By Zach Arnold | December 2, 2012
… and that show isn’t the GLORY/DREAM-in-name-only event on 12/31 at Saitama Super Arena.
Dana White’s too busy pretending to be a homeless man to care about what’s going on
Right now, New Year’s Eve in Japan basically has one notable fight signed — and it has nothing to do with the SSA event. Naoya Ogawa vs. Kazuyuki Fujita, a match I’m not sure anyone (including Inoki) can explain to the public why anyone should care. Fujita called Ogawa an amateur, so I guess there’s your reasoning. The fight will happen on 12/31 in Tokyo at Ryogoku Kokugikan. I’ll give Inoki this much credit — the two names are familiar to wrestling & MMA fans. Therefore, it will draw some eyeballs. More importantly, it will draw the eyeballs of the top fight writers & photographers who work for the Japanese publications (newspapers & magazines). Unless Bas Boon can come up with a fight that has more popular appeal than Ogawa/Fujita for his show, he’s going to lose the support of the Japanese press to Inoki’s operation.
The general rule-of-thumb for past NYE events in Japan is that you have a main event ready to go by late September, no later than mid-October. That is the first brick of the foundation for matchmaking that you use to go to television networks, sponsors, and money marks to see who will bite. It takes ad agencies like Dentsu weeks to line up potential clients and send out the proper feelers. You have to do your due diligence. No matter how strong the television network or ad agency is, the event promoter has to be ready to go and fire on all cylinders. Japan is a very difficult place to promote an event and it requires the right muscle to make it work.
I mention this because GLORY was going to have their original Japanese show this past weekend at Makuhari Messe. It’s a nice building but the promotion would have lost their ass financially on the show. So, they canceled the 12/2 date and instead went all-in for NYE on SSA. As of the moment of this writing, there is no main card announced for the SSA show. We are four weeks away from an event taking place at a building that, at its lowest, can be configured for 9,000-10,000 seats. It’s a building that can be configured for 40,000 seats. Saitama Super Arena is not exactly Korakuen Hall. You have to have a card ready to go.
Bas Boon has access to lots of foreign talent. Many of the names are familiar with elements of the fighting fan base in Japan. The problem, however, is that he doesn’t have access to a major Japanese name. Shinya Aoki is not a major name. The fans don’t know who is fighting on the card. That’s a major problem. It’s like promising to open up a restaurant and not having a menu available for the patrons coming in for the grand opening.
If there was a serious television deal on the line for this show, I can guarantee you that the TV network would have not allowed this situation to occur. The producers would have already lined up fighters and had purses ready to go. When K-1 & PRIDE ran their major NYE events, television producers were hands on. They were working alongside the promoters to get the agents to the table to cut the deals and have fights booked. They would get the fighters booked for variety shows to plug upcoming fights. Everything that needed to be done would get done. Right now, I don’t see any of this happening on the ground.
I have no clue what Inoki plans for NYE show outside of one match, but at least he got part of the equation right. And not only that, he’s been telegraphing the fight booking for months. Where’s the money match-ups for the Saitama Super Arena show?