Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer is reporting that New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) has “preliminary hold” on the Cow Palace in San Francisco for July 7th. This is a rather daring feat considering that NJPW will already be stateside on March 25th. While NJPW shows are a rarity in the US, such a quick turn-around could produce less interest than Roman Reigns vs. David Arquette.
NJPW’s Strong Style Evolved will take place on March 25th at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California. The Long Beach show sold out all 4,500 within 20 minutes. This clamor for the product could be what has emboldened the Japanese promotion to try their hand again so soon. Currently, the New Japan website lists 3 matchesfor the show:
– Jay White vs. Hangman Page for the IWGP US Heavyweight Title.
– Jushin Thunder Liger vs. a one armed Rey Mysterio. While Rey is still injured as of this report, the match is still listed. Though Rey has been through worse…
– The Golden Lovers: Kota Ibushi and Kenny Omega vs. The Young Bucks. I wonder if they’ll start making red vs white Bullet Club shirts after this? Too Sweet me, bro.
The Cow Palace, while an old arena is rich in wrestling history. It’s like the Michael Hayes of arenas. No, wait that’s the Sportatorium. The point is that it’s old, a little rundown and smells of beer. It’s the Honky Tonk Man of arenas. The Cow Palace can hold between 14,000 and 17,000 fans. The WWE 2004 No Way Out PPV sold out that same arena configured for 9,000 seats. Even if NJPW aims for this smaller number, it is still double the tickets they sold for StrongStyle Evolved. Given that NJPW has a niche audience that travels for the shows, two shows this quickly, combined with the All In event on September 1st, may be one too many airfare duckets for their fans.
In addition to the plethora of events that are sure to deplete the hardcore fans’ frequent flyer miles, July 7th is the date of UFC 226. The UFC event will be held in Las Vegas during International Fight Week. With this being such a large event, the odds are stacking up against NJPW faster than Brock vs. Ellsworth in a cell.
However, Meltzer is also reporting that the ever aloof Chris Jericho isn’t touring Fozzy during this time. A program with Jericho in NJPW could add the necessary star power to make this event a success as well.
This pseudo invasion isn’t all pitfalls, though. With an increasing number of US fans becoming frustrated with the WWE product, now is the time to offer them an alternative. More and more fans are drawn to smaller promotions, like Ring of Honor. NJPW may be striking at just the right time.
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