Asia News: Japanese Wrestling Going Overseas; BTS Turns 10; Blackpink Health Scares Worry Fans

Yota Tsuji takes on eventual winner SANADA during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling Dominion event at Osaka-jo Hall on June 4 in Tokyo, Japan. New Japan Pro-Wrestling is being eyed to help fill a bill at London’s Wembley Stadium. (Etsuo Hara / Getty Images)


New Japan Pro-Wrestling Eyed To Help Fill Wembley
After World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) agreed to merge with mixed martial arts circuit UFC to form a $21 billion entertainment organization, the American wrestling start-up All Elite Wrestling (AEW) has found itself at a distinct disadvantage, and wants to ask its Japanese partner, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, to help it fill up London’s Wembley Stadium for a big show in August.

Reuters reports that the Wembley show could be one of the biggest professional wrestling events ever held by an organization that is not the WWE.

AEW’s billionaire founder, Tony Khan, claims that 65,000 tickets have already been sold for the London event and said during a video interview that “it would be a huge benefit to AEW if there is participation from New Japan Pro-Wrestling and some of their top stars.”

NJPW was founded by the late superstar Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki in 1972, but the organization’s international momentum was stalled by the pandemic, so the partnership is just as important as it is to AEW. In 2019, NJPW launched a U.S. subsidiary that sold out one show at Madison Square Garden before COVID hit, forcing the group to rely on streaming services and trading cards to stay afloat.

Nevertheless, its overseas revenues doubled during the pandemic and are expected to double again over the next three years as it expands in various foreign markets, including the UK.

Reuters says NJPW President Takami Ohbari thinks teaming up with AEW will give it a good chance to compete with the merger of WWE and UFC operator Endeavor in terms of global exposure and is keen on sending talent to Wembley if an offer is made.

‘Amusement Casinos’ Under Scrutiny
Since the enactment of the Integrated Resorts Implementation Act by the Japanese government in 2018, so-called amusement casinos have thrived, especially in the country’s second biggest city, Osaka.

The IR Implementation law effectively legalizes casino gambling in Japan, but only in designated integrated resorts, which have yet to open anywhere.

Amusement casinos feature the trappings of real casinos but without the gambling – chips cannot be redeemed for cash or prizes. While amusement casinos have always been present in Japan, they’ve become more popular with the new law. Police have been on alert, suspecting some of these casinos of allowing illegal gambling.

Consequently, there have been numerous raids of amusement casino establishments, including 20 in Osaka Prefecture on June 8.


BTS Turns 10
BTS is on hiatus as several members fulfill their mandatory South Korean military service, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in the public eye.

The Seoul metropolitan government in conjunction with BTS’s label, BigHit Music, is holding the BTS 10th Anniversary Festa across the capital through June 25.
City landmarks are illuminated in the group’s signature color purple; subway stations have posted congratulatory advertisements at busy locations and “graffiti drawings” of all seven members will be displayed on the outside facade of the building that houses their management company, HYBE.

The highlight of the festival will be an exhibition of the band’s stage costumes at Han River Park, where at least one member of the group will communicate “in person” with fans. The exhibition will be followed by a fireworks display at night accompanied by BTS songs and narration from another group member.

The festival coincides with the release of the group’s latest single, “Take Two,” which has already topped charts worldwide.

Blackpink Health Under Fan Scrutiny
Fans of Blackpink have expressed concern following two health scares.

In early June, Jisoo pulled out of two concerts in Osaka, Japan, having tested positive for COVID-19. She recovered quickly to rejoin the group’s “Born Pink World Tour. Soon after, her colleague Jennie was forced to exit a show in Melbourne, Australia, due to apparent exhaustion.

Blackpink’s management company, YG Entertainment apologized for Jennie’s departure, adding that Jennie had wanted to continue with the performance but was removed from the stage “following medical advice.”

The “Born Pink” tour began in fall 2022 and has traversed much of the world, including Europe and North America, where the group headlined California’s Coachella festival.