It’s been a turbulent year for fan-favorite New Japan Pro Wrestling faction Los Ingobernables de Japon for reasons both scripted and unscripted. 2018 kicked off with Tetsuya Naito‘s heartbreaking loss to Kazuchika Okada in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom. In the spring, the L.I.J. frontman won the Intercontinental Championship from Minoru Suzuki after a lengthy feud, only to lose it in his first defense to Chris Jericho at Dominion. Evil and Sanada lost their tag titles to the Young Bucks at the same show.
Hiromu Takahashi was having the best year of his career after winning Best of the Super Juniors and the Junior Heavyweight Championship, but he had to vacate the belt after a serious neck injury. Chances of the belt remaining in the faction/family were shot down when Bushi lost to Kushida in the tournament to crown the next champion. However, Bushi hinted in promos during the Destruction tour that he would get a new junior heavyweight partner for the upcoming Super Junior Tag League and get back into the smaller guys tag title picture. Naito made cryptic remarks about L.I.J.’s future over that tour as well and finally followed up on them today via extremely cool announcement video.
The video first tells us what we already know: Los Ingos are basically the coolest faction in the world, and New Japan doesn’t have the narrator yell “CHARISMA!!!” in VTRs for Naito matches for nothing. Naito then reminds us of all the things he’s said over the past few months about the importance of change and the role of change in his career/character arc. He says L.I.J. will wait for Hiromu’s return, but will also introduce a new member at King of Pro Wrestling on October 8. (It’s worth noting that Dragon Lee, rival to Hiromu and brother to CMLL Los Ingobernables member and regular Naito tag partner Rush, is currently working on the reality show Exatlón México.)
The text in the Japanese version of the video also announces that Naito, Sanada, Bushi, and their new stablemate will wrestle as a four-man team at KOPW, which makes it sound like that Evil vs. Zack Sabre Jr. singles match will go down at that show.
Edit: NJPW officially announced those matches and the rest of the King of Pro Wrestling card shortly after this article was published. The full KOPW match list is:
- Tiger Mask and Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
- Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe vs. Toa Henare and Juice Robinson
- Chase Owens, Hangman Page, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson vs. Taiji Ishimori, Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga, and Bad Luck Fale
- Will Ospreay, Hirooki Goto, and Tomohiro Ishii vs. Takashi Iizuka, Taichi, and Minoru Suzuki
- Sho, Yoh, Toru Yano, and Kazuchika Okada vs. X (the new L.I.J. member), Bushi, Sanada, and Tetsuya Naito
- Evil vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
- Kushida vs. Marty Scurll for the vacant IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White for the contract to the IWGP Heavyweight Championship match at the Tokyo Dome on January 4
- Kenny Omega (c) vs. Kota Ibushi vs. Cody for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship