Fightful reported that Kushida has left WWE after his contract expired.
Kushida signed with WWE in 2019. He won the NXT Cruiserweight Championship and had some standout matches with Walter, Johnny Gargano, Pete Dunn, Santos Escobar, and Kyle O’Reilly. Following his Cruiserweight Title loss, Kushida formed a team with Ikemen Jiro and became known as Jacket Time.
Kushida’s final NXT appearance occurred on last week’s episode. He was initially scheduled to face Von Wager but was taken out in a backstage attack by Wager. Jiro took Kushida’s place in a losing effort to Wagner. His final match aired on the 3/25 episode of NXT LVL UP as Jacket Time lost to Malik Blade and Edris Enofe, with Kushida taking the fall.
The AEW faithful in Japan received some great news this morning as New Japan Pro Wrestling’s streaming service New Japan World announced that AEW television shows, Dynamite and Rampage, are coming soon to the streaming service. Also, a Japanese live version of the shows are in the works, all at no additional cost.
New Japan Pro Wrestling has announced the cards for both nights of Wrestle Kingdom 14 on January 4 and January 5 at the Tokyo Dome. This will be the first time New Japan has held its marque event over two evenings.
The main event matches on night one will see Kazuchika Okada defend the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against 2019 G1 Climax winner Kota Ibushi and Tetsuya Naito challenges Jay White for the IWGP Intercontinental Title. The winners will face each other in a double title match on night two.
Wrestle Kingdom will also host the final two matches of Jushin “Thunder” Liger’s career. On night two, the legendary jr. heavyweight will team with Naoki Sano and square off against Ryu Lee and Hiromu Takahashi in a tag team match. Liger and Sano were past rivals, while Lee and Takahashi are contemporary rivals.
Hiroshi Tanahashi will take on AEW World Championship Chris Jericho on night two; however, there will be no mention of AEW on New Japan’s part. It’s good to see Tanahashi only wrestling once since his body is banged up. Keep him special while he’s still able to work at a high level.
It’s a shame that Tomohiro Ishii doesn’t have a more high-profile match in the Dome. He had a stellar G1 tournament and continues to put on great matches. It will also be interesting to see how Hiromu Takahashi performs in his first match back from a broken neck he suffered sixteen months ago.
Lance Archer defends the IWGP U.S. Title against former champion Jon Moxley in a Texas Death Match. Moxley was stripped of the title on October 14th due to travel issues, and Archer beat Juice Robinson on the same day to capture the vacant championship. Robinson will meet the winner in a title match on night two.
Wrestle Kingdom 14 will air live on New Japan World at 3:00 am est on 1/4/20 and 1:00 am est on 1/5/20.
Here are the full cards for night 1 & night 2
-Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Heavyweight title
-Jay White vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Intercontinental title
-Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP Jr. title
-Lance Archer vs. Jon Moxley in a Texas deathmatch for the IWGP United States title
-Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa vs. David Finlay & Juice Robinson for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team titles
-Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano and YOSHI-HASHI vs. KENTA,, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens
-SANADA, EVIL, Shingo Takagi, and BUSHI vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & El Desperado
-Jushin Thunder Liger, Tatsumi Fujinami, The Great Sasuke & Tiger Mask vs. Naoki Sano, Shinjiro Otani, Tatsuhito Takaiwa and Ryusuke Taguchi
-Double title match for IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental titles
-Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Chris Jericho
-The two non-champions following the Intercontinental and Heavyweight title matches on January 4 will meet in a special singles match
-KENTA vs. Hirooki Goto for the NEVER Openweight title
-Zack Sabre Jr. vs. SANADA for the British Openweight title
-Juice Robinson will face the IWGP United States champion
-Jushin Thunder Liger & Naoki Sano vs. Ryu Lee & Hiromu Takahashi
-El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori vs. SHO & YOH for the IWGP Jr. Tag Team titles
For twenty-three years, Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin from the 1996 Survivor Series was my favorite wrestling match of all-time. That all changed on January 4, 2015, at 5:30 A.M. EST as the IWGP Intercoientlal Title was defended in the co-main event of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s preeminent show, Wrestle Kingdom 9. Continue reading “Favorite Matches #1: Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kota Ibushi”→
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been on a quest to pen love letters to my ten favorite wrestling matches. Nine of them have already been written with one more to go. Professional wrestling, like any form of entertainment, is subjective. What I like is going to be different from what someone else enjoys, and that’s ok. That is part of the reason why I wrote about each of these matches. To celebrate, not delineate, or force my opinion upon anyone. As my good buddy Dave once told me, “Hey, you like what you like.”Continue reading “Favorite Matches: Honorable Mentions”→
New Japan Pro Wrestling announced yesterday a new U.S. based subsidiary called New Japan Pro Wrestling of America. The company will be based in California and begin operations in November. CEO Takami Ohbari presented the three phases of their expansion plan.
-Phase One: Discovering new wrestlers in markets outside Japan and developing talent through the LA Dojo.
-Phase Two: Run events in the US, including at Madison Square Garden and Dallas this year, both independently and with the assistance of other promotions.
-Phase Three: Establish a company within the US, and be ingrained in the everyday fabric when it comes to fans’ wrestling consciousness.
Phases one and two are already completed, and phase three is set as NJPW of America will be putting on twenty-seven live events across eighteen states in 2020. Arenas with twenty-five hundred seat capacity will be the targeted cites for the shows.
This is interesting considering WWE recently tried to purchase two wrestling promotions in Japan to create NXT Japan. Pro Wrestling NOAH and women’s promotion Stardom ultimately turned down their respective offers.
New Japan has made some promotional errors in the U.S., which can be chalked up to a difference in business culture. The opening night of the G1 Climax in Dallas only drew five thousand people. It should have drawn more; however, New Japan promoted the show like they usually do in Japan when they announced the card a few days before the show.
That kind of promotion won’t work with a U.S audience because we’re used to getting the lineup at least a month before the event. People need time to decide if they want to spend their money on event tickets, travel plans, and hotel accommodations.
New Japan also announced they’re staying on AXS TV for the foreseeable future. However, AXS is now owned by Anthem, the parent company of Impact Wrestling (Formerly TNA). Impact’s weekly television show debuts on AXS this evening. Odd are Impact will be the station’s priority, not New Japan.
While some feel New Japan is starting off its American expansion too slow, I think it’s just right. Slow and steady wins the race. NJPW of America needs time to adjust to the American way of promotion and marketing.
WWE is the industry leader. Their lackluster storytelling, however, has led to decreasing ratings, which has ultimately led to the emergence of All Elite Wrestling. Wrestling fans want quality matches and storytelling, and other companies are moving in to fill the void.
Arguably, New Japan has the best in-ring product in the game today. It will take more than suitable matches to get over in the U.S. on a mainstream level. I think New Japan realizes this and doesn’t mind moving slowly with its expansion while ensuring the product doesn’t take a single dip in the quality.
I finally got to enjoy the birthday present from my lovely wife when New Japan Pro Wrestling held the first show of their three event tour at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, MA.
Eight matches were on the line up as an all-star six-man tag team match served as the main event. The show was structured as an intimate house show setting as opposed to a significant event.
There was nothing newsworthy that came out of the event, but it was still fun. Winning the lottery via an amazing parking spot in front of the building was first sign that the night was going to be alright.
Upon, entering the realm of ‘Fight Spirit Unleashed,’ I got to meet two wrestlers who weren’t advertised for a meet and greet. Hirooki Goto and one of my favorites, Tomohiro Ishii were in the foyer. I was lucky enough to be one of the first people in line, which never happens.
Next up, was the merchandise table for authentic New Japan goods that are normally only available in Japan. The line was super long, however, it moved rather quickly. I purchased some of the popular muffler towels… and let’s just say I’ve never spent so much money on linen in my life.
-The Rock & Roll Express/Chase Owens & Jado might have had the best match of the night. The audience was super into it and seeing Ricky Morton pull off a hurricanrana in 2019 was absolutely nuts! It was a great piece of nostalgia
-Lance Archer was over like a rockstar and beat the hell out of poor Ren Narita.
-Jay White is genuinely the top heel in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Heck, he might be the top heel in the entire industry. No matter how you slice it, the audience loves to hate him.
-Guerillas of Destiny (GoD)/Roppongi also deserved consideration for match of the night and probably garnered the loudest reaction. GoD was super over with the crowd during their entrance.
While there were some minor miscommunications between the wrestlers in the ring, the audience couldn’t tell. The last five minutes of the match had everyone on the edge of their seat.
YOH kept creatively rolling up Tonga with each pinfall attempt being more exciting than the last. Tonga went for the Gun Stun and YOH caught him for a backslide teasing a remarkable near fall.
New Japan does a great job of augmenting the prestige of their championships by having one title match per show on every tour. This makes the titles and the match mean more, which was evident here.
-The main event was more spectacle than anything else. It was a sight to behold having who many consider the top four wrestlers not only in the promotion but in the world in the same match. Three of them were on the same team.
None of the wrestlers hit their signature maneuvers, which was kind of surprising. It was even more surprising when Tanahashi pinned Naito out of nowhere with a reverse cradle.
This match wasn’t anything special and it didn’t need to be. It was about having all of New Japan’s big guns in the ring at the same time.
The maiden voyage of ‘Fighting Spirit Unleashed’ had a little something for everyone. It wasn’t a blow away event. However, it was a house show where all of the matches were well worked. New Japan didn’t need to go all-out crazy for this show. It was a pleasure seeing the best wrestlers in the world apply their craft. The first five matches were finished in 57 minutes. Nothing felt rushed and it gave more time for the two featured matches to shine. This feat is an independent wrestling promoter’s dream. Overall, New Japan adds another fun chapter to the wrestling history of the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.
-Karl Fredericks made Alex Coughlin with a modified half crab.
-Lance Archer pinned Ren Narita with the EBD Claw (Everybody Dies).
-Juice Robinson & Mikey Nicholls defeated Clark Connors & TJP
-Chase Owens & Jado defeated The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) when Owens pinned Gibson with a package piledriver.
-Tomohiro Ishii & Amazing Red defeated BUSHI & Shingo Takagi when Ishii hit BUSHI with a brainbuster for the win.
-Hirooki Goto, Rocky Romero & YOSHI-HASHI defeated Jay White, KENTA & Gedo, when YOSHI-HASHI made Gedo submit with a Butterfly Lock.
–IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) defeated Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) to retain the titles when Tama Tonga hit the Gun Stun.
-Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi defeated Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & EVIL when Tanahashi pinned Naito after reversing a cradle pin attempt.
G1 Climax 29 Final | August 12, 2019, | Nippon Budokan Tokyo, Japan | New Japan World
“The Golden Star” Kota Ibushi pinned Jay White on Monday to win the grueling month-long G1 Climax tournament. Ibushi beat Okada to win the A Block while Jay White defeated Naito to secure the B Block, setting up the final match in Tokyo. White blindsided Ibushi the night before and reinjured his ankle.
The match drew a lot of heat form the Budokan crowd as White targeted Ibushi’s ankle at every turn. The finish came when White went for the Blade Runner, and Ibushi dug down deep to deliver a Kamigoye, followed by a flying knee and two more Kamigoye strikes for the win.
In one of the best angles of the year, KENTA turned on his tag team partners and joined the Bullet Club. What was even more shocking was the physicality of Katsuyori Shibata as he jumped into the ring and cleaned house. It was terrific, and a little scary consider Shibata retired from wrestling several years ago due to an injury that resulted in bleeding of the brain.
Shibata was ultimately subdued by the Bullet Club’s strength in numbers. KENTA delivered a PK kick on Shibata and proceeded to sit on top of him in Shibata’s signature pose. KENTA threw up the too sweet sign, confirming his affiliation with Bullet Club. Shibata left the ring under his own power, which was a drama-filled moment in itself. I’m curious to see where it all leads. It was a compelling moment.
The dream team of IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi fell to Suzuki-gun ringleaders Rev Pro British Heavyweight Champion Zack Saber Jr. and Minoru Suzuki. The finish came when Suzuki choked out Okada and hit the Gotch Piledriver for the win.
Suzuki cut a promo after the match and bragged that Okada lost to a guy that wasn’t allowed in the G1. Suzuki told Okada to hand over the IWGP belt to him. Simple storytelling built to its finest. I wondered why Suzuki was not in the tournament, now, we have our answer.
Final Thoughts: When it is all said and done, G1 Climax 29 will go down as one of best there has ever been. There were a lot of great matches and moments that kept me coming back for more. Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi continued their string of legendary matches on opening night in Dallas. Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay in Tokyo was probably the best match of the tournament. The all-out brawl in Korakuen Hall between Jon Moxley and Tomohiro Ishii was my favorite match of the tournament.
Lance Archer stepped up his game throughout the tournament while Jon Moxley took the whole thing by storm. Will Ospreay gets my vote for tournament MVP and the in-ring work Hiroshi Tanahashi never ceases to amaze me. Will Ospreay delivering a shooting star press into a Zack Saber Jr. triangle choke was a breathtaking finish. Tachi vs. Ishii during the B Block finals was my favorite match of the weekend. That includes White vs. Ibushi, which as sensational.
Kota Ibushi became the first wrestler to win Best of the Super Juniors, the New Japan Cup, and the G1 Climax. Three unique tournaments in two different weight divisions puts Ibushi in a class all by himself. The artistry on display by Ibushi was on another level. His G1 win guarantees him an IWGP Heavyweight Title Match at Wrestle Kingdom on January 4th in the Tokyo Dome.
This truly feels like its Ibushi’s year. However, two years ago, it also felt like Tetsuya Naito’s year, and he was unsuccessful in his Tokyo Dome bid. It’s hard to doubt the booking of New Japan since they rarely get it wrong. However, with the top-level wrestling landscape changing so drastically with the emergence of AEW, ROH’s decline at the box office and WWE moving to FOX, everyone needs more stars. Ibushi is primed and ready to be the golden star of the lion’s den.
Ring of Honor Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling will G1 Supercard Festival of Honor on Friday, April 5th, 2019 at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The fan festival will occur the day before the sold out G1 Supercard of Honor wrestling event at MSG the following night.
The Festival of Honor will begin at 10:00 AM EST and ends at 6:00 PM. Tickets go on sale for HonorClub members on Wednesday, February 13th, 2019 and for the General Public on Friday, February 15th, 2019.
Admission for the G1 Supercard Festival of Honor is just $39 when you purchase before March 20th. which includes access to all festival entertainment, the official G1 Supercard press conference, and a special gift bag with a FREE G1 Supercard hat and lanyard ($30 value).
After March 20th, tickets will be $44 and on April 5th, they will be $49. Tickets will be sold separately for the special meet and greet/autograph sessions throughout the day.
There will be exclusive meet and greet autograph sessions with ROH and New Japan stars, live Q&A sessions, official press conference, live entertainment, interactivities and more.
It was smart for ROH and NJPW to do some sort of fan fest in conjunction with the show they are putting on at MSG. The entire wrestling industry will be in town for WrestleMania weekend. WWE has scheduled their fan Axxcess event and WrestleCon will have over 200 wrestlers and five live shows at their convention.
While no card has been announced for the MSG show on 4/6, New Japan’s big three, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, and Tetsuya Naito were announced right before tickets went on sale in August. I would like to meet Okada, again. Last time we crossed paths, it was before he became the Rainmaker. It’s kind of a funny story that I’ll share soon.
I have to meet Hiroshi Tanahashi. Call me a mark, I don’t care. He’s truly one of the all-time greats the industry has ever produced. This might be the only chance to snag a picture with him. I’m truly in awe of his work whenever he steps inside the ring.
My wife and I are going to the MSG show. As much as I want to run around the big apple and partake in all of the wrestling related activities, it’s only fair I carve out a sliver of time for my better half.