Preview: NJPW – Southern Showdown (6/29/19)

New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) is set to embark on their second tour of Australia. The tour begins this Saturday in Melbourne with Southern Showdown before then heading to Sydney on Sunday.

Unlike their previous tour, this weekends tour is being treated as a full-fledged NJPW main roster tour. Saturday’s event emanating from Festival Hall in Melbourne is the primary event on the tour and features an incredible PPV quality card.

Saturday’s show will see three championships on the line and is available to watch live on FITE.

Ren Narita, Shota Umino & Toa Henare vs Michael Richards, Andrew Villalobos & Mark Tui

Opening up Southern Showdown will be a six-man tag encounter between two of the NJPW feeder systems. As the home base NJPW Dojo will battle it out with the Fale Dojo.

The NJPW Dojo will be represented by three young lions who have proven to be the top prospects from their respective classes. Toa Henare has shown he can be a formidable heavyweight competitor. Shota Umino has all the promise in the world. And Ren Narita, despite going win-less in this year’s Best Of Super Juniors 26 tournament came throughout with untold experience.

Representing Fale Dojo is New Zealand sensation Michael Richards, Andrew Villalobos and Mark Tui. These men all managed to excel during their time in the Fale Dojo and have since graduated to the NJPW Dojo system, proving they are more than ready for the big stage in Melbourne.

Aaron Solow vs Slex

Southern Showdown
Photo / NJPW

As a graduate of the Fale Dojo, Aaron Solow is set to make his NJPW debut this weekend. Ready to welcome him is Australian veteran and standout Slex.

Slex is a two-time Melbourne City Wrestling (MCW) Heavyweight and Intercommonwealth Champion and has previously squared off with the likes of Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay. As a member of the infamous The Might Don’t Kneel (TMDK) faction Slex has dominated around Australia and also in Japan.

This will be no easy debut for Solow, but Slex should also be expecting some stiff competition from a man looking to leave a mark in his debut match for the company.

SHO, YOH & Toru Yano vs Gedo, Taiji Ishimori & Gino Gambino

Photo / NJPW

With the leader of Roppongi 3K occupied later in the card, the team of SHO and YOH have recruited Toru Yano into their midst to take on the Bullet Club at Southern Showdown.

Representing Bullet Club will be Gedo, Ishimori and Australia’s very first Bullet Club inductee, Gino Gambino.

Perhaps the biggest question here is going to be, how will the wild antics of Yano mesh with the serious and straight forward approach of the Roppongi 3K duo. Conversely for Bullet Club Gambino has been known to be very sneaky in his own right, so could prove to be the perfect foil to Yano, whilst Ishimori and Gedo look to handle the pace and power of SHO and YOH.

YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii vs Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi

Southern Showdown
Photo / NJPW

In yet another Chaos vs Bullet Club encounter Melbourne will be treated to the smashing brutality of the Stone Pitbull, Tomohiro Ishii, in this one. Unfortunately for Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi, they are going to be on the end of said brutality.

Whilst the team of Owens and Takahashi has been meshing well over recent times they could be in for a tough night on Saturday. With Ishii sure to bring everything he has in this one and a recently returned and reinvigorated YOSHI-HASHI doing likewise.

British Cruiserweight Championship: El Phantasmo (c) vs Rocky Romero

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After successfully retaining his RevPro Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship in a match against Ryusuke Taguchi at Kizuna Road, El Phantasmo must now defend against one of the men who beat him during the Best Of Super Juniors 26 tournament.

When Rocky Romero upset Phantasmo in Korakuen Hall it was one of the feel-good moments of the year. This Saturday Phantasmo will be out for revenge when he defends the title for the second time in the span of a week.

Can Romero score the upset again or will the cocky Phantasmo clear his record at Southern Showdown?

IWGP Tag Team Championship: G.O.D (Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga) (c) vs Mikey Nicholls & Juice Robinson

Southern Showdown
Photo / NJPW

Originally this match was slated to be a non-title showcase of four incredible talents. However following the events of Kizuna Road, the IWGP committee has made a dramatic change to the Southern Showdown card.

Following their victory over G.O.D in Sendai, the team of Mikey Nicholls and Juice Robinson have earned themselves a shot at tag team gold. After scoring the pinfall victory on Tama Tonga, Australian Nicholls demanded that he and Robinson receive a shot at the champions, and their wish has been granted.

Can Nicholls, along with Robinson, use the home field advantage to capture the IWGP Tag Team Championship in the first ever defense on Australian soil?

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay (c) vs Robbie Eagles

Photo / NJPW

These two men have been scrapping since 2017. Trading victories back and forth, for a full recap of the history, check out our latest Match Point column. 

The last encounter between these two occurred as part of the Best Of Super Juniors 26 tournament and placed Robbie Eagles up 2-1 in their series.

By virtue of his victory over Will Ospreay, who would go on to win the tournament and subsequently the IWPG Jr Heavyweight Title, Eagles has earned this championship opportunity.

This match will be Ospreay’s first defense of this reign and the first time the title has ever been defended on Australian soil.

Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada vs Bad Luck Fale & Jay White

Southern Showdown
Photo / NJPW

In an absolutely star-studded main event, two of the Aces of NJPW will team together against the Bullet Club.

Just a few years ago most people would have laughed at the idea of Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi ever joining forces. However, with the cut-throat era of Bullet Club led by Jay White carving a path of destruction through the company something had to be done.

With the two biggest powers of NJPW now working together, it is going to be incredibly tough for the New Zealand duo to come out of this one victorious. Especially since Fale & White will likely receive a very hostile reaction from the Australian crowd.