With New Beginning in Osaka (for match recommendations, click here) firmly in their rear view mirror, New Japan Pro Wrestling have, as always, dumped a bunch of match announcements in our lap, so let’s list ‘em out and break ‘em down, shall we?
Takashi Iizuka Retirement (Feb. 21, 5:30AM Eastern, 2:30AM Pacific)
- Bullet Club (Robbie Eagles & Taiji Ishimori) vs. Jushin Liger & Yuya Uemura
- Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma), Tiger Mask IV, & Toa Henare vs. Manabu Nakanishi, Ren Narita, Satoshi Kojima, & Yota Tsuji
- Chaos (Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Shota Umino & Yuji Nagata
- Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
- Hirooki Goto & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Suzuki-gun (TAKA Michinoku & Zack Sabre, Jr.)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi & Will Ospreay vs. Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith, Jr. & Lance Archer)
- Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kazuchika Okada, & Toru Yano vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, & Takashi Iizuka) (Takashi Iizuka Retirement Match)
Honor Rising: Japan 2019 Night One (Feb. 22, 5:30AM Eastern, 2:30AM Pacific)
- Marty Scurll vs. Ren Narita
- Shota Umino vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.
- Bullet Club (Robbie Eagles & Taiji Ishimori) vs. Jonathan Gresham & Jushin Liger
- Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe) & Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson), Toa Henare, & Tomoaki Honma
- Cheeseburger, Colt Cabana, & Delirious vs. Most Violent Players (Togi Makabe & Toru Yano) & Ryusuke Taguchi (c) (NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship)
- Dalton Castle vs. Will Ospreay (c) (NEVER Openweight Championship)
- Hirooki Goto vs. Jeff Cobb (c) (ROH World Television Championship)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jay Lethal, & Kazuchika Okada vs. the Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan, & Vinny Marseglia)
Honor Rising: Japan 2019 Night Two (Feb. 23, 5:30AM Eastern, 2:30AM Pacific)
- Cheeseburger, Colt Cabana, & Delirious vs. Ren Narita, Shota Umino, & Yota Tsuji
- Jonathan Gresham & Toa Henare vs. Suzuki-gun (TAKA Michinoku & Zack Sabre, Jr.)
- Marty Scurll vs. Robbie Eagles
- Chaos (Hirooki Goto & Will Ospreay) vs. Dalton Castle & Jeff Cobb
- Los Ingobernables (Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito) vs. the Kingdom (Matt Taven & Vinny Marseglia)
- Jay Lethal (c) vs. TK O’Ryan (ROH World Championship)
- Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) (c) (IWGP Tag Team Championship)
- Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe) (c) vs. FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson) (ROH World Tag Team Championship)
47th Anniversary Show (Mar. 6, 6AM Eastern, 3AM Pacific)
- Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Shingo Takagi) (c) vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship)
- Jushin Liger vs. Taiji Ishimori (c) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship)
So, a lot to break down!
Let’s start with the Anniversary and work our way back— only two matches, and they’re both just confirmations of challenges we saw at New Beginning in Osaka, but they should rule pretty hard. Liger/Ishimori is especially exciting to me, as it’s only happened once before (in Pro Wrestling NOAH back in 2009) and it’s always great to see the dads of New Japan rise to the occasion for big bouts.
Onto the Honor Rising cards co-promoted with Ring of Honor, one match immediately leaps out to me and it’s not one that might leap out at you— Shota Umino vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. Even this young in his career, Umino has a drive and a visceral hard-striking and grappling-intensive wrestling style that almost reminds me of Katsuyori Shibata, and so he’s a natural pairing for the Technical Wizard and, barring absolute failures of chemistry, should result in a very enjoyable matchup.
But there’s also a rematch between Goto and Cobb, who have definitely had a few good ones in the past, Ospreay vs. Castle for the NEVER is intriguing, Cheeseburger getting a shot at the trios belts almost makes up for him being denied his traditional New Japan Rumble spot at Wrestle Kingdom 13 this year, and Briscoes (who I’ll note have been affected by the Chaos schism, having jumped ship with Gedo, Jado, and Switchblade and changed their affiliation to Bullet Club, as evidenced by the atomicos on night one) vs. FinJuice should be a really good way to cap off a weekend of wrestling.
And so, in our reverse chronological order, we come to the Iizuka retirement card. This one is the least exciting of the bunch, with no singles matches or title matches, but there are some interesting matches to be had all the same. RPG3K get a warm-up against former champs Suzuki-gun ahead of their title match against LIJ, Tanahashi teams with Ospreay to take on Killer Elite Squad, and the main event is not only Iizuka’s last match in a career that spans 33 years, but the cap to a really honestly touching story of Tenzan trying to coax the man back out of a monster he once called friend.
There you have it, folks
Excited to check these out on NJPW World or do y’all wanna hurry up and get to the Madison Square Garden show, Cagesiders?