Home > Uncategorized > News: Is It Curtain Call For The “Fighting Opera”?

News: Is It Curtain Call For The “Fighting Opera”?

It could be, as there are reports times are potentially dire for Hustle, the “fighting opera” promotion of puroresu. Click below for details.

According to a Wrestling Observer Newsletter report, last Saturday’s “Hustle Jihad 2009” show at Ryogoku was an absolute disaster. You might recall that, when I posted the results, I reported that they claimed 6910 paid for the show. However, the newsletter reports that it was actually more like 3000. Which means that potentially they gave out more comps (free tickets) than tickets they actually sold! It’s not unusual in puro to give out free tickets to shows (MMA fans in the US know all about it), but this is just one issue. It seems the promotion also wants to become a more “serious pro wrestling” promotion, a la New Japan, All-Japan and NOAH. The “fighting opera” storylines were popular and helped build the promotion, but the star power they used is very costly-especially considering they use not just wrestlers, but actors/actresses, singers, models, and even sumos (Akebono). But things also started to fall apart in July, as Nobuhiko Takada apparently removed himself from the big storyline and also retired, so the head heel is now King RIKI (actor/singer Riki Takeuchi). They’re also using fewer wrestlers and the many masked comic characters are vanishing-there are too many to count on Hustle’s site. Also, some wrestlers are abandoning their gimmicks for real names-2 good examples are Rene Dupree, the former WWE wrestler who first competed as Rene Bonaparte, and Yoji Anjo, better known as Commander An Jo, as well as Akira Shoji, the former Private Shoji. And Akebono supposedly was very expensive. The promotion also seemed to struggle with drawing outside of Tokyo, and even outside of Korakuen. The newsletter compared attendance figures for the shows just before Hustle’s “restart” to the roughly 3 shows since:
6/25 at Korakuen: They claimed 1970, Newsletter says 1500
6/27 at Kiryu: They claimed 1820, Newsletter says 1000
7/5 at Fukuoka: They claimed 4004, Newsletter says 2000
7/26 at Ryogoku (Takada Retirement Show): They claimed 8126, Newsletter says 5000
Restart…all these shows were at Korakuen:
7/30-They claimed 1730, Newsletter says 1200
8/27 (Koshinaka 30th Anniversary): They claimed 1927, Newsletter says 800
9/26-They claimed 1760, Newsletter says 800
10/10 (Ryogoku): They claimed 6910, Newsletter says 3000
Could this be a last-ditch effort to save Hustle? I would think perhaps they should consider working with DDT as they’ve clearly surpassed Hustle in comedy matches and ridiculous storylines, they could work well together. I don’t know if they can make the “pro wrestling” work, they’ve got some of the wrestlers capable of carrying them in that way at first-Toshiaki Kawada’s a great start even though he’s old. But beyond that, who knows. They probably need some working agreements with others. But if this is the end for Hustle, I’d remember it as the first puro promotion to perhaps resemble WWF/E, but now I think DDR first and Hustle second there. I’ll watch this.

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