New Japan Pro Wrestling is holding two big tournaments this coming week, with New Japan Cup USA on Friday in the US. In Japan, they’ll be holding a tournament to crown the new NEVER 6-Man Tag Team Champions, starting on Thursday and ending on Sunday, where the 21st Champions will be crowned, all as part of the Korakuen Hall stretch of the NJPW Summer Struggle tour. The titles were vacated by New Japan after EVIL‘s defection from reigning champions Los Ingobernables de Japon to Bullet Club. Here’s a look at the first round match-ups.
Preview: NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship Tournament
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, SHO & Toru Yano) vs. BULLET CLUB (Yujiro Takahashi, Jado & Gedo)
This is one of the first times in New Japan that Kazuchika Okada is going for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Title. He teams with Toru Yano, someone who has a history with this championship. Going back to its origins in 2016 and being the first champion. Bullet Club has always been in the way of CHAOS. In the current product, Kazuchika Okada has been in a rivalry with Yujiro Takahashi. They battled at Sengoku Lord in July with Okada picking up the victory. Sho recently lost a title match against Shingo Takagi. Yano, on the other hand, has been trying to embarrass the bullet club in every way in Yano fashion way. Gedo and Jado do not have experience with this championship. The winners of this match face off against LIJ or Suzuki-Gun.
Los Ingobernables De Japon (Shingo Takagi, SANADA & BUSHI) vs. Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & DOUKI)
At the end of the New Japan Cup. The world was shaken to its core with Evil turning on Los Ingobernables De Japon. When he won the New Japan Cup, he then attacked his partner Naito. Evil would go on to become IWGP Intercontinental and IWGP Heavyweight Championship, while at the time still holding one-third of the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Trios Championships. Because of Evil turning, these titles are vacated. Shingo currently holds the NEVER Openweight Championship and has a history with El Desperado, they fought for the title at the recent Sengoku Lord show. Minoru Suzuki meanwhile is on a big high after defeating his longtime rival Yuji Nagata. DOUKI recently started a feud with the returning star Master Wato. LIJ (Los Ingobernables De Japón) is still in a period where they’re still dealing with the loss of its former member.
Except for Takagi… Takagi is used to betrayal because of Dragon Gate. Each member of LIJ here has a history with this championship. Holding it four separate times, while Suzuki-Gun has NEVER held these championships before. In the four years since Suzuki-Gun’s return to New Japan, they’ve held every tag title except for this one. Which makes these next two matches especially big for this faction. Who knows, maybe we’ll get a Suzuki-Gun vs. Suzuki-Gun Final? Either that or LIJ will once again become champions after having to vacate the belts. The winners face either CHAOS or Bullet Club. So there’s fun potential there.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & Master Wato vs. Suzuki-Gun (Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
Out of the 4 matches in this tournament, this match is the one that might be the main event. Just considering how much story revolves around everyone here. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi were IWGP Heavyweight Tag Champions. The team known as “Golden Ace” would lose these championships to Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr who are known as Dangerous Tekkers. Master Wato is the former Hirai Kawato who came back from his Mexican Excursion in CMLL. His first feud was against DOUKI. But recently, Master Wato started to gain the attention of longtime veteran Yoshinobu Kanemaru. These two have still yet to have an singles match together
In terms of history with this championship, only Tanahashi has held this championship before. But what’s more intriguing is the attitude change from Kota Ibushi. In recent interviews, Ibushi has been becoming distant to Tanahashi. But Taichi is happier now and is planning something villainous and talking about a surprise coming to New Japan in the near future. Possibly a new member to Suzuki-Gun? It’s unknown. But this match screams intrigue for the viewers of New Japan. The winners of this match face off against Taguchi Japan or CHAOS. So there’s definitely friendly competition in the next round for Team Tanahashi.
Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI)
In terms of overall championships for this each faction. Both Taguchi Japan and CHAOS have been forerunners, with both factions holding this championship in a multitude of trios. What makes it more intriguing is that only three of the men in this match have held these championships and that was Ishii, Makabe, & Taguchi. Hirooki Goto for what feels like years at this point has been the papa bear of New Japan’s trios division. He always seems to impress there. But never goes for this championship. While Yoshi-Hashi is one of the unluckiest people in New Japan. Yoshi-Hashi has still not held a championship within New Japan in the over 9+ years he’s been with the company and recently had an injury scare.
But this could be the time where Yoshi-Hashi finally becomes a champion of some kind. Makabe and Taguchi held these championships before. In 2019, they teamed with Yano to hold these titles for over 300+ days. Honma who returned to New Japan after a horrifying injury hasn’t done much since returning, the team known as Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) haven’t had a high profile match since Honma came back. Which makes this match more important for this team to get Honma’s first title since his injury. The winners face off against Master Golden Ace or Suzuki-Gun.
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