Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

The Book of Three Rings: New Japan Pro Wrestling invades BCW and ROH in Ontario

When discussing famous war tactics, most goto Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu and his Art of War. But for Japanese history, one of the most famous names for strategy, tactics and philosophy is Miyamoto Musashi. Musashi’s last book on the craft of war was called The Book of Five Rings.

I draw upon this because this weekend, New Japan Pro Wrestling’s very best superstars will come to the Canadian province of Ontario for two major shows. The first on Friday, May 9 in Windsor, Ontario for Border City Wrestling’s East Meets West. From there, NJPW will head to Toronto on Saturday at the Ted Reeve Arena for Global Wars 2014, held by Ring of Honor. While the BCW card features New Japan wrestlers squaring off against Border City Wrestling’s best, the ROH card will separate New Japan for the most part from Ring of Honor. It isn’t until their show in New York City where ROH talent go head to head against New Japan. The main event will include Mike Elgin getting the opportunity of a lifetime with an IWGP Heavyweight championship shot against recently crowned champion A.J. Styles.

When a foreign promotion comes to a new territory, it’s usually treated like an invasion. But for Ontario wrestling, this is a chance to learn and study. Musashi said a true strategist masters many forms away from the sword. For wrestlers like Elgin, studying the work of Puroresu (Japanese wrestling) was vital to his career.

“When I started there was a very apparent style and I wanted to be different,” said Elgin, who started his career in Toronto as a teenager. “So NJPW, All Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling NOAH played a huge told in my development and to make myself different.”

“I think I may have been one of the first to use strikes so heavily in Ontario.”

Standing out in Ontario is major. While every province and state in Canada and the United States has their top workers, Ontario fans have been spoiled by the riches of over a dozen wrestlers who could be working for the top three. Catching the average show in Ontario isn’t like catching the average show in say Ohio. Ohio looks to the best in Ontario to make the trip to their state to improve the quality of their cards. Ontario wrestlers work that little bit harder to have the look to go with the skill in the ring. The influence of Japan helped Mike Elgin stand out and get picked up by Ring of Honor where he’s one of their hottest rising stars.

But it isn’t just an influence on the wrestlers. It’s also a major sign that things are turning up for independent wrestling in the province. Tyson Dux sees this better than anyone. As one of the top names in Ontario for close to a decade, this is the biggest presence from Japanese wrestling in the province since Jushin Thunder Liger toured for a spell.

“It’s a huge positive it means that business is up and money is being made,” said Dux, who will be wrestling IWGP Intercontinental champion Shinsuke Nakamura at East vs. West in Windsor. “This is one of those one in a million shows to catch.”

Back to Musashi, he stated that to be a master of strategy one must become better with his tools. The same must happen for a warrior, or in this, case a pro wrestler. For Dux, he’s accomplished just about everything one can in Ontario, just itching for that shot with a major national promotion. By facing one of the hottest stars in Japan, Dux gets a chance to master his skills against the self-professed King of Strong Style.

“I’ve been everywhere and wrestled tons of talents. This is just another great opportunity to work with the very best,” said Dux.

There’s always the issue when bringing wrestlers from another continent that the fans might not be familiar with them. In the past, WWE and TNA have tried to showcase Japanese or Mexican talent, only for the casual fans to break into, “USA!” chants out of unfamiliarity. Neither Elgin or Dux really worry about this when it comes to the dedicated Ontario fans.

“I think it’s going to be a little different for the fans since they might not know their characters and moves but once the bell rings they will catch up quick, “said Dux. Elgin points out that Ring of Honor fans are very knowledgeable and will recognize the talents of NJPW stars just for name value.

For the wrestlers, this is a chance to learn right up front what to do to stand out in Ontario. For the business, this is just a sign of the rising success of the independent scene, proof that Ontario can attract the best in the world. For the fans, this is both an opportunity to see wrestlers they’d never usually see live, and see exactly what they are missing.

“I think the fans are getting the chance of a lifetime,” said Elgin.

You can see Tyson Dux in Border City Wrestling: East Meets West in Windsor, Ontario on May 9, 2014.

Catch Ring of Honor in Toronto, Ontario on May 10, 2014. Follow Michael Elgin on Twitter.

Photo by Michael Watson.

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