[Disclosure: The following is an unpaid product review for Pro Wrestling Crate’s August 2018 collection. However, a referral link is posted near the bottom of the review.1]
With my push to declutter my life, it takes a lot of incentive for me to invest the money on any individual crate or a subscription service. I also have difficulty making purchases when I don’t know exactly what I am getting. I’ve toyed with the idea of purchasing a Pro Wrestling Crate for several months, but it wasn’t until they announced the BIG IN JAPAN-theme, that I finally decided to see what they’re all about.
Just a bunch of wrestlers who love Japan just as much as I do.
Last year, I started actively learning about professional wrestling in Japan. I was curious about puroresu while I lived in Japan, but I was too shy to ask my colleagues and friends about it at the time. So I am making up for lost time by working my way through the back catalogs of NJPW (New Japan Pro Wrestling) World on-demand and old Pro Wrestling NOAH DVDs. The deeper I dive, the more I realize how much I’ve been missing out on the roots or critical arcs of so many of my favorite wrestlers in WWE or on the independent circuits as well as some of which are still currently working in Japan.
I was also Big in Japan
Of the eight men pictured above, I’ve seen five of them wrestle live in Florida, and I’ve met half of them between WrestleMania 33 and CEO x NJPW in June. They are some of the biggest names both in Japan and around the world. You’ll hear the term gaijin used a lot in reference to the western talent working in Japan. It’s the shortened term for gaikokujin (foreigner; a non-Japanese), but it can also be derogatory for an outsider as the Chinese characters are 外 (soto; outside) and 人 (hito; person). Personally, it has taken a lot for me to get used to this term as a positive one as it had been used against me in several negative experiences while I lived in Japan. I’ve been home for nearly ten years, so I am relieved to see that the connotation is shifting to a more positive one.
Big in Japan PWC Advertised Talent
- Ricochet (top left) – I met Ricochet at WrestleCon 2017, and now he’s signed to NXT, so I see him regularly at shows.
- Big Van Vader (top center) – He recently passed on June 18, 2018, but learning about his impact as a gaijin (foreigner) has been quite interesting.
- Kenny Omega (top right) – He’s the current IWGP heavyweight champion, one of the best wrestlers in the world, and one of my favorite gaijin to talk to in Japanese.
- AJ Styles (bottom left) – When he debuted in WWE, I had no clue who he was, and since then I’ve learned a lot about him. Haven’t met him, but I always love watching him wrestle.
- Tama Tonga (bottom left center) – He’s one of the nicest guys outside of the ring, and his longterm devotion to New Japan is one of my favorite things about him.
- Joey Ryan (bottom right center) – He’s not just a smooth talker with a fun gimmick, he’s a fantastic wrestler, a forerunner of intergender wrestling, and an all-around nice guy!
- Road Warrior Animal (bottom right) – One of those names I always hear, so I am finally starting my homework!
Emotional investment is a very significant portion of my wrestling experience, so knowing that the items I received are crucial. With a Japanese wrestling-themed crate, I am fine with scrapping my rules and hangups about not knowing what I’m getting, and I’ll approach it like a surprise birthday present: I know the people involved, so I’ll like it either way.
Big in Japan Unboxed!
The biggest draw to subscription crate services is the rotating inventory of unique exclusives, but the biggest drawback is potentially being stuck with a bunch of nicknacks I have no use for. I would hate to generate more waste by pitching unwanted items, which is why I’ve held off until now.
PWC Items Offered
- 2 exclusively designed wrestling shirts by Pro Wrestling Tees
- Autographed 8×10 by a Legend or Independent Superstar
- Exclusive Micro Brawler wrestling figure & collector’s pin
- DVDs and random fun wrestling collectibles
- 10% Off every PWT.com order
Let’s see if Big in Japan can win over my Japan-loving gaijin heart…
Hey! Hey! The gang’s all here! August 2018: Big in Japan is a smash success!
August 2018 Haul
- T-shirt 1: “The Mastadon” Big Van Vader
- T-shirt 2: “The King” Ricochet
- Autographed 8 x 10: Animal from Road Warriors
- Micro Brawler: Tama Tonga
- Collector’s Pin: Kenny Omega: Change the World
- DVD: AJ Styles: Making an Impact by Highspots Network
- Random Fun: Ribera Steakhouse Bilingual Menu & Joey Ryan Big in Japan printed socks!
My personal favorites in this crate are the Joey Ryan socks, the Tama Tonga Micro Brawler, and the Ricochet shirt. Now that Ricochet is here in Orlando at NXT, I had been considering finally getting that Taguchi Japan team jersey shirt4 with his name and number on it. I was hoping for an AJ shirt, but that was announced for next month and just as this month’s crates were shipping.
I’m all about Aces, and this Ricochet shirt is 5-Star match quality!
The DVD included matches another title available at Highspots, AJ Styles: Leaving an Impact, including the contents description but potentially minus the bonus features. I was sincerely hoping for a DVD on Big Van Vader because his history in Japan is something I really wanted a primer on, and he passed earlier this year. The Omega collector’s pin commemorates his winning of the US Championship last summer in the G1 Special in Long Beach, California. In the last year, he’s since dropped the US Championship and he’s now shouldering the company’s top strap: the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
I can’t believe nearly three months have passed since this happened!
When I came across the Ribera Steakhouse menu in the box, I wanted two things: to a plane ticket to Tokyo to go to wrestling shows and to finally visit the location of legend… and a really, really great steak. If anyone has some great steak marinading and grilling tips, I am welcoming all suggestions! Also included when purchasing a crate, is a 10% off coupon for a future Pro Wrestling Tees purchase, but my biggest challenge is always making my mind up and picking a shirt to order.
Each month, PW Crate donates to a wrestling related charity and for August 2018, they selected the Virgil Flynn III Family Go Fund Me. Mr. Flynn unexpected passed away in July.
The 20% Off coupon only saved me the cost of shipping the PWC, but shipping does add up on crate services. There are smaller crates available for those on “cruiserweight” (lighter) budgets, but neither option had all the things I truly craved like the t-shirts AND the Micro Brawler in the same price tier. Considering that one soft-style t-shirt at PWT totals around thirty dollars plus five dollars shipping per shirt, it’s a great value straight out of the gate. The biggest investment isn’t financial, but checking my control issues at the door and welcome an unknown box of surprises into my life.
- Cost: $29.99
- – Coupon: 20% Off First Crate with promo code ( – $5.99)
- + Shipping $5.99
- = $29.99 total
Overall, the value of the items included in the Pro Wrestling Crate makes it well worth taking a chance on them! A single t-shirt at PWT can range between $20-25, and if you prefer the soft-style or other non-traditional styles or shoulder/back printing, a single shirt can reach up to $40 before shipping. While I would love the multi-month discount, I still can’t get past the initial outlay without the guarantee of items and wrestlers I like so I may stick with a month-to-month subscription for the time being.
Random Grab Bags are available for overstock items in batches of five, ten, and twenty items, but again, while I love some random fun, I’m not a big gambler. I would love to visit the Pro Wrestling Tees shop in Chicago, Illinois and see what they have available! Chicago is one of those cities where I spent plenty of time at the airport and airport hotels but never had the opportunity to properly visit. I toyed with the idea of going to the ALL IN wrestling show, but it sold out in less than 30 minutes and Labor Day weekend flights were not cheap. Instead, I threw an ALL IN watch party with my friends!
I can’t get enough of this Tama Tonga Micro Brawler!
- Five new subscribers using my customized referral link will result in my next Pro Wrestling Crate being free!
- The cut-off date for ordering the Big in Japan crate was August 8th. It sold out before then.
- I also have the Puroresu Shuyaku Pack by The Lion Marks on the way for review because I love the bilingual work The Lion Marks do to help improve and educate those interested in NJPW. Plus, I love Osaka, where they are based.
- With my birthday and the holidays coming up, should you feel like contributing to making my wrestling shirt collection more colorful, check out my PWT wish list here!