Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only
Sign in to follow this  
ohtani's jacket

Is CMLL better than NJPW?

Recommended Posts

Who are you on Twitter OJ?

 

I voted CMLL above NJPW for Promotion of the Year, but it was a tough decision that I had to think about.

 

From a pure in ring perspective I would much rather watch a random CMLL match, than a random NJPW match, though at least last year I thought NJPW had more very good or better matches than CMLL did. That said, if you were to take the best five CMLL matches and stack them up next to the best five NJPW matches I'd probably take CMLL, though it's close. Both promotions will have three people in my top ten for the year, and both will probably end up with seven people in my top forty (Titan, Cavernario, Hechicero, Cachorro, Dragon Lee, Rush and Negro Casas for CMLL, Nakamura, Kushida, Styles, Suzuki, Ishii, Shibata and Honma for NJPW). CMLL is deeper in terms of people who I enjoy on at least some level, though a lot of those guys are rarely used to their full potential.

 

In terms of business I think most people would just default go with NJPW and I get why. But CMLL is a bizarre promotion in terms of how it is run and promoted, making it tough to compare directly to NJPW. In terms of big show success, CMLL's biggest hit was bigger than NJPWs, though it did have the advantage of being the payoff of a feud that has gone on forever. If you are just looking at raw numbers CMLL almost certainly drew more total fans over the year, and I believe they had more 10k plus houses, but those are both deceptive metrics. NJPW certainly had more sellouts of major shows (way more), but in a sense that's a deceptive metric too because they aren't running the same buildings every week, and they had exactly three shows all year in buildings as big or bigger than Arena Mexico. Of course they do have the IPPV business and NJPW World, but the latter has not been as successful as they hoped, and I've always been a bit unsure about what to make of the former other than the fact that it's obviously been a very strong revenue stream for the company.

 

At the end of the day I voted for CMLL largely because I feel like they accidentally stumbled into creating several interesting new stars as a result of En Busca de un Idolo tournament. One of the big irritants to me with NJPW over the last few years is that a guy like Shibata or Honma will be walked right up to the brink of a meaningful push and then be pulled back. This year the G1 absolutely was great, and in terms of volume of good matches it was better than En Busca (shitty abbreviation I know). But the goals of the two tournaments were different, and I enjoyed En Busca more and more because the dynamic was so interesting and it was like watching people become big deals right before our eyes. Meanwhile in the G1 NJPW had a chance to make Shibata a top guy - and didn't. They could have done the same thing with Ishii who was arguably the most over guy in the company going into the tournament - and didn't. They could have given Honma the big win over Shibata that his story in the tourney desperately called for - and didn't. Instead they gave away the most protected match in the company on a couple of day build - and it was between two of the three established top tier guys in the company. Yes the nature of En Busca was to expose/create stars, and that's arguably not the goal of G1, but NJPW is a promotion that I feel is stale at the top and really needs to add some depth to that top level. They had chances to do that and didn't, so I chose CMLL over them. But I could see an argument both ways

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great points all from Dylan. I'd actually forgotten that they did Nakamura-Okada as the G1 final, and holy hell does that poke a huge hole in the idea of Gedo being the world's best booker. In terms of bad booking, that's like if they'd waited to announce that Bryan was in the WM30 main event on the Smackdown before Mania, or booked Cena-Lesnar two days before Summerslam.

 

Busca de Un Idolo is a great concept that should be adapted in the States. I guess it's actually sort of what they were doing with the original reality show version of NXT, except with real talents genuinely going for broke. CMLL's future is surprisingly bright after what their current crop of young guys has shown, which is amazing given that you had doomsayers writing editorials at the start of 2014 suggesting that the company was at death's door.

 

CMLL may never be as embraced as NJPW by the wider demo of online fans. The bias against lucha from Meltzer and his fans is pretty ridiculous: I can't recall a year in which lucha was discussed less by his followers, even though Dave has praised Cachorro, Dragon Lee, Rush, Dorada, Atlantis-Ultimo, and a lot of other CMLL this year. But nothing close to the praise heaped onto NJ.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CMLL sure pumps out those fun "names out of a hat" trios matches on a weekly basis, whereas the NJPW equivalents on the minor shows and the undercards of the big shows tend to be lacking. In 2014 I would put the best CMLL stuff a little below the best of NJPW overall, but it's close enough that I wouldn't think someone was crazy for going the other way. NJPW gives its talent many more opportunities to showcase themselves going all-out, and as a result produces more "better than good, worse than great"-type matches. And the booking makes much more sense. I could see someone going either way depending on what they're looking for in a promotion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I watch way more CMLL than New Japan but I gotta vote New Japan here. For every great match CMLL has in a given month, they have 4-5 really shitty ones. CMLL a lot like WWE where they have way too much tv. CMLL has a lot of guys that I really like(Hechicero, Virus, Casas, Dragon Lee, Rush) but they are used to put over crappy tecnicos or bad gimmicks. The nepotism really runs wild in that promotion. I think CMLL has better matches but New Japan has more important ones.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely true that CMLL has more bad matches than NJPW. It's easy to forget that since I pick and choose what I watch from them, whereas I often watch the NJPW shows live.

 

edit: The more I think about it the more I have to go with New Japan. The big thing for me is that NJPW feels like an exciting product whereas CMLL doesn't. NJPW's production is better, they run more big shows, the crowds come across as much hotter (ties into better production), the booking has a clear direction that allows you to get invested, etc. If you make it a pure workrate vs. workrate discussion I think there's more room for debate, but with all the other factors taken into account NJPW takes it pretty easily for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely true that CMLL has more bad matches than NJPW. It's easy to forget that since I pick and choose what I watch from them, whereas I often watch the NJPW shows live.

 

edit: The more I think about it the more I have to go with New Japan. The big thing for me is that NJPW feels like an exciting product whereas CMLL doesn't. NJPW's production is better, they run more big shows, the crowds come across as much hotter (ties into better production), the booking has a clear direction that allows you to get invested, etc. If you make it a pure workrate vs. workrate discussion I think there's more room for debate, but with all the other factors taken into account NJPW takes it pretty easily for me.

Define big shows?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thing is most lucha hardcore will freely admit that AAA was the superior promotion to EMLL last year on the whole. There were better matches in bunches in EMLL but AAA had the better year as far as doing business. There are so many shows that EMLL ran this year at Arena Mexico that were half houses. It does help though they own their own buildings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't watch one NJPW match last year and saw well over a hundred 2014 CMLL matches and probably enjoyed every single one I watched to some degree but CMLL seems to succeed in spite of itself when it succeeds at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The two promotions are so different that it’s a difficult question to answer.

 

CMLL uses more wrestlers on a regular/semi-regular basis than any other promotion in the world. They run as much (more?) first run weekly television than any promotion in the world. They own the major buildings they run and run the same buildings on a weekly loop. They almost exclusively (currently that is) use domestic wrestlers on their shows. They have 4 or 5 regular big shows annually that they build to but otherwise book big matches when it suits them. When there is no big show in sight, they are either building to a bigger match on a regular show or wondering around aimlessly.

 

New Japan has maybe 40-ish wrestlers under contract – much closer to a “normal” big promotion. They don’t run traditional TV. They don’t run a regular loop, own any buildings, or stop at the same places. They rely substantially – although maybe not heavily – on foreign wrestlers to fill out their shows. They have somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 big shows a year as set times that they build towards, with the rest of the shows all working towards the next big show.

 

Those are pretty substantial differences. CMLL has so many wrestlers and so much TV that inherently they should (and for the most part do) produce a wider variety of interesting matches than New Japan. Since they don’t have a structure where they build to 10-12 big shows a year with a lot of big matches like New Japan does, the higher volume of matches does not necessarily lead to higher overall match quality. If there is a good, pushed wrestler in New Japan, between big shows and the G1 he might get 16 to 20 featured singles matches annually. If there is a good, pushed wrestler in CMLL, at most he is going to get a half-dozen featured singles matches. That’s in a good year. That’s a positive for CMLL in some ways because guys are less overexposed but it also keeps the really talented ones from getting to fully maximize that talent. New Japan’s booking needs to be more focused and straight forward given their model. CMLL can and often does wander around in circles in terms of their booking and presentation. Most don’t blink when CMLL regularly runs in front of half full crowds at Arena Mexico but when New Japan stumbles at the gate it is more visible.

 

I think that it is a difficult question to answer because the goals and set up of each promotion are so widely different. Even with match quality, it’s not easy to answer. Like others have said, CMLL has a ton of stinkers but they churn out so much that they get overlooked. New Japan doesn’t have that advantage. I enjoy CMLL a bit more overall than New Japan but I definitely woudln’t argue that they are the better promotion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not going to touch on the business side, because that doesn't matter to me. All I care about is what happens in the ring, and in that regard I think CMLL is far and away the better promotion. I don't dislike NJPW, I like a lot of the talent they have and they have been consistently putting out good to great stuff for the past few years. CMLL and NJPW are similar in this aspect, they are both consistently really good to great. However, the difference comes through in the depth that CMLL has compared to NJPW; as well as the simple truth that I enjoy watching CMLL a lot more.

 

When I'm talking about depth I mean that for me NJPW undercards are pretty abysmal, and since I'm not really a fan of Okada or Tanahashi their main event scene doesn't light my world on fire either. Contrast that with CMLL where I greatly enjoy almost all of their top guys and think the depth is there in spades. They have more output than NJPW so CMLL is more prone to bad matches, but their good stuff far outweighs their bad stuff at least when it comes to overall quality. I struggle at times to get into what NJPW is offering that isn't Ishii or Nakamura, but I can go fifteen guys deep and still enjoy what CMLL is doing.

 

At the end of the day that's what it comes down to for me, what I enjoy watching the most. For me that's CMLL, from top to bottom, and that's why in my opinion they've been the best, or close to the best, promotion in the world now for many years and NJPW hasn't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll grant that CMLL is the deeper promotion. It has a ton of good wrestling. Sometimes it boils down to style. I like trios matches, but getting them weeks at a time gets old. It's a great way to keep things fresh too which is an odd after reading my last sentence.

 

For NJPW we get a lot of great matches.They present the IWGP and all their titles as important. They make wins and losses mean something. So it has an old school feel in that retrospect.I like how they respect their legends. They don't have as deep as a roster as CMLL.

 

For me it's the presentation that gives NJPW the edge to me. This has 0 to do with business.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Who are you on Twitter OJ?

 

I don't have an account. I just follow the PWO account.

 

My understanding from reading cubsfan's year-end write up for the Cubed Circle newsletter is that while Atlantis and Ultimo Guerrero popped a huge gate for the Anniversary Show it did nothing to boost regular audience, even the shows immediately afterwards where Guerrero worked unmasked. It may have been the biggest gate ever at Arena Mexico (due to ticket prices), but I don't think it compares to other big drawing matches in CMLL history like Rayo de Jalisco vs. Cien Caras, which clearly had more of an effect on business. Was Atlantis vs. Guerrero well promoted? If Jedo and Gedo's booking deserves more criticism, or at least more of a critique, then what about the debacle at the 80th Anniversary Show? If CMLL is going to be held to the same degree of relevancy as New Japan it can't be simply that more people discuss how great the workers or matches are, there ought to be proper debate over the way they do business as well, which you only really get in Lucha blog/Lucha world circles. CMLL, from my experience, has historically been the laziest booked promotion in history. Whether that's because of the fact they own the arenas, their "serious and stable" philosophy, or the fact that the Lutteroth family don't really care about the company (as Jose always says), I'm not sure. They just seem lucky to me that so many older fans were willing to pay high prices for the chance to see something historic. Perhaps CMLL can draw another big gate when, and if, Atlantis finally unmasks, but that's a bit like the criticism of the Wrestlemania cards over the past few years.

 

The idolo tournament was by far the best tournament CMLL has ever done (which isn't that big a hurdle to clear, but nevertheless it was a good tournament), but CMLL history is littered with the fallen bodies of workers who received a push, so I would hold off on declaring their star making efforts a success. Again, if CMLL were taken more seriously, there would be an acknowledgement that they're just as bad as WWE when it comes to pushes that crash and burn.

 

I agree with stomperspc that it's difficult to compare the companies in terms of match quality. NJPW is set up to give it's workers every chance possible to deliver multiple WON-style MOTYC bouts per year, whereas CMLL is mostly booked to fill the hours upon hours of regular programming they produce. CMLL match quality has increased during the business downturn, as the workers and company generally have to work harder to please the core fanbase, but the one thing I would argue about the match output is that with the hours of programming CMLL produce there should be more pimped matches to watch each month. Their quality output seems really low in that respect. We're almost at the end of Jan and how many good matches have there been? It's only the beginning of the season, and January's not a big month for wrestling in Mexico, but matches that may or may not ever lead to apuesta matches and booking that lacks any sort of focus other than random heel vs. face match-ups and the odd lightning match leading to a title bout isn't going to win people over who have a WON mindset.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At the end of the day that's what it comes down to for me, what I enjoy watching the most. For me that's CMLL, from top to bottom, and that's why in my opinion they've been the best, or close to the best, promotion in the world now for many years and NJPW hasn't.

 

Are you saying you watch CMLL shows from top to bottom? How long has CMLL been the best promotion in the world for? Who are the top 20 workers in the promotion?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

At the end of the day that's what it comes down to for me, what I enjoy watching the most. For me that's CMLL, from top to bottom, and that's why in my opinion they've been the best, or close to the best, promotion in the world now for many years and NJPW hasn't.

 

Are you saying you watch CMLL shows from top to bottom? How long has CMLL been the best promotion in the world for? Who are the top 20 workers in the promotion?

 

 

I watch the majority of CMLL, and I'd say they've been the best in the world since at least 2010, maybe even earlier but I'm still not done with my CMLL explorations of pre-2013. I wouldn't deny that CMLL is capable of some dreck, much like NJPW they often put on undercard matches that are mediocre to terrible. But, as I said in my initial post, the top flight stuff is the best of the best and better than what any other promotion puts out.

 

Presently in no particular order my top 20 would be Cavernario, Hechicero, Virus, Dragon Lee, Cachorro, Ultimo Guereero, Atlantis, Blue Panther, Rey Cometa, Mascara Dorada (still unclear as to if he's gone completely or will be returning a lot), Rush, Amapola, Guerrero Maya Jr., Volador Jr. Titan, Raziel, Angel de Oro, Negro Casas, Zeuxis, and Stuka Jr. Though I will say, your response comes across as one of those "I'm a real fan of CMLL, prove to me how much of a fan you really are." Hopefully I'm just reading it wrong though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will have more to say when I get home, but I'd be interested to hear more explicit thoughts about this from OJ. I get that you are always arguing for a more broadly critical approach, but this thread and what drove you to create it (Twitter comments you haven't referenced individually) feels like a backhanded way of arguing in favor of NJPW without actually doing it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not a fan of one or the other (CMLL or NJPW.) I read the WON results and thought they fit in fairly well with the prevailing sentiment, but without dragging up Tweets, I also read the arguments about CMLL being better than NJPW or at least having a better year. I'll admit to being slightly skeptical of the claim, but I think it's worth fleshing out and Twitter doesn't appear to be the forum to do that. Other than that, I don't have any stake in the matter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A big part of the issue here is that a lot of how you look at promotions is based on your expectations for the promotion, the hype surrounding it, and preferences you have as a fan. No matter how objective we might try to be as a critics, at the end of the day we are still fans, and when talking about what promotion you think is better you can't really eliminate those things from the equation.

 

To hear some people talk I am a huge critic of New Japan, but I don't really know that I am. It's just that I hold them to the same standard I hold every other promotion. If the argument OJ is making in this thread is that CMLL is not being held to the same standard that is probably true on some level, though I don't really dispute many of the criticisms OJ made about CMLL - and yet at the end of the day I would still much rather watch the average CMLL match, and given that I could live without every seeing Okada or Tanahashi wrestle again, even conceding the superiority of top of the card NJPW booking (generally speaking anyhow, I still think booking Nak v. Okada on two days build at the G1 Final was stupid and would be viciously attacked if it were any other promotion on Earth) it's not a promotion I can ever really be invested in. As bad as CMLL booking can be I genuinely love Rush. I genuinely love Negro Casas. I've become a major fan of Titan. This is to say nothing of guys like Virus, Hechicero, Cavernario, et, et, who I aren't promoted and pushed as well, but I still feel like I have a stake in. With NJPW the guys I connect to the most as a fan are Nakamura, Ishii, Honma, Shibata, Suzuki, Kushida, Liger, Tanaka and Komatsu - of those at most two are guys who I feel are being used to their most potential are close to it. You could certainly argue that CMLL's historical record of doing that is wore, or even that they are worse even now, but in 2014 I thought the four top stars of En Busca de un Idolo, Virus, Rush, Titan and Casas were used pretty well more often than not.

 

Should I have maybe voted for NJPW first in the WON Awards for Promotion of the Year? Maybe. I could see a case, and I did mull it over quite a bit. I have zero problem with them winning. But when you have people literally comparing Gedo/Jedo booking to the work of God, the fact that guys who I think have "it" aren't getting pushed better when I think the promotion needs more depth at the top of the card stands out more than similar problems do in CMLL where my expectations are perhaps lower and/or are tempered by the stylistic and business model differences.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2014 was not Gedo and Jado's best year but it was way better than the picking names out of a hat booking that EMLL does most of the time. The booking of Terrible the past year or more has been pretty terrible (no pun intended) and he is their heavyweight champ which may not mean as much in Mexico as everywhere else but the fact that he could be a main event rudo in AAA yet is doing jobs in EMLL is crazy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Despite what I said above, I ENJOY CMLL. I watch it on my terms. If there's a match I want to see, I watch it. I can understand how it'd be rougher on someone who watches everything. I've come to enjoy the ebb and flow of their trios structure for the sake of it, not just for awesome matwork or great dives or whatever. There's a ritual nature to CMLL matches and maybe it's actually just detritus and laziness, a pale shadow of the mastery of decades past, but since it's how I came into lucha, I actually kind of love it. Which isn't the same necessarily as liking it. It's less rational maybe. When I have 20 mins I have to kill, a great way to do that is to see if Cubs has posted anything new and to watch a match.

 

On the other hand, I'm not really engaged by them in a way I was last year really in my ignorance, when I actually thought that, let's say, they might bring Del Rio in as the perfect tecnico to give Rush his comeuppance. The timing just seemed absolutely perfect. I just didn't GET it then, just a few months ago, the level of complacency and bare minimum mentality. (Parka randomly appearing is another great example of this).

 

That said, I kind of want to see, let's say an Ingobernables vs Ultimo Guerrero/Olimpico/Rey Bucanero match (or hell, a relevos increíbles with Atlantis in the Olimpico role) because I think there'd be a novelty in that. So maybe my standards are just lower, or maybe I'm looking for something a little different than longer time fans. It'd nice to be more emotionally engaged which would come with better (see: "some") booking and a few even minor risks taken, but I enjoy it, how I enjoy it, for what it is, and frankly, I have no desire in the least to watch NJPW, so there you go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The way I see it, where you stand on this question is mainly a reflection of how you feel about Tanahashi and Okada. I really like both guys, so this is an easy win for NJPW in my book. On the other hand, there's only one guy in CMLL I have any desire to go out of my way to see, and that's Hechicero.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not to pile on CMLL too much, but cubsfan chimed in with his thoughts here and I thought he raised some interesting points -- http://www.thecubsfan.com/cmll/2015/01/23/all-the-problems-i-have-with-mascara-dorada-going-to-njpw-enumerated/

 

Interesting read.

 

When talking year end awards with people like RobViper or cubs and bringing up CMLL as promotion of the year, I was met with polite reactions akin to "Well, i'm glad you dig them, but...no." I voted them #2 anyway, based on the Anniversary number and the aesthetic success of En Busca (plus the fresh young stars). I am by no means a hardcore fan, and i'm not going to pretend I follow them week to week. I watch the major events and the hyped matches. But you definitely get the sense the hardcore inside fan has a much lower opinion of CMLL than the rest of us do. In my case, it's probably because I skip all of the nose to the grind week to week stuff and just watch the best stuff they're pumping out. I stopped watching the TV because it was months behind, plus it was a B-show from what I was told and it was mostly trash aside from the main event.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×