The Week that Was in NJPW World History (June 28 – July 4)

As fans in the US are counting down to the Independence Day weekend, an appropriately independent spirit runs through this week in New Japan history, as matches were not just contained in Japanese rings! Check out our guide to some of the best matches from this week in yesteryear!


June 29 2019: Battle Down Under

2019 saw a historic event in Melbourne’s Festival Hall, as Southern Showdown hit a venue rich with legacy. Headlining were the Dream Team of Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi mere days before they were scheduled to face off on the opening night of that year’s G1 Climax- a historically significant bout against Bad Luck fale and Jay White in and of itself. 

Yet perhaps more historic were two title bouts that saw IWGP Championships defended on Australian soil for the very first time. The Guerrillas of Destiny defended their IWGP Tag Team Championships against Mikey Nicholls and Juice Robinson, and then the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship was at stake when Robbie Eagles challenged Will Ospreay. 

Still a year before his defection from CHAOS that saw him form the United Empire and rise to the status of IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, Ospreay was a fan favourite most of the places that he went, but not in Melbourne, where a fervently partisan crowd was solidly behind Eagles. After classics in Robbie home country put Eagles on the map, Eagles and Ospreay’s first meeting on Japanese soil during Best of the Super Jr. again created a lot of buzz, and inner conflict for Eagles over whether his loyalties truly belonged in BULLET CLUB. It all led to a lot of layers to Eagles’ first IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship challenge, and an unforgettable title match. 

Relive the match here!

June 30 2018: The King in Milton Keynes

From Australia to the UK, and RevPro’s collaboration with NJPW for the Strong Style Evolved UK tour. In 2018, the United Kingdom belonged to Suzuki-Gun, with Zack Sabre Junior and Minoru Suzuki grabbing British Tag Team gold in January that they would hold for the entire year. 

In Milton Keynes they would face CHAOS opposition in Tomohiro Ishii and Kazuchika Okada. There were a lot of ins and outs to this match; in addition to wanting to grab tag team glory, all four men were part of the G1 Climax and wanted to assert themselves before the tournament started. Then there was a Kazuchika Okada who had undergone a dramatic change since losing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in Osaka Jo hall, and even since wrestling Suzuki in the rain in Yokohama a week earlier. Okada was debuting a new look and a different attitude in this match, surprising the British crowd who were amped up to see four of NJPW’s best tear into one another. 

Relive the match here! 

July 1, 2012: The shape of things to come

Between expert technical wrestling, and equally adept politicking with champions, Dangerous Tekkers Tetsuya Naito and SANADA are well on the road to Summer Struggle in Sapporo and the IWGP Tag Team Championships. SANADA and Naito have been partners for the last five years in Los Ingobernables De Japon, with ties between the two going all the way back to 2005 and them joining the same open NJPW tryout. While Naito would join the Noge Dojo off the back of that tryout, SANADA would take a different journey to All Japan Pro-Wrestling.  Well before LIJ, the two would cross paths at a special event. 

July 1 2012 saw Ryogoku Sumo Hall host the ‘We Are Pro Wrestling Love!’ event designed to celebrate 40 years of both New and All Japan Pro Wrestling. Matches where both talent rosters collided saw some interesting teams, and in the sixth match of the evening, All Japan’s Seiya Sanada would team with Joe Doering against Tetsuya Naito and a pre- BULLET CLUB Tama Tonga. 

Less than a year after this event, Tonga would transform into the BULLET CLUB soldier we know today, while Naito was a few years away from transforming into El Ingobernable, and from recruiting the future SANADA to his ungovernable cause. This tag match is definitely an interesting look into these men’s pasts.

Relive the match here!

July 2, 2017: A champion crowned

June 30 sees tickets go on sale for the long awaited return of US fans to NJPW events, as Resurgence hits the Torch at L.A Coliseum, and then fans come to NJPW STRONG for the first time ever two nights later in Thunder Studios. In action at Resurgence will be IWGP US Heavyweight Champion Jon Moxley, walking into the Torch with a championship created four years earlier in California. 

The second night of the double header saw the culmination of a single elimination tournament to crown the inaugural IWGP United States Champion. The finalists, Tomohiro Ishii and Kenny Omega, presented diverse styles that created a thrill to watch in ring for the US fans. Omega had gotten past Jay Lethal in the semi-final earlier in the evening to reach this point, while Ishii was able to get the win over a Zack Sabre Junior who had relentlessly stretched the Stone Pitbull. Both men were eager to leave their mark on history, while also leaving significant marks on one another.

Relive the match here!

July 3, 2020: Way to… DOUKI

After a series of events held before no fans as NJPW returned to action in summer 2020, the New Japan Cup was counting down toward an Osaka Jo Hall final, and to get ready for the return of live crowds, fans were treated to a special live prime time broadcast of the semifinals. The event saw EVIL go all out and use every means at his disposal to defeat partner SANADA in an ominous bout that would hint at his departure from LIJ, while Hiromu Takahashi took on Kazuchika Okada, living his dream of headlining in prime time as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. 

Another headline on the night though was the first appearance of Master Wato. After a lengthy excursion to Mexico, Wato hit the ring to begin his journey to Grand Master status in an NJPW ring. Yet his welcome would not be a warm one. DOUKI, who has long despised wrestlers getting a star treatment on Mexican excursions, immediately stepped up to be Wato’s first opponent, unleashing a vicious steel pipe assault and setting up a singles meeting in Osaka. 

Relive the moment here!