Wrestlemania is the place where the biggest dream matches of all time take place within WWE…but sometimes, Vince and co forget to inform the fans that these collisions have already taken place somewhere else in the wrestling world. Since 1985, ten singles matches on the main cards of Wrestlemania had already been seen in other promotions at some point before all participants reached WWE/F, and I’m going to rank them based on their historical importance and quality – here are the Top 10 Wrestlemania Matches that had Already Taken Place Outside of WWE.
At Wrestlemania 34, Shinsuke Nakamura will take on AJ Styles for the WWE Championship, but it won’t be the first time they’ve fought for gold on a huge stage. In 2016, Styles and Nakamura had a match at Wrestle Kingdom 10 for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, and if that bout is any indication of how their Wrestlemania encounter is going to be, it will be absolutely fantastic.
In every other field of entertainment, whether it be music, television, film, etc., the determination of how good or bad something is isn’t down to one individual. Opinions from hundreds of critics are gathered to determine whether a piece of cinema or music is universally acclaimed, middle of the road, or panned by the world. Yet as it is in so many ways, wrestling is unique when it comes to critical opinion. Despite being enjoyed by millions of people around the world, there is only one opinion that truly determines how good a match is. Sure, there are hundreds of podcasters, YouTubers, journalists and fans out there that give their opinions on every match they’ve ever seen, and yes, you may be interested in what certain people have to say, yet in the wider context of the wrestling world, their opinion holds no real merit. No match is ever quoted as being 10/10 or absolutely perfect because somebody from WhatCulture said so, or because another wrestler is quoted as saying it is, no matter how admired they are by the community. However, if respected journalist Dave Meltzer says a match is five stars, then it’s known forever as a five-star match.
Everyone has been talking about it. You’ve seen the internet blow-up over their five and six star matches, you’ve seen everyone wearing Bullet Club and Los Ingobernables de Japon t-shirts, and you’ve even heard WWE commentators talk about the likes of AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Gallows and Anderson being IWGP champions – so why haven’t you started watching New Japan Pro Wrestling? Is it because it’s on the other side of the globe? Maybe it’s not the style of wrestling you’re used to? Perhaps you’re worried you won’t recognise any of their stars? Or is it because you just have no idea where to start? Well, here’s where I come in to help. I know how daunting it can be delving into an entire new world of wrestling, and you might need a little bit of guidance through this strange Eastern promotion.
In this guide, I have provided ten matches for New Japan newbies to help get you into watching some of the best grappling on the planet. I’ve made my selections based not only on in-ring quality, but also on how accessible they are to new fans – each match features something that will be familiar to you, whether that be familiar faces that have had significant success in the west, English commentary to help you along the way, or that it’s easy to access online without setting up a paid subscription. I’ll also explain some of the traditions, unique quirks, and oddities that come along with this fantastic promotion. But that’s enough talk, let’s get down to some wrestling: here are 10 Matches for NJPW Newbies.