With Kota Ibushi putting his Right to Challenge Tokyo Dome main event contract on the line in the main event against KENTA, and the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships also at stake, Kagoshima will see a huge event on September 16.
Main event- Tokyo Dome Right to Challenge Contract: Kota Ibushi vs KENTA
Overall singles record: 1-0 KENTA
The first night of the G1 Climax, on July 6 in Dallas, saw a dream match of sorts for both KENTA and Kota Ibushi. KENTA, now free to express himself at the highest level on the world stage, was eager to show his brand of professional wrestling once more. Kota Ibushi, only having tagged with and against the former NOAH ace in the past wanted to see what KENTA was made of one on one.
The dream became a nightmare for Ibushi. Midway through the match, he would attempt a plancha on KENTA, only for his opponent to kick him out of mid air. Hurting more than the blow was Ibushi’s awkward landing, spraining his ankle and becoming a critical factor to his ultimate loss.
Ibushi would remark afterward that he thought for a moment he was finished; that not only was his match over, but his entire G1 campaign. Instead, he would rehab hard, and alter his style to become more strike oriented. Ibushi would muse that had his injury not occurred, he wouldn’t have altered his in ring approach, and wouldn’t have secured G1 victory.
Ibushi was only happy then, to put his Tokyo Dome IWGP Right to Challenge contract on the line against KENTA. The circumstances however, are less pleasing. KENTA faces Ibushi once more no longer as a lone wolf, but as part of BULLET CLUB. Ibushi would wonder after KENTA’s betrayal of best friend Katsuyori Shibata whether this was part of the plan all along, but whatever the case, the Golden Star will have much to look out for in this main event.
At Royal Quest in London on August 31, KENTA secured his first NJPW championship when he defeated Tomohiro Ishii to lift NEVER Openweight gold, but he did so with copious intervention from the Guerrillas of Destiny. Ibushi walked down the ramp in the Nippon Budokan on August 12 into the veritable lions’ den when he was met with the entirety of BULLET CLUB. The group would only leave when forced to, and similarly stern officiating may be required tonight.
If KENTA beats Ibushi, he would put himself on a rocket to a Tokyo Dome main event less than six months after he debuted in NJPW. If Ibushi beats KENTA, the home town hero would be taking one step closer to his proposed goal of two title matches and two title belts at Wrestle Kingdom; or he could even theoretically earn the right to challenge the NEVER champion for a third.
8th Match- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: Birds of Prey (Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles) vs BULLET CLUB (Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo)
Direct tag record: 1-0 Birds of Prey
Even while Will Ospreay and Robbie Eagles were feuding through four singles matches- two this year in NJPW- both wondered what it might be like to team up together.
Royal Quest provided that opportunity, and the world found out what it would be like: instantly impressive. Eagles and Ospreay showed a connection and chemistry that made it seem as if they’d teamed for years, and defeated the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions with a Red Wing struck to Ishimori.
Ishimori and ELP will be intent on demonstrating their London win was a one-off. For Phantasmo in particular a win is vital, as this is both a tag team championship match, and a preview for the singles title bout coming for him in October in Ryogoku Sumo Hall.
ELP has a lot of pride, as well as gold, on the line here in Kagoshima. Twice in successive tournaments, he has scored singles victories over both Eagles and Ospreay, albeit wins tainted with low blows, and in Ospreay’s case, interference from Ishimori during the Super J-Cup. Fair or not, if similar team work comes into effect in Kagoshima, the champions could well retain.
7th Match: Los Ingobernables De Japon (Tetsuya Naito & EVIL) vs BULLET CLUB (Jay White & Yujiro Takahashi)
One night removed from Beppu’s tag clash, EVIL and Tetsuya Naito team up once again against Jay White and a different partner in Yujiro Takahashi. The first week of the Road to destruction saw Naito frustrate Jay White again and again, to the point where all White could do was wryly smile. Will the Switchblade unleash new tactics in Kagoshima, or keep his cards close to his chest before his IWGP Intercontinental Championship clash next week in Kobe?
6th Match: CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Rocky Romero & SANADA) vs Los Ingobernables De Japon (SANADA, BUSHI & Shingo Takagi)
In a rematch from the prior night in Beppu, CHAOS and LIJ go head to head once again. Will one team assert their dominance over the other, or will the two sides continue to trade wins on their respective roads to Kobe and Ryogoku?
5th Match: Jyushin Thunder Liger, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Suzuki-Gun (Zack Sabre Junior, Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI)
Suzuki-gun and Hontai collide once more in the fifth match of the evening. We will be one day removed from Zack Sabre Junior taking back the British Heavyweight Championship from Tanahashi in Beppu; how will that result change the dynamics of this eight man tag?
Meanwhile, Liger and Suzuki continues to be a dangerous situation waiting to explode. In Beppu, after Suzuki tried to remove Liger’s mask post match, the living legend offered a singles match with Suzuki right then and there. The King only smiled a sinister smile and backed off. Could we get closer to the much anticipated, but still unsigned, singles bout tonight?
4th Match: CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI, SHO & YOH) vs BULLET CLUB (Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Bad Luck Fale & chase Owens)
A day after Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI challenge for GoD’s IWGP Tag Team Championships, they clash again, this time in eight man action. Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI are joined by tag team specialists in SHO and YOH, but the quartet gives up a lot of size when GoD are teamed with the wrestling goliath that is Bad Luck Fale, and the canny Chase Owens. One person who likely won’t be present is KENTA, who cost Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI the tag belts one day earlier, but who will be preparing for a main event tonight; 24 hours after their controversial defeat, Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI will be looking to come out on top again.
3rd Match: Yuji Nagata, Ryusuke Taguchi, Yota Tsuji & Shota Umino vs Manabu Nakanishi, Toa Henare, Karl fredericks & Alex Coughlin
With the Young Lion Cup approaching the home stretch, another eight man clash sees Young Lion duos teamed with Manabu Nakanishi and Toa Henare on the LA Dojo side, and Yuji Nagata and Ryusuke Taguchi on the Japanese team. Look out for any interactions between Fredericks and Umino in this bout; they meet each other in the final league matches in Kobe on September 22, and will look to make an impression on one another early.
2nd Match- Young Lion Cup: Ren Narita (3-1) vs Michael Richards (1-3) (dependent on Saturday results)
After a loss on Saturday night, Michael Richards is on the bubble, with just two points trailing a crowded front of the pack at 6. With three matches left, he isn’t out of the running yet though. He’ll want to use his size and power to keep joint leader Narita down for the three here in order to keep his league alive; a loss puts him out of contention.
1st Match- Young Lion Cup: Yuya Uemura (0-4) vs Clark Connors (3-1)
Winless in his first four matches, Yuya Uemura is now unable to secure the Young Lion Cup. Yet the young New Japan Dojo prospect is not planning on giving up, and a win over the LA Dojo ‘captain’ would be a huge boost to Uemura’s confidence. Can he finally use his overhook suplex to get on the board in the league?