Keiji Mutoh, Ric Flair's tag team partner in just three week's time - Photo by siadowmoon of Flickr via Wikimedia Commons.
The rumours were true: Ric Flair will wrestle his first match in 16 months for All Japan Pro Wrestling in Tokyo on Jan. 26, 2013. He'll team up with All Japan figurehead Keiji Mutoh to face Japanese wrestling legend Tatsumi Fujinami and All Japan's young lion Seiya Sanada.
Yesterday, we reported the rumours that Ric Flair was expected to have his first wrestling match in 16 months for All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) at Tokyo's Ota Ward Gym on Jan. 26, 2013.
Today, the promotion confirmed the news, announcing both his tag team partner and opponents for the show in question. Unsurprisingly, he'll team up with All Japan figurehead Keiji Mutoh, better known to American fans by his alter ego of The Great Muta. Their opponents will be 58-year old Japanese wrestling legend Tatsumi Fujinami and All Japan's young lion Seiya Sanada.
Fujinami was one of the best workers in the world during the 1980s and had Flair's most legendary match in the Land of the Rising Sun when he defeated him in front of a sold out Tokyo Dome on Mar. 21st, 1991. This was a battle between the reigning IWGP Heavyweight champion and the WCW / NWA World Heavyweight champion, but the finish was controversial.
Flair accidentally wiped out WCW referee Bill Alfonso and in the confusion Fujinami backdropped Flair over the top rope, before pinning him with a fancy roll up whilst a New Japan referee counted the three count. This allowed Fujinami to be billed as the NWA World Heavyweight champion in Japan, whilst in America the title change was not recognised due to Fujinami's over the top rope throw of Flair, which was still grounds for an automatic disqualification in those days.
The title controversy was cleared up when Flair defeated Fujinami in a rematch on home soil that headlined the first ever WCW Superbrawl pay-per-view on May 19th, 1991.
Sanada is clearly there to carry the match and get the rub from the legends before doing the job, likely to Flair's figure four leglock.
We'll be covering the match for you Cagesiders in three week's time and letting you know how Flair gets on.