HomeJapanese WrestlingNJPW: Sayonara, New Japan Pro-Wrestling

NJPW: Sayonara, New Japan Pro-Wrestling

Wrestling, as a whole, can be incredibly toxic. I know this. You know this. In fact, this has been widely known, and largely ignored, for a long time. However, the true scale of the problem was brought to the front of our minds nearly a year ago when the #SpeakingOut Movement started to gain traction on social media in June 2020, and a significant number of people and companies were brought to public account for their actions and attitudes.

While many companies have made at least some effort to address the allegations made against either wrestlers or staff in their employ, one has been suspiciously quiet.

Don’t get me wrong, the action taken by the likes of WWE is far from perfect as certain high-profile wrestlers remain with the company (and are pushed in championship storylines) despite the allegations against them. Even AEW, who responded pretty well (in comparison to others) with those named on their roster have still got a way to go – seeing as they seem quite content to bring back a convicted domestic abuser for TV opportunities. 

But NJPW hasn’t reacted at all, despite two people under contract with NJPW being mentioned. Will Ospreay and Chase Owens. 

Without going into too much detail, as these accounts have been repeated and details can be found fairly easily online, Owens was accused of sexual harassment and misogyny, as well as bragging about having sexual encounters with “rats” who were “close enough” to the legal age of consent.

Chase initially tried to pass off the sexual harassment allegation as being “a part of an angle for NWA Smoky Mountain at the time” – a statement denied by his accuser given they had never worked for that company. It has also been reported that Owens has sent direct messages to his accusers, encouraging them to remove their allegations – actions usually only taken by someone who has something to hide. 

Ospreay, and his partner Bea Priestley, were accused of blacklisting a wrestler who made allegations of rape against one of Ospreay’s close friends. The blacklisting allegation surrounded a promotion (IWL) who removed the victim from a card stating “The call went something like: Will’s our boy and feels uncomfortable with your booking <victim>.”

The promoter subsequently clarified their statement, confirming the conversation was with the venue, rather than Ospreay – but given the venue is run by two of Ospreay’s former trainers and close associates, questions still exist. Not least because both Ospreay and Priestley have a history of repeatedly making negative public comments against this victim – a form of bullying.

On top of this, Ospreay continued to book his friend, the accused rapist, for Frontline Wrestling despite knowing of the allegations – showing that he didn’t care about the incident, or indeed the safety of any women around his promotion. 

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that NJPW didn’t comment on these allegations. NJPW have a history of ignoring accusations against both their athletes.

They continued to book Michael Elgin – including giving him a championship run – despite accusations of him mishandling a rape accusation from his training school (Elgin was subsequently named in the #SpeakingOut movement when he was no longer a member of the NJPW roster).

They also took no action when Tomoaki Honma was accused of domestic abuse in 2015. However, their lack of acknowledgement in any way with the allegations against Owens and Ospreay is incredibly telling. Especially given that Revolution Pro (where Ospreay holds the British Heavyweight Championship) deferred their responsibility to NJPW, as they were (and are) Ospreay’s primary employer. NJPW even cancelled an online Q&A with Zack Sabre Jr. when it became evident that the majority of submitted questions surrounded the allegations against Ospreay.

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