WWE Comes Out Swinging in Japan

Wrestling giant opens Japanese office to compete in key Asian market
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2008 7:13 PM CDT
The WWE's big push to market itself in Japan is nowhere clearer than at events like the SummerSlam Festival, which charges fans $30 to watch recorded WWE pay-per-view events on giant video screens.    (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
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(Newser) – Move over, sumo. WWE is pushing hard into Japan, tailoring its blend of sport and spectacle to this key Asian market, AP reports. The company opened a Japanese office this year—its only overseas outpost devoted to a single country—and now 35,000 Japanese users subscribe to WWE’s mobile phone website. "Japanese fans are changing" to embrace WWE, its only Japanese star told the AP.

"The key is to give them more opportunities to watch WWE," he added. That’s happening at the SummerSlam Festival, where fans gather to watch smackdowns on giant screens. Still, WWE faces competition from homegrown wrestling and ultimate fighting. “Japanese are a very suppressed people," one wrestler said. "And so it takes a special kind of performance skill to fire up their passion.”