Loaded ten match card for return to the UK
Saturday night sees NJPW return to the UK for Royal Quest III. A battle of the Best of British headlines the event, with Zack Sabre Jr. and Will Ospreay colliding over the IWGP UK Championship. Meanwhile the card sees the return to action of Taiji Ishimori, the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag team Championships on the line and much more!
Watch LIVE on RevPro On Demand! (NJPW World to follow shortly)
Main event: IWGP United Kingdom Championship：Zack Sabre Jr. vs Will Ospreay
Singles record: 9-6 Sabre
There could be few choices more fitting for the main event of NJPW’s return to the UK than the continuation of a singles rivalry between two men that have defined British wrestling, and its connection to Japan, over the past decade. From the influence of the Wigan shooters, via Billy Robinson and Karl Gotch, on Japan in the 1960s and ‘70s, British wrestlers have always been revered in the country, and in their efforts in restoring a once dormant British scene on the world stage, Sabre and Ospreay have grown to be revered and heavily influential figures worldwide.
Yet both could not be more diverse figures, making their rivalry, one that last saw a controversial submission victory for Sabre over Ospreay in the 2022 New Japan Cup, all the more compelling. From their early careers, Sabre revitalized a classical grappling style that would have been at home in the Snake Pit of old, while Ospreay brought bombast and spectacle, a contrast not dissimilar to the Tanahashi and Okada feud of domestic NJPW. Even today, Ospreay proudly carries his status of the best in the world, relabeling the IWGP United States title as the IWGP UK belt to wear his heart and home on his sleeve. At the same time though, it’s Sabre, at 14 defences and counting with TV gold, that has more quietly become the most successful champion of the modern era in NJPW, and one who now feels more than ready, be it against Bryan Danielson in Seattle earlier this month, or against Ospreay here tonight, to fly the flag as the foreign Ace of the King of Sports.
Pride, an intensely competitive rivalry, and the red and gold are on the line in our main event, and it could be strongly argued that the title of the best professional wrestler in the world today is at stake as well.
9th Match: Shingo Takagi vs Tomohiro Ishii
Singles record: 5-1 Takagi
From the moment that Shingo Takagi inserted himself into the heavyweight ranks of NJPW in the 2019 G1 Climax, it was clear to see that he and Tomohiro Ishii would have a lot of brutal encounters in their future. Over the ensuing four years, the Dragon and the Stone Pitbull have collided six times one on one, and each has seen straight forward, self-explanatory mayhem between two of the hardest hitters in the game. Now, Royal Quest III sees their first encounter outside Japan.
After a lot of pre-G1 Climax 33 talk, Shingo Takagi was bounced out of the elimination phase, while Tomohiro Ishii’s disappointing record even despite gripping performances had questions asked over his future. As both now seek to chart a course toward the Tokyo Dome and Wrestle Kingdom 18, there will be no quarter given in a match that could steal the show in the eyes of the Copper Box.
8th Match: Michael Oku, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Eddie Kingston vs United Empire (TJP, Jeff Cobb & HENARE)
Double NJPW STRONG and ROH World Champion Eddie Kingston has had a busy time since his run in Japan during the G1 Climax came to an end. Yet after an emotional battle with Claudio Castagnoli at AEW’s Grand Slam in New York was followed by a battle with Katsuyori Shibata in Seattle, there’s one man who feels the Mad King has unfinished business to deal with.
HENARE had a memorable clash with Kingston during the G1, but with a result that didn’t satisfy United Empire’s Face of Fury. Eager for a rematch against Kingston with the STRONG Openweight Championship on the line, HENARE attacked Kingston at the G1 semifinals; it was only natural for the champion to fire back the next night. Now, HENARE and Kingston’s title meeting is official for October 28 in Las Vegas, but beforehand, a six-man preview. This all-star bout sees the Mad King team with NJPW’s Ace, and RevPro’s Undisputed British heavyweight Champion in Michael Oku- but will this trio have the cohesion to combat the United Empire?
7th Match: Just Five Guys (DOUKI & SANADA) vs Los Ingobernables De Japon (BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito)
After SANADA finally reclaimed his IWGP World Heavyweight Championship with a victory over EVIL in Ryogoku October 9, and Tetsuya Naito defeated Jeff Cobb in Kobe on September 24, our main event at Wrestle Kingdom 18 is now set. Former Los Ingobernables De Japon parejas SANADA and Tetsuya Naito will collide in the Tokyo Dome on January 4, 2024, and Royal Quest III will see the first official preview of the bout in tag team action. Which team will set a strong first impression on the Road to Wrestle Kingdom? We’ll find out in the Copper Box.
6th Match: Ren Narita & Shota Umino vs United Empire (Francesco Akira & Great-O-Khan)
Since both returned to Japanese competition shortly after last year’s Royal Quest, Ren Narita and Shota Umino have been more violently at one another’s throats with every passing match. Their G1 Climax 33 meeting ending in a time limit draw, and a subsequent Best of Seven trios series still not settling the score, the Shooter and the Son of Strong Style will try to put their heads together in tag team action tonight.
Umino and Great-O-Khan have a significant past in the UK; indeed O-Khan’s campaign of dominance in RevPro year’s ago began with a victory over then Young Lion Umino back in 2018. As they loop back around to face one another tonight, who comes out on top?
5th Match: Guerrillas of Destiny (Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga) vs BULLET CLUB War Dogs (Gedo & David Finlay)
Destruction in Ryogoku saw a clean sweep for the Guerrillas of Destiny. First, the reunion of an alliance born in the UK between El Phantasmo and Hikuleo saw the duo capturing the NJPW STRONG Openweight Tag Team Championships from Alex Coughlin and Gabe Kidd of the BULLET CLUB War Dogs. Then, triumph for Tama Tonga over NEVER Openweight Champion David Finlay saw the birth of a third NEVER Openweight Championship reign on a night to forget for BULLET CLUB. Now G.o.D go up against a BC trio with a score to settle.
4th Match: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: Cameron Khai & Leon Slater vs BULLET CLUB War Dogs (Clark Connors & Drilla Moloney)
After Drilla Moloney turned his back on United Empire to join BULLET CLUB War Dogs back in June, he and Clark Connors were quick to make a statement. An impressive win over Catch 2/2 in Korakuen Hall to capture the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships was followed with a swift defence the very next night over Rocky Romero and YOH. Three months on, and the duo picked up exactly where they left off, scooping victory over Kevin Knight and KUSHIDA in Ryogoku.
Yet Moloney has unfinished business with a former friend in Leon Slater. After the Drilla jumped to BULLET CLUB, the betrayed Slater looked for closure, and got it back at RevPro’s XI Anniversary event. The teenage prodigy picked up a momentous victory over Moloney and set himself for this championship opportunity alongside another bright young prospect in Cameron Khai. Could a favourable home crowd and opportunity knocking set the stage for an incredible upset?
3rd Match: Yota Tsuji vs Luke Jacobs
Singles record: 1-0 Jacobs
After a star making performance, but a heart breaking loss to IWGP UK Champion Will Ospreay in Kobe, Yota Tsuji seeks to start his journey back to contention at Royal Quest against some difficult competition. Luke Jacobs snatched a lot of headlines in the summer after an explosive war with Tomohiro Ishii in the Copper Box for RevPro, and holds a victory over Tsuji as the LIJ member was in the midst of his excursion. This is far from a tune up for Tsuji who needs to make his present felt, and feared.
2nd Match: El Desperado vs Trent Seven
A first time ever singles matchup sees El Desperado face Trent Seven. WWE NXT alum Seven has stirred controversy and heated crowds since his return to the British touring stage, and there is no doubt that in the face of one of the most beloved members of Strong Style, the crowd will be on the side of El Desperado. Yet as a big opportunity to make Japan sit up and take notice presents itself, a win over Despe could do huge things for Seven who is sure to look for victory at any cost.
1st Match: Robbie X vs Taiji Ishimori
One of the biggest surprises to emerge from a loaded night October 9 in Ryogoku was the re-emergence of Taiji Ishimori. On the bench since a neck injury during Best of the Super Jr. 30, Ishimori returned seek a position at the top of the junior heavyweight mountain once again. Starting his journey in London he faces a formidable junior heavyweight in Robbie X. Last year’s Royal Quest saw Robbie team with now British Heavyweight Champion Michael Oku, and now his first NJPW singles match will see the former cruiserweight champion looking to make big steps back toward the RevPro gold- and to draw eyes from the IWGP committee.