NJPW celebrates their 50th anniversary tonight with a special event at the Nippon Budokan.
The main event will see Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and 68-year-old Tatsumi Fujinami team against Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., and 72-year-old Yoshiaki Fujiwara in a generational clash.
In the semi-main, IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI will square off against IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Ryusuke Taguchi and Master Wato.
Shiro Koshinaka will return to NJPW for the first time since 2016, teaming with Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, Togi Makabe, and Tomoaki Honma against LIJ's Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi, and BUSHI. Norio Honaga will serve as the guest referee.
Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, Yuto Nakashima, and Kosei Fujita will face The United Empire's Will Ospreay, Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb, and Aaron Henare.
STRONGHEARTS will be in action, as CIMA, T-Hawk, and El Lindaman face El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and DOUKI.
Minoru Tanaka returns to NJPW for the first time since 2012 in the second match of the night, teaming with Taichi and TAKA Michinoku against Bad Luck Fale, Taiji Ishimori, and El Phantasmo.
In the opener, YOH, Tiger Mask, and Ryohei Oiwa face Bullet Club's House of Torture, EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, and SHO.
A parade of legends has also been announced for the show.
Our live coverage begins at 3 a.m. Eastern time.
The show opened with, long time announcer, Kero Tanaka welcoming a cast of NJPW alumni to the ring. The list included Wataru Inoue, Jushin Liger, Kuniaki Kobayashi, Seiji Sakaguchi, Niro Honaga, Tiger Hattori, Motoyuki Kitazawa, Milano Collection A.T., Minoru Tanaka, Masahito Kakihara, Kazu Yamazaki, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Akira Maeda, Shiro Koshinaka, Kengo Kimura, Masahiro Chono, Keiji Muto, Riki Choshu, and Tatsumi Fujinami.
The Original Tiger Mask then congratulated New Japan for reaching their 50th year via video package. Seiji Sakaguchi thanked everyone for their support. Kazuchika Okada paid thanks to the legends he was sharing the ring with and promised to continue true professional wrestling, in Antonio Inoki's vision.
This entire ceremony was fantastic. It was simple; it was to the point; it was perfect.
SHO, EVIL, and Yujiro Takahashi (House of Torture) defeated Ryohei Oiwa, YOH, and Tiger Mask
From highs to lows, this match opened with a brawl. TM and SHO were alone in the ring, where TM gained a strong lead for his team. After YOH tagged in, HoT hit the ring, trying to stop any would-be momentum. The HoT rush was squashed, but SHO managed to take control regardless after Oiwa tagged in.
EVIL and Yujiro picked apart their young lion opponent, but Yujiro’s complacency allowed Oiwa to sneak into the match. Oiwa had a near fall rollup before barely surviving a Yujiro lariat. Yujiro followed the lariat with pimp juice to bring the opening match to an end.
Bad Luck Fale, Taiji Ishimori, El Phantasmo (Bullet Club) defeated Minoru Tanaka, TAKA Michinoku, and Taichi
This match was enjoyable, but it really left me starving for an Ishimori/Tanaka singles match that will probably not happen.
Tanaka came to the ring with GLEAT plastered on the entrance screens and with a LIDET UWF towel in hand—a neat showcase for my favourite fledgling promotion.
Tanaka started the match with a heavy leg kick before winning out in a scrabble with Ishimori. Ishimori responded by initiating a quick sequence, but Tanaka came out on top again, landing a standing moonsault. Ishimori finally sent Tanaka to the floor, allowing Fale to steal the advantage. ELP also joined the attack, twisting Tanaka’s nipples.
Back in the ring, ELP positioned Tanaka into the tree of woe before hitting a mean dropkick. All three Bullet Club members then piled onto Tanaka, leaving them in solid position. Tanaka managed to doge a Fale elbow drop to tag Taichi into the match; Taichi wasn’t so lucky as Fale connected with the elbow drop soon after the tag. Taichi managed to turn things around with a sumo-style toss, at least long enough for a double tag.
TAKA took ELP to the mat immediately, working in strikes and submissions that forced Ishimori to break things up. ELP used this bought time to set up the superkick, but he couldn’t commit. He instead climbed to the top, and hit thunder kiss ‘86 after an Ishimori lungblower. This lead to the match ending pinfall.
Ishimori was visibly upset with ELP’s lack of confidence, as he was over the entirety of the previous tour.
EL LINDAMAN, T-HAWK, and CIMA (STRONGHEARTS) defeated DOUKI, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and El Desperado (Suzuki-gun)
This match was quite fun.
If Tanaka’s entrance wasn’t GLEAT enough, STRONGHEARTS came to the ring, all repping the promotion with shirts, trons, and Lindaman’s G-REX belt.
Suzuki-gun rushed T-Hawk as the opening bell rang. T-Hawk tried to fight through the numbers, leading to a one-on-one sequence with Kanemaru. T-Hawk tagged out to Lindaman, who, alongside CIMA, turned things around, favouring STRONGHEARTS. Kanemaru finally escaped STRONGHEART control after winning in a suplex struggle.
The IWGP Junior champion and G-Rex champion finally came to blows after Kanemaru tagged out. The pair went back and forth, landing heavy moves. This sequence left both men hurting, forcing another double tag.
DOUKI landed a DDT that forced T-Hawk to make a save. STRONGHEARTS took advantage of this break with a fantastic trios sequence punctuated with a Meteora on DOUKI. CIMA folded DOUKI, pinned him, and secured the win for GLEAT and STRONGHEARTS.
After the match’s end, Lindaman and Desperado had a moment of tension.
It looks like Desperado and Lindaman are set for singles action at some point, as the pair heavily teased it throughout the bout.
Aaron Henare, Jeff Cobb, Will Ospreay, and Great-O-Khan (United Empire) defeated Yuto Nakashima, Kosei Fujita, Yuji Nagata, and Satoshi Kojima
This was another fun match.
This match opened chaotically, with the action falling outside the ropes soon after the opening bell. Once things settled in the ring, UE beat down Nakashima, with all of the faction mates getting in their offence.
Nakashima eventually dropped Henare, leading to Kojima entering the fray for the first time. Kojima, alongside Nagata, beat down UE, but the offence was short-lived.
Kojima was seemingly turning things around after a Koji cutter, but instead of finishing the bout, Kojima tagged Fujita into the match. With help from his teammates, Fujita locked O-Khan into the Boston crab, but he escaped. The young lions then tried for a double suplex but failed. O-Khan hit Fujita with the eliminator and pinned him.
BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito, and SANADA (Los Ingobernables de Japon) defeated Shiro Koshinaka, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, Tomoaki Honma, and Togi Makabe (Great Bash Heel)
This was a feel-good match that served a purpose. Shingo and Ishii are set for the New Japan Cup, and this was just the beginning.
This match opened with a brawl. Makabe gained some advantage over Naito before tagging out to Yano. Yano slammed Naito into an exposed buckle before welcoming Koshinaka to the ring; before he could tag in, the LIJ broke things up. This led to LIJ picking apart Yano for some time.
Yano eventually tagged out to Koshinaka, who connected with a barrage of hip attacks to turn things around for GBH. Even after receiving a dozen hip attacks himself, SANADA held on, landing a suplex to end Koshinaka’s reign of terror.
Ishii and Takagi, first-round New Japan cup opponents, tagged in. The pair had a high impact sequence, with both men getting in impactful moves. After both men were exhausted, a fresh Honma tagged in and began to beat down Shingo with the rest of GBH’s help. Shingo withstood the attack long enough for the other LIJ members to make a save. Shingo hit Honma with a pumping bomber; Honma kicked out only to be finished by last of the dragon mere moments later.
YOSHI-HASHI and Hirooki Goto (Bishamon | IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions) defeated Master Wato and Ryusuke Taguchi (Six or Nine | IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions)
This was fine but by the books.
Goto and Taguchi opened the match with back-and-forth wrestling. The pair proved to be on near-equal footing before Wato helped Taguchi secure control with some double-team offence; this lasted until YH aided Goto in returning the favour.
Taguchi landed a hip attack before tagging in Wato, who turned the match around in drastic fashion. After a tope con hilo to the heavyweight champions, Wato scored a top rope dropkick near fall over YH. YH responded with a neckbreaker, buying him enough time to tag back to Goto.
Taguchi prevented Goto from taking a significant lead with a storm of hip attacks. Taguchi tried for three amigos, but the third suplex was reversed, resetting the match. Taguchi blocked Shoto and secured an ankle lock, forcing YH to break the hold.
Six or Nine tried to finish things, but a missed hip attack put Taguchi on the receiving end of a low bow. Bishamon hit Wato and Taguchi with violent flash before closing out the match with Shoto.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada & Tatsumi Fujinami defeated Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., & Yoshiaki Fujiwara
For a match with nearly 200 years of shared experience, you couldn’t ask for much more. There was a lot of attention to detail, not to mention Fujiwara's all-star performance.
ZSJ scored a takedown on Okada early, and only after an extended control sequence did the heavyweight champion escape. Suzuki also took Okada to the mat, leading to Fujanami tagging in for the first time. Fujinami gained ground control with head scissors, but Suzuki transitioned, trying for a leg lock. Tanahashi tagged in, but Suzuki denied the tag to Fujiwara. Fujiwara tagged himself in and slapped Suzuki for his insolence.
Fujiwara secured his namesake armbar on Tanahashi, but Tanahashi found the ropes. Tanahashi returned the favour with a leg hold before tagging back to Okada. Okada dropped Fujiwara with a forearm and tried for a headbutt, but Fujiwara’s hard skull sent Okada crashing. Fujiwara landed a headbutt of his own volition, sending Okada to the outside.
Fujiwara and Fujinami shared the ring after the Okada exchange. The veterans struggled on the mat, and Tanahashi tagged back in. Fujiwara landed a headbutt that crumbled Tanahashi, leading to a tag to ZSJ. ZSJ, with help from Suzuki, gained ground control. Suzuki, Fujiwara, and ZSJ then contorted Tanahashi in tandem. Suzuki tagged in, but fell to a Tanahashi twist and shout.
Okada tagged in, and with help from his team, retook the lead. Suzuki stopped Okada’s advance with a headbutt. Perhaps in a show of oneupmanship, perhaps in a show of teamwork, Fujiwara hit Okada with a headbutt of his own. Suzuki and Fujiwara then hit a double headbutt. All three members of the Suzuki squad then locked in Fujiwara armbars.
Okada began to rally on his own, and his team made this come to fruition. Okada landed a tombstone on Suzuki but missed the rainmaker. Okada’s dropkick hit the target, as did the landslide and second rainmaker attempt. Okada pinned Suzuki to close the main event match.
Okada followed the finish with a champion’s promo, paying homage to those who came before, especially New Japan founder, Antonio Inoki.
Tanahashi cut a promo of his own, promising to be part of the future.
Fujinami closed the show by thanking his partners and the fans before signing off with Inoki’s “Ichi, ni, san, DAAAA!”—a beautiful end to a fantastic anniversary show.