New Japan Pro Wrestling
47th Anniversary Event
March 6, 2019
Ota City General Gymnasium

Watch: NJPW World / AXS TV

Meet our previewers

John Carroll: You should know me by now given that I’m on literally every one of these New Japan previews. Follow my podcast @wrestleomakase and, if you like dumb weeb trash, you can follow my regular Twitter @toshanshuinla (but you probably shouldn’t do that, honestly).

Suit Williams: I’m ready to see some Big Match Liger. I’m @SuitWilliams on Twitter, I write for PWPonderings.com, and I co-host the Smark Sports podcast as well.

Alex Wendland: In this article I’m fulfilling my obligations to be considered a current and active member of the Voices of Wrestling staff. I have no dumb weeb trash, but you can find me on Twitter @AlexWendland.

Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, Ayato Yoshida, Shota Umino & Ren Narita vs. BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale, Guerrillas of Destiny, Chase Owens & Hikuleo)

John: This is definitely the weakest match on what looks like a tight, solid card, but even here you’ve at least got the great crop of young lions to hang your hat on. Umino and Narita both looked awesome on the Honor Rising shows, as unlike a certain young Kingdom member they excelled in their singles opportunities. Along with Yoshida the three of them have really made the bottom of New Japan cards exciting. If they actually get something interesting out of the boring ass collection of wrestlers that is BULLET CLUB these days (outside of Ishimori and White, neither of whom are in this match of course) we should probably just pencil all three of them in for IWGP Heavyweight title reigns and save ourselves the time. Also, Hikuleo is back. If you care, say “aye”. Prediction: BULLET CLUB

Suit: Some ten-man tag action opens the card, as the Most Violent Players lead a team of young lions into battle against Team Tongan. I expect there to be some sort of set-up for an MVP/GOD Heavyweight Tag Team Title match, but Fale is probably scoring the fall to set up his New Japan Cup run. I do want to see what Hikuleo can do coming off of his injury though. Prediction: BULLET CLUB

Alex: Even this lame-o snoozefest of an opener has intrigue with this crop of Young Lions rounding into shape and Shota Umino’s entrance into the New Japan Cup. One of these days he’s going to start stealing pinfalls before heading off on excursion. None of the BULLET CLUB members on the other side seem ripe for Umino to pick off, however, with G.O.D newly re-minted as tag champions and both Chase Owens and Bad Luck Fale gearing up for tournament runs of their own. NJPW does like to pin wrestlers returning from injury, but there’s enough insulation around Hikuleo in this match―and enough other Young Lions―that I don’t see it happening. Prediction: BULLET CLUB

Yuji Nagata & Toa Henare vs. Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI

John: I’ve generally disliked the weird CHAOS/hontai (main army, sometimes also called “sekigun” but I’ve been told by Japanese speakers that hontai is actually used more frequently) alliance angle since it started last fall, as it has left both units feeling ill-defined and leaves CHAOS especially feeling like it’s barely a step above being a Taguchi Japan-esque quasi-unit. However, one aspect of this whole weird thing that I’ve enjoyed is the way they’ve played off it in the Ishii-Nagata feud. Every other native member of CHAOS has spent time in the NJPW main army, at least as a young lion if nothing else, except for one man: Tomohiro Ishii. Ishii came straight off the Japanese indies into CHAOS’ precursor unit Great Bash Heel, following most of his stablemates over in the Nakamura-inspired mutiny and remaining there ever since. He’s never been a New Japan main army member, and he’s been around long enough to still remember the days when CHAOS were the primary heels in NJPW, constantly feuding with said main roster. Rocky Romero on commentary has driven this point home repeatedly, that if there’s anyone in CHAOS who he worries about getting along with hontai as part of this alliance it’s Ishii, and his fears have basically come true. While everyone else in CHAOS is busy teaming up with their new hontai friends (many on this very card, in fact), Ishii is instead forearming Yuji Nagata in the face as hard as he possibly can. Their feud will continue at least through the first round of the New Japan Cup (they’re scheduled to meet just two days after this show at Korakuen Hall). Will they put things aside after that and perhaps even team up against CHAOS and hontai’s many common enemies? Or are they simply too hard-headed to get along? Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI

Suit: This just reminds me that I was probably going to see Ishii and Nagata wrestle on the New Beginning USA tour. Damn visas. Ishii and Nagata face off in the first round of the New Japan Cup, so this will be a preview. Expect some hard elbows and stiff kicks, while YOSHI-HASHI and Henare fart around in the background. Prediction: Ishii-HASHI

Alex: More New Japan Cup setup as Yuji Nagata and Tomohiro Ishii will face off in the first round and the winner of that match could be in line for a third-round match against YOSHI-HASHI. I suspect the match will build towards Nagata and Ishii finally facing off to set up their first-round pairing, a match that was “supposed” to take place in the United States, but was a low-key great build―more fuel for the conspiracy theorists. Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI

Satoshi Kojima, Tomoaki Honma, Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi & Dragon Lee vs. Suzukigun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & TAKA Michinoku)

John: We’ll talk more about Dragon Lee randomly being in for this short tour when we get to the LIJ six-man, but I think you can probably guess what I’m getting at there. Regardless of any ulterior motives behind his seemingly random booking, Dragon Lee will team up with the NJPW main army to take on Suzukigun, and he does have a seemingly outstanding issue with El Desperado dating back to their crazy mask-tearing brawl in last year’s Best of the Super Junior. Suzuki and his boys are coming off an embarrassing 0-3 sweep in title matches against LIJ at New Beginning in Sapporo, so they’ll try to begin rebuilding some momentum here. This will also be a preliminary skirmish for two more NJC first round matches, as Taichi faces Honma on 3/8 in Korakuen and Suzuki takes on Kojima (the man he stole Kojimagun from many years ago now!) on 3/11 in Takamatsu. Anyway, professional pin eater TAKA is here, so congrats in advance to the home army on their victory. Prediction: Kojima & Honma & Tiger & Taguchi & Lee

Suit: Another ten-man tag, this time previewing two New Japan Cup matches. Suzuki and Kojima go head-to-head on March 11, and Taichi takes on Honma on the opening night of the tournament on March 8. Most of these guys are coming off of losses on the New Beginning tour, Suzuki-gun especially. However, the name that stands out to me is Dragon Lee. Why the hell is he here? He was on the Fantastica Mania tour, but that was a month ago. Something tells me that he will have an old friend visit him before this match is done. Prediction: Team Kojima

Alex: The obvious clues here are Dragon Lee and TAKA Michinoku. Mr. 1,000 Percent Hiromu Takahashi isn’t coming out to confront Dragon Lee after he loses a match, and TAKA isn’t here to win matches. Pair all that with more New Japan Cup first round hype and you’ve got a fun midcard cluster! Prediction: Kojima & Honma & Tiger & Taguchi & Lee

IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship
Shingo Takagi & BUSHI © vs. Roppongi 3K

John: The team of Shingo and BUSHI had their first match together on October 16th, 2018 in the Super Junior Tag League (Shingo’s second match overall in New Japan after debuting as an LIJ member eight days earlier) and were victorious, defeating Roppongi 3K. The two teams met twice in three-ways also involving El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru, with R3K winning the tag league finals but Shingo & BUSHI having the last laugh at the Tokyo Dome, winning the junior tag titles there. R3K then donned their old Fujin and Raijin masks for the CMLL crossover Fantasticamania tour, and under those gimmicks defeated Shingo & BUSHI in a non-title match on the 1/16 show in Chiba (via a Fujin/YOH roll-up on BUSHI). So that means these two teams are exactly tied- they’ve both won a three-way and they’ve both won a regular tag- making this sort of the ultimate rubber match. Who picks up the win and walks out with the titles? Roppongi 3K. While yes, that may seem like kind of a short title reign for Shingo & BUSHI, Shingo is obviously destined for much bigger things than the junior tag titles in New Japan. He’s not a particularly young guy (he’s 36, believe it or not) so I doubt they’re going to wait very long to move him up to at least the junior singles division. And oh yeah, he still has never been pinned since debuting in New Japan. They’re not protecting him to that level (or putting him on the side of production trucks) for no reason. So here’s how I think this will play out: Shingo & BUSHI lose the junior tag titles here, maybe get one more rematch at MSG or one of the Dontaku tour shows and lose again, and then Shingo moves on to Best of the Super Juniors. And folks, I think you can just go ahead and pencil him in for one half of the finals at Sumo Hall…..maybe with another LIJ junior standing across the ring from him, in fact (no, not BUSHI). Prediction: Roppongi 3K

Suit: This is the first pure two-on-two title match between these two teams, and I am excited for it. A mini-rivalry has spawned between SHO and Shingo, where they have awesome exchanges before Shingo ends up getting the better of SHO. While I don’t think Shingo takes the fall here, I do think SHO gets a win over LIJ here. I don’t want to say that the Junior Tag Titles don’t matter, but it wouldn’t usually shock me when they change hands. Roppongi 3K haven’t had the belts since Dominion, and Shingo needs to get ready for Super Juniors. I say Roppongi 3K become the 3x Jr. Tag Champs. Prediction: Roppongi 3K

Alex: There hasn’t been a lot going on for Roppongi 3K since losing the IWGP Junior Tag titles around this time last year, but there’s drama afoot in LIJ and shoving the titles off to Rocky’s Boys might be the best path forward in order to clear the way for the wars to come. Shingo has been great since his debut in Hiromu’s stead and has been wildly protected. I’m interested to see if Hiromu’s return pushes Shingo into a heavyweight role this quickly, or whether he’ll leave LIJ entirely. Prediction: Roppongi 3K

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship
Taiji Ishimori © vs. Jushin Thunder Liger

John: There’s this narrative out there that Jushin Thunder Liger gets a “yearly junior title shot” and it isn’t even remotely true. Here’s his entire recent history of shots at the junior heavyweight title: lost to KUSHIDA at Wrestling Dontaku in May 2016, lost to Naomichi Marufuji at New Dimension in April 2010. That’s it. Two title shots in the entire decade up until this point. Even if you add the junior tag titles he doesn’t get one shot a year- that adds title shots only in 2012 (his very brief title win with Tiger Mask, the only IWGP title he held in the entire decade), 2013, and 2018. So now that we’ve established this supposedly annual event is actually quite rare- and hasn’t happened in nearly three years- I can just say I’m excited for it. Liger pinning Ishimori at Korakuen was one of the few highlights of the two Honor Rising shows, and while I sincerely doubt he’ll repeat the same feat here, it should at least set up a hell of a flash cradle nearfall. Ota Gym will be living and dying with the junior legend, and if you’re gonna have a filler title defense, it may as well be one the crowd is actually hot for. Prediction: Taiji Ishimori

Suit: When New Japan isn’t ready to pull the trigger on Singles Shingo, and Hiromu isn’t quite ready yet, whatever can New Japan do? Break the emergency Liger glass of course! Liger has been notoriously content with his role as an opening-match guy, even asking to be left out of Best of the Super Juniors for years before getting his wish last year. However, he is still here, and Ishimori needs one more defense to really tide him over until the Super Juniors tournament starts. So Liger will go out there, the crowd will be rocking for him, and Ishimori will beat him, and we will all be satisfied. Prediction: Taiji Ishimori

Alex: A perfunctory performance of professional put-on pugalists with a predetermined prizewinner, both in the meta sense and the narrative sense. Though John’s research shows the legend Liger doesn’t get an annual title shot, he does seem to earn annual relevance for a brief period of time. Liger’s surprise pin was probably the highlight of a so-so at best Honor Rising tour, but it ultimately won’t provide anything but a hot crowd hopelessly devoted to a lost cause―a classic tale of the ages, frankly. Prediction: Taiji Ishimori





Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL & SANADA)

John: EVIL spent weeks talking about how he and SANADA wanted to fight Tanahashi and Okada, toward the end of the New Beginning tour and then again at the start of the last mini-tour, so I figured they were setting up an IWGP Tag Team Title match. Instead, the LIJ duo lost the tag titles to Guerillas of Destiny at Honor Rising, setting up their yawn-inducing fifth reign with the belts and also an equally boring showdown with the Briscoes. All of this resulted in the teased EVIL/SANADA-Okada/Tanahashi showdown turning into a six-man tag here, with Naito joining the LIJ team and Goto teaming up with the Dream Team. While I’m not happy about what happened with the tag titles (who possibly could be unless you’re related to the new champions) the resulting six-man is at least a really fun looking match on paper. You’ve also got guys on both teams very capable of taking a fall- EVIL/SANADA for LIJ and Goto for the Dream Team alliance- but I ultimately think LIJ is coming away with the win here, and I’ll tell you why: Naito is taking the mic after an LIJ win and reintroducing us to one Hiromu Takahashi. Yes, this prediction has been made before, but it all adds up this time: Hiromu has gotten closer and closer to the magic 1000% (he was at 950% in his latest update, days ago now, and he seems to be going up at such a rate that he will hit 1000 on….March 6th, the date of this show) and his eternal rival Dragon Lee is just randomly booked for this mini-tour for seemingly no real reason. Both Lee and Hiromu have expressed that they want that to be Hiromu’s return match, as well. It’s all just too convenient, you know? I think you really CAN get your hopes up this time, so look forward to an LIJ victory, a role call from Naito, and the return of 2018’s greatest wrestler on earth. Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japon

Suit: Three of New Japan’s biggest stars, two of their still-rising stars, and…Goto is there too. This will be a fun all-star match to celebrate the anniversary, and I don’t think the finish will really telegraph anything for New Japan Cup. I do like John’s idea of the LIJ roll call with a returning Hiromu Takahashi, but where I differ from them is that I think Hiromu will attack Dragon Lee after his match to set up his return match at Madison Square Garden. That might be wishful thinking, but why not? Prediction: LIJ

Alex: New Japan’s Dream Team of the Ages (and Hirooki Goto) team up against a well-oiled LIJ machine. Like the lower-card matches but on a much higher scale, this is going to come down to setting up a first round match for the New Japan Cup. Either Goto or SANADA are scoring a pin on the other to up the stakes heading into their tournament face-off. Given the history of Goto and rumors surrounding SANADA’s 2019 future, I know who I’m picking. While John says a LIJ win leads to Hiromu’s return, I think they’re half right. Hiromu is coming back earlier in the show to confront Dragon Lee directly, but the whole unit will use the occasion to celebrate their undoubted triumph in contrast of their victory over New Japan’s “aces” on the company’s anniversary show. Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japon

Anniversary Day Special Single Match (Non-Title)
Jay White vs. Will Ospreay

John: Remember all that stuff from Dave Meltzer about how Jay White just slid into Kenny Omega’s spot in New Japan’s 2019? Well, that means this here anniversary show main event was originally supposed to be Omega vs. Ospreay. That would have either delighted or upset you depending on who is reading this, and I almost kinda wish it had happened just to see the Wrestling Twitter explosion. But, as you can probably guess if you know me at all, I’m happier with what we’ve actually got here. White and Ospreay had an awesome match during Jay’s ROH excursion on 5/12/17, a Hammerstein Ballroom War of the Worlds show I just so happened to be at live (and went ****¼ on). That one however only went thirteen and a half minutes (you’d have to think a main event here goes longer) and featured generic babyface Jay White, not Switchblade Jay White. So can they recapture that kind of magic nearly two years later? Personally I think they will, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this is quite a bit better than what was a disappointing Okada-Ospreay main event at last year’s anniversary show. The fact that Ospreay enters here as NEVER champion and has been getting pinfalls over heavyweights left and right (kinda making him a de facto heavyweight himself even if they’ve never explicitly said he’s moved up yet) helps a lot, because unlike last year you have to think he has at least a chance in hell of winning this match. I don’t think he will ultimately, but he COULD (it would set up a future defense for Jay if he’s surviving as champion past MSG, maybe for Dontaku?), and even that’s a big advantage over last year’s match. Frankly, there was simply no way in hell that Junior Champion Will Ospreay was beating Kazuchika Okada at his absolute peak as the unbeatable two-year IWGP Heavyweight Champion, and the entire crowd at Ota Gym knew it. This time around there’s really no good reason why Ospreay can’t win this. Even though I’m still going with White in the end, at least the live crowd should react for the nearfalls this time. Prediction: Jay White

Suit: One of my favorite wrestlers in the world in Will Ospreay going up against a guy whose talent is shining through more and more in Switchblade Jay White. It’s wild to see this as IWGP Champion vs NEVER Openweight Champion because I’m not used to seeing these guys with these belts, but it should be awesome. These two had a great match on the ROH War of the Worlds show back in 2017, where Ospreay beat the emerging young lion. Ever since then, Jay White’s star has risen at an exponential level, while Ospreay has continued at his stellar pace. The result couldn’t be in any less doubt, but I expect a top-level match that hopefully turns some of White’s detractors. Prediction: Jay White

Alex: Honestly, I’m just hoping for something over four stars here. I haven’t been into anything Jay White has done between the ropes over the past year and, outside of this special non-title match, I’m not particularly looking forward to a lengthy Switchblade Era. As for this match, there’s obviously no way a third-tier champion is getting a win over the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, even if CHAOS has had a pretty miserable night on the rest of the card. Right? Right. White will likely put in a 4.5-star mean mugging performance and a 3.5-star in-ring. Your mileage on this match will vary based on how you weigh that average. Prediction: Jay White