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By Jay Cal on 6/1/2018 12:32 PM

Tuesday Night, things took a positive turn for Toho Eiyuden (which literally translates to Oriental Heroes).  Coming off the heels of working with the National Wrestling Alliance and Championship Wrestling from Hollywood in April. The promotion founded by Simon Kelly based out of Shanghai China has reached a working agreement with Pro Wrestling NOAH, which could really elevate the promotion’s status in China.  Simon Kelly ran the Inoki Dojo in Los Angeles with David Marquez and later ran the Inoki Genome Federation.  But since his departure, Simon’s focus has been bringing wrestling to mainland China.  With overtures by WWE and various independents, it seems China is prime for a professional wrestling emergence, unlike what the People’s Republic have ever seen. 

Nearly two years ago during a WWE press conference, John Cena announced in Mandarin that the WWE was returning to Shanghai. It was at this moment that the WWE perfectly executed what its intentions were for The People's Republic of China. It’s at that moment, the WWE revealed to the world that yes, China is ready for professional wrestling. And the WWE had started to target the region for its programming. This was a huge first step into breaking into the People’s Republic of China.  But it also opened doors for others.  Bin Wang, a kickboxing star training at the Inoki Genome Federation and a project of Simon Kelly It was also announced that Bin Wang would be signed by WWE, acknowledging him as their first Chinese recruit. A former kick boxer Bin Wang trained with the Inoki Genome Federation and after 16 professional matches, Wang was signed by the WWE to their developmental center. Days later they would announce Hong Kong native HoHoLun for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. 

The sport of wrestling is still relatively unknown to mainland China. The WWE previously has held events in Shanghai as far back as 2010 and again in 2012 and 2013. Professional wrestling in China goes back nearly fifty years ago but is still not something a larger audience is familiar with. The Japanese Wrestling Alliance, the promotion responsible for launching the careers of Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba, held back to back events in Hong Kong in 1969. It would be almost thirty years before New Japan would try hosting events in Hong Kong and two years later in Harbin. Dragon Gate would venture into The People’s Republic over a decade later. Professional wrestling just hadn’t seemed to stick in China. The influence of these visiting wrestling promotions spawned a slew of Independent Wrestling promotions in the country. Chinese Wrestling Entertainment started shows in 2012. In 2015 an American living in China (Adrian Gomez) would open the doors of Middle Kingdom Wrestling. And earlier this year Oriental Wrestling Entertainment featured a card made up from talents from CZW and Las Vegas’ Future Stars of Wrestling, with talent from Dragon Gate and local Chinese talents.

While working with IGF, Kelly saw the potential for what wrestling could mean in China.  They ran shows in 2013 that were mostly MMA exhibitions with Bob Sapp, Bobby Lashley, and Hideki Suzuki.  Kelly would bring pro-wrestling on his return to Shanghai, complete with a new dojo, and feature talents Kairi Sane, former WWE talent Kenso Suske, Alexander Otsuka, and Minoru Tanaka and trainees from the Shanghai Dojo; Lin Dong Xuan (Lin) and Chang Jian Feng (Joe).  Borrowing elements from the Inoki Dojo and IGF is looking to create pro-wrestlers in China who are capable of working anywhere, much like what the Inoki Dojo did with Daniel Bryan, Rocky Romero, TJ Perkins, and Ricky Reyes.  Kenzo Suzuki has been one of the main trainers at the dojo as well as guest instruction from former WWE Wrestler Vladimir Kozlov (who’s an action star in China cinema now.)  Simon admitted that his gym has a high turnover. “We have actors, MMA fighters, [and] other athletes show up to our school. But they have no real understanding of how difficult pro wrestling training is and they quit after the first week or so. We currently have 10-15 students.” Bin Wang was a student with the Inoki Genome Federation prior to signing with the WWE. When he was signed by the WWE, it created a lot of the interest in the Shanghai Dojo, with those coming to learn pro wrestling.

One of the dojo’s prized pupil is Liu Wenbo. A Light Heavyweight who holds an MMA record of 10 wins, 7 losses. 5 of those wins were knockouts. Fighting out of Beijing China, Liu started training at the dojo when he saw the success of Bin Wang who went from Chinese Kick Boxing to Professional Wrestling. Simon would add "Liu's following has been drawing more interest into pro wrestling form both fan perspective and from fellow MMA fighters looking to also make the transition into pro wrestling." He was quick to note the success of Brock Lesnar being a hybrid between pro wrestling and MMA. And the recent transition of Rhonda Rousey into the world of pro wrestling. Their Chinese counterparts are looking for the same opportunities. Liu would actually attend the next WWE Tryout in Shanghai in 2016 along with Joe. 

May 29th at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo it was announced that five students of Kelly’s Shanghai Dojo will compete in Pro Wrestling NOAH next month.  Lin and Joe will be joined by Sun Yilin, Ma Zhu Jiang, and Hasegawa.  The working relationship with Noah will include training for the young athletes as well as joint events, talent scouting, and an opportunity to bring NOAH talent to China.  This is coming off the heels of the collaborative wrestling event in Wenzhou with Championship Wrestling from Hollywood and the National Wrestling Alliance. 

But even now as wrestling's international popularity continues to grow its difficult to run events in China. As both the Inoki Genome Federation and with Toho Eiyuden, Simon Kelly has seen firsthand how difficult it can be. The buildings are state owned. And although the culture is changing, you still need to have the proper authorization, go through the proper regulation. Although wrestling does exist in China, Toho Eiyuden is working to broadening the awareness of wrestling in China and to help cultivate a following that will grow wrestling in The People's Republic in China with hopes of becoming the first main stream wrestling promotion.

This Monday on, a first-hand look at CWH's event in China.

For more of Jay Cal's reports and writing, visit