Smooth’s Court is a column from Walter Yeates that will feature multiple weekly entries, including commentary from Walter on current and past events in the world of professional wrestling. This entry looks at the creative success of Gedo and Jado in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Since taking over the creative process for NJPW in 2011 from Riki Choshu, the duo of Gedo and Jado extended their excellent tag team prowess to another aspect of the wrestling business. Within the ring, the tandem first teamed together in 1989 according to Cagematch with the site first recording them teaming together at the All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling (AJW) Survival Shout In Korakuen event. They would go on to win a slew of tag and multi-person championships together in promotions such as Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW), Big Japan Wrestling (BJW), World Entertainment Wrestling (WEW), Tenryu Project, Pro Wrestling NOAH, and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW).
However, their time within the creative part of the business has led Gedo and Jado to not only change the wrestling industry in Japan but influence trends across the world. While Gedo currently receives most of the credit for NJPW’s success, the actual story is a bit more complex. Jado led the creative process for NOAH in 2015-2016 while a business agreement was in place between NJPW and NOAH. His vision led to increased attendance and revenue for NOAH, but former ownership of the company eventually sold the company to Estbee, Co, Ltd — ending NJPW’s business relationship with NOAH. In 2017, Jado returned full-time to NJPW’s creative room, but Gedo now remains as the public face of NJPW’s booking team.
Bushiroad’s marketing and promoting practices, the acquisition work of Tiger Hattori/Rocky Romero, the continued success of the NJPW Dojo system, and excellent in-ring work have all aided in NJPW’s ascension as one of wrestling’s most influential wrestling promotions. Since 2015 (when the company moved to report real attendance numbers), NJPW has seen a rapid increase in the number of tickets sold yearly.
- 2015 (210,481)
- 2016 (312,278)
- 2017 (360,333)
- 2018 (428,344)
- 2019 (464,139)
The 464,139 tickets sold in 2019 likely only trails World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) for most tickets sold in the world. Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) does not make their attendance public and are the only other wrestling promotion who could have, in theory, sold more wrestling ticket than NJPW last year.
— 邪道(jado) (@REAL_JADO) December 10, 2019
During their time in creative Gedo and Jado have nurtured the rise of talents such as Kenny Omega, Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga/Tanga Loa), Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay, Kushida, Hiromu Takahashi, and Jay While — while extending the NJPW Dojo system to include the Fale Dojo (New Zealand) and the new Los Angeles (LA) Dojo (United States), while rumors circulate that a dojo within the United Kingdom is in the works as well. Their leadership led to New Japan Pro Wrestling of America (NJoA) to become a viable expansion effort within the United States without harming NJPW’s primary market in Japan.
Despite their success, Gedo and Jado receive critique from those who felt they waited too long to give Naito his ‘moment‘ despite Wrestle Kingdom 14 being a massive critical and financial success for the company. Another segment of English speaking fans was upset with KENTA attacking Naito at the conclusion of Wrestle Kingdom night two. However, the upcoming marquee match between the two at The New Beginning in Osaka on February 9th may sell over 12,000 tickets en route to a Super No Vacancy Full House at the Osaka Jo Hall.
HERE I AM. pic.twitter.com/me1syy4MoC
— KENTA (@KENTAG2S) January 5, 2020
In comparison, last year’s The New Beginning in Osaka event sold 5,570 tickets at Edion Arena Osaka. Meaning NJPW is almost certain to more than double the number of tickets sold, with the focus on KENTA who has a great deal of heat on him currently. With Gedo and Jado’s history of long narratives, it’s likely the heat KENTA gained at Wrestle Kingdom 14 will have numerous payoffs throughout 2020 and 2021.
Gedo and Jado do have their faults. At times, during their creative administration both tag divisions have felt a little flat, something they seem to have addressed at the end of 2019 with the increased focus on storylines surrounding both divisions. However, the junior heavyweight tag division could use two or three more teams to provide extra depth throughout the year.
The World Tag League performances of Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr and Taichi), Jeff Cobb/Mikey Nicholls), and Toru Yano/Colt Cabana — along with the victory of current IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions FinJuice (Juice Robinson/David Finlay) provide the heavyweight tag team division with more depth than it has had in years.
Gedo and Jado’s success hasn’t been hampered by WWE raiding talents such as Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, Prince Devitt, Karl Anderson, Kushida, and Luke Gallows nor the formation of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) which led to Kenny Omega, Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), and Hagman Page to not work with the company for the time being.
Therefore, it seems the best approach with NJPW is to trust a booking process that has the company in the strongest position it has been since it began operating in 1972.