The following is the latest in a new series of weekly in-depth articles exclusive to PWTorch which will help put in perspective major wrestling promotions with a weekly overview, looking at news and roster developments, results, future line-ups, social media activity, key interviews, plus a timely commentary at the end. We will be featuring similar features on other promotions each week and each will be updated weekly.
•Top Stories of the Week
- After seventeen grueling nights of action, New Japan Pro-Wrestling crowned their World Tag League 2018 winners on Dec. 9 when “King of Darkness” EVIL & SANADA of Los Ingobernables de Japon defeated current IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions the Guerrillas of Destiny in the finals. While it looked like the match was set for Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa to defend their titles against LIJ at Wrestle Kingdom 13, The Young Bucks made a surprise appearance after the match ended to remind GoD that they have never received their rematch. With that being said, NJPW announced that all three teams would compete for the titles on Jan. 4 in a triple threat match.
- Speaking of Wrestle Kingdom 13, NJPW has announced the full card for Jan. 4. Ten huge matches have been announced featuring Kota Ibushi defending the NEVER Openweight Championship against Will Ospreay, Tomohiro Ishii defending the RPW British Heavyweight Championship against Zack Sabre Jr., Chris Jericho defending the IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Tetsuya Naito, “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega defending the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Hiroshi Tanahashi and much more. WK 13 will air live on NJPW World, FITE while airing on same day delay on AXS TV.
- NJPW mainstay and G1 Climax 28 winner Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega to land his fourth MVP Award in the “Tokyo Sports Pro-Wrestling Awards.” Tokyo Sports made the announcement on Dec. 12 stating, “Of this year’s three nominees, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada, Tanahashi’s miraculous revival by winning the G1 Climax tournament was the deciding factor. His remarkable comeback has captured the hearts of fans who thought his best years were behind him. In addition, by starring in a movie and appearing on shows such as NHK’s “Close-up Gendai+” and TBS’s “Passion Continent” he has been raising the social status of professional wresting and expanded interest in the sport. His commitment to expanding the appeal of Japanese Pro-Wrestling has contributed to raising the profile of professional wrestling nationwide and as such was elected by 18 votes to 23 to be this year’s MVP”.
- If you are a fan of current IWGP Heavyweight Champion “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega, a late Christmas gift will come your way on Dec. 28 when AXS TV features a 10-hour marathon featuring Omega’s best matches of 2018. The “Kenny Omega-thon” gets underway at 2:00 p.m. EST.
- New Japan Pro-Wrestling has announced that they will return to the United States early next year with “The New Beginning USA.” The first of two shows will take place in Los Angeles, California on Jan. 30 while the second show takes place in Charlotte, North Carolina on Feb. 1. Tickets for both shows go on sale on Dec. 22.
- This week’s edition of NJPW Lioncast, exclusive to PWTorch.com, features coverage of the finals of World Tag League 2018 as the marathon coverage comes to a conclusion! You can check it out at HERE.
- This Week in NJPW History saw The Hellraisers (“Road Warrior” Hawk & “Power Warrior” Kensuke Sasaki) defeat Scott “Flash” Norton & Tony Halme for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship on Dec. 14, 1992 in Tokyo, Japan at NJPW Battle Final 1992.
•Live Event Results
NJPW World Tag League 2018 – Night 17
Dec. 9, 2018
Iwate Industrial Cultural Center at Iwate, Japan
Aired on NJPW World
(1) Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata & Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan defeated Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida & Toa Henare & Togi Makabe by pinfall after Kojima pinned Yoshida
(2) K.E.S. (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) & Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) defeated Best Friends (Beretta & Chuckie T) & “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin & Jeff Cobb by disqualification
(3) CHAOS (Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) & Tomohiro Ishii) defeated Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr.)
(4) Los Ingobernables de Japon (“The Dragon” Shingo Takagi & BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito) defeated Chase Owens & “Hangman” Adam Page & Yujiro Takahashi by pinfall after Naito pinned Owens
(5) Bullet Club OG (“Bone Soldier” Taiji Ishimori & Bad Luck Fale & “Switchblade” Jay White) defeated CHAOS (KUSHIDA & Toru Yano & “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada) by pinfall after Fale pinned Yano
(6) the ELITE (“The Villain” Marty Scurll & The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) & “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega) defeated Ryusuke Taguchi & FinJuice (Juice Robinson & David Finlay) & Hiroshi Tanahashi by pinfall after Matt Jackson pinned Taguchi
(7) Will Ospreay defeated Taichi by pinfall in a No.1 Contender Match for the NEVER Openweight Championship
(8) Kota Ibushi defeated Hirooki Goto by pinfall for the NEVER Openweight Championship
(9) Los Ingobernables de Japon (“King of Darkness” EVIL & SANADA) defeated Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) by pinfall after SANADA pinned Tonga in the World Tag League 2018 Tournament Finals
NJPW Road to Tokyo Dome – Night 1
Dec. 14, 2018
Korakuen Hall at Tokyo, Japan
Aired on NJPW World
(1) KUSHIDA & Tiger Mask & Jyushin Thunder Liger & Tomoaki Honma defeated Yuya Uemura & Ren Narita & Ayato Yoshida & Toa Henare by pinfall after Mask pinned Uemura
(2) “The Dragon” Shingo Takagi defeated Shota Umino by pinfall
(3) Rocky Romero & Hirooki Goto defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) by pinfall after Romero pinned Iizuka
(4) CHAOS (Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) & Tomohiro Ishii) defeated Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi) by pinfall after Ishii pinned Kanemura
(5) Bullet Club OG (“Bone Soldier” Taiji Ishimori & Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & SANADA & “King of Darkness” EVIL & Tetsuya Naito) by pinfall after Loa pinned BUSHI
(6) “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada defeated Gedo by pinfall
(7) Toru Yano & Togi Makabe & Will Ospreay & Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Bullet Club (Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) & Golden Lovers (Kota Ibushi & “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega) by pinfall after Ospreay pinned Owens
•Upcoming Major Show Line-ups
NJPW Road to Tokyo Dome – Night 2
Dec. 15, 2018
Korakuen Hall at Tokyo, Japan
Airs at 4:30 a.m. ET on NJPW World
- Ren Narita & Teruaki Kanemitsu vs. Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida
- Toa Henare & Tiger Mask & Jyushin Thunder Liger vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH & Rocky Romero)
- CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka)
- Los Ingobernables de Japon (“King of Darkness” EVIL & SANADA) vs. Bullet Club (Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi)
- Los Ingobernables de Japon (“The Dragon” Shingo Takagi & BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito) vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi)
- KUSHIDA & Tomoaki Honma & Toru Yano & Togi Makabe & “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada vs. Bullet Club OG (“Bone Soldier” Taiji Ishimori & Gedo & Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale)
- Will Ospreay & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Golden Lovers (Kota Ibushi & “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega)
NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13
Jan. 4, 2019
Tokyo Dome at Tokyo, Japan
Airs at 3:00 a.m. ET on NJPW World
- To Be Determined vs. To Be Determined in a No.1 Contender Gauntlet Match for NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship (Pre-Show)
- Kota Ibushi (c) vs. Will Ospreay for the NEVER Openweight Championship
- Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c) vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (“The Dragon” Shingo Takagi & BUSHI) for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
- Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. for the RPW British Heavyweight Championship
- Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (c) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (“King of Darkness” EVIL & SANADA) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
- “The American Nightmare” Cody (w/Brandi Rhodes) (c) vs. Juice Robinson for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship
- KUSHIDA (c) vs. “Bone Soldier” Taiji Ishimori for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship
- “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada vs. “Switchblade” Jay White (w/Gedo)
- Chris Jericho (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship
“The Cleaner” Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
12/15/2018: NJPW Road to Tokyo Dome – Night 2 in Tokyo, Japan
01/03/2019: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 Fan Festa 2019 in Tokyo, Japan
01/04/2019: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 in Tokyo, Japan
01/05/2019: NJPW New Year Dash in Tokyo, Japan
01/11/2019: NJPW presents CMLL Fantastica Mania 2019 – Night 1 in Osaka, Japan
01/12/2019: NJPW presents CMLL Fantastica Mania 2019 – Night 2 in Ehime, Japan
01/13/2019: NJPW presents CMLL Fantastica Mania 2019 – Night 3 in Kyoto, Japan
01/14/2019: NJPW presents CMLL Fantastica Mania 2019 – Night 4 in Gifu, Japan
01/16/2019: NJPW presents CMLL Fantastica Mania 2019 – Night 5 in Chiba, Japan
01/18/2019: NJPW presents CMLL Fantastica Mania 2019 – Night 6 in Tokyo, Japan
01/20/2019: NJPW presents CMLL Fantastica Mania 2019 – Night 7 in Tokyo, Japan
01/21/2019: NJPW presents CMLL Fantastica Mania 2019 – Night 8 in Tokyo, Japan
01/26/2019: NJPW Road to The New Beginning – Night 1 in Saitama, Japan
01/28/2019: NJPW Road to The New Beginning – Night 2 in Tokyo, Japan
01/29/2019: NJPW Road to The New Beginning – Night 3 in Tokyo, Japan
01/30/2019: NJPW Road to The New Beginning – Night 4 in Miyagi, Japan
01/30/2019: NJPW The New Beginning USA – Night 1 in Los Angeles, California
02/01/2019: NJPW The New Beginning USA – Night 2 in Charlotte, North Carolina
02/02/2019: NJPW The New Beginning in Sapporo – Night 1 in Hokkaido, Japan
02/03/2019: NJPW The New Beginning in Sapporo – Night 2 in Hokkaido, Japan
02/06/2019: NJPW Road to The New Beginning – Night 5 in Nagano, Japan
02/07/2019: NJPW Road to The New Beginning – Night 6 in Aichi, Japan
02/08/2019: NJPW Road to The New Beginning – Night 7 in Mie, Japan
02/09/2019: NJPW Road to The New Beginning – Night 8 in Osaka, Japan
02/21/2019: NJPW New Japan Road in Tokyo, Japan
02/22/2019: NJPW Honor Rising: Japan 2019 – Night 1 in Tokyo, Japan
02/22/2019: NJPW Honor Rising: Japan 2019 – Night 1 in Tokyo, Japan
02/23/2019: NJPW Honor Rising: Japan 2019 – Night 2 in Tokyo, Japan
03/01/2019: NJPW Anniversary Tour 2018 – Night 1 in Saitama, Japan
03/02/2019: NJPW Anniversary Tour 2018 – Night 2 in Nagano, Japan
03/04/2019: NJPW Anniversary Tour 2018 – Night 2 in Fukushima, Japan
03/06/2019: NJPW Anniversary Event in Tokyo, Japan
03/08/2019: NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 – Night 1 in Tokyo, Japan
03/09/2019: NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 – Night 2 in Aichi, Japan
03/10/2019: NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 – Night 3 in Hyogo, Japan
03/11/2019: NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 – Night 4 in Kagawa, Japan
03/13/2019: NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 – Night 5 in Okayama, Japan
03/14/2019: NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 – Night 6 in Nara, Japan
03/16/2019: NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 – Night 7 in Tokyo, Japan
03/17/2019: NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 – Night 8 in Tokyo, Japan
03/20/2019: NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 – Night 9 in Shizuoka, Japan
03/21/2019: NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 – Night 10 in Shizuoka, Japan
03/23/2019: NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 – Night 11 in Niigata, Japan
03/24/2019: NJPW New Japan Cup 2019 – Night 12 in Niigata, Japan
04/06/2019: NJPW/ROH G1 Supercard in New York, New York
•Latest TV Highlights: NJPW on AXS TV (12/07/2018)
Power Struggle 2018: Super Jr. Tag League 2018
Nov. 3, 2018
Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium at Osaka, Japan
Originally aired on NJPW World
(1) SHO & YOH defeated Shingo Takagi & BUSHI and El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru by pinfall after SHO pinned El Desperado in a Triple Threat Match to win the Super Jr. Tag League 2018
(2) Tetsuya Naito defeated Zack Sabre Jr. by pinfall
•NJPW in the Media
- EGGSHELLS Podcast Companion: 2013 w/ John Pollock: LINK
- Highlights from WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018 FINAL (December 9): LINK
- Naito, Tanahashi VS Okada, Nakamura : Road to TOKYO DOME 2013 – Monday Free Match: LINK
- Pro Wrestler Kenny Omega Talks Gaming Inspirations and 2018 Gamers’ Choice Award Nomination: LINK
- Self-proclaimed “world superstar” Mr. Chris Jericho: LINK
- King Of Sports – New Japan Podcast – 26: 2018 Year in Review – Pt. 2: LINK
- Kenny Omega Hosts the Kenny Omega-thon on AXS TV Dec. 28 at 2pE: LINK
- “Dumbass” – Being The Elite Ep. 129: LINK
- Dear Tetsuya Naito, “I am NOT tranquilo”: LINK
- PWTorch VIP NEWSLETTER – PRO WRESTLING TORCH #1594 (December 12, 2018) – Cover Story on Dynamite Kid, Mitchell on Vince’s latest challenge, Parks & Keller’s live NXT reports, Keller’s editorial on underutilized WWE wrestlers: LINK
- Natalya Neidhart: A tribute to Dynamite Kid, through his daughter’s eyes: LINK
- Talk Is Jericho: The Life and Tragic Times of Dynamite Kid with Dave Meltzer: LINK
- X-Pac 12360: Remembering The Axe and Dynamite Kid with Brody King on X-Pac 12360 Ep. 117: LINK
- Tanahashi wins MVP Award of “Tokyo Sports Pro-Wrestling Awards” for the first time in 4 years, now a total of 4 times! LINK
- History of CHAOS Part 1: RISE Up: LINK
- WK 13 Special Project: NJPW Jan 4 Shrine: LINK
- WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018 Press Conference: LINK
•LATEST “TALKING HONOR” PWTORCH LIVECAST COVERING ROH
“The Final Battles.” This week Harley R. Pageot and Emily Fear give their full predictions for Final Battle 2018, discuss weekly TV including Jay Lethal, Cody, and Dalton Castle vs. The Kingdom and Flip Gordon vs. Silas Young in an I Quit match, and answer listener mail on potential ROH signees and grammatical errors.
-On Apple Podcasts HERE
-Or search “PWTorch” or “Pro Wrestling Torch” on your podcast app of choice
•Social Media Scene
— EVIL (@151012EVIL) December 9, 2018
— 'Bad Boy' Tama Tonga (@Tama_Tonga) December 9, 2018
— The Young Bucks (@MattJackson13) December 10, 2018
The 10-hour Kenny Omega-thon airs Friday, Dec. 28 at 2 pm ET on @AXSTV. From the summer of 2016 to pre- #wk13, we cover a lot of ground and all kinds of memorable moments. Check out the preview below!https://t.co/f8jbxcyHQ3
— Kenny Omega (@KennyOmegamanX) December 10, 2018
— BUSHI (@BUSHI_njpw) December 11, 2018
— Karl Anderson (@KarlAndersonWWE) December 12, 2018
— Karl Anderson (@KarlAndersonWWE) December 12, 2018
It was announced today that I’ve won “Best Bout” for my match at Dominion with Okada. From what I’m told it’s the first time in 22 years the same pairing has won back to back awards. The last two were Misawa/Kobashi. Very, very humbled to be in that kind of company.
— Kenny Omega (@KennyOmegamanX) December 13, 2018
Do you know what an "Ema" is?
— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) December 13, 2018
— BUSHI (@BUSHI_njpw) December 13, 2018
⛩️Let’s dedicate your ema on the website⛩️
NJPW Jan 4th Shrine on the website is now open!!
Please write your message for NJPW wrestlers, wish to NJPW etc. and dedicate them on the website!
— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) December 14, 2018
View this post on Instagram
A year and a half ago we embarked on a little venture. Lui and I became co-owners at one of the most coolest spots to chill in Tokyo @tonga_coffee_and_bar We didn’t anticipate how well known it would become. Everywhere I went around the world someone would bring it up not knowing I was a part of it. We would like to thank Koji-san and Miho-san for the opportunity to work and learn the trade. Our biggest thanks and gratitude to everyone who supported us by coming by to hangout with us. However, Lui and I would like to announce that we are moving on to a bigger spot. Stay tuned! See you guys there!
— chris charlton (@reasonjp) December 14, 2018
Huge shows taking place, rumors of promotions invading other promotions for upcoming free agent talent, the WWE potentially expanding East while NJPW continues to invade the West. It’s a great time to be a wrestling fan right now.
With that being said…
I’m a huge fan of New Japan Pro-Wrestling for so many reasons. First and foremost, they’re not the WWE. With World Tag League 2018 coming to a close, NJPW officially announced the upcoming card for Wrestle Kingdom 13. From Omega vs. Tanahashi to Okada vs. White to Ibushi vs. Ospreay and so many more, WK13 could easily be the most talked about event of 2019. From the MOTY candidates taking place to the rumors surrounding members of the ELITE, Wrestle Kingdom 13 won’t be a one and done event. If we see Omega, Cody and Jericho lose their titles at WK13, you’ll see the internet buzzing once again about the future of the ELITE and the rumors of AEW coming to life next year. The same can be said if they all retain.
As a fan of NJPW, I’m pumped for Wrestle Kingdom 13 taking place on January 4th. I’m pumped for the “Kenny Omega-thon” taking place on December 28th on AXS TV featuring matches we’ve already seen of his. I’m even pumped for the summer of next year when G1 Climax 29 takes place and the rumor of Will Ospreay taking part in it. I’m interested in everything NJPW produces currently, what they’ve done in the past, and what they have planned in the future. They have talented stars, mainstays, booking that makes sense, and interest from outside talent not currently working there. They even have talent rumored to be going back once their contracts expire. Former talent that have main evented major shows and defended major championships in Japan that are getting treated poorly here in North America.
The WWE seemingly continues to throw money around everywhere and to everyone right now that will listen. The difference between now and the 1980s is that not only have the talent become smarter, so have the fans. The WWE’s ratings are at an all-time low, they’re no longer the only North American wrestling promotion selling out Madison Square Garden, talent are saying no to them, and fans on social media continue to voice their distaste on a weekly basis for a promotion that continues to drive outdated and boring storylines down our throats until fans turn their shows off permanently.
As a wrestling fan in 2018, we’re not forced anymore to watch one company if they’re producing garbage. We can stop buying their merchandise, stop subscribing to their network, stop attending their shows, and stop watching anything they do on television or the internet. As quickly as we shut down on one promotion, we can still remain loyal as wrestling fans by showing allegiance to companies that know how to produce an AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura match, know how talented guys like Finn Balor, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson are, and know how to create and protect stars like Okada, Tanahashi, and Naito.
This past summer Naito was approached by the WWE. His response: “I didn’t even give it thought. This New Japan ring is already the world’s number 1 stage. The fans know this. That’s why I think we should focus on our home crowd before looking international.” Thanks to guys like Naito, I’ll always be a a loyal fan of New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Thanks to guys like Naito, I subscribe monthly to NJPW World and know what it is like to watch great wrestling take place live at three in the morning. Thanks to Naito, I’m looking forward to seeing Chris Jericho lose the IWGP Intercontinental Championship next month at Wrestle Kingdom 13. As a fan of Chris Jericho since the mid-’90s, I never would have thought I’d be looking forward to Jericho losing a championship.
NOW CHECK OUT OTHER WEEKLY OVERVIEWS HERE.