New Japan Pro Wrestling‘s final pre-Wrestle Kingdom started at noon on January 3. It was a fan festival over four hours long that included some trainee vs. veteran wrestler matches and celebrity guest stars, but mostly consisted of contract signings and final pre-match standoffs and promos between Wrestle Kingdom 13 opponents. Like at all NJPW press conference-type events, part of the reason to watch Fan Festa isn’t just for the promos, but for the fashion. Wrestlers have to ask themselves “What would my character wear to a fancy work event?” before these things, and it can be fun to see the answers.
We already published a Wrestle Kingdom preview that could be described as “informed” and “way more wrestling-related that the one you’re reading right now,” but also, here are predictions and analysis for WK 13 based only on contract signing fashion.
- With Spandex’s Emily Pratt, author of the Best and Worst of NJPW column and person who rated every look on the most recent WWE Hall of Fame red carpet
- With Spandex’s Elle Collins, resident wrestling fashion expert and person who does not watch NJPW, but will make predictions for match outcomes based PURELY on press conference fashion seen in the videos from the NJPW World twitter account embedded in this article.
Let’s get started!
NEVER Openweight Championship match: Kota Ibushi (c) vs. Will Ospreay
Emily Pratt: Ospreay’s colorful suit fits the theme of bringing freedom and creativity to the NEVER Openweight Championship that he’s been talking about, so I think he wins the fashion game in this context. Only in this very specific context though!
Elle Collins: Will Ospreay can only get away with this outfit because he’s a pro wrestler. That jacket with raw shimmering blue and teal designs – which look kind of like palm trees? – and the otherwise black outfit is kind of like a high school kid’s idea of what’s cool. Of course, being a high school kid’s idea of cool is kind of what being a pro wrestler is all about. Still, everything else aside, the belt should at least be black.
Kota Ibushi, on the other hand, looks more like a high school teacher in his normcore navy blue suit, white shirt, red striped tie, and brown belt and shoes. He pulls it off, but only by being such an uncommonly beautiful man. If I were to pick a winner based on fashion alone, I’d actually pick Ibushi, because he seems comfortable enough with who he is not to need a flash jacket like Ospreay’s.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match: Roppongi 3K vs. El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru (c) vs. Shingo Takagi and Bushi
Emily Pratt: Roppongi 3K look great! They look so much more grown up (and so much less shiny!) than at Fan Festa last year, but the gold details on Sho’s suit and silver on Yoh’s show that fun is still allowed. Shingo Takagi showed up wearing what I think someone would wear to a wedding at a Cabela’s, and I’m not a fan. But Bushi wore the full war bonnet vest plus an entrance mask, AND his actual mask is half WK logo, half dragon imagery for his partner, so he carries his team in the fashion game. As for our champions, El Desperado didn’t try that hard here except for crimping his hair under his mask for some reason. Kanemaru, as befitting the drunk uncle, is even lower effort! This fits them as the shitty heel champs they’ve been all year.