New Japan Pro Wrestling invades the United States for the first time ever next month.
The largest promotion in Japan and arguably one of the most popular wrestling companies in the world will be teaming up with Jersey All Pro Wrestling for a historic weekend that will see the first ever IWGP (International Wrestling Grand Prix) Intercontinental Champion crowned in an eight-man tournament.
Former WWE superstar Montel Vontavious Porter, better known around the wrestling world as MVP, is one of the eight men looking to become the inaugural Intercontinental Champion during the NJPW Invasion Tour 2011.
The first-round matchups have been announced, and they will take place during night one of the tour, May 13 in Rahway, NJ. They are as follows:
- MVP vs. Kazuchika Okada (Samoa Joe’s ally Okato in TNA)
- Toru Yano vs. Dan Maff
- Tetsuya Naito vs. Tama Tonga (the son of wrestling legend Haku)
- Hideo Saito vs. Yujiro Takahashi
MVP is considered a favorite to win the tournament. He has made a successful transition from the WWE to competing in NJPW and has been quite popular in Japan since his debut late last year. Okada is a talented up-and-comer who has been earning his stripes in TNA lately, becoming a bit player in the feud between Samoa Joe and D’Angelo Dinero.
TNA fans may remember Naito and Takahashi, who make up the tag team of No Limit. They spent a few months in TNA and challenged Team 3D for the tag team championship. No Limit have also had some classic tag team battles in NJPW against the Motor City Machine Guns.
The Yano vs. Maff match pits two mean and nasty brawlers against each other and should undoubtedly be the hardest-hitting contest of the first round.
Tama Tonga, a relative newcomer to NJPW, bears a distinct resemblance to his father and could very well be the dark horse to win the entire tournament.
The main event of the Rahway show looks to be a dream tag team match, pitting the reunited team of Homicide and Low Ki against Jushin “Thunder” Liger and Tiger Mask IV. Homicide and Ki recently delivered this promo on YouTube to let the NJPW stars know that they are coming to their turf.
The semifinal round of the Intercontinental Championship tournament takes place during night two of the tour, on May 14 in New York City.
The only other match announced thus far for the NYC show is one that many are looking forward to, IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Prince Devitt will defend his title against Low Ki.
The wrestler formerly known as Kaval has held the title before and would like nothing more than to win it back. It will be no easy task though, Devitt has been one of the most impressive wrestlers anywhere in the world for the past few years and only continues to improve.
He has been called Pegasus Kid II in Japan, which goes a long way towards illustrating just how talented he is. He has held the Jr. Heavyweight Championship since June of last year and is also one half of the current IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, Apollo 55, with his partner Ryusuke Taguchi.
The Invasion tour comes to a close in Philadelphia on May 15, where the final match of the Intercontinental Championship tournament will take place.
Two other matches have been announced for the Philadelphia show, including a South Philly Street Fight between Rhino and Togi Makabe. It looks to be the kind of match that will conjure up old hardcore memories in what was once the ECW Arena.
The legendary Jushin “Thunder” Liger will defend his JAPW Light Heavyweight Championship against Kenny Omega in a match that was just announced this week.
Omega, has competed around the world for promotions including JAPW, Ring Of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla along with NJPW and Dramatic Dream Team (DDT) in Japan. He is regarded as one of the best young talents in the world today and will do battle with a living legend when he challenges Liger in Philadelphia.
It is going to be a historic weekend for NJPW and JAPW. The current list of talent announced for the show is posted on the official Invasion tour web site. More matches and additional talent will be announced in the coming weeks.
The first-round matches have been announced and they are as follows:
- The Osirian Portal (Amasis, Ophidian and Heiracon) vs. Team 3.Ole! (El Generico, Scott Parker and Shane Matthews)
- Sinn Bodhi and the Batiri (Obariyon and Kodama) vs. The Colony (Fire Ant, Solider Ant and Green Ant)
- Team Australia (Percy, Kabel and Tama Williams) vs. F.I.S.T (Chuck Taylor, Johnny Gargano and Icarus)
- Team Dragon Gate (Akira Tozawa, Super Shisa and Kagetora) vs. The Spectral Envoy (UltraMantis Black, Hallowicked and Frightmare)
- Amazing Red and the Maximos vs. Mike Quackenbush, Jigsaw and Manami Toyota
- Da Soul Touchaz (Marshe Rockett, Acid Jaz and Willie Richardson) vs. The BDK (Tim Donst, Delirious and Jakob Hammermeier)
- Team Osaka Pro (Atsushi Kotoge, Daisuke Harada and Ultimate Spider Jr.) vs. The Throwbacks (Dasher Hatfield, Sugar Dunkerton and Matt Classic)
- Team Michinoku Pro (Dick Togo, Jinsei Shinzaki and the Great Sasuke) vs. Team Minnesota (Arik Cannon, Darin Corbin and the 1-2-3 Kid)
The tournament kicks off on Friday, April 15 at the Asylum Arena (formerly the ECW Arena) in Philadelphia and continues there on Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17.
Looking at the pairings for the first round leads me to think that this could be one of the most unpredictable King of Trios tournaments to date. Several teams that seemed like sure bets to make it deep into the tournament are paired up against each other in Round 1.
Team Dragon Gate vs. The Spectral Envoy is a toss-up. The same goes for Team Michinoku Pro vs. Team Minnesota. It will surely be interesting to see Sean Waltman, aka the 1-2-3 Kid, in a CHIKARA ring renewing an old rivalry with Shinzaki, who was known was Hakushi during the early ‘90s in the WWF.
The team from New Horizon Pro Wrestling from Australia is matched up against F.I.S.T (Friends in Similar Tights) in what could be the biggest upset of the first round.
In the end, if I have to make a prediction, I’ll go with the Osirian Portal to win it all this year. No team has been hotter in CHIKARA, and they have gone unbeaten as a trio since Jonathan Gresham took on the Heiracon persona. If momentum means anything, the Portal have the advantage as we head into King of Trios.
For more updates and information on the NJPW Invasion tour and next weekend’s King of Trios tournament, check out the links posted in this article.
Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for the next edition of news and notes from the independent scene.