Wednesday, November 06, 2013

NJPW Business (1999-2013)

INTRODUCTION
A short time ago I tried to look at drawing power in New Japan Pro Wrestling Business 2008-2013.  It didn't go well because I wasn't comprehensive in which shows were included and many large events were inadvertently left out. It was a flawed process.

So, I started fresh harvesting results from Purolove covering January 1999 to September 2013.

NJPW Statistics (win/loss, tag) are available on my website but now it's time to dig deeper and look at which wrestlers on top correspond to business trends. (Unfortunately, the full dataset for NJPW was limited to 1999; Pro Wrestling History does have detailed NJPW Dome & Hall History but for the moment, I'll just limit the information to what was available at Purolove.)

ATTENDANCE
As for attendance, I used the numbers provided on Purolove. These may be worked numbers, but even the relative size of each of the buildings used to run the cards year after year provides at least one indication of the relative strength of the promotion.

Shows were categorized by size:

CLASS A -- Above 20,000 people.
CLASS B -- Between 10,000 and 19,999 people.
CLASS C -- Between 7,500 and 9,999 people
CLASS D -- Between 5,000 and 7,499 people
CLASS E -- Between 3,300 to 9,999 people
CLASS F -- Between 2,000 and 3,299 people
CLASS G -- Between 1,000 and 1,999 people
CLASS H -- Between 500 and 999 people
CLASS I --  Less than 500 people


This looks at both attendance by size of shows by year and also the core annual attendance.
Joint promotion shows (with AJPW, NOAH) have been removed.
Please note that the 2013 number only represents 9 months (January through September).


Both from an absolute attendance (including the largest shows class A/B) and from a core attendance (only looking at shows that drew between 1,000 and 10,000 - class C through class G), there are three noticeably periods:
1999-2001 (stronger period, flat trend), 2002-2005 (business was declining), 2006-2012 (new normal, flatten out at lower levels than 1999-2005).  Trends for 2013 were edging upwards, possibly indicating the start of new era.

MEASURING TOP STARS
It's always complicated trying to measure who was "on top" during any era.

One metric that was used was "place on card".  This was expressed as a percentage.  On a ten match card, the first match would be consider 10% and the last match would be 100%.  (In all cards the final match was 100%.)

To validate this, I looked the average "place on card" for IWGP Titleholders.

  • The place on card" metric for IWGP Heavyweight Titleholder was pretty steady with an average of 93% (with minimum in the 2006-2007 era at 87%-88% and maximum during 2011 with 97%.)
  • The average "place on card" metric for IWGP Tag Team titleholders was 79% with a noted decline (average was 87% from 1999 to 2003, 79% for 2006-2009 and 65% from 2010 to 2013)
  • The average "place on card" metric for IWGP IC Titleholder was 83% (2011: 72%, 2012: 88%, 2013: 82%); with only three years of history, conclusions are limited.
  • The average "place on card" metric for IWGP Jr. Heavyweight titleholder was 56% (52% for 1999-2003, 62% for 2004-2006, 53% for 2007-2010 and above 70% for 2011 and 2013).
  • The average "place on card" metric for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team titleholders was 52% (47% for 1999-2001, 55% for 2002-2006, 58% for 2008-2011, below 50% for 2012-2013)
In general, a match with any IWGP titleholder included is 73% on the card as compared to 52% for a match with no IWGP titleholders.

Wrestlers above 75% "Place on Card" metric with 30+ matches per year
(and wrestlers holding & involved in 50+ matches with IWGP Title holders)

1999 
Keiji Muto (131 matches, 92%)
Kensuke Sasaki (135 matches, 89%)
Masahiro Chono (119 matches, 89%)
Super J (95 matches, 88%)
Satoshi Kojima (137 matches, 86%)
Shinya Hashimoto (42 matches, 85%)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (138 matches, 85%)
AKIRA (33 matches, 85%)
Don Frye (41 matches, 84%)
Scott Norton (44 matches, 84%)
Manabu Nakanishi (140 matches, 81%)
Tatsumi Fujinami (76 matches, 79%)
Yuji Nagata (135 matches, 79%)
Michael Wallstreet (67 matches, 79%)
Shiro Koshinaka (139 matches, 79%)
Meng (44 matches, 77%)

1999 Others not included
Jushin Thunder Liger (103 title-related matches, 50%)
Shinjiro Otani (94 title-related matches, 44%)
Koji Kanemoto (92 title-related matches, 48%)
Kendo Kashin (61 title-related matches, 45%)
El Samurai (51 title-related matches, 48%)
Tatsuhito Takaiwa (51 title-related matches, 46%)
Dr Wagner Jr (50 title-related matches, 46%)
Hiro Saito (46 title-related matches, 90%)
Tadao Yasuda (41 title-related matches, 82%)

2000
Masahiro Chono (127 matches, 94%)
Kensuke Sasaki (128 matches, 92%)
Manabu Nakanishi (130 matches, 87%)
Yuji Nagata (131 matches, 87%)
Scott Norton (66 matches, 86%)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (128 matches, 85%)
Satoshi Kojima (127 matches, 84%)
Don Frye (48 matches, 84%)
Takashi Iizuka (125 matches, 80%)
Super J (56 matches, 79%)
Tatsutoshi Goto (105 matches, 78%)
Yutaka Yoshie (93 matches, 78%)
Michiyoshi Ohara (93 matches, 75%)

2000 Others Not Included
Jushin Thunder Liger (104 title-related matches, 60%)
Koji Kanemoto (97 title-related matches, 49%)
Shinjiro Otani (75 title-related matches, 51%)
Tatsuhito Takaiwa (68 title-related matches, 52%)
Kendo Kashin (65 title-related matches, 53%)

2001
Keiji Muto (47 matches, 89%)
Yuji Nagata (119 matches, 89%)
Masahiro Chono (50 matches, 88%)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (121 matches, 87%)
Satoshi Kojima (120 matches, 87%)
Scott Norton (63 matches, 87%)
Manabu Nakanishi (117 matches, 86%)
Scott Hall (43 matches, 84%)
Kensuke Sasaki (63 matches, 82%)
Tatsumi Fujinami (44 matches, 76%)

2001 Others Not Included
Minoru (86 title-related matches, 52%)
El Samurai (74 title-related matches, 46%)
Jushin Thunder Liger (61 title-related matches, 66%)
Kendo Kashin (55 title-related matches, 44%)
Gedo (47 title-related matches, 57%)

2002
Yuji Nagata (139 matches, 89%)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (130 matches, 88%)
Masahiro Chono (112 matches, 87%)
Manabu Nakanishi (141 matches, 84%)
Kensuke Sasaki (85 matches, 82%)
Tadao Yasuda (101 matches, 81%)
Ryushi Yanagisawa (48 matches, 79%)
Super Strong Machine (53 matches, 79%)
Scott Norton (75 matches, 76%)

2002 Others Not Included
Koji Kanemoto (100 title-related matches, 59%)
Minoru (90 title-related matches, 61%)
Gedo (84 title-related matches, 56%)
Jushin Thunder Liger (81 title-related matches, 59%)
Osamu Nishimura (49 title-related matches, 88%)

2003
Yoshihiro Takayama (76 matches, 91%)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (115 matches, 90%)
Scott Norton (49 matches, 89%)
Masahiro Chono (62 matches, 88%)
Yuji Nagata (114 matches, 87%)
Manabu Nakanishi (84 matches, 82%)
Tadao Yasuda (100 matches, 79%)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (115 matches, 78%)
Mike Barton (50 matches, 77%)
Kazunari Murakami (48 matches, 76%)

2003 Others Not Included
Jushin Thunder Liger (107 title-related matches, 57%)
Yutaka Yoshie (89 title-related matches, 77%)
Tiger Mask IV (80 title-related matches, 52%)
Koji Kanemoto (66 title-related matches, 58%)
Minoru (53 title-related matches, 53%)
Gedo (51 title-related matches, 46%)
Togi Makabe (49 title-related matches, 91%)
Jado (45 title-related matches, 47%)

2004
Yuji Nagata (131 matches, 88%)
Masahiro Chono (84 matches, 88%)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (137 matches, 86%)
Scott Norton (55 matches, 85%)
Kensuke Sasaki (74 matches, 85%)
Manabu Nakanishi (130 matches, 82%)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (142 matches, 80%)
Genichiro Tenryu (47 matches, 79%)
Kazunari Murakami (51 matches, 77%)
Tadao Yasuda (37 matches, 75%)

2004 Others Not Included
Minoru (119 title-related matches, 62%)
Minoru Suzuki (90 title-related matches, 69%)
Gedo (79 title-related matches, 55%)
Tiger Mask IV (58 title-related matches, 55%)

2005
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (103 matches, 92%)
Masahiro Chono (78 matches, 89%)
Yuji Nagata (117 matches, 88%)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (98 matches, 86%)
Manabu Nakanishi (116 matches, 85%)
Shinsuke Nakamura (98 matches, 85%)
Kendo Kashin (33 matches, 82%)
Minoru Suzuki (32 matches, 79%)

2005 Others Not Included
Hirooki Goto (93 title-related matches, 53%)
Tiger Mask IV (90 title-related matches, 65%)
Koji Kanemoto (56 title-related matches, 72%)

2006
Shinsuke Nakamura (47 matches, 91%)
Masahiro Chono (75 matches, 87%)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (116 matches, 83%)
Giant Bernard (95 matches, 81%)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (109 matches, 81%)
Travis Tomko (44 matches, 79%)
Yuji Nagata (113 matches, 78%)
Manabu Nakanishi (111 matches, 77%)
Akebono (45 matches, 77%)
Riki Choshu (82 matches, 76%)

2006 Others Not Included
Koji Kanemoto (86 title-related matches, 64%)
Gedo (69 title-related matches, 56%)
El Samurai (59 title-related matches, 55%)
Minoru (49 title-related matches, 58%)
Tiger Mask IV (47 title-related matches, 59%)

2007
Hiroshi Tanahashi (84 matches, 87%)
Yuji Nagata (105 matches, 85%)
Giant Bernard (79 matches, 82%)
Masahiro Chono (75 matches, 79%)
Travis Tomko (58 matches, 76%)
Togi Makabe (101 matches, 76%)
Shiro Koshinaka (78 matches, 75%)

2007 Others Not Included
Minoru (72 title-related matches, 49%)
Ryusuke Taguchi (61 title-related matches, 45%)
Koji Kanemoto (59 title-related matches, 57%)
Manabu Nakanishi (55 title-related matches, 83%)
Gedo (54 title-related matches, 41%)

2008
Hiroshi Tanahashi (58 matches, 86%)
Shinsuke Nakamura (106 matches, 86%)
Hirooki Goto (106 matches, 79%)
Togi Makabe (107 matches, 79%)
Yuji Nagata (79 matches, 76%)
Giant Bernard (83 matches, 75%)

2008 Others Not Included
Toru Yano (98 title-related matches, 74%)
Wataru Inoue (57 title-related matches, 55%)
AKIRA (56 title-related matches, 52%)
Tiger Mask IV (50 title-related matches, 51%)
Gedo (48 title-related matches, 59%)
Jado (47 title-related matches, 57%)
Takashi Iizuka (47 title-related matches, 74%)

2009
Hiroshi Tanahashi (93 matches, 94%)
Shinsuke Nakamura (110 matches, 82%)
Hirooki Goto (109 matches, 79%)
Yuji Nagata (106 matches, 78%)

2009 Others Not Included
Tiger Mask IV (84 title-related matches, 55%)
Prince Devitt (70 title-related matches, 61%)

2010
Hiroshi Tanahashi (115 matches, 93%)
Shinsuke Nakamura (106 matches, 88%)
Togi Makabe (114 matches, 86%)
Satoshi Kojima (38 matches, 80%)
Hirooki Goto (118 matches, 79%)
Masato Tanaka (38 matches, 78%)

2010 Others Not Included
Prince Devitt (81 title-related matches, 62%)
Karl Anderson (79 title-related matches, 65%)
Tetsuya Naito (77 title-related matches, 75%)
Giant Bernard (76 title-related matches, 66%)
Yujiro (75 title-related matches, 73%)
Ryusuke Taguchi (63 title-related matches, 62%)
Toru Yano (58 title-related matches, 87%)
Takashi Iizuka (51 title-related matches, 78%)
Wataru Inoue (50 title-related matches, 74%)
Gedo (48 title-related matches, 66%)
Yuji Nagata (48 title-related matches, 76%)

2011
Hiroshi Tanahashi (106 matches, 96%)
Shinsuke Nakamura (108 matches, 81%)
Togi Makabe (112 matches, 80%)
Hirooki Goto (105 matches, 79%)
Satoshi Kojima (93 matches, 77%)
Minoru Suzuki (71 matches, 76%)

2011 Others Not Included
Prince Devitt (93 title-related matches, 68%)
Karl Anderson (82 title-related matches, 60%)
Giant Bernard (82 title-related matches, 63%)
Ryusuke Taguchi (58 title-related matches, 69%)
MVP (51 title-related matches, 73%)

2012
Hiroshi Tanahashi (110 matches, 94%)
Kazuchika Okada (111 matches, 90%)
Shinsuke Nakamura (111 matches, 87%)
Hirooki Goto (113 matches, 85%)
Tetsuya Naito (81 matches, 83%)
Masato Tanaka (44 matches, 81%)
Karl Anderson (94 matches, 76%)

2012 Others Not Included
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (83 title-related matches, 61%)
Satoshi Kojima (82 title-related matches, 62%)
Tomohiro Ishii (54 title-related matches, 81%)
Yujiro (53 title-related matches, 90%)
YOSHI-HASHI (50 title-related matches, 81%)

2013 (Jan-Sept)
Kazuchika Okada (78 matches, 91%)
Hiroshi Tanahashi (76 matches, 86%)
Tetsuya Naito (32 matches, 80%)
Shinsuke Nakamura (67 matches, 80%)
Prince Devitt (67 matches, 76%)
King Fale (26 matches, 26%)
Gedo (58 matches, 75%)
Togi Makabe (75 matches, 75%)

2013 Others Not Included
Satoshi Kojima (42 title-related matches, 67%)
Minoru Suzuki (37 title-related matches, 81%)
TAKA Michinoku (33 title-related matches, 79%)
Toru Yano (33 title-related matches, 66%)
Alex Shelley (32 title-related matches, 52%)
Tomohiro Ishii (31 title-related matches, 81%)

As one can see, some wrestlers (such as Hiroshi Tanahashi) can become elevated over time in NJPW while other former main events may remain in midcard status for years.


ATTENDANCE REGRESSION

Taking the 13 wrestlers who appear the most in 1999-2013 (giving full point to people with 75%+ placement and half point for people on the 50+ titleholder list), the candidates were: Yuji Nagata, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Masahiro Chono, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi, Shinsuke Nakamura, Satoshi Kojima, Scott Norton, Togi Makabe, Hirooki Goto, Kensuke Sasaki, Gedo and Giant Bernard.

1999-2001: Yuji Nagata, Masahiro Chono, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi, Satoshi Kojima, Scott Norton, Kensuke Sasaki
2002-2005: Yuji Nagata, Masahiro Chono, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi along with Hiroshi Tanahashi and Scott Norton
2006-2012: Hiroshi Tanahashi (primary), Shinsuke Nakamura, Hirooki Goto, Yuji Nagata, Giant Bernard

Running a regression of points by wrestler versus the "core attendance" by year resulted in:

Wrestler Effect
Masahiro Chono        5,932
Shinsuke Nakamura        2,721
Scott Norton        2,567
Hiroyoshi Tenzan        1,087
Yuji Nagata          522
Togi Makabe          388
Satoshi Kojima          180
Kensuke Sasaki          105
Giant Bernard         (198)
Gedo         (226)
Hirooki Goto         (357)
Hiroshi Tanahashi         (571)
Manabu Nakanishi       (7,101)
Any way you cut the attendance, it's going to favor wrestlers from the 1999-2001 strongly over wrestlers from 2008-2013 since core attendance was down almost 800 people per show.  Does this analysis really suggest that Scott Norton is a bigger draw than Hiroshi Tanahashi?  Not really; instead it just shows how even with a scattered mix of wrestlers, no one has recently been turning the business around (at least in terms of attendance) and that wrestlers that were on top during the stronger era (such as Norton) are average better numbers than someone like Yuji Nagata who was around through it all.

CORE ATTENDANCE BY IWGP CHAMPION

We can look at attendance by IWGP Champion (irrespective of whether the IWGP Champion even appeared on the show).  I'm going to limit this to the "Core Attendance" shows (which are shows with between 1,000 and 10,000 people) so we're not skewing by dome shows.  However, this metric already inherently is going to be skewed since we're not normalizing for time of year or other annual trends.

Scott Norton was IWGP champion during 4 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 5,143
Genichiro Tenryu was IWGP champion during 3 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 3,731
Tadao Yasuda was IWGP champion during 12 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 3,512
Keiji Muto was IWGP champion during 183 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 3,023
Kensuke Sasaki was IWGP champion during 145 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 2,953
Kazuyuki Fujita was IWGP champion during 151 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 2,911
Yuji Nagata was IWGP champion during 171 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 2,665
Yoshihiro Takayama was IWGP champion during 62 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 2,594
Satoshi Kojima was IWGP champion during 42 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 2,582
Vacated was IWGP champion during 62 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 2,563
Hiroshi Tanahashi was IWGP champion during 301 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 2,443
Shinsuke Nakamura was IWGP champion during 90 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 2,426
Kazuchika Okada was IWGP champion during 76 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 2,408
Togi Makabe was IWGP champion during 43 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 2,298
Hiroyoshi Tenzan was IWGP champion during 60 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 2,216
Brock Lesnar was IWGP champion during 81 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 2,161
Bob Sapp was IWGP champion during 20 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 1,972
Manabu Nakanishi was IWGP champion during 12 class C-G shows; average attendance  was 1,466
Average attendance over 1,518 class C-G shows was 2,624

If we're ranking long-term champions, it would probably be Muto, Sasaki, Fujita then Tanahashi.

Analysis by Chris Harrington (chris.harrington@gmail.com)

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