So when I was a kid and into the 90s I always remembered AJPW as being just as big if not bigger than NJPW. Isn’t that where Muta,Dr Death and Terry Gordy and Vader and Hansen and all that stuff happened? I only knew anything from the apter mags and never really followed Japan that much but it seemed at some point NJPW completely surpassed them. Looking it up on Wikipedia it reads like a clusterfuck of people leaving to start other promotions like Noah wich I might of seen a match or two from, think that was Hayabusa and death matches...
Anyway the old AJPW ring and Triple crown was badass, seems like it’s now a minor league promotion. Can someone who knows about the Japan stuff explain what happened?
I don't have the biggest knowledge base, but as I recall it was largely due to a series of things.
1) Baba died. That left Misawa as the company president.
2) About a year and a half later, Misawa was removed as president by the executive board. 6 board members (including Misawa) resigned from the board 2 weeks later. Motoko Baba released a statement accusing Misawa of abandoning his duty.
3) Misawa formed NOAH, and took almost all of the Japanese wrestlers with him a few days after the board resignation.
4) A few days after that, All Japan lost the TV deal they had for almost 30 years. A small part of the ownership of the company was from NTV, and they prevented a new TV deal from happening.
About a year and a half later, Mutoh acquired most of the ownership of All Japan, but the damage was already done, as I understand it. Baba's death set off a series of events that ended up with most of the wrestlers going to NOAH and they never fully recovered.