IWGP World Championship, Okada farewell
The second night in Hokkai Kita Yell February 24 will be an emotional one, as NJPW bids farewell to the Rainmaker Kazuchika Okada. Plus someone will lose their hair when Yota Tsuji faces Yuya Uemura, and the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship is on the line as Tetsuya Naito defends for the first time against SANADA.
Main event: IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Tetsuya Naito vs SANADA
Singles record: 2-2-1
Our main event will see the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship on the line, Tetsuya Naito defending for the very first time against SANADA. In the wake of Naito capturing the world title at Wrestle Kingdom, it was SANADA that ensured El Ingobernable finally got his long desired for roll call in the Tokyo Dome, and when SANADA requested another shot, it was granted out of gratitude. There was also a desire from Naito to see SANADA bring something new and certainly more vocal to the table heading into this Sapporo title match- whether or not SANADA is more talkative in the hunt for the title, he certainly has been wrestling more hungrily. With a string of victories on the road to Sapporo, and in the site of his very first singles championship in NJPW back in 2022, will SANADA make Naito’s reign a short one? Or will Sapporo see another of many show closing roll calls to come in 2024?
8th Match: Hair vs Hair: Yuya Uemura vs Yota Tsuji
Singles record: 16-10-22 Tsuji
The generational rivals of Yota Tsuji and Yuya Uemura collide for the 49th time one on one tonight in sapporo, but with hair on the line, the line will be drawn under this feud for now after Sapporo. Uemura’s first singles match back from excursion was at Wrestle Kingdom, where a Deadbolt suplex brought the Just Five Guys member victory over Tsuji. That only served to escalate issues between the two, and after a brawl all over Korakuen at the end of January, Uemura schooled Tsuji with a rapid tapout in tag action at the start of this month.
Tsuji responded with a Gene Blaster to go 1-1 in singles action with his rival during the Faction Warfare Gauntlet on the Road to New Beginning, and then took to the microphone. Saying that both wanted to be fighting over the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship and that neither man would get anywhere if they continued to trade wins, Tsuji suggested that a hard stop for the time being be put in place in the form of one man losing their hair. As both are under one year back from their international excursions, the prospect of one being forcefully returned to their Young Lion status is one neither wants to face, but must in our semi main event.
7th Match: Shingo Takagi vs Taichi
Singles record: 4-2-1 Takagi
Shingo Takagi and Taichi’s long standing feud continues in Taichi’s hometown. The Dragon and the Holy Emperor’s hard hitting rivalry has spanned everything from last man standing matches to last year’s wild Triad bout that went well over the 30 minute time limit we have tonight. With 30 on the clock to get it done, no titles are on the line, but personal pride will also set the victor up in fine form for the impending New Japan Cup in the madness of March.
6th Match: Hiromu Takahashi vs DOUKI
Singles record: 4-0-1 Hiromu
Hiromu Takahashi and DOUKI will collide in what’s sure to be another chaotic chapter in a wild on-off feud between the two. Every singles match between Hiromu and DOUKI has seen limits pushed, but Japones Del mal has never picked up a singles victory over Hiromu. During the Road to New Beginning, a Jorge Rivera Special saw DOUKI pin Takahashi to the mat in decisive fashion, driving the former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion to crazed despair. Will he leave Sapporo in even more of a desperate state?
5th Match: TAKA Michinoku vs BUSHI
Singles record: 2-1 Michinoku
This issue between Just Five Guys and LIJ heading into Sapporo began at New Year Dash, when TAKA Michinoku stunned the crowd with a Michinoku Driver II pinfall over BUSHI. It was that victory in tag action that emboldened SANADA to challenge Naito for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship and caused this night two’s card to unfold. It wasn’t the last time that TAKA had beaten BUSHI, with two wins over the masked man in singles action. Will it be three tonight, or will BUSHI even up the ledger?
4th Match: Nic Nemeth & Ryusuke Taguchi vs David Finlay & Gedo
In the wake of night one’s IWGP Global Championship match, Nic Nemeth and David Finlay face one another in tag team action tonight. Fallout from the Global title match will see one with a ton of momentum and the other looking for revenge, while the visual of Nemeth with Ryusuke Taguchi will definitely be one worthy of comment.
3rd Match: Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs Guerrillas of Destiny (El Phantasmo & Hikuleo)
A pair of emotional goodbyes will see NJPW bid farewell to Tama Tonga in our third match of the night. That last bout in the cerulean blue will see a dream tag team match of GoD vs GoD, the record setting seven time IWGP Tag Team Champions of the original Tongan brothers facing the new generation and recently deposed IWGP champs in Hikuleo and ELP. There are no titles onthe line tonight, but the prospect of going out on a high against passing a legendary torch.
2nd Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii vs Matt Riddle, Jeff Cobb, HENARE, Great-O-Khan & Callum Newman
Kazuchika Okada’s final NJPW match will be in ten man action opposite an intriguing combination of Matt Riddle with the United Empire. Riddle and Jeff Cobb combined to re-form the ‘Chosen Bros’ tag team at Battle in the Valley, after which the two went, in Cobb’s words ‘to talk business’. Does such business involve Riddle being Empire affiliated in the wake of Will Ospreay’s departure?
1st Match: Boltin Oleg, YOH, Togi Makabe, El Desperado & Shota Umino vs HOUSE OF TORTURE (EVIL, SHO, Ren Narita, Dick Togo & Yujiro Takahashi)
After HOUSE OF TORTURE and Hontai collide in a pair of title matches on night one in Sapporo, ten man tag action will see fallout on night two. Which side will be in celebratory mood, and who will be in furious need for revenge?
Kickoff Match- Frontier Zone: Toru Yano & Tomoya vs Katsuya Murashima & Tomoaki Honma
Kicking off once again, Tomoya of HPW and Toru Yano face Tomoaki Honma and Katsuya Murashima in the Frontier Zone. Will the bears of Noboribetsu celebrate a victory for their key representatives?