Wrestle Kingdom 13 went about as expected regarding the New Japan roster, with all the free agents or wrestlers already signed to All Elite Wrestling taking losses which will allow them to leave the promotion soon if need be.
That leaves plenty of questions about the future of NJPW. But at the same time, the company is making it clear the presence of AEW on the landscape and any defections that follow in its wake will not slow their march into North America.
At the end of this month, New Japan will be holding shows in Los Angeles and Charlotte. Those were noteworthy for being branded and tied to existing shows taking place in Japan – a first for NJPW. All tickets made available for those New Beginning USA events on Jan. 30 and Feb. 1 quickly sold out. More are expected to be made available soon, and they’ve added a third date to the tour – Nashville on Feb. 2.
Those shows will be manned by “young lions” from NJPW’s L.A. dojo, and “main roster” wrestlers who aren’t being used on the New Beginning shows taking place in Japan. American fans won’t have to worry about not getting the full line-up of stars for the other U.S. show New Japan announced at Wrestle Kingdom 13… the 29th G1 Climax tournament will kick off in Dallas’ American Airlines center on July 6.
The annual month long tourney features round robin competition among the company’s top stars, with the winners of two blocks facing off for a contract which grants them an IWGP World Heavyweight title shot at the annual Jan. 4 Tokyo Dome show.
The schedule released today (Jan. 4) also features a few other big surprises, like a summer trip to London and a second Tokyo Dome show in January of 2020. Here’s the list of what was announced:
Feb. 2: New Beginning USA in Nashville
Feb. 2 – 3: New Beginning in Sapporo
Feb. 11: New Beginning in Osaka
Mar. 23 – 24: New Japan Cup final in Niigata
April 6: G1 Supercard in Madison Square Garden
April 20: Aichi
May 3 – 4: Wrestling Dontaku in Fukuoka
June 5: Best of Super Junior 26 Final in Tokyo
June 9: Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-Jo Hall
July 6: G1 Climax 29 – Opener in Dallas
July 13 – 14: G1 Climax 29 in Tokyo (Ota City General Gymnasium)
July 15: G1 Climax in Hokkaido
Aug. 10 – 12: G1 Climax 29 in Tokyo (Nippon Budokan)
Aug. 31: London (The Copper Box Arena)
Jan. 4 – 5: Tokyo Dome
Seems like a measured approach as the company tries to bring meaningful show to fans in the big western markets without alienating their home base. Will it work? We’re gonna find out.