Following a dramatic G1 Climax final, New Japan Pro Wrestling announced what they have coming up next. In a press conference streamed on NJPW World on August 13, the company revealed big matches for their upcoming Royal Quest event in London as well as the lineup for the Super J-Cup tour on the West Coast of the United States.
After most of New Japan’s junior heavyweight wrestlers spent a month out of action and/or out of the spotlight as the heavyweight tournament of the G1 Climax was going on, they’ll be back in action from August 22-25 for the Super J-Cup. Before this press conference, the wrestlers announced for the tournament were Sho, Dragon Lee, TJP, Ryusuke Taguchi, Taiji Ishimori, Carístico (FKA the first Sin Cara and first Místico), Yoh, Bushi, legendary indie wrestler Amazing Red, Rocky Romero, Jonathan Gresham, Soberano Jr., and Clark Connors. Will Ospreay, Robbie Eagles, and El Phantasmo – three men who have been embroiled in a Chaos-Bullet Club friendship drama triangle since Best of the Super Juniors – were added to the lineup today.
— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) August 13, 2019
Unlike the round-robin G1 and BOSJ, the Super J-Cup is a single-elimination tournament, so New Japan could only announce the matches for its first show in Tacoma, Washington. In addition to an opening tag match of Jushin Thunder Liger (who will wrestle on all three nights of the tournament and is credited as its producer) and Karl Fredericks vs. Shota Umino and Ren Narita, here are the night’s matches:
- Rocky Romero vs. Soberano Jr.
- Clark Connors vs. TJP
- Carístico vs. Bushi
- Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Jonathan Gresham
- Robbie Eagles vs. El Phantasmo
- Yoh vs. Dragon Lee
- Sho vs. Taiji Ishimori
- Will Ospreay vs. Amazing Red
— ₳₥₳Ⱬł₦₲ RƎD (@AmazingRed1) June 14, 2019
Ospreay and Red have been hyping a match on Twitter for months, including Ospreay saying “If you give me your last match I’ll come out and do it” and “I’m the only one that can make you realise that you can still be the man. You need me. I need you.”
New Japan’s next event, Royal Quest on August 31 (full card here), features some matches that were set up at the G1 final. The show will be main-evented by Minoru Suzuki challenging Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, a match Suzuki earned by pinning the Rainmaker on August 12. In the semi-main, Hiroshi Tanahashi will challenge Zack Sabre Jr. for the RPW British Heavyweight Championship after defeating him in a G1 match and pinning him in a tag match on August 11. These two also faced off for this title earlier this year at G1 Supercard, where Sabre retained.
The third of Royal Quest’s three singles matches is its most surprising, a NEVER Openweight Championship match between Tomohiro Ishii (c) and Kenta. Kenta attacked Ishii, who he was partnered with for a tag match but otherwise didn’t have a relationship with, to show he was joining Bullet Club. It was Tama Tonga rather than Kenta who pinned Ishii to end the match, but Kenta softened up the Stone Pitbull with finishing moves to make that possible.
Neither wrestler mentioned putting the title on the line in promos after the confrontation and several more legitimate challengers for Ishii’s title were established by wrestlers beating him in the G1, but, according to NJPW’s English-language website, this is his first post-G1 defense because “Ishii was fast to demand revenge against KENTA, and is willing to put the NEVER title on the line if it means getting his hands on the newest BC member.”
No announcements were made regarding the most shocking aspect of the segment in which Kenta joined Bullet Club, the return of Katsuyori Shibata to in-ring action for the first time in over two years to attack him about it. We also didn’t learn anything about Jon Moxley telling Juice Robinson he wants their next match for the IWGP United States Championship to have a No DQ stipulation or Hirooki Goto’s rematch challenge to Shingo Takagi. We’re sure to get updates on those later in the month or this fall, along with information about when Kota Ibushi will defend his rights certificate for an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom.
Though Ibushi’s briefcase defense dates are yet to be revealed, the G1 Climax 29 winner told the press he already as an idea for the two-night 2020 Wrestle Kingdom:
Of course, I accept and will use this contract. But I have one proposal. We have events in the Tokyo Dome on January 4 and 5, but I still have an attachment to the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. How about, if I win the Heavyweight Championship on January 4 and then challenge for the Intercontinental Championship on January 5? Whoever it may be. I will, of course, defend this right to challenge against KENTA and EVIL who beat me during the G1. That’s it, that’s my suggestion.
Ibushi later acknowledged that he didn’t earn the right to challenge for the Intercontinental Championship and clarified that this is “just a suggestion for now. If it doesn’t happen that’s the way it is.” Though he said this idea isn’t only in response to Tetsuya Naito‘s goal he’s been pursuing this year of becoming the first man to hold the IWGP Intercontinental Championship and Heavyweight Championship at the same time ( “Certainly nobody has held both titles at the same time. So there’s the possibility to be the first. Plus, the Intercontinental title is one I feel responsibility for and I don’t want to give that up,” explained Ibushi), he said there is “a little bit of a message” to Naito in his suggestion, as well as “my imagination.”
Could we actually see Ibushi win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on January 4, then challenge for the IC title on January 5? Could this all actually lead to Naito achieving his double champion dreams? It’s hard to predict because New Japan has both never had this kind of double champion before and has never had a two-day Wrestle Kingdom-type show before; the event’s more enduring name, the January 4 Tokyo Dome Show, even specifies that one date. Maybe anything is possible now!
But Wrestle Kingdom 14 is all the way in 2020, and there’s a lot of NJPW programming to go before then, starting either in August or September, depending on where you live and for what you have tickets. Though Royal Quest and the Super J-Cup will take place in August, they won’t be streamed live, so most NJPW fans won’t be able to watch them until they’re uploaded to NJPW World sometime in September. NJPW’s next batch of live broadcast events, the Destruction tour, will start on September 4.