I Offer You Some Young Meiko Satomura Matches In This Trying Time?

Unrelated to the current pandemic, Gaea Japan recently started uploading high-quality versions of classic matches to its YouTube Channel.

Gaea is a defunct, awesome women’s wrestling promotion that ran from 1995-2005, known to some wrestling fans because of Awesome Kong’s work there and the Gaea Girls documentary. The promotion is coming back on April 15 for a twenty-fifth anniversary show spearheaded by its founder Chigusa Nagayo, who now runs Marvelous That’s Women’s Pro Wrestling, and one of its top stars, Meiko Satomura, who now runs Sendai Girls’ Pro Wrestling. These classic matches on YouTube are meant to celebrate Gaea Japan’s history and hype its upcoming show, and in my opinion, they’re doing a great job at both of these things.

Most of the uploaded matches are fairly short and all of them are very aggressive. So far, Gaea has uploaded the Chigusa Nagayo vs. Devil Asami above, Sakura Hirota vs. Akira Hokuto, three Meiko Satomura matches (one vs. Sugar Sato, one vs. Toshi Uematsu, and her debut vs. Sonoko Kato), and Sugar Sato vs. Sakura Hirota – all matches worth watching, and easy to watch in one sitting. Even if the pandemic hasn’t opened up your schedule, definitely make time to experience some Gaeaism.