51st Anniversary (March 6) Preview

IWGP Tag Team Championship main event


The full card has been set for NJPW’s 51st Anniversary Event on March 6. NJPW returns to the place where it all began in Ota-ku all the way back in 1972. The IWGP Tag Team Championships will be on the line in the main event of a stacked card that will also see two first round matches in the New Japan Cup.

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Main event: IWGP Tag Team Championships- Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) vs Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi

The night’s headline bout will see Bishamon defend the IWGP Tag Team Championships against the Dream Team of Hiroshi Tanahashi and IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada. After Battle in the Valley, Okada showed his appreciation and respect for his main event opponent in the Ace, and invited Tanahashi to team with him in pursuing the IWGP Tag titles. Though it would be a different potential dream partner in Mercedes Moné who answered the call for an incredible night closing celebration, it seems talks for Tanahashi and Okada carried on into the night, and now a challenge has been made official.

The current tag team champions position in CHAOS make this a friendly encounter on March 6, but competition is set to be intense, with YOSHI-HASHI and Hirooki Goto attempting to rubber stamp their second IWGP reign with a victory over two iconic talents, while Okada, never a tag team champion, will look to be the first to hold the tag belts and IWGP World Heavyweight gold simultaneously. 

7th Match: New Japan Cup 1st Round- David Finlay vs Tomohiro Ishii

Two New Japan Cup first round matchups are set for Ota on March 6. David Finlay and Tomohiro Ishii’s clash was already one to watch out for, but further intrigue has been added since Battle in the Valley. After Jay White was exiled from NJPW, his former Dojo mate and rival Finlay blasted the Switchblade from behind with a shillelagh before he could make a farewell address. Declaring that now was his time to seize everything in NJPW, Finlay’s edge seems to stand him apart from everyone on the Hontai side. Yet if anyone can put a new attitude to the test it’s Tomohiro Ishii. Is it all talk from Finlay, is it time to expect the world from him?

6th Match: New Japan Cup 1st Round: Shota Umino vs Yujiro Takahashi

The other New Japan Cup first round matchup on March 6 sees Shota Umino go head to head with Yujiro Takahashi. As a power vacuum forms within BULLET CLUB in the wake of Jay White’s exile, every member of the faction has an added air of danger, and HOUSE OF TORTURE will be looking to make a land grab within the New Japan Cup. With sights set on the skies, Shota Umino will be building back big in the wake of New Beginning defeat to Tetsuya Naito; will he be in store for a big run in the tournament?

5th Match: CHAOS (Lio Rush & YOH) vs Los Ingobernables De Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI)

An anniversary junior special tag will see Lio Rush and YOH face Hiromu Takahashi and BUSHI. At the end of the tour in Nagaoka on March 21, it’ll be Rush challenging Hiromu for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Yet the Bad Child and YOH still have unfinished business with the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Catch 2/2, not to mention the fact that junior tag gold has been something that has always eluded Hiromu. Might this be a de facto number one contender’s bout for duos gold as well? And will Hiromu be able to ride a high from the huge success of All Star Junior Festival, or will CHAOS throw a wrench in the works?

4th Match (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & SANADA) vs United Empire (Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan & Aaron Henare)

The New Japan Cup will kick off in Korakuen on March 5 with SANADA facing Taichi in the main event in Korakuen Hall. The next night, he will either be a relieved Cold Skull looking to continue his resurgence, or a SANADA still slumping with his LIJ partners. Tetsuya Naito too will either be in celebratory or comiseratory mode after facing El Phantasmo in cup action the night before, while Shingo Takagi will be getting a preview of a long awaited rematch with Aaron Henare in Yamagata on March 1o. 

3rd Match: Strong Style (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & Ren Narita) vs HOUSE OF TORTURE (EVIL, SHO & Dick Togo)

New NEVER Openweight 6 Man Tag Team Champions Strong Style will be united again in Ota, as Ren Narita, Minoru Suzuki and El Desperado will face Dick Togo, EVIL and SHO. Narita and EVIL will collide in the first round of the New Japan Cup on March 8 in Fukushima, and the King of Darkness wants to make a statement ahead of their cup clash, and with H.O.T’s recent title loss frontmost in mind. Meanwhile SHO will look to grow in stature after facing humiliation at All Star Jr. Festival, Mao, Isami Kodaka and even his own supposed partners Onryo and Ram Kaicho from Triple 6 deciding to have enough of the Murder Machine, who left Korakuen this week with tail firmly tucked between his legs. 

2nd Match: Tama Tonga, Toru Yano & Satoshi Kojima vs United Empire (Will Ospreay, Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis)


The second match of the night sees Aussie Open back in Japan, and teaming with Will Ospreay to form a United Empire trio against Tama Tonga, Toru Yano and another returnee after his NOAH sojourn in Satoshi Kojima. How will the UE trio fare ahead of their New Japan Cup matches?

1st Match: TMDK (Zack Sabre Jr. & Kosei Fujita) vs BULLET CLUB (KENTA & El Phantasmo)

Starting the night, NJPW World TV Champion Zack Sabre Jr. teams with Kosei Fujita to face El Phantasmo and the brand new STRONG Openweight Champion, KENTA. As ZSJ and KENTA have byes to the second round, and ELP potentially having already joined them depending on his result on March 5, more New Japan Cup implications abound in this meeting, while Fujita’s on the job training in TMDK sees him take on a big test in our opening bout.