You can barely walk down the street these days without seeing someone dressed in a Bullet Club T-shirt from New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), and considering this pro wrestling faction with the cult-like following is unrelated to WWE, that's a pretty big deal. But with NJPW's stateside expansion paying off in recent years, these types of sights are becoming commonplace. The company's success in the West was recently given some serious mainstream spotlight when New Japan teamed with Ring of Honor to sell out one of the world’s most famous arenas, Madison Square Garden, in the same week that WrestleMania hit MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
Alongside this mega event, titled G1 Supercard of Honor, a fan-fest was hosted where thousands lined up to get autographs and take selfies with their favorite superstars. NJPW’s current rise to prominence is an incredible feat when you consider that the majority of their shows are hosted back in the Land of the Rising Sun, and many of its top stars don’t speak English. That said, subscriptions are still skyrocketing for NJPW World, its official dedicated streaming service.
NJPW offers wrestling enthusiasts a more serious, strong-style approach to the grapple game, and its influence can be seen in many stateside promotions. WWE's Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura and A.J. Styles all had success in NJPW before Monday Night Raw or SmackDown.
The language of pro wrestling is truly universal, and this is never more evident than when watching NJPW’s Junior Heavyweight Champion, Taiji Ishimori, in blazing action. Born in Tagajō, Japan, the 36-year-old re-joined NJPW as part of the Bullet Club in May 2018 and continues to captivate audiences all over the world with his combination of brute strength and cat-like agility. Taiji has a background in amateur wrestling and made his pro debut in 2002. Since then, he’s been causing a stir with his own brand of high-flying action.