The stars of New Japan Pro Wrestling are some of the finest athletes in the world, putting on exciting and hard-hitting matches that one usually doesn’t get from American professional wrestling.
While many of these stars remain in Japan and have successful careers, others have tried their hand in America and have exactly not received the level of stardom as they had in The Land of The Rising Sun. Here are 4 Current NJPW Superstars Who Were Misused in America:
1. Tetsuya Naito
In the early days of his NJPW career, Tetsuya Naito teamed with Yujiro Takahashi in a successful unit known as No Limit, where they won both the IWGP Heavyweight and Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships. In 2009, this duo wrestled for TNA as the stereotypical infamous regular foreigner jobber tag team, where they were on the receiving end of a hardcore burial by management. While the duo were only in the company for 2 months, they lost nearly every match they participated in, with their final match being a handicap match loss to Kevin Nash. That one match alone perfectly sums up how terrible No Limit’s TNA run really was. Eventually the duo returned home, and on January 4, 2010 at Wrestle Kingdom IV, the duo captured the IWGP Tag Team Championships from top-TNA tag team, Team 3D, that has to be nice revenge of sorts on the company that poorly handled them.
2. Juice Robinson
The first gaijin on this list, Juice Robinson previously worked for WWE NXT under the moniker of CJ Parker, with the gimmick of an earth activist or as he put it, a “Moon Child.” Parker was mainly used as a jobber to the stars, losing to such talents as Roman Reigns, Mojo Rawley and Kevin Owens in the latter’s NXT debut. In Spring of 2015, Parker requested and was granted his release from WWE, and eventually made his way to The Land of the Rising Sun that summer under his original Juice Robinson name, starting out as a Young Lion and working in several multi-man matches. For nearly two years Robinson has been working hard and honing his craft in Japan, working closely with big names like Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto and Michael Elgin, and even picking up a huge win over Tetsuya Naito at last month’s Sakura Genesis event. Robinson is without a doubt a rising star in NJPW, and his upcoming IWGP Intercontinental Championship match with Naito will surely be one not to miss.
One half of the wildly successful Roppongi Vice duo with Rocky Romero, Beretta is a 4-Time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion and a staple in the Junior Heavyweight division, however before this success he was just another jobber in WWE. Under the name Trent Barreta, he wrestled mainly on WWE Superstars or NXT with occasional appearances on SmackDown, used mostly as a jobber to the stars or in lower-card feuds. While he had some great matches with the likes of Tyson Kidd, Yoshi Tatsu and Kassius Ohno, he was never given an opportunity to get past his lower-card status, and just floundered for the rest of his time in the company. Barreta made his final appearance on WWE programming with a victory over Leo Kruger thanks to interference from Kassius Ohno on the January 16, 2013 episode of NXT, ending his 3 year run with the company. Just 4 months later he made his debut for New Japan Pro Wrestling and competed in the 2013 Best of the Super Juniors Tournament, the rest as they say, is history.
4. Kazuchika Okada
The man who right now is at the top of of the mountain in New Japan Pro Wrestling and arguably the biggest professional wrestling star in Japan, Kazuchika Okada had a very brief stint in TNA from 2010 to 2011. Originally only making sporadic appearances and used mainly as a jobber to the stars, Okada was renamed Okato, when he appeared as Samoa Joe’s sidekick in his feud with The Pope, in a gimmick reminiscent of The Green Hornet at a time when the horrible Seth Rogen movie was released. After being take off television, Okada’s time with TNA ended when he was called back to NJPW in preparation for a significant main event push, leading to his first IWGP Heavyweight Championship victory over Hiroshi Tanahashi. Rumor has it that NJPW sent Okada to TNA knowing in advance that he would be underutilized and used mainly as a jobber, in hopes we would learn humility before his rise to main event stardom in Japan. Regardless of where he has been, it is safe to say that The Rainmaker will be the franchise of New Japan Pro Wrestling for many years to come.
Do you agree with this list? What stars in NJPW do you remember competing in the United States? Let us know in the comments below!