How The Government Shutdown Ruined A Japanese Pro Wrestling Show In DTLA
The government shutdown has had a wide range of consequences. One of the more surprising: keeping a Japanese wrestling company from putting Japanese wrestlers on an upcoming show in downtown Los Angeles.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling has been trying to make inroads into the United States, and that's included several shows in Southern California. While there have been American wrestlers on those shows, they've been largely built around Japanese stars who American wrestling fans are eager to see.
That's why, when the list of matches and talent set for "the New Beginning in USA" tour was released last night, it came as a shock to see... shows without Japanese wrestlers on them. The main event and many of the other matches are filled with Americans. Oh, there are also several Brits on the show.
The reason for all of this is the ongoing U.S. government shutdown, according to New Japan.
"It is with great disappointment that we must announce that due to the ongoing 2018-19 United States federal government shutdown, we were unable to obtain visas for our Japanese talent who were looking forward to seeing our U.S. fans at the New Beginning in USA," the company said in a statement.
The NEW BEGINNING in USA - Full Card released!— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) January 24, 2019
All matches for The NEW BEGINNING in USA have been released, click the link below for more detailshttps://t.co/1fdY5A2lc4#njpw #njnbgusa pic.twitter.com/rtuM4bl3Rt
The comments on New Japan's website under the announcement were largely negative. Several fans complained that they'd bought tickets to a New Japan show but weren't getting any top New Japan talent, with the lineup being announced just a week before the show. Comments included "this is not New Japan," "not even one Japanese dude?" — and "blame Trump." Still, others noted that it's still a strong wrestling show — just not what they were hoping for/expected.
Part of the reason for the late announcement of this lineup is that New Japan is known for doing everything it can to avoid false advertising, while other companies traditionally announce the card they're planning and later update if something falls through. The Wrestling Observer reported that the visas were applied for in November and normally would have been processed in time, but that many visas were in a holding pattern with government employees either not working or doing so without pay.
The show still includes wrestlers who have been part of New Japan, but they're having to stretch the definition of what exactly "New Japan Pro-Wrestling" is to put their U.S. shows together. They also note that they have a training center in Los Angeles, the NJPW L.A. dojo, and will be featuring talent from that school.
"We are looking forward to being able to celebrate the abilities of the exciting new generation of young NJPW wrestlers," the statement said.
We've also reached out to New Japan, and will update if we receive further information.
The first show of the tour takes place in downtown Los Angeles at the Globe Theatre on Wednesday, Jan. 30.