There was a lot of news coming out of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s press conference on Sunday night, including the news that KUSHIDA (Yujiro Kushida) is leaving the promotion.
The announcement was made that the junior heavyweight star would be leaving the company when his contract expires at the end of January. Kushida is 36-years old and been wrestling for New Japan since 2010. During that time, he became a six-time IWGP junior heavyweight champion, losing the title for the last time to Taiji Ishimori this past Friday at Wrestle Kingdom 13. It had been reported by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that the WWE was interested in KUSHIDA, but the wrestler did not confirm where he was going and simply said he would be wrestling overseas. He will be part of the Fantasticamania cards and is under contract through January 31st.
The company added that Kota Ibushi will be held off the New Beginning tour due to a concussion he sustained in his match with Will Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom 13 this past Friday. Ibushi apologized on Twitter for missing the next tour but said he would be back.
It was also announced that veteran Takashi Iizuka will be retiring on February 21st at the age of 52. Iizuka has been wrestling for over 32 years and was a product of the New Japan Dojo, debuting in 1986 under his real name Takayuki Iizuka. He has spent his career with New Japan Pro Wrestling, although was part of the Suzuki-gun unit that was sent to Pro Wrestling NOAH from 2015-16. Iizuka won the IWGP tag titles three times with different partners. His first tag title win was in July 1989 with Riki Choshu, he won them with Kazuo Yamazaki in June 1996 and the final time with Toru Yano in May 2012. His role in Suzuki-gun was a brawler, who would run through the crowd and spent months terrorizing and attacking announcer Shinpei Nogami.
The company’s next tour is the Fantastiamania shows with CMLL that begin Friday, January 11th and run through Monday, January 21st.
The next major cards are the three New Beginning shows in Sapporo and Osaka and below are the full lineups for each event:
New Beginning in Sapporo – Saturday, February 2nd
*Ren Narita vs. Yuya Uemura
*Manabu Nakanishi and Toa Henare vs. Shota Umino and Ayato Yoshida
*Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Tiger Mask vs. Takashi Iizuka and Taka Michinoku
*Guerrillas of Destiny, Taiji Ishimori, Chase Owens & Yujiro vs. Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, Tomoaki Honma, Yoshi-Hashi & Ryusuke Taguchi
*Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & Bushi vs. Taichi, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
*Minoru Suzuki vs. Sanada
*EVIL vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
*Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White and Bad Luck Fale
New Beginning in Sapporo – Sunday, February 3rd
*Toa Henare vs. Yota Tsuji
*Manabu Nakanishi and Tiger Mask vs. Shota Umino and Ayato Yoshida
*Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Ren Narita vs. Takashi Iizuka and Taka Michinoku
*Guerrillas of Destiny, Taiji Ishimori and Yujiro vs. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Toru Yano & Ryusuke Taguchi
*Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens
*Shingo Takagi and Bushi vs. El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru for the IWGP junior heavyweight tag titles
*Sanada and EVIL vs. Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr. for the IWGP tag titles
*Tetsuya Naito vs. Taichi for the Intercontinental title
New Beginning in Osaka – Monday, February 11th
*Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka & Taka Michinoku vs. Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Jushin Thunder Liger
*EVIL and Sanada vs. Shota Umino and Ayato Yoshida
*Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & Bushi vs. Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado
*Yujiro and Chase Owens vs. Tomoaki Honma and Yoshi-Hashi
*Guerrillas of Destiny vs. Togi Makabe and Toru Yano
*Taiji Ishimori vs. Ryusuke Taguchi for the IWGP junior heavyweight title
*Kazuchika Okada vs. Bad Luck Fale
*Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White for the IWGP heavyweight title