NJPW won’t put on any new wrestling shows until at least mid-June, but the company has made some of its archive easier to watch. New Japan was recently discussed on an episode of the Japanese TV show Ametok, and the matches shown on the program are now free to watch (for a limited time) on the NJPW World streaming service.
For anyone missing who’s New Japan or just missing wrestling with crowds and willing to give NJPW a shot, these matches, which you can find here, are definitely worth watching.
Most of them are from recent years, but there are selections from the eighties and nineties too. The oldest free match is from 1980, the tag team bout of Kantaro Hoshino and Kotetsu Yamamoto vs. Goro Tsurumi and Katsuzo Oiyama. Also from the twentieth century, there’s
- the 1989 debut of the Jushin Thunder Liger character
- Masa Saito and Shinya Hashimoto vs. Keiji Muto and Masahiro Chono from 1990
- Hashimoto vs. Liger from 1994
- Mutoh vs. Nobuhiko Takada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, a match from the mid-nineties, inter-promotional NJPW vs. UWF feud with a crazy hot crowd
- Mutoh vs. Manabu Nakanishi from 1999
There are a few more matches from the careers of Nakanishi and Liger, who both retired earlier this year, as well. Nakanishi’s last match (the Third Generation veteran buddy team of Nakanishi, Kojima, Tenzan, and Nagata vs. the present-day top babyface team of Okada, Tanahashi, Ibushi, and Goto) is now available to watch for free. From Liger’s road to retirement, there’s his dramatic grudge match with Minoru Suzuki from last year’s King of Pro Wrestling and his final retirement match from Wrestle Kingdom 14 in which he teamed up with old rival Naoki Sano against Ryu Lee and IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi.
Three of the biggest title matches from this year’s Wrestle Kingdom are also available: Okada vs. Ibushi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from January 4, Hiromu Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay for the junior heavyweight title on the same night, and Okada and Naito’s climactic double championship match from January 5.
The rest of the matches, aside from a 2018 L.I.J. vs. Chaos ten-man tag that seems kind of random, are from NJPW tournaments of the past decade. Aside from that very flippy 2016 Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay Best of the Super Juniors match that made the wrestling internet unusable for weeks, all of these are from G1 Climaxes past. The free G1 highlights are:
- Toru Yano’s legendary wrestling genius showdown with Kota Ibushi from 2018
- Toru Yano’s legendary defeat of his nemesis, Minoru Suzuki, in 2017
- Toru Yano’s legendary defeat of The Wrestler Katsuyori Shibata in 2016
- last year’s Kenta vs. Zack Sabre Jr. match that showed Kenta was just not going to work as a babyface in New Japan
- the extremely hard-hitting first singles match between Shingo Takagi and Tomohiro Ishii
For anyone totally new to NJPW or very out of the loop with present-day New Japan who doesn’t know where to start, I would recommend Liger vs. Suzuki, Kenta vs. Sabre, and Takagi vs. Ishii because they’re quality matches that also aren’t all that long. That’s probably where I’m going to start this weekend, anyway.