New Japan Pro Wrestling is one of the hottest promotions in the world. But for many fans in the United States, NJPW is still something of a mystery. That’s due to the fact that the company has not had an American streaming service partner. But that has changed now.
The company announced on February 4 that it has reached an agreement with the Roku Channel in the United States. That agreement will see a new one-hour show airing weekly beginning February 11.
— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) February 4, 2021
NJPW gave further details on the new deal via a press release on their website.
Premiering February 11, episodes of New Japan Pro-Wrestling will air every Thursday beginning at 5 pm on The Roku Channel, beginning with ten special episodes that will see the US, UK and Canadian television premiere of Wrestle Kingdom 14, available on-demand thereafter. Additionally, The Roku Channel will host a block of library content, featuring key highlights from the 2020 NJPW catalogue, with potential for the introduction of more historical content in the future.
This is of course big news for the company, which has made an effort to gain a foothold in America over the past several years.
Westbound and Down
That effort kicked into full gear in 2019 with the creation of New Japan of America. NJOA is a subsidiary meant to gain some ground for the company in the United States. The IWGP United States Championship is also an important piece of the puzzle, as it’s a title bridging the gap between Japan and America. Then there’s the company’s Los Angeles Dojo, which is an integral part of Japan’s movement westward. The dojo is the epicenter of NJPW’s foothold in the states, with new talent honing their craft in American events.
NJPW Strong features many of those new talents, mixed with veterans and established stars as well. Of course that show, along with the rest of the company’s programming, is primarily available on New Japan World.
New Japan World is a streaming service similar to WWE Network, which features current and past content, all of which is archived. While NJPW World is a favorite of many diehard fans in the United States, the company seeks to build upon that fanbase with this new deal.
By working with The Roku Channel, it’s clear that New Japan is attempting to make some headway in America. The time definitely seems to be right for that expansion, as mainstream American audiences continue to become familiar with the company thanks to AEW.
AEW recently saw the debut of Japanese star KENTA. KENTA competed in WWE as Hideo Itami, but that run did not deliver in the eyes of many. KENTA is now a Bullet Club member and he has a title shot at the IWGP U.S. Championship, currently held by AEW star Jon Moxley.
New Japan is definitely on an upswing. Fan interest is high and so is demand for the product. Opening doors in the United States is a good move for New Japan and for the fans as well.
Tom Clark brings more than 10 years of experience as an online writer, including Featured Columnist stints at Bleacher Report, Pro Wrestling, Daily DDT and Wrestling Rumors. His podcasts, Tom Clark’s Main Event and Tom Clark’s 6M Podcast, are available on Apple Pods, Google Pods, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Audible, Spotify and YouTube