Southern Showdown in Melbourne and Sydney are just around the corner, and cards for both events were set today, with Melbourne highlighted by a historic title match.
In the main event in Melbourne, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada will team up against Bad Luck Fale and Jay White. Despite Australia and New Zealand’s classic sports rivalry, White and Fale’s efforts in the Anitpodean wrestling scene may see them gain more cheers than usual, but then again, they’re facing the Dream Team of Okada and Tanahashi.
After the main event of Dominion saw Okada pull off a sudden roll-up win on Chris Jericho, the ‘Painmaker’ lost control. He viciously assaulted Okada with a chair and was set to finish the job and permanently injure the IWGP Heavyweight Champion with a powerbomb through a table. That led the Ace, who was on Japanese commentary, to head to Okada’s aid, and fight off an incensed Jericho.
Okada and Tanahashi are back on the same page, but they have been in this position before; and last time they were, Jay White quickly stopped any momentum they could gain. White started his 2019 by defeating both Tanahashi and Okada, and when Tanahashi returned from elbow injury, White beat him again. The Switchblade would take great pleasure in breaking up another reunion of Okada and Tanahashi, especially with his IWGP Heavyweight Championship loss to Okada in New York fresh in his mind.
In the semi-main event, history is made. The very first IWGP championship match to ever take place in Australia will see Will OSpreay defend his freshly won IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against Robbie Eagles.
In 2017 and 2018, Eagles and Ospreay had a pair of singles matches in Sydney that reignited Ospreay’s love of professional wrestling, and drew global attention to the Australian scene, and to Eagles himself. After their second encounter, Ospreay tore off the Japanese flag on his ring gear and presented it to Eagles as an open invitation to CHAOS and Japan.
Eagles took an invitation to Japan, but not from Ospreay. Instead he joined Bullet Club, teaming up with Taiji Ishimori. It earned Eagles short term wealth and fame, but the Australian was conflicted by his decision; more so when he was opposite El Phantasmo during the Best of the Super Juniors and lost to ELP’s underhanded tactics.
Fast forward to Eagles and Ospreay meeting for the first time in Japan, in Chiba on night nine of the BOSJ tour. Eagles started the match by giving that Japanese flag back to Ospreay, a firm rejection of the CHAOS invitation. The two went on to have a great match, but one ruined by the interference of ELP. Eagles won the match, but hated the circumstances his win was surrounded by.
Despite his loss, Ospreay was determined to bring Eagles around, and that acted as another motivation to Will. Ospreay would win BOSJ by handing Shingo Takagi his first NJPW loss, and went on to beat Dragon Lee to seize IWGP Junior Heavyweight gold for the third time. His first act as champion was to name Robbie Eagles, and now for the first time, an Australian wrestler will challenge for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, on home soil to boot.
These two huge main events will be joined by a thrilling undercard, including Robinson and Nicholls taking on GoD, Rocky Romero in a BOSJ rematch with El Phantasmo and much more.
In Sydney, Ospreay, Tanahashi and Okada will face a BULLET CLUB trio of Eagles, Fale and White in the main event, with Tomohiro Ishii facing Toa Henare in a huge semi final singles match.
Check out the full cards and get tickets from our schedule page, and look out for a full preview on njpw1972.com soon.