A few weeks later, NJPW held the finals of the New Japan Cup 2021. The winner of the tournament would go on to challenge Kota Ibushi for the newly created IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. Ospreay took on Shingo Takagi in the final on March 21st… and won.
During the match, Bea Priestley had been at ringside and had assisted Ospreay.
After the match, Ospreay attacked Priestley, and backstage said “if I will attack the woman I love, imagine what I’d do to you” – directed at Ibushi. The entire promo backstage was positioned as if Ospreay had been ‘forced’ to take this action – and sounded incredibly like the ‘defence’ a domestic abuser would give when justifying their actions.
People have tried to defend this as “Bea was leaving, this wrote her out”, but there are much better ways of doing this without making your new number 1 contender – who is already known for ignoring victims, and booking people accused of rape – look like a perpetrator of domestic violence.
So far, so sleazy… but worse was to come. March 29th. Road to Sakura Genesis Tag 2. Suzuki-Gun (DOUKI, El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) take on Ryusuke Taguchi, SHO and Tiger Mask.
During the match, Taguchi and DOUKI end up the outside when DOUKI – and I cannot believe I am writing this – takes what looks like a metal rod and tries to forcibly insert it into Taguchi’s anus, while he crawls around ringside.
Somewhere, this got through from suggestion to action. Producers signed off on having a wrestler forcibly try to sodomise another on a live show.
Three events – trying to welcome someone accused of sexual assault back into the fold, using domestic abuse as an angle, and simulating an actual rape as part of a match – in the space of three months. All of which shows that NJPW simply doesn’t care. They don’t see any of this as being a bad thing and don’t care who knows that.
NJPW are a perfect epitome of toxic masculinity, and I cannot give them my time anymore. I pride myself on standing with victims. I pride myself on being an ally to those who are marginalised by a toxic environment that allows men to get away with anything under the banner of “boys will be boys”. My pride deserves better than ignoring NJPW perpetuating this toxicity under the banner of entertainment. My mental health deserves more than me battling with the guilt of trying to ignore what they let people get away with.
Only time will tell whether NJPW actually pays attention to the negative responses they are garnering – but given the responses from some of their fanbase, who are just as toxic, on social media, I highly doubt it. But I cannot, and will not, give any more of my energy to a company that protects rapists, rape apologists, and perpetuates rape on TV.
For me, this is my farewell. My goodbye. I’d like to say “it was nice knowing you, NJPW” but I’d be lying. Instead, I’ll say “Sayonara” – and mean it in the true definition of the word.