If you've been following my blog for a while, you know that i've always been a pretty big wrestling fan. I've done a few wrestling themed customs in the past, like the Extreme Championship Wrestling customs & the Great Muta customs below (which it just dawned on me I never posted on the blog):
I wanted to touch on another wrestling theme (actually have a few in mind I still want to do but this is the latest). Aside from the U.S. based promotions, i'm also a big fan of the Japanese style of pro wrestling (or "Puroresu" as it's also known). Some companies in Japan have the same entertainment elements of a WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) or a TNA (Total Nonstop Action), but for the most part, Japanese wrestling places a heavier focus on athleticism and is treated as a legitimate sport there. Since the early 90s, Japanese wrestling has even developed a huge following amongst American fans who also love the style via tape trading in the 90s and later with the internet, where you can not only watch matches online through places like Youtube but also order full show dvds from select sites.
The theme I was looking to do in this case was based on Japan's top company, New Japan Pro Wrestling. NJPW was founded in 1972 by wrestling legend Antonio Inoki. Some American fans from those days may remember him from the boxer vs. wrestler match he had against Muhammad Ali in the 70s. New Japan has spawned a lot of wrestlers who would go on to become legends in both Japan and the United States such as The Great Muta, Jushin Liger, Kensuke Sasaki & Tiger Mask to name a few. Many well known American wrestlers have also competed for the company whether it was periodically or full time, such as Hulk Hogan (both pre and post WWF eras), Ric Flair, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, The Road Warriors, and Sting just to name a few.
Just like the US, Japan has its major and independent companies as well. Companies like All Japan Pro Wrestling (also founded in 1972) and Pro Wrestling NOAH are the other two major companies but NJPW is seen as the number one company. The company's had it's ups and downs but has risen back to become the top in Japan boasting amazing talents such as Hiroshi Tanahashi (one of their most popular stars of all time and arguably the most popular right now), Tetsua Naito, Shinsuke Nakamura, and current IWGP (International Wrestling Grand Prix) champion "Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada. The company also boasts a number of American wrestlers (many of whom work for American based promotion Ring Of Honor Wrestling, whom NJPW has a working agreement with) such as AJ Styles, Red Dragon, The Young Bucks, and members of The Bullet Club. But enough of the wrestling history lesson, time to get to what you guys came to see....
First off, I originally planned to do this custom on some Jordan 3s but being as though I had a pair of the Jordan Infrared 6s sitting around for months with no idea what to do with them, I realized that they'd make a much better canvas:
For the actual design, I knew I wanted it to be based off what I think is probably my favorite wrestling logo, the New Japan "King Of Sports" logo:
I also somehow wanted to incorporate Okada & Tanahashi:
(Former champion & one of the company's biggest stars, Hiroshi Tanahashi)
So after logging in about a good 20+ hours of work on these (worked on them over a 2 day period), here's some pics the finished product.
On the back heels is the famous NJPW logo with the "KING OF SPORTS - NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING" lettering. The logo, along with the rest of the entire shoe design, was done free hand, no stencils.
I transformed the Jordan jumpman on the tongue flaps to resemble Okada (left) and Tanahashi (right) with both holding the IWGP belt. I originally wanted to make Okada with blonde hair but it blended in too heavily with the yellow background. Fortunately Okada changes his hair color periodically so I was able to get away with doing a different color.
And the pattern throughout the shoe is actually based off the lion face in the company logo. I added the word "Puroresu" in Japanese kanji on the left shoe just as a nice touch.
The pair in these pics is actually my personal pair (planning to grab me a New Japan logo t-shirt to wear with them...hopefully I can pull these out next time Ring Of Honor comes to NYC, especially if there's some New Japan guys on the card)....however, if you're interested in having a wrestling theme done (or a non-wrestling theme for that matter), email me through the contact section of my website, www.ecentrikart.net!