What Is Strong Style Wrestling?
Do you like wrestling? Of course, you do.
But understand, there is American wrestling, such as we see in the WWE, and there is Japanese wrestling. They call it “Puroresu”.
I will examine, in this article, one of the most exciting forms of Japanese wrestling out there: Strong Style Wrestling.
Are you interested? Picture a hybrid wrestling style that fuses the best from pro wrestling with the best from martial arts. Something intense and brutal.
The History of Wrestling in Japan
Puroresu is what the Japanese call their style of professional wrestling.
Pro wrestling did not catch on in Japan until the fifties. Formerly, Sumo was the thing. Sumo has existed for thousands of years. In 1880, a Sumo Wrestler Shokichi Hamada went to the US, where he trained in the American style of wrestling. Coming back to Japan, he tried to set up wrestling shows, but they didn’t catch on.
It was not until the 1950s, in the wake of World War II, when American culture was all the rage in Japan, that Puroresu came into its own. The earliest big star of the sport was Rikidozan, who was formerly a Sumo Champion.
He was succeeded by names like Kenji “Antonio” Inoki and Shohei “Giant” Baba. Those early days were Puroresu’s golden years. Viewership today is not what it used to be.
Strong Style Wrestling
Puroresu wrestlers wanted to create a more realistic style of wrestling. The idea was to incorporate more “full contact” moves in their matches so as to excite their audiences even more.
A strong style is an exciting event, a combination of pro wrestling and martial arts moves. It involves highly intense action. The fighters hit each other much harder than their American counterparts.
It incorporates open palm slaps, kicks, throw type moves, and suplexes. Famous Strong Style wrestlers include Shinsuke Nakamura, Katsuyori Shibata, Togi Makabe, and Tomohiro Ishii. Fans of Japanese wrestling love Strong Style for its hard-hitting, realistic action.
Strong Style, as you can already tell, is not for everyone. American pro wrestling is easier to take as there is always a sense of showmanship in the enterprise. You have the feeling that it’s all a stunt and nobody is getting hurt.
So even when you watch your favorite wrestler pummel his opponent, at the back of your mind you are thinking, this isn’t 100% real. This is a performance.
Alas, there are no such illusions with Japanese Strong Style Wrestling. The action is more visceral. The violence has an immediacy that is either thrilling or terrifying, depending on your tastes as a Wrestling fan.
The blows are realistic. The wrestlers pound each other as people would in a real street fight – well, extremely skilled martial artists fighting for real, that is.
In wrestling parlance, this hard-hitting nature of Strong Style is referred to as “stiff”. That is when a wrestler is seen to be using excessive force in attacking his opponent, whether deliberately or accidentally. So Strong Style has a reputation for being “very stiff”.
The King of Strong Style
At the moment, Shinsuke Nakamura is the self-declared “King of Strong Style”. He is responsible for the current resurgence of Strong Style.
Nakamura is currently signed to WWE and fights on WWE’s SmackDown. As a result, the Japanese Wrestler has done a lot to bring Strong Style Wrestling to a larger audience.
Nakamura has become a big phenomenon for WWE fans, and they take up a fervent chant of “fight forever” during his matches.
He is admired for his unique combo of mixed martial arts kicks and strikes, plus his tenacity, his never-say-die mindset. Of course to fans of Japanese pro wrestling, none of this is new, as these qualities are the norm in Puroresu.
Shinsuke Nakamura held Japan’s IWGP Heavyweight Champion title three times, the IWGP Intercontinental Champion title five times, and the IWGP Tag Team Champion title once.
If you are already a big fan of professional wrestling, a dose of Strong Style will make your leisure time even more of a thrill.
With stars like Shinsuke Nakamura representing it so admirably, more and more people are becoming interested in Strong Style.
The combination of mixed martial arts with traditional wrestling, plus the tenacity of the wrestlers, is what most us find thrilling and fascinating.