Welcome to the exciting world of puroresu! Before we get to into it, I'd like to go over some of the major differences between WWE and Japanese wrestling. These are just very general concepts, as like in America, there is a very wide range of types of wrestling in Japan.
Japanese wrestling concentrates more on in-ring wrestling then storylines. There are storylines, but most are based around factions and wrestling-related issues, not baby momma drama. During any given event, at least 90% of it will be in-ring wrestling with only backstage interviews or a wrestler making a challenge as exceptions. Some smaller promotions such as DDT are more entertainment-based, but even in those cases the bulk of the entertainment happens during the matches, not backstage or in the ring skits.
Feuds in Japan tend to last over a longer of period of time then they do in many American promotions. For example, Misawa and Kawada had a feud for over 10 years. During that span, they only had a handful of singles matches, and also met in several tag team matches. While this is an extreme example, in general the feuds last at least six months. For a current example, Tanahashi and Nakamura don't wrestle multiple times every year but will be opposite each other for many years to come. They will meet in tags fairly often, but the one on one fight is held off until a special occasion. Like in American wrestling, some feuds are based off one team mate turning on the other, or defending another wrestler. Also, many feuds in Japan are faction vs. faction, which can last for a year or longer (such as CHAOS vs. GBH in New Japan or VDM vs. RO&D in All Japan several years ago).
In Japan, professional wrestling is more respected then it is in America. It isn’t that people actually believe it is “real” and that the combatants are really fighting. The general public just respects the sport for what it is - an athletic and carefully choreographed form of entertainment. Some major newspapers actually print results to wrestling events. The promotions feed this acceptance by having press conferences to hype wrestling matches and feuds. Many of the promos and hype are produced in the month before the event through the news as much as during actual cards.
Again, it depends on the wrestler, but the Japanese style in general is more calculated and methodic. Japanese wrestlers tend to be stiffer, and in major matches they really lay it on hard in order to make it seem more real and increase the intensity. Head drop moves that have been banned in major promotions in America are not banned in Japan, and just about any type of move is legal and accepted. Also, matches tend to have a winner instead of a “Dusty Finish” or interference. This is especially true on PPVs, where you will very rarely ever see an unfair victory. There are heel factions that cheat, but usually that is only for a match or two and for the title matches rarely does outside interference effect the outcome in order to keep the championships "clean." Use of weapons such as chairs on the outside of the ring are generally allowed, but not in the ring.
The rosters in Japan consist of a group of core wrestlers, and Freelancers brought in for one tour or longer. Unlike in WWE, promotions in Japan use Freelancers (wrestlers not under contract with any promotion) extensively, including giving Freelancers major titles in the promotion. This gives the promotion some variety and flexibility, plus if the Freelancer is a major star it allows the promotion to put one of their own young wrestlers over the respected veteran without using one of their contracted wrestlers. Minoru Suzuki is a two time Triple Crown champion in All Japan, even though he is a Freelancer in the promotion.
Promotions in Japan run tours that usually last from two to three weeks. During the tour, they may wrestle two or three days in a row before a day off. Once the tour is over, however, the wrestlers have a week or more off before the next tour starts. During a tour, the last card of the tour tends to be the big event with any major title matches. So while the wrestlers go more consecutive days, they also get a breather between tours to heal any wounds.
Women in Wrestling
In general, women do not have a role in wrestling promotions unless it is an all-woman’s promotion. Joshi, or female puroresu, was very popular in the 80s into the 90s, but has faded recently. Female wrestlers occasionally make appearances in smaller indys, but rarely if ever in the larger promotions.
One of the hardest things when getting into puroresu is getting accostomed to not understanding the commentary. You will quickly discover how commentary isn't really necessary to enjoy a match, true it can enhance a match but commentary can also distract from the match. When I watch puroresu I listen to the commentator's tone and excitement level but my focus is purely on the action in the ring. It can take some time, but once you get over that hurdle you will be able to enjoy puroresu even without English commentary.