The first of hopefully many “View From Ringside” columns here on this site. Please share this link with everyone you know, if you don’t mind. The plan for this column is to inform you, share my insights and bring more fans to this jewel of a website. This site has all the card information for upcoming events, translated interviews, special features and more. You can even order tickets to NJPW events!
The Destruction tour is a September staple in the NJPW calendar and a great way to gear up for the fall and winter. The tour kicks off in earnest on September 7th and wraps on the 24th, with unique matchups, title opportunities born from the G1 Climax and many miles logged on the tour buses. Don Callis and I will bring you English commentary for the events on September 16th in Hiroshima and September 24th in Kobe.
The big news before the tour got rolling is that Kenny Omega is going to rest his injured knee in preparation for his US title match against Juice Robinson in Kobe on the 24th. For Juice, his first G1 Climax tournament was a month-long saga devoted to survival and learning. Banged up and bruised, Robinson caught Omega in “The Shocka in Osaka” on August 8th. Juice may still be feeling the physical effects of the tournament but he can’t forget all he learned. Just because Omega is taking more time to heal from an injury does not mean the injury will be healed by Kobe. Look for Kenny’s knee to be an important note when we gather on the 24th.
G1 Climax winner Tetsuya Naito and current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada will see plenty of each other on the Destruction tour. Okada is rapidly ascending to the top of the all-time great IWGP champions list with EVIL in October one final hurdle before Tokyo Dome on January 4th. I’ll be interested to hear the crowd’s reaction to Naito and Okada on this tour. Naito had his previous G1 win/WK main event jerked out from underneath him so he will ensure that everyone hears how the crowd feels about him in 2017.
Sides are drawn on the Destruction tour with CHAOS paired off with Los Ingobernables de Japon and Taguchi Japan staring across at Suzuki-Gun in multi-man tags and title matches. By the time the tour is over, the Intercontinental, NEVER Openweight, IWGP Junior Heavyweight single and tag titles could all change hands.
Taguchi Japan has accumulated quite a bit of gold, gaining singles titles in June and tag titles in August but now that Suzuki Gun is at full strength, they might be too much to overcome. The return of the wild Takashi Iizuka from a broken ankle adds depth and size to the junior-laden Taka/Taichi wing but the sudden and shocking return of the former tag team champions has turned the heavyweight tag team division on its ear.
Rumors were swirling that Lance Archer’s career was over. Back injuries that lead to emergency surgery lend credibility to otherwise forgotten chatter. Six months later, he and partner Davey Boy Smith Jr. return to NJPW with a vengeance on the final night of G1 Climax, bigger, stronger and angrier. Now current champs War Machine and former champs and top contenders Guerrillas of Destiny. Now these three team will have three chances to brutalize each other and take the tag team titles.
I’ll write a preview for the September 16th Hiroshima event featuring Roppongi Vice’s final match and two title matches next week. Until then, enjoy the matches and thank you for reading my View From Ringside.