Japanese wrestling isn’t really known much for flash or showmanship – it has a reputation of being either an extremely serious exhibition of fighting spirit, determination and ability, or an absolutely ridiculous world full of blow up dolls, nine year old girls wrestling fully grown men, and just general Japanese wackiness. But in modern New Japan Pro Wrestling, there are so many different characters and displays of pageantry. Along with some of the best pro wrestling in the world, it also has some of the best elements of sports entertainment too, and that’s evident with their well produced and captivating entrances.
But who has the best pre-match walk out in all of NJPW? Let’s find out, here are the Top 10 Best Entrances in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
For this list, I am ranking each member of the New Japan roster’s entrance based on their music, their actions, their entrance video, and their props and costume. I will not be including any special one-off entrances from New Japan’s biggest shows, and I will not include the likes of Chris Jericho who only make special appearances for the company.
10. Tetsuya Naito
The secret to Naito’s great entrance is how simple and relaxed it is, or “tranquillo” if you will. Naito just sauves his way out at his own pace, no emotion on his face, oozing coolness, and often dressed in a full suit, whilst Japanese electro pop reminiscent of an arcade tournament fighter pumps in the background. Naito’s tranquillo persona is instantly summed up by his slow, chilled out walk to the ring. Oh, and when he is wearing a suit, he makes everybody wait as he unbuttons his jacket, waistcoat, shirt, trousers, and removes them all – it is wonderful.
9. The Young Bucks
The Young Bucks make everything a superkick party, even their walk down the ramp. With their flashy, patch-covered jackets, usually sporting a few tassels, the Jackson brothers walk out, strike a pose or two, superkick a cameraman, and often utter some profanity or insider jokes to the viewers at home that’ll no doubt be instantly turned into GIFs. Whilst they never make a real effort to make their entrances spectacular, you’re guaranteed to see something that’ll entertain you when the Bucks make their way to the ring.
8. Lance Archer
Lance Archer’s entrance is indicative of a true heel, yet at the same time, it’s absolutely disgusting. It seems as though that this KES member has the same water spraying ability as Triple H, yet instead of using it to shroud himself in a cool mist, he uses it to soak the Japanese fans. Instead of taking a direct route to the crowd, Archer takes a detour through the audience, pulls out seemingly endless bottles of water, and spits them all over the audience. If he needs to get in the ring quick, he’ll just swig an open bottle around and get the viewers truly drenched.
Whilst this isn’t a great entrance in the traditional sense with fantastic music, pageantry and showmanship, it’s Archer’s heelish antics and not caring whatsoever about what he’s doing to people that have paid to be there that really make him stand out. If you were at a wrestling show and somebody started doing this to the crowd, you certainly wouldn’t forget it. As awesome as this entrance is though, I hope I never have to be involved in it.
In my opinion, everything about EVIL’s persona is cheesy as hell – I mean, his name is EVIL and he dresses up like the Grim Reaper. Nevertheless, I can’t deny that so much effort and thematics go into his entrance that is undeniable how great it is. Donning a hooded cloak and a scythe straight out of Soul Calibur, EVIL walks out to menacing, pulsing sounds that would be at home in a final boss battle of demonic RPG, then he holds out his hand, and shoots freaking laser beams out of his fingertips. Any entrance that contains finger lasers is a winner to me.
6. Hiromu Takahashi
Hiromu Takahashi has the best entrance jackets in wrestling. Whether they’re his ridiculous, long, furry robes that only he could pull off, or that absolutely incredible white leather jacket filled with logos and album covers from various American punk and hardcore bands from the 80s and 90s (which I am incredibly jealous of), Takahashi is always dressed impeccably when he makes an entrance.
Although he is no longer accompanied by our feline lord and savour, Daryl Takahashi, Hiromu is still captivating as he strolls out to the ring in his own unique way. His charisma emanates through the screen, and when you witness this in person, you feel his star power instantly. If he began bringing out that lovable little cat of his again, he would be at the top of this list.
5. Kenny Omega
As that epic JRPG angelic boss battle music plays, with ominous sounds of a string orchestra and a heavenly choir, viewers know they’re about to see something special. Kenny Omega emerges, strikes his signature bullet pose, strides confidently down to the ring, and then inevitably delivers an incredible match. It’s just a shame he doesn’t bring a broom out with him anymore though.
4. Jay White
A video plays on the screen of a man wielding a knife. Low-light shots of the blade wielder, his face covered by hair, he slices the screen, streaks of red appear across the screen, all whilst screeching music straight out of a Devil May Cry boss battle plays. As far as video packaging goes, Jay White easily has the best in New Japan.
From there, Switchblade emerges wearing some of the coolest gear in wrestling today, sporting a long leather coat with red slashes placed around it, and his logo on the back. White instantly looks like a star as he stands on the stage and gives his signature cutthroat pose. Jay White’s entrance sums him up perfectly – undeniably cool, yet truly villainous.
3. Kazuchika Okada
If this was a list of the best one-off, special occasion entrances in New Japan, Okada would probably top this list because he once walked to the ring wielding a gigantic sword, accompanied by a fucking anthropomorphic dinosaur, but Okada just happens to have an awesome regular entrance anyway. I mean, his own money falls from the fucking ceiling – what more do you want? Top that off with some awesomely catchy music, a long, golden jacket, and his Rainmaker pose, and you’ve got an entrance fit for a wrestling god.
2. Marty Scurll
Accompanied by horror-movie inspired shots of an empty ring, and a chilling yet weirdly catchy mix of piano, crashing drums, and “Whoop whoop!”‘s, The Villain walks out wearing possibly the best entrance outfit in wrestling today. The effort that’s gone into Scurll’s entrance is immediately obvious, and definitely pays off. Having to carry a huge coat, matching steampunk bird mask, top hat and umbrella all the way over to Japan must cost him a bomb in carry-on luggage, but it’s worth it to have one of the most awesome walk outs around.
Best Friends – They hold hands and it’s beautiful.
- Minoru Suzuki
The best entrance in New Japan is perhaps the simplest. Minoru Suzuki is one of the most dangerous members of the NJPW roster – a legend and pioneer of MMA in Japan, always aggressive in the ring, capable of brutal submissions, and just an all-around murder grandpa. He is no nonsense, and portrayed as a serious, deadly competitor. So when you hear about what a vicious, revered, veteran assassin Minoru Suzuki is, and then you watch his entrance for the first time, the contrast is rather confusing.
Minoru walks down to the ring without any thematics, pyro or shenanigans, all he does is cover his head in his signature towel – the key is with his music. When Minoru was a teenager, he was a big fan of a JPop singer called Ayumi Nakamura, and thought that if he were ever to become a pro wrestler, he would have her music as his theme song. Well, years later, he got his wish when Nakamura gifted him an original song entitled Kaze Ni Nare (Become the Wind).
Kaze Ni Nare is an extremely catchy, melodious tune about the never-ending path of chasing a dream, and even though it’s in a language I do not understand, I find myself humming it for days on end whenever I hear it. It is one of the most beautiful and memorable entrance songs in the history of pro wrestling, yet when you first hear it as the hardened brawler Suzuki walks to the ring, you’re too confused to appreciate it.
In the West, we’re so used to legitimately tough wrestlers coming down to heavy, intimidating beats, yet this is the complete opposite. A man who tapped out Ken Shamrock twice, wearing only black trunks, black boots and a black towel, walks out to harmonious tones of a JPop angel. The contrast seems strange at first, and it really shouldn’t work at all…but it is the perfect match.
Kaze Ni Nare has become its own entity in New Japan. Fans get excited just to hear the song at every New Japan show, I know I certainly do. Not only because of how catchy it is, but because of the effect it has on the audience. Japanese crowds are known for being mostly silent throughout wrestling shows, yet after an amazing, long build up throughout Suzuki’s theme song, the chorus finally hits, Nakamura screams “KAZE NI NARE!”, and the entire crowd shouts along. The response from the fans is truly deafening every single time, capable of producing goosebumps on every occasion. To hear this traditionally quiet crowd deliver one of the loudest noises in wrestling today is something to look forward to every time Suzuki wrestles.
Perhaps it is all about the music, and it is admittedly far simpler and less flashy than everything else on this list, yet it just works incredibly well. Just like Minoru himself, the entrance seems strange at first, you won’t quite know what to think, but then you’ll suddenly be surprised, you’ll learn to appreciate it, and within no time, you’ll recognise it as one of the best in the world.
What’s your favourite entrance in NJPW? Let me know in a comment below or over on Twitter @HairyWrestling