In this day and age, there are many genres of television shows to enjoy, we’re even spoiled for choice. Variety shows help us to laugh the night away, food shows delight us with the delectable meals they show us, travel shows just make you want to fly to that location immediately too and so on.
For us here at So Japan, the one genre of entertainment we most commonly watch is Anime. I for one, grew up watching Anime as a kid, those early mornings filled with Pokemon, or Doraemon on the local airwaves, and now as an adult.
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We have anime channels in SEA on our cable networks, streaming services or heck even Youtube where we can legally watch anime, subtitled even!
The amazing thing about my favourite Anime is the variety of interesting and colourful characters, the music accompanying them, the story that ties everything together, and let’s not forget the wonderful cast of seiyuu that helps bring these characters to life.
That got me thinking this past week. It somehow reminds me of yet another genre of entertainment I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid until now, Wrestling. The similarities are just staring at your face, you just don’t see it yet!
And here’s why:
The single easiest thing that ties Anime and Wrestling together is the people that play a part in the stories of both- the characters. In anime, the one thing people instantly relate to is the characters. I’m sure many people would say the story is the most important thing for an anime but without interesting characters to move the plot, the story would be pointless.
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“I love Deku from My Hero Academia” or “Nico Yazawa is my favorite idol from Love Live!” for example.
Each character has a part to play in the overall scheme of things, whether they are the main character who the entire story revolves around or the side character that gives our protagonist the extra motivation he, or she, needs to further the plot.
Now let’s go back to wrestling.
I’ll be very honest, WWE was my favorite wrestling brand for over 15 or so years. I’d religiously watch it every week (and I still do) on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings as they air in Singapore without fail.
The overall arching story hasn’t been something of quality as of late, but the one thing that still keeps me going back is the interesting characters that keep the plot going. Take for example the current WWE Champion Kofi Kingston and his partners Big E and Xavier Woods who form The New Day.
They’re a bunch of African-American wrestlers who just loves to have fun and entertain the crowd with their sometimes borderline toilet-humour and charismatic personalities. And it helps that their in-ring ability is some of the best in the company, especially so for Kofi. They never really had their time to shine in the spotlight but they’ve always been some of the more popular characters on WWE TV.
And recently Kofi finally managed to grab the brass ring and become the champion on the WWE Smackdown! Brand. Originally he wasn’t supposed to become champion but due to one competitor, Mustafa Ali, getting an injury, Kofi was inserted into the main event match where he ultimately stole the show- leading the creative team deciding “maybe Kofi should get the belt”, and he did.
It’s not unlike some of the more underrated characters in popular anime. For example, what if, we had a story where Kamina was the main character of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, or what if Jean-Pierre Polnareff was the protagonist instead of Kujo Jotaro in Stardust Crusaders?
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Granted Polnareff was so popular he eventually was brought back for the 5th arc Golden Wind, which is currently airing in Japan.
Even the villains in Wrestling can be insanely popular that sometimes you’d want them to win instead of the good guys.
One of the most popular heels in his time is Ric Flair. He’s arrogant, flamboyant and so full of himself but here’s the catch: he can back it up. Someone who brags about being the best yet also physically capable of proving what he rambles. You just can’t help but cheer for him to win sometimes.
Shogo Makishima from Psycho-pass comes to mind for me. His charisma just gets everyone around him and is very efficient at what he does. Not only that he’s such a learned character who says he will break the system and he even came really close to doing so in the events of the first season I found myself hoping he actually did!
It’s interesting characters like these that really keeps us coming back to watching Wrestling and/or Anime.
The Opening music
What would a good anime be without good music?
Okay, sometimes the anime could be bad but made watchable -solely- because it had great music. Music permeates our daily lives. We all listen to some kind of music, whether it is pop music, rock, classical, soundtracks, or whatnot.
Let’s say I start playing your favourite anime’s Opening or Ending theme song. I’m sure your head would immediately turn this direction and you’ll be rocking out to it.
But the Opening theme song really helps to set the mood for anime. It’s that one thing that signals “the show is about to begin.” Start playing Colors, A Cruel’s Angels Thesis or even Only My Railgun and you’d turn heads. They’re such ear-worms you’d be hooked hearing them.
In the wrestling scene, the equivalent to the Opening music would be the wrestler’s entrance theme. This signals to you that they’re coming.
Some of these songs can range from simple music made in-house by their musicians or some can be outsourced to singers in the industry to make songs fitting to said wrestlers. Sometimes the wrestlers themselves would sing their own theme songs (Shawn Michaels, Rey Mysterio, Tyler Breeze and especially so for Chris Jericho who has his own band, Fozzy)
This is especially so in Japan where these entrance theme songs can sometimes be borderline anime, or BE an anime opening music for the case of Jushin Thunder Liger, whose theme song was literally the Opening theme of the Jushin Liger anime, which his character is based initially off. Here’s an example of one such theme song, probably one of my favourites in all of 2018, the Golden Lovers.
It even sounds borderline anime too!
And sometimes during the big pay-per-view events, these wrestlers would ramp up the excitement to 11 by adding a flashier than normal entrance to their theme song.
Here’s just an example of what happened at last year’s Wrestle Kingdom 13 from New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Okay so maybe this one leans more towards Shonen and Robot anime, which I am a huge fan of so hear me out on this one.
Many characters would often have names for their signature attacks that are unique to themselves. It’s that one move they’ve trained their hardest to perfect, the coup de grace of the list of things they can do. They can always count on this move to help them deliver the final blow (or sometimes create an even stronger one when their current one is lacking).
I’m sure you’re well aware of these such attacks. You’d probably scream along when they do it too. You’ve probably heard of the Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken, Starlight Breaker, Giga Drill Break, Kamehameha, Getsuga Tenshou and so on. But, have you heard of the One Winged Angel, Rite of Passage, Walls of Jericho, Rainmaker or the Scorpion Deathlock?
In wrestling, many of these signature attacks also work the same way as those you see in anime; it helps deal the final blow to their opponents for them to clinch the victory. Here are some examples of famous signature attacks of wrestlers around the world.
Found something you like? They really feel like signature attacks from anime too. There are just too many great ones to name this video isn’t enough to bring them justice.
Now, where do I start with this one? Just like the above, many anime has these as well. It’s that one-liner said every so often you could practically recall which scene from which episode they were first said, or when they were most famously said during. Read the next few lines, close your eyes and read them out again. I’m sure you can picture many of this where they were most fondly mentioned.
“In The Name Of The Moon, I Will Punish You!”
“I’m Gonna Become The Pirate King!”
“Nico Nico Nii”
“It’s Not Zura, It’s Katsura!”
“You Are Already Dead”
For wrestling, however, these aren’t normally said during matches but during the promotional segments when the wrestlers are hyping themselves up, or challenging against an opponent. Sometimes these are said near the end of the show to give the fans a happy send-off. This is especially so in American wrestling when the stories are more front and centre.
“If you smell what the rock is cooking”
“And that’s the bottom line ‘cause Stone Cold said so”
“If you’re not down with that, we got two words for ya!”
“There are two things you can do about it: Nothing, and like it”
“Good Bye and Good Night”
Or you could be Chris Jericho, a wrestler who’s in the business for over 20 years and even in 2019, is still constantly reinventing his character he has over 9 minute worth of catchphrases. And I remember every single one of them!
Bonus: Wrestlers who loves Anime
And last but obviously none the least is this. There are wrestlers in the industry who blurs the line between anime and wrestling by being wrestlers who simply love anime. (and games too) The most mainstream of them all is Xavier Woods in WWE. Earlier mentioned as part of The New Day, he would simply sneak in certain anime references during his promos, or sometimes even wear anime-inspired costumes for special events.
His most famous one was this Dragonball Z inspired costume from Wrestlemania three years ago.
And then there’s the not so famous one, but my clear favourite is Kenny Omega. He is known to be a fan of Japanese culture with games and anime being a huge influence. Often he would appear in major pay-per-view events wearing costumes inspired by popular franchises.
Just last Saturday at his first All Elite Wrestling event, he came down the ring in an attire inspired from Sword Art Online’s Kirito which I wrote an article about just a few days ago! He has even mentioned his love for anime such as Yuri!!! on Ice, Fullmetal Alchemist and his all-time favourite Hajime no Ippo, which got him to learn Japanese!
Others who don’t really show off their otaku side as often in the ring are very prevalent in the industry too.
WWE’s Sasha Banks is said to love Sailor Moon and has been known to post her Sailor Moon inspired outfits on her Instagram. NJPW’s Minoru Suzuki is a well-known fan of One Piece, something that not many people know about. Considering his scary persona in-ring, you’d be surprised to hear how big a fan of the franchise he is. He even made an appearance in the series as a character too! Even the world famous John Cena is a fan of anime, proclaiming his love for Fist of the North Star. It doesn’t help that he is basically the Kenshiro of the WWE too.
I hope you have a little more appreciation for the world of Wrestling and how close it is to Anime. Do take the time to check out the different varieties of wrestling available right now. You can even see officially available free matches on Youtube nowadays!
On the other hand, there are anime based off of wrestling too such as Tiger Mask W from 2 years ago, inspired from the original Tiger Mask or older titles such as Kinnikuman or I Want To Be The Strongest!
Do share with me if you know other similarities between Wrestling and Anime.