World Japan (Riki Pro)
Fighting World Of Japan Pro-Wrestling, also known as World Japan, WJ, or Riki Pro, was an independent promotion founded by New Japan legend Riki Choshu in 2003. Choshu formed the promotion after leaving New Japan in fall 2002. With Kensuke Sasaki, Shiro Koshinaka, and referee Masao “Tiger” Hattori not renewing their contracts with New Japan in January 2003 as well, the four of them decided to develop their own promotion, World Japan. Yoshiaki Yatsu (who had been Chōshū’s ally in New Japan, Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance, and All Japan Pro Wrestling in the 1980s), was also brought in along with some of the talent of his small-time SPWF promotion. Other independent wrestlers and freelancers such as Genichiro Tenryu, Takao Ōmori, and Tomohiro Ishii came along as well. American Gaijin talent included established stars such as Vader, The Road Warriors, “Dr. Death” Steve Williams and Big Vito, as well as new stars such as Lex Lovett, Steve Madison, The Maximos, and The Shane Twins.
The promotion was troubled from the beginning. After an August 2003 “training accident” while training with Kenzo Suzuki at World Japan’s dojo, Giant Ochiai suffered an acute subdural hematoma and died on August 8, 2003. Giant Ochiai’s August 13 wake was attended by World Japan Management Director Katsuji Nagashima. World Japan was ultimately viewed by Japanese fans as just another independent promotion in the saturated world of pro wrestling, so it wasn’t able to make a dent in the major promotions’ fanbases. Despite having tournaments to crown WMG (World Magma Greatest) champions in both the singles heavyweight and tag team divisions, these events didn’t draw much interest. Eventually, the major talent (Sasaki, Tenryu, Koshinaka, Omori), went back to the major leagues, while World Japan continued operating on a part-time basis as Riki Chōshū’s exclusive show. In December 2004, however, Chōshū himself appeared again on a New Japan card, indicating that his days of promoting World Japan had come to an end.
Riki Pro would continue in some form until spring 2006, when it finally shut down. Choshu then returned to New Japan.
World Japan had 2 titles: WMG Heavyweight and WMG Tag Team.