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:
- In the biggest news of the week, Dave Meltzer is reporting that Cody and The Young Bucks recently turned down seven-figure offers from the WWE. With the ELITE recently saying goodbye to Ring of Honor and now reportedly turning down million-dollar contracts with the McMahons, All Elite Wrestling appears to be much more of a reality.
- Matt Jackson recently responded to a fan on Twitter asking about the potential of The Young Bucks wrestling at the NJPW/ROH G1 Supercard taking place at Madison Square Garden in April of next year. Matt responded, “We will not be there, but I encourage everyone to still go. It’s a historic night for wrestling.”
- New Japan Pro-Wrestling star Michael Elgin is out of action after recent surgery and will miss Wrestle Kingdom 13. Yuji Nagata will take Elgin’s place, teaming with Jeff Cobb and David Finlay in the No.1 Contender Gauntlet Match for NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship taking place on the Pre-Show. Elgin released the following statement on his Facebook account on Dec. 19:
“On November 30th, I suffered a knee injury while myself and Jeff Cobb were wrestling Ishii and Yano. After seeing the doctor, we thought it was likely an MCL injury. Together we decided if after a day’s rest I felt like I shouldn’t wrestle then I should take the rest of the tour off. After resting a day, I felt like I could still wrestle and asked to continue the tour. NJPW was great and told me if I had any issues I didn’t need to wrestle. But I was there for a big series (World Tag League) and I didn’t want to not finish. Truthfully other than some discomfort after matches I assumed it would slowly fade and the would be back to normal. When I got home from Japan, myself my wife and my son drove upto Canada to visit my family. The long drive felt ok, but when arriving in Canada I had some stiffness in the knee. After trying to resume cardio the following day, my knee started to lock up. I cancelled a couple bookings but sill did my scheduled seminars with doing very minimal movement during them. The drive home from Canada, was the final straw. After a few short hours in the car my knee was immobile and fully locked up, I couldn’t put any weight on it. Monday I was lucky to get in to see a specialist and then yesterday received my MRI. Today, we found out I have what they call a Bucket handle meniscus tear. Basically from my understanding it’s when the torn meniscus flips up inbetween your knee cap and (forget the other bone or joint it usually situates itself in) and causing pain and discomfort when trying to straighten your legs above that, they also found some small blood clots in my calve (more than likely from the long hours on the plane and driving to and from Canada. I’m due in for surgery tomorrow, which means at least for the next 2-3 weeks I’ve had to cancel all obligations and bookings.”
- Wrestle Kingdom is now officially under two weeks away! Ten huge matches have been announced with G1 Climax 28 winner Hiroshi Tanahashi attempting to capture his eighth IWGP heavyweight Championship from “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega in the main event. While the hype for this match has the wrestling world buzzing, in a recent interview with New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Omega shared some thoughts about how he truly feels about Tanahashi:
“I feel like I have given my heart, my soul, all of my passion to this company, but everyone keeps telling me about how Tanahashi’s given up so much. He’s in such terrible shape, so everyone’s supposed to feel sorry for him. The truth is, I am wrestling with actual, real injuries, but I’m still building my body. Do you see my performances? We’re talking 35-minute, 45-minute, 60-minute matches and we’re talking blistering pace – world class athlete. I’m not doing this snooze-fest bulls**t and calling it “Old-school style.” Calling it “New Japan Strong Style” what an excuse, oh my God! The new Tanahashi? It’s the same old Tanahashi. The only difference that I see, it’s that he’s trying to be trickier. Everyone is evolving. I’ve become an inspiration to everyone, and people are trying to follow my lead. Tana just can’t accept that. He wants to be the leader. He wants to do it in his own way. The truth it, it’s not his own way. He’s fighting like a f**king coward. He’s wrestling with tricks, stealing other people’s moves, so many roll-ups…I’ve even seen him cheat and use low-blows! You’re criticizing me for not being a heel?! What are your f***ing rules Tana?! You can do whatever you want because you’re the Ace? What a b**ch!”
- NJPW is currently running a contest through Twitter allowing fans to predict the outcome of seven of the matches taking place at Wrestle Kingdom 13. If you predict all seven matches accurately, you will have a chance to win a WK13 premium t-shirt. You can check out the contest at https://www.wrestlekingdom.jp/en/expectation.html.
- Current IWGP Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho announced that “Chris Jericho’s Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Rager at Sea – Part Two: Second Wave” will take place next year. After successfully selling out his first cruise this past October, details for next year’s cruise will be announced next month.
- Tickets went on sale on Dec. 22 for both of The New Beginning USA shows and sold out very quickly with no matches announced as of yet. 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.
- This week’s edition of NJPW Lioncast, exclusive to PWTorch.com, features coverage of Nights 1 and 2 of the Road to Tokyo Dome shows! You can check it out HERE.
- Happy Birthday to former G1 Climax winner, former four-time IWGP Heavyweight Wrestling Champion and Japanese wrestling legend Keiji “The Great Muta” Mutoh who turned 56 on Dec. 23.
•Live Event Results
NJPW Road to Tokyo Dome – Night 2
Dec. 15, 2018
Korakuen Hall at Tokyo, Japan
Aired on NJPW World
(1) Ren Narita & Teruaki Kanemitsu vs. Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida went to a 15-minute time limit draw
(2) Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH & Rocky Romero) defeated Toa Henare & Tiger Mask & Jyushin Thunder Liger by pinfall after SHO pinned Tiger Mask
(3) CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii) defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) by pinfall after Ishii pinned Iizuka
(4) Los Ingobernables de Japon (“King of Darkness” EVIL & SANADA) defeated Bullet Club (Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) by pinfall after SANADA pinned Owens
(5) Los Ingobernables de Japon (“The Dragon” Shingo Takagi & BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito) defeated Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi) by pinfall after Naito pinned Kanemaru
(6) Bullet Club OG (“Bone Soldier” Taiji Ishimori & Gedo & Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale) defeated KUSHIDA & Tomoaki Honma & Toru Yano & Togi Makabe & “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada by pinfall after Loa pinned Honma
(7) Golden Lovers (Kota Ibushi & “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega) defeated Will Ospreay & Hiroshi Tanahashi by pinfall after Omega pinned Ospreay
•Upcoming Major Show Line-ups
NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 Fan Festa 2019 in Tokyo, Japan
Jan. 3, 2019
Studio Coast at Tokyo, Japan
Airs at 10:00 p.m. ET on NJPW World
- Tiger Mask & Jyushin Thunder Liger vs. Yuya Uemura & Ren Narita in Lions Gate Special I
- Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata vs. Toa Henare & Tomoaki Honma in Lions Gate Special II
- Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida in Lions Gate Special III
NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13
Jan. 4, 2019
Tokyo Dome at Tokyo, Japan
Airs at 2:00 a.m. ET on NJPW World
- Ryusuke Taguchi & Toru Yano & Togi Makabe vs. David Finlay & Jeff Cobb & Yuji Nagata vs. CHAOS (Chuckie T & Beretta & Hirooki Goto) vs. Suzuki-gun (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Minoru Suzuki) vs. “The Villian” Marty Scurll & Yujiro Takahashi & “Hangman” Adam Page 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
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
02/11/2019: NJPW The New Beginning in Osaka in Osaka, Japan
02/21/2019: NJPW New Japan Road – 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
02/27/2019: NJPW New Japan Road – Night 2 in Okinawa, 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 3 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 (12/14/2018)
Power Struggle 2018: Super Jr. Tag League 2018
Nov. 3, 2018
Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium at Osaka, Japan
Originally aired on NJPW World
(1) Beretta & “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada defeated Bad Luck Fale & “Switchblade” Jay White by pinfall after Beretta pinned Fale
(2) Golden Lovers (Kota Ibushi & “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega) defeated David Finlay & Hiroshi Tanahashi by pinfall after Ibushi pinned Finlay
(3) Chris Jericho defeated “King of Darkness” EVIL by submission to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Championship
G1 Climax 28 – Night 19
Aug. 12, 2018
Nippon Budokan at Tokyo, Japan
Originally aired on NJPW World
(1) Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Kota Ibushi by pinfall in the finals of the G1 Climax 28 tournament
•NJPW in the Media
- WRESTLE KINGDOM 13 Press Conference: LINK
- Wrestle mania: The changing landscape of professional wrestling in Japan: LINK
- PWTorch FREE PODCAST 12/15 – WKPWP Mailbag Saturday: Keller & Fann answer questions on WrestleKingdom line-up, Jim Neidhart table promo with Ruby-Natalya, Angle’s future, Asuka’s presentation, Nia Jax’s promos, NJPW Tag League: LINK
- Highlights from Road to TOKYO DOME night 1: LINK
- Highlights from Road to TOKYO DOME night 2: LINK
- Tokyo Sports Pro-Wrestling Award 2018 MVP press conference: LINK
- Kenny Omega VS Jay White : 2018.1.28 IWGP US HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP – Monday Free Match: LINK
- The Story of the Tokyo Dome’s First Pro Wrestling Match: LINK
- “Leaving The Territory” – Being The Elite Ep. 130: LINK
- The Wire: British Heavyweight Championship at WK13 Ishii vs ZSJ: LINK
- Killing the Town: Paul The Mauler Lazenby returns!! Jericho!! Japan!! Fantastic!! LINK
- King Of Sports – New Japan Podcast – 27: WTL Finals and Road To Tokyo Dome Review: LINK
- Kenny Omega and Hiroshi Tanahashi: Who is the one who keeps “Pro Wrestling”? (Translated): LINK
- Special “WRESTLE KINGDOM 13” interview with Kenny Omega: LINK
- The Challenge of Bringing Japanese Pro-Wrestling to the World: LINK
- From Chris Jericho “Gonna end your career…adios Tetsuya Naito!” LINK
- CHAOS HISTORY PART 2: CHAOTIC Neutral: LINK
- EGGSHELLS Podcast Companion: 2015 w/ John Carroll: LINK
- History of BULLET CLUB Part 3: The Golden Elite: LINK
•LATEST “TALKING HONOR” PWTORCH LIVECAST COVERING ROH
“The Honoraries.” This week Harley R. Pageot and Emily Fear look back at ROH in 2018 including the first-ever installment of The Honoraries, presenting awards in a variety of categories including Biggest Hero, Best Gear, and Best Addition to the Roster. Plus: The Elite’s final ROH match, 2018 statistics, and a special look at Women of Honor.
-On Apple Podcasts HERE
-Or search “PWTorch” or “Pro Wrestling Torch” on your podcast app of choice
•Social Media Scene
— 鷹木 信悟(SHINGO TAKAGI) (@Takagi__Shingo) December 16, 2018
View this post on Instagram
I love you Philly. We’ve been wrestling at this exact building for over 10 years. Grinding hard through the independents and making a name in this building meant so much early in my career and it was nice to wrestle here one last time in 2018. Too many more memories! Nothing but love.
There was an accidental leak, but I was planning on showing this today anyway. After hearing so many awesome suggestions, my animal ended up being loosely inspired by my cat(s) who were both Calicoes (as well as my Palico). Join the safari! Enjoy! #theelite pic.twitter.com/mc4rXOGt7q
— Kenny Omega (@KennyOmegamanX) December 17, 2018
An f-bomb has been dropped over Christmas lights. Spoiler alert: by me. 🥴🎅🏾🌲
— Brandi Rhodes (@TheBrandiRhodes) December 17, 2018
— The Young Bucks (@MattJackson13) December 18, 2018
Real feelings. Conviction. Accept change. https://t.co/D22d6CixFS
— Kenny Omega (@KennyOmegamanX) December 18, 2018
ケニー・オメガと棚橋弘至 「プロレス」を守る者はどちらなのか？（Rolling Stone Japan） https://t.co/q5SngthdZ3
— 永田裕志 (@nagata769) December 18, 2018
But Why Bubba?.. https://t.co/vrH0COOlFa
— 'Bad Boy' Tama Tonga (@Tama_Tonga) December 19, 2018
— EVIL (@151012EVIL) December 19, 2018
— Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) December 19, 2018
— Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) December 19, 2018
— 'Bad Boy' Tama Tonga (@Tama_Tonga) December 20, 2018
— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) December 21, 2018
— 新日本プロレスリング株式会社 (@njpw1972) December 21, 2018
I gotta fix these Christmas lights. My husband tried to do it while I was incapacitated and well…🥴
— Brandi Rhodes (@TheBrandiRhodes) December 21, 2018
I feel like wrestling in America will become over saturated in the year 2019…too much Ego playing for keeps, not enough humbleness.
— 'Bad Boy' Tama Tonga (@Tama_Tonga) December 22, 2018
🇯🇵 Japan….the future of wrestling. “Sip on wine🍷”
— The 'Good Bad Guy' Tama Tonga (@Tama_Tonga) December 22, 2018
The New Japan Cup poster has been revealed. Before you get to your message boards, the poster isn’t an indication of who is or isn’t in the cup itself, especially since the big four champions (IWGP/IC/US/NEVER) won’t be in the tourney. #njcup pic.twitter.com/bA0UYOc6jE
— chris charlton (@reasonjp) December 22, 2018
So LA @njpw1972 show is sold out. Totally clean in less than 20 minutes. January 30th at the Globe Theater is going to be rocking!
— Kevin Kelly (@realkevinkelly) December 22, 2018
— Brandi Rhodes (@TheBrandiRhodes) December 23, 2018
— BUSHI (@BUSHI_njpw) December 23, 2018
there’s a Santa at the mall and a Santa at World of Beer… I’ll take my chances with the #Goodbrother Santa 🍺
— The 'Good Bad Guy' Tama Tonga (@Tama_Tonga) December 23, 2018
Yup! I believe that hurt! The Original “Tiger Mask”, Satoru Sayama taught me a thing or two about kicking 🦵 💥 🤛 🇯🇵 🐯 🥊 😅😅. Hey @njpw1972 @njpwworld see there’s no leg slapping! That’s how it should be done. That’s real STRONG STYLE in case you forgot. 🙄 pic.twitter.com/crOGxjFpsf
— Davey Boy Smith Jr. (@DBSmithjr) December 23, 2018
Two down, one to go.
After members of the ELITE recently said goodbye to Ring of Honor, it’s been reported that “The American Nightmare” Cody and The Young Bucks recently passed up million-dollar contracts with the WWE. It’s one thing to move on from a company that helped define who you are while you helped establish them as a reputable brand to pursue bigger dreams. It’s completely insane to think about moving on and then saying no to arguably the largest and most profitable wrestling company in the world offering a guaranteed million-dollar contract with worldwide television and marketing exposure. Unless of course you are part of that same group that sold out an arena just outside of Chicago with no matches announced in record time this past summer.
While “The Villain” Marty Scurll and Flip Gordon have to fulfill their contracts with ROH, the other members of the ELITE are clear to do whatever they want. With Cody and the Bucks reportedly turning down the WWE, the rumors of all of them heading to All Elite Wrestling have to be true, right? When you think about the rumors of the financial backing of Shahid Khan, the television exposure through Mark Cuban, the wrestling genius minds of Jim Ross and Chris Jericho heading the ship, and the combined championships of the talent rumored to be involved with AEW, how do you compete with that?
ROH is out. WWE is out. So, what about NJPW?
New Japan Pro-Wrestling is set to showcase their biggest event of the year when Wrestle Kingdom 13 takes place on Jan. 4 at the Tokyo Dome. From top to bottom, members of the ELITE are prominently featured throughout the card defending championships and battling for championships and number one contenderships. Nothing has changed as far as NJPW goes. Kenny Omega is the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Cody is the current IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion. The Young Bucks are challenging for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Scurll and “Hangman” Adam Page are attempting to become the new number one contenders to the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship. As a fan of NJPW and the ELITE, I’ve still got hope.
Chris Jericho’s cruise proved to the wrestling world that promotions like ROH and IMPACT Wrestling could co-exist in the same ring. With that being said, EVOLVE showed us that promotions like IMPACT and NXT can’t co-exist in the same ring thanks to the WWE. More importantly, it’s thanks to guys like Vince McMahon and Paul Levesque who fail to understand the PRO-WRESTLING business in 2018. They won’t even say the word “Pro-Wrestling” on their programs, and because of things like that, their ratings are at an all-time low.
When Chris Jericho pitched the idea of Intercontinental Champion vs. Intercontinental Champion at this year’s SummerSlam, he was shot down. When Chris Jericho pitched the idea of his cruise with Vince McMahon, he was shot down. Jericho sold out the cruise with a second on the way next year. As far as the Intercontinental Championship goes, I’ll take Jericho vs. Naito over Rollins vs. Ambrose any day of the week.
With that being said, here’s my Christmas wish…
In my perfect world of pro-wrestling, NJPW and AEW will co-exist. While the ELITE may say goodbye to NJPW and hello to AEW, AEW will say hello to NJPW. All Elite Wrestling featuring the ELITE will re-introduce themselves to New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Bullet Club OG, LIJ, Suzuki-gun, CHAOS and the rest of the NJPW roster. With NJPW running Japan, AEW can run North America.
One pro-wrestling nation, featuring talent from around the world, performing for genuine fans without worrying about stockholders… Imagine that?
Finally, I would like to take this time to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Be safe, eat lots, and give the gift of Christmas by subscribing to NJPWWorld.com!
NOW CHECK OUT OTHER WEEKLY OVERVIEWS HERE.