Since Wrestling World 2016 was broadcast live on NJPWworld (the VOD is now up here for subscribers), I won’t go into too much detail on what happened inside the ring. You all already know: Katsuyori Shibata defeated EVIL to regain the NEVER Openweight championship. He is now a double champion, holding both the Revolution Pro Wrestling Heavyweight championship and the Openweight title. Instead, I’ll write my observations on what the cameras didn’t show, as a spectator seated closest to the ring.
The ring-side cameraman has arguably the toughest job throughout the entire 2.5+ hours. He was sprinting endlessly around the ring, trying to get good close-up shots of the in-ring action. I could see his forehead sweating buckets, but he did seem to be enjoying his job. It’s a great cardio workout to burn calories, especially with that heavy camera on his shoulder. There was even a dedicated “wire handler” following the cameraman, his simple task was to make sure that the camera wires dangling behind the cameraman does not get entangled on the ground and cause any obstruction.
The Japanese match announcer also happens to be the timekeeper and ring-keeper. I was seated directly behind him, and what I found slightly amusing was that every time a pinfall or submission attempt happens, the announcer would raise the bell hammer into the air, waiting for the referee’s cue to end the match. If there’s a kickout, or if the submission attempt fails, the announcer would wave his outstretched arm towards the ref, acknowledging that the match would continue, before resting the bell hammer back on the table.
The Singapore wrestling crowd are a notoriously boisterous bunch. As noted by many Twitter users watching live, we love to chant the names of both sides. Eg. “Let’s go Naito!”, followed by a loud chorus of “TA-NA-HA-SHI!” There’s no real specific reason why, it’s just something that we spontaneously and subconsciously do, just to show our support to the wrestlers.
Of course, when Kenny Omega came out for his entrance, the entire arena went ballistic. I’m not sure if the live cameras managed to pick up all of the audio, but it was absolutely deafening from where I was seated. This is probably the loudest support I’ve seen for Omega, you don’t see this level of noise for him back in Japan. We know that he’s a big fan of videogames and anime, and let’s face it: The majority of the crowd at Wrestling World 2016 are all nerds too. We’re just supporting a fellow gamer.
My prediction for the main event did not come true: Shibata would regain his Openweight championship. New Japan are really doing their best to push Shibata for the past year or so, and I think it’s working. While I am grateful to Gedo for allowing the Singapore fans to see a title victory, it’s a little bit sad that EVIL’s reign only lasted a short 10 days. You don’t need to Google or fact-check on Wikipedia: This is the shortest ever reign for an Openweight champion. Hopefully we’ll see EVIL get another push in the future.
My biggest takeaway from the event? I witnessed first hand, the amazing power of the audience. By sheer luck, Baretta spotted the double-sided SGP Vice / Liger City sign that Rocky Romero had borrowed from the fans (one side had “SGP Vice”, the other side had “Liger City”. I assume that this was done in order to save paper). Baretta tore up the sign for fun, with “Liger City” facing outwards, as a jab towards Jushin Thunder Liger. Again, you’ll very rarely see this sort of fan interaction for NJPW’s events in Japan. Maybe it’s because we’re an English-speaking crowd, and we’re able to better communicate our support that the gaijin wrestlers can understand.
Good job Singapore, and I hope everyone around the world watching on NJPWworld had a good time. See you all again at Tokyo Dome.