BAHU responded to my Hayabusa drawing post on TwitLonger ( see: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sp49qk
) so I'm pasting here, so people can see an alternative viewpoint and judge for themselves:
"I'm not sure anyone could have followed Onita as a draw, but Hayabusa was really a worse failure in that regard than Jun Akiyama in following Misawa/Kobashi."
I like to talk about what I know about and I don't know about the Jun Akiyama as a financial failure for NOAH but I know Hayabusa was not a failure for FMW. No, he was not going to be the draw Onita was. Nobody was like you said. But FMW literally was a brand new company that Arai started up following Onita's FMW closing following his retirement that started from scratch. The fact that those May 1995 shows did so horrible shows where the company had to start from scratch pretty much with a new style and a new star. It took just a couple of months for the promotion to begin a brand new fan base that was not the size of Onita's FMW but also not something where you can call it a failure considering it did make a profit.
"- The 1994 FMW Year End Sensation card drew a sellout of 11,085 for Onita vs. Pogo, whilst in 1995 they ran the much smaller Yokohama Bunka Gym (capacity is around 5,000, but they claimed a sellout of 5,500)."
Like you said it's two different buildings so it's not really a fair comparison. I wouldn't consider WrestleMania 20 a box office failure even though it did 36,000 less fans than WrestleMania 19 did. It's also not a fair comparison to use Onita 5 years in to a promotion that he has built around him and he was in the Hall of Famer right away a big reason because of his drawing ability against his top rival during his retirement tour with a show built around a 6 man main event with Hayabusa.
"- Even though 33,231 fans is an impressive figure, particularly with 2016 eyes, the Anniversary Kawasaki stadium in 1996 was still 16,000+ fans down from the prior year, despite support from Cactus Jack, Terry Funk and the first ever woman's No Rope Explosive Barbed Wire Death Match."
Yes, it did not draw what was a retirement show that was built up for a year for the guy that the entire company was based around. But Onita main evented Kawasaki Stadium a year later with Kenta Kobashi, Terry Funk, and Vader and it drew 36,000 fans. It was just what FMW was going to do. No, FMW did not reach the levels of the peak of FMW in 1994-1995 with Onita ever again but no one was going to draw under the FMW name like that again including Onita himself.
"It should also be noted that Hayabusa wasn't always in the main event during this period. He had a lot of time off due to injury in 1996. Indeed, Funk vs. Pogo headlined FMW's biggest show of the summer 1996, which drew an SRO crowd of 3,580 paying $250,000, instead of Hayabusa's comeback from injury match against Koji Nakagawa. Meltzer, who was at that event live noted how Hayabusa "got almost no reaction coming out which was scary" and gave him a DUD rating."
The show was taped. You don't have to use 20 year old Wrestling Observer tidbits and just use them as information instead of seeing for yourself.
Fans are chanting his name before and after the DUD match.
- 44:23 is Hayabusa's entrance and 1:01:39 is his exit. It's an opinion based statement that Meltzer made but I don't hear a scary no reaction from the fans chanting his name personally. Also, he was not in the main event because 1) The main event was a Exploding Barbed wire Death Match and they never had an explosion match be followed with a straight match and Hayabusa after coming back early due to severe injuries was not doing a Death Match. 2) His opponent was Koji Nakagawa and Koji Nakagawa in a singles was not going to main event that show with anyone.
"Big show attendance bounced back when Onita returned in late '96, and the company started struggling more again after Onita left. Probably the most impressive houses Hayabusa drew was in this second post Onita era, as the 10th Anniversary show at the Yokohama Arena drew 11,000 fans for a main event of H vs. Fake Hayabusa with Shawn Michaels as special guest referee and Kawasaki Legend 2001 at Kawasaki Stadium parking lot drew 10,500 fans for a main event of Hayabusa & Great Sasuke vs. Tetsuhiro Kuroda & Mr. Gannosuke in an "octagon cage electric bomb death" match, but such mega events were much rarer in this era, as FMW's largest shows were largely held in Korakuen Hall or mid-sized arenas like Komazawa Olympic Gym and Yokohama Bunka Gym. I need to check if those were legit numbers though."
If Onita was drawing for the company so much better once he came back than they would not have gone through all the drama of getting rid of him. Onita was not a huge draw once he came back and Shoichi Arai's book even states he was a negative overall because it upset a lot of fans that he came back so soon and he was taking in more money for his shows than he was bringing in. He also only main evented one big show according to your statement since you used Komazawa as a mid size building as he only main evented Kawasaki Stadium in 1997 and again that did around 3,000 more fans than the Hayabusa tag team main event match.
Here's the thing about Hayabusa as a draw. He was a legitimate draw that during a good time was able to bring in a new audience and good numbers following Onita retiring and them having to start over although obviously never reached Onita pre-retirement drawing wise especially his one year retirement numbers. He was able to get sponsors for FMW. He is all over ads in Pro-Wrestling Weekly in the 90's and was even in a national commercial as well for a time period. The Pro-Wrestling bubble busted in the late 90's about 3 years in to Hayabusa's run and the Entertainment route was something that FMW was needed to survive but it shrunk the company and Hayabusa was the main thing keeping the company going at that time. He had to take time off for 6 months in late 2000 and you can see what his lack of being on the shows did. Just watch the Korakuen Hall shows from 2000 with Hayabusa on top and then the first half of Korakuen Hall shows from 2001 with Hayabusa out and the difference is significant. Hayabusa being out during that time is actually a main reason what lead to FMW dying a year later because of all the financial issues it caused that Arai was never able to recover from among other bad decisions that were made.