New Japan’s Destruction tour will be taking place over the month of September and will feature three major shows in Kobe, Beppu and Hiroshima. It will also feature several smaller ‘Road to’ shows including a special event under the ‘Blue Justice’ banner, commemorating Yuji Nagata turning 50.
With New Japan also promoting, and saving big matches for, Fighting Spirit Unleashed at the end of the month, and several titles being either vacant or AWOL (where are you Jericho?), you may expect things to be a little on the bare side in terms of feature matches. However, there’s plenty to look forward to, including a return to two all time great rivalries that where also featured in this year’s G1. With that in mind here’s a look at the biggest talking points heading into New Japan’s Destruction tour.
Tanahashi’s difficult road to the Dome
Hiroshi Tanahashi defied the odds once again to become the 28th G1 champion, and that’s something no-one can take away from him. His shot at the IWGP Heavyweight championship at the Tokyo Dome however, is not something set in stone.
As has been the case for several years now, the G1 climax champion must defend his IWGP Heavyweight title shot contract (which is contained in a nice shiny briefcase) in the months leading up to the big Wrestle Kingdom show on January 4th, generally against anyone who defeated him during the G1.
Tanahashi took only one loss in the G1 (to Jay White) and was also held to a draw by Kazuchika Okada. Many felt that Tanahashi could and would avoid Okada on the way to the Dome, since that would surely spell disaster for the ‘Ace’, but the defiant Tanahashi would instead announce Okada as his first challenger.
Tanahashi hasn’t defeated Okada since January 2015, and their battle back in May of this year seemed to suggest that Okada was now well and truly on another level to Tanahashi, as he defeated him in very convincing fashion. The Wrestle Kingdom title shot briefcase has never changed hands before, but Tanahashi has to be considered the underdog here.
However, Okada has shown a kink in his armour since losing to Kenny Omega back at Dominion, and his new ‘all smiles and balloons’ persona suggests he’s not quite the Rainmaker of old right now. Tanahashi meanwhile feels his G1 win proves that he is once again the Ace of old. Whatever happens, it will surely be another fantastic addition to this pairings long and storied rivalry, when they meet on September 23rd.
Ishii gets his shot
Tomohiro Ishii was seen in the eyes of many as the G1’s MVP performance wise, putting on consistently outstanding matches against all comers. While he never looked in danger of advancing to the finals, he was able to get a big win over IWGP Heavyweight champion Kenny Omega. This earned Ishii a show at the Heavyweight champion, and it wasn’t long before he made his attentions clear and the match was set.
Ishii fans have long pined for Ishii to break into the main event scene, but his role within New Japan seems cemented as a ‘gatekeeper’ to the top tier stars of the promotion. He’s able to beat anyone on the right day, so long as as any title above the NEVER Openweight championship is not on the line.
Ishii is unlikely to step into the spotlight now and defeat Omega, but that won’t stop this from being an incredible must watch match. These two never fail to impress when in the ring together, with last year’s IWGP U.S. title tournament final and their G1 block match this year being particularly noteworthy classics.
Their IWGP Heavyweight title match takes place on September 15th at the Destruction in Hiroshima show.
Returns, title shots and the Road to King of Pro Wrestling and Wrestle Kingdom
Destruction in Beppu on the 17th will play host to a Tetsuya Naito vs Minoru Suzuki non title main event. These two last faced off back in April for the IWGP Intercontinental championship, in a match that, in all honesty, proved to be one of the weakest New Japan main events in quite some time. Both are phenomenal athletes and wrestlers, but things just didn’t click for them that night.
No doubt though that these two will look to put that match (which by no means was terrible) behind them and produce something great for the Beppu crowd. It will also be interesting to see if we get any hints at to what either man will be doing come King of pro wrestling or even Wrestle Kingdom.
On the very same night we’re also be seeing Hirooki Goto defend his NEVER Openweight championship against Taichi, in a match that should put the rivalry that has been brewing between these two over the year to bed.
The NEVER Openweight six man titles will also be on the line during the tour, as G.O.D and Ishimori will look to make their first defence as champions against Finley, Taguchi and Robinson. The Bullet Club OG’s have made a point of causing as much chaos as possible recently, and who knows what shenanigans the group has planned for the Destruction tour. We also have the beginnings of the IWGP Junior heavyweight title tournament as Bushi faces off against Kushida for a spot in the finals against either Ospreay or Marty Scrull come King of pro wrestling.
Finally we’re also be seeing the return of two big stars, with Trent Barreta returning to New Japan after a triceps injury and Satoshi Kojima returning from an ACL rupture. Barreta has worked a few dates recently back in the United States, namely for ROH and working the All In show, and he’ll spend much of this tour helping his Chaos teammates Okada and Ishii gain momentum in some intriguing tag matches. Kojima meanwhile hasn’t competed since January, and will return on the September 9th show Blue Justice show, competing in the eight man main event.
Dates and Noteworthy Matches
September 7th Road To Destruction:
Special Tag Match: Trent Barreta & Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi
September 8th Road To Destruction:
Special Tag Match: Trent Barreta & Kazuchika Okada vs. Juice Robinson & Hiroshi Tanahashi
September 9th Road To Destruction/Blue Justice VIII 50th Anniversary:
Satoshi Kojima Comeback match: Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Manabu Nakanishi vs. David Finley, Juice Robinson, Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe
September 15th Destruction In Hiroshima:
NEVER Openweight Six Man Title match: G.O.D & Taiji Ishimori vs. Juice Robinson, David Finley & Ryusuke Taguchi
IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Kenny Omega (c) vs Tomohiro Ishii
September 17th Destruction In Beppu:
NEVER Openweight Title Match: Hirooki Goto (c) vs. Taichi
Special Singles Match: Tetsuya Naito vs. Minoru Suzuki
Destruction In Kobe:
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Tournment Semi Final: Kushida vs. BUSHI
G1 Briefcase Defence: Hiroshi Tanahashi (Briefcase Holder) vs. Kazuchika Okada
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The return of Kojima
Beginnings of Junior tournament (link to main article)