New Japan Pro Wrestling is back on the road after the G1 Climax. The Road to Power Struggle began on Sunday, and it marked the return of a fan favorite bit of hardware. The IWGP Heavyweight Championship belt is back.
Kazuchika Okada made a wild request after winning the 31st G1 Climax tournament. He didn’t want a briefcase, as is tradition, he wanted the IWGP Heavyweight Championship back. Feeling that the current IWGP World Heavyweight Championship isn’t quite up to the snuff of the Rainmaker, and that he beat the last proper IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kota Ibushi, Okada felt that he was the rightful champion of NJPW, even suggesting that current IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Shingo Takagi had to beat him to truly lay claim to the top spot in NJPW.
Okada’s wishes were granted and The Rainmaker walked into Korakuen Hall with the title over his shoulder.
.@rainmakerXokada "G1 CLIMAX 31 WINNER?"
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The situation adds a bit of prestige to what has become a slightly-tired tradition. Usually, the G1 Climax winner is challenged by anyone that beat him in block competition. Now, those matches (or in the case of Okada “match” singular), while still technically for the IWGP Challenge Certificate, would essentially be for the IWGP Heavyweight Title belt as well. Tama Tonga was the only person in B Block to get a win over Okada, and will challenge Okada on Nov. 6th at Power Struggle.
Sunday’s show was headlined by a huge elimination tag match, as Suzuki-gun took on LIJ ahead of Zack Sabre Jr.’s big title match against IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Shingo Takagi. Sabre got the win for his team by last submitting BUSHI.
IWGP United States Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi got the win over KENTA in tag team action. The two will face off on Nov. 6th for Tanahashi’s title. Elsewhere on the card, the Young Lions began mixing in with the regular NJPW roster, and Robbie Eagles made his triumphant return to Japan. The IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion will not only defend his title on Nov. 6th, but will challenge El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles on Oct. 26th.
Eagles wasn’t the only return from Oceania on Sunday. Aaron Henare reunited with his United Empire brother Great-O-Khan, giving Khan some backup as both Will Ospreay, and now Jeff Cobb, are both busy in North America. The two got a stiff win over Yano & Kojima.
Here are the full results from Night 1:
NJPW Road To Power Struggle: Night 1
Available on NJPWWorld.com
- Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato def. Robbie Eagles, Tiger Mask & Ryohei Oiwa by submission. (8:15)
Master Wato submitted Ryohei Oiwa via Boston Crab.
- House of Torture (EVIL, Dick Togo, SHO, & Yujiro Takahashi) def. Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Kosei Fujita by referee stoppage. (8:22)
SHO had Kosei Fujita locked in a modified choke to force the stoppage.
- United Empire (Aaron Henare & Great-O-Khan) def. Toru Yano & Satoshi Kojima by pinfall. (11:07)
Great-O-Khan pinned Satoshi Kojima via Eliminator.
- Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yuji Nagata def. Bullet Club (KENTA & Gedo) by submission. (10:14)
Hiroshi Tanahashi submitted KENTA via Texas Cloverleaf.
- Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Jado) def. Kazuchika Okada, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma by pinfall. (11:32)
Tama Tonga pinned Tomoaki Honma via Gun Stun.
- Elimination Match: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI) def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, SANADA, BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi) (24:09)
Zack Sabre Jr. last eliminated BUSHI by submission via YES! I AM A LONG WAY FROM HOME!
NEXT PAGE: NJPW Road To Power Struggle Schedule