There had been several attempts to run pro-wrestling cards in Japan previously since 1887; however, JWA, founded by Rikidozan in 1953, stabilized pro-wrestling in Japan. Although several other promotions opened between 54 and 57, JWA either closed or merged all of them by 58.
After the death of Rikidozan in 63, JWA was continued by a board of four executives: Toyonobori, Yoshinosato, Michiaki Yoshimura, and Kokichi Endo, and they decicded to start pushing Giant Baba as the next top star. Eventually, Toyonobori would be expelled from the organization, and Yoshinosato would take over. Toyonobori convinced the young Antonio Inoki, who was jealous with Baba's push (in spite of being a better wrestler), to join him to start a new promotion: Tokyo Pro-Wrestling. Tokyo Pro would not last long and eventually starts co-promoting with another new organization Ineternational Wrestling Enterprise (Kokusai Puroresu) before fading out. Inoki returned to JWA in 67, and the era of the B-I Cannon (Baba & Inoki) starts.
With purging of Inoki, who started New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and departure by Baba, who started All Japan Pro-Wrestling with the help of Nippon TV in 72, JWA no longer dominated the puroresu scene. Although Seiji Sakaguchi, who was the second guy after Inoki and Baba left, announced the merge of JWA and New Japan, Kintaro Ohki, the top star at the time, decided keep JWA "alive" and the plan of merging was killed.
Sakaguchi and his followers left JWA and joined New Japan that lead NET (today's TV Asahi) to start airing New Japan cards.
With not-so-popular guys such as Ohki, Akihisa Takachiho (Great Kabuki), Umanosuke Ueda, and Great Kojika as the main eventers but no television station airing the matches, JWA closed in 73. Most of the wrestlers joined All Japan but some of them, including Ohki, Ueda, and Gentetsu Matsuoka, would eventually leave since Baba did not treat former JWA guys equally.