NJPW star Rocky Romero was a recent guest on the Shining Wizards Wrestling podcast to talk all things pro-wrestling, including whether he believes cinematic matches will continue once the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Highlights are below.
On NJPW’s current booking pattern:
I feel like New Japan has always been so heavily story driven in that kind of sense, and we tend to forget about it because the big moments of New Japan are like, and especially in the last couple years, it was built on Okada vs. Omega, let’s just say, or Tanahashi and Okada. And those stories were more like babyface/babyface as opposed to like a really heel driven storyline. So I think that’s what we got used to and kind of look at as fans, but we tend to forget that the whole basis of this thing is really built off that heel-babyface dynamic. I think we strayed away from it for a little bit, but now that the major storylines involved a major heel and three other babyfaces. I think eventually it’ll end up being babyface/babyface and you’ll go back to that, right. Actually, I should say two major heels with EVIL and Jay White, and KENTA kind of the sub heel under that. I think that’s just kind of where it is and I think that when you have that kind of situation, and it’s such a dramatic turn of events, especially with EVIL turning his back on LIJ, it’s like he’s not turning his back to wrestle Naito one on one as a man. He could have just stayed in LIJ to do that. I think we’re just forgetting as fans that this is all basic wrestling 101, professional wrestling 101. You had to have Abdullah The Butcher to have Antonio Inoki. You had to have Tiger Jeet Singh to have Antonio Inoki. Think about who were the biggest drawing rivals of that time. Fujinami later, but it was all built on all these other things beforehand. So I think we’re just going back to the basics. I think we’re at the 80s all over again when it comes to New Japan.
English promos for the Japanese audience:
If you become a good performer, and you care about the reaction of what your Japanese audience is, you’re going to speak very slow. You’re going to make your point kind of compact. You’re not going to use certain words and terms to describe what you’re trying to say. Will Ospreay doesn’t do that, right, so he doesn’t get the reaction that he’s probably… he’ll get cheered as you heard the other night. He was getting cheers and stuff like that because they’re just appreciative of you being here and taking the time to entertain them, so to speak. That’s just the politeness of the Japanese audience. One thing that is different for sure is they will all read the after comments with the subtitles. The heavy numbers come, on the Japanese side, are still written articles. The mobile site still has so many written articles, because Japanese fans still like to read articles and things like that. On their way to work, they’ll be seeing exactly what Will Osprey said to a “T,” so they’ll retain it and take it in. It just may not be in that particular moment. That’s one thing that I pride myself on is being able to tell the story in the ring with the mic to the best of my ability so that the Japanese audience will understand, even if I need to string along a couple Japanese words between the English to kind of make it all work as a package. I feel like I’ve always been successful with that. Even to the fact where in the beginning of Roppongi 3K, we weren’t having Sho & Yoh talk because they weren’t really getting the point across. They would say something kind of silly and kind of ruin it, so they had me doing the talking for a bit there.
How Talk ‘N’ Shop A Mania came about:
It was all Gallows. So Gallows- so obviously the guys got let go from New York, right. The first thing that (Luke) Gallows, like basically, after a day or two of the guys spending time with their families, we got a text, Karl (Anderson) & I and it was like “I’m doing this PPV from my backyard during the pandemic either with you guys or without you guys.” And we were like, “what are you talking about? What PPV?” And we all hopped on the phone and he explained the idea. And he was like, “we’re gonna book all these wrestlers. Some of them might be good, some of them might be bad. We’re going to book all our friends. We’re gonna ask everyone to come out,” and I’m like “we’re gonna do this in your backyard?” So basically, we’re just doing a backyard pay per view,” and he was like “kinda, but it’s going to be more than that.” Karl & I couldn’t wrap our heads around it at first, but once we actually sat down to write the show, and he kind of laid out the show, and he basically had the whole show laid out, and we kind of like started to add the salt and pepper to it, we were like “oh, I see what this is going to be,” but there were some segments I really had no clue what the hell was going on. I don’t think anybody else did either. And then we were finally at Gallows’ house shooting it, then I could actually understand and was like “ohhh. this is what this is.” Half the time, I had no clue what the hell was going on, and I don’t think anybody else did either, except for Gallows, I think. But the second one is, now we know what’s going on. Now we know what our world is, in this alternate universe that we’ve created.
Whether cinematic matches will occur after COVID-19:
I think that the industry will be less inclined to do them because they’ll be so stoked that we can have people. But I do think that this is part of the future in a way. We’ll just see less of them for sure, used kind of sparingly. But I don’t think they’re going away.