Budokan Gets A ‘SmackDown’

Only two weeks after Mitsuharu Misawa, one of Japan’s most beloved professional wrestlers, died in the ring as the result of a spinal cord injury, America’s World Wrestling Entertainment brought its popular “SmackDown” show to the legendary Nippon Budokan.

The two WWE shows July 7- 8 included Extreme Championship Wrestling bouts and were different from Japanese professional wrestling, which is slightly less theatrical.

The fact that the show was being held at Japan’s most hallowed arena (for entertainment as well as martial arts) seemed to indicate that Japanese fans are ready for the Western style, perhaps inspired by a sudden influx of American pro wrestling shows on satellite TV and DVDs.

In Japan, many homegrown wrestling stars could be considered over the hill and even a bit flabby (Misawa was in his early 50s), but the WWE stars are invariably ripped and buffed, not to mention enormous.