New Japan Pro Wrestling 2021 Business In Review

New Japan Pro-Wrestling concluded its G1 Climax 31 at the Nippon Budokan on Thursday. Kazuchika Okada won the tournament, and the company will be preparing for a three-night Wrestle Kingdom 16 event in January 2022.

Recent vaccination data from shows 70% of the population in Japan are fully vaccinated. However, New Japan has been running their shows in Japan with limited attendance throughout the past year, even as wrestling events in the U.S. return to full capacity while just 57% of the American population has been fully vaccinated.

From August 2020 to June 2021, a period when Japan’s leading wrestling company returned to events but had no shows in Japan at full capacity, New Japan barely managed to profit. The promotion was basically a break even business, reporting the equivalent of about $60,000 U.S. in net income, or ¥6,292,000 in Japanese yen.

Revenue is a different story. New Japan stopped reporting the number on its official website after 2019. Parent company, Bushiroad, reported its sports division, which now consists of New Japan and Stardom, generated 4.5 billion yen through the eleven months of August 2020 to June 2021, or about $40 million.

Bushiroad reported a loss of 280 million yen for the same eleven-month period, about $2.5 million. But the maker of trading cards and mobile games reports it expects a “substantial profit recovery” in the new fiscal year.

New Japan’s revenue likely held up in part because streaming service NJPW World had 116,000 paid subscribers worldwide in January 2021, the month of the company’s biggest event, Wrestle Kingdom. The subscriber count is the service’s highest ever.

The last time New Japan ran an event at full capacity in Japan was before the Covid-19 pandemic in February 2020. As a result of not being able to run events at full capacity, New Japan more events than in pre-Covid years. Based on the current event schedule, the promotion will run 174 events in calendar year 2021. However, six of those reported events are New Japan Strong TV tapings in the U.S.

This is a slight increase from 170 events in 2019 and 162 in 2018. October 2021, when the G1 Climax took place, was a big month for events, with 21. This is the most events New Japan ran in one month since January 2020, when it ran 19.

Despite taking four months off in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic, that year will still likely have a significantly higher total attendance count than in 2021, which had a full year of events.

Due to 2021 events held at limited capacity, the median attendance for shows through October has been under 700. This is less than half of what New Japan has done in previous years, with 2019 being a high year of a median attendance of 1,700.

A slide from Bushiroad investor relations disclosed that New Japan and Stardom combined make up 14% of Bushiroad overall business. Additional slides highlight Stardom’s even in March at the Nippon Budokan show, as well as New Japan’s distribution on Roku.

New Japan content was launched on free ad-supported video service Roku in February. Bushiroad’s slide touts that Roku has over 40 million users, but it’s likely not more than a small percentage of users have ever watched New Japan on the service, where the latest content is from several months ago.

New Japan hasn’t been on traditional television in the U.S. since its weekly program left AXS TV in late 2019.

Jason Ounpraseuth has covered pro wrestling since 2019. He co-hosts the Gentlemen’s Wrestling Podcast.

Brandon Thurston has written about wrestling business since 2015. He’s also an independent pro wrestler and trainer. For more, see our About page.

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Google web search trends for Q1 2021: WWE, AEW, New Japan, Impact, Stardom, ROH, and more

Q1 2021 just ended, and WWE still has about 10x the Google web search volume of any other pro wrestling brand.

But let’s dig deeper into Google Trends.

First, an explanation of the data we’re looking at:

  • We’re measuring topics, not strings. In all cases here we’re measuring search topics that Google Trends creates, not individual search strings, which would be less all-encompassing and probably less informative. For example, in the case of WWE, we’re not measuring how often the string ‘wwe’ was searched for but rather we’re measuring all searches Google Trends purports related to WWE, the wrestling company (or as GT identifies it, the “media company”).
  • These are relative values, not absolute. The values you’ll see below in the tables on the left are relative values. GT does not provide the absolute number of queries in any form; all its data is relative to the peak for the parameters you enter. I collected monthly data, which is the granularity that GT allows when you’re collecting data beyond a span of five years. A 100 value in this case equals the month with the highest search volume. I’ve made the decision for comprehensibility sake (and because Q1 2021 just ended) to average months into quarters, so you won’t actually see any instances of 100 below.
  • Below, a given value in one table is not equal to the same value in another table. Because the values are relative and standardized against the peak volume for that topic, the values below are not comparable between wrestling companies. For example, below, a 50 for WWE is not equal to a 50 for AEW or any other company. You can put multiple topics on the same scale, but that’s not what we’re doing in this article other than in the above bar chart.
  • This data is volume adjusted. But hasn’t Google search volume in general increased over time? How can we measure activity from 2004 on the same chart as 2021? The data is volume adjusted over time. It’s a measurement of searches as a percentage of all search activity. For more info, read the Google Trends FAQ.


WWE’s worldwide search volume declined again in Q1, for the seventeenth consecutive quarter.

If this was the stock market, we would say WWE’s search volume has been in recession since Q2 2017. That period is roughly when ticket & merchandise sales, and Network subs began declining.

But what about WWE’s domestic market? Maybe that’s different.

In the U.S., WWE’s search volume has been down 17 of 18 consecutive quarters. The exception was when volume was up 1% in Q2 2019.


All Elite Wrestling finally got a search topic in Trends this year.

Worldwide searches for AEW were up in Q1 by 4%. The U.S. trend is similar, up 7%.

Q2 2019 and Q4 2019 were big debut periods for AEW, when the company had its first pay-per-view and first Dynamite episode, respectively.

We’re only now getting into a “steady state” time for AEW where these comparisons are becoming meaningful.

New Japan

New Japan is up 15% worldwide in Q1, which is probably skewed by the fact the company shut down for the pandemic at the end of February 2020. That’ll be a factor through Q3 comparisons as New Japan didn’t return to running events until July.

Queries in the U.S., though, are still falling. This was the ninth consecutive quarter of decline in U.S. volume, which notably began with the Q1 2019 launch of AEW, when former New Japan stars Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks signed with the new promotion.

But domestically for New Japan, searches remain strong. For Japan, Q1 2021 approached the quarterly high of Q1 2019.


Impact Wrestling search volume is a fraction of what it was in the early 2010s. But Impact has seen quarterly gains in three of the last four quarters. That lines up with the beginning of the pandemic, actually.

U.S. trends for Impact are comparable.


The Japanese-based women’s promotion Stardom continues to climb and outpace Ring of Honor and Dragongate in worldwide Google web search volume.

This is even with Stardom’s May 2020 data point excluded as volume was exceptionally high coinciding with the passing of Hana Kimura.

Note the above chart uses a logarithmic scale. AEW, NJPW, Impact are in a separate stratosphere relative to the other companies shown (and WWE in a stratosphere above that).

Google web search is suggestive at best, and other important metrics like ticket sales are hard to take any meaning from in the pandemic era, but it’s probably past time to start including Stardom in conversations when we consider, say, the fifth biggest pro-wrestling company in the world.

If you’re wondering where U.S-based brands like Major League Wrestling and the National Wrestling Alliance fall in this comparison, Stardom is ahead of either by about 3x over the last twelve months, globally.

Stardom has grown in worldwide search for 20 consecutive quarters, since Q1 2017.

In Japan, volume for Stardom has doubled in many recent quarters, including Q1 2021.

In this U.S., though, the recently ended quarter put an end to twelve consecutive quarters of growth.

Ring of Honor

Ring of Honor searches appear to be at an all-time low. Could searches for ROH be lower now than in 2004? Google Trends also shows 13 consecutive quarters of decline, worldwide.

Searches for the Sinclair Broadcasting subsidiary peaked in 2015.

U.S. results for ROH are similar.

Brandon Thurston has written about wrestling business since 2015. He’s also worked as an independent wrestler and trainer.

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