Ever since the day after Wrestling Kingdom 10, observers have been watching to see how New Japan would handle the loss of four top talents.
With the finals of 2016's New Japan Cup, held early U.S. time on Saturday, Mar. 12, we may be seeing the rise of a new power. Interest in and support of Tetsuya Naito and his Los Ingobernables de Japón group has been growing over the course of the past year. After a company push fizzled earlier this decade, Naito turned heel while working with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW)'s Mexican partner promotion CMLL.
Returning to his home promotion, and now representing the "Ungovernables" faction in Japan, has been a rebirth, with great in-ring charisma and CM Punk-esque worked shoot interviews about the company earning him a lot of attention.
It seems New Japan head booker Gedo & the powers-that-be may be striking while the iron is hot and elevating Naito & Los Ingobernables as part of a strategy to fill the void created by the exit of AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson (not to mention Kota Ibushi).
Not only did Naito win the New Japan Cup by avenging his Wrestle Kingdom loss to Hirooki Goto, but it looks like he'll use the title shot that comes with it to challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight crown at next month's Invasion Attack show. Also on Mar. 12 in Aomori, Los Ignoberables won a tag match which saw EVIL (who Ring of Honor (ROH) fans will know as Takaaki Watanabe) pin ROH TV champ Tomohiro Ishii, setting up a program between the two.
Here are the full results of today's show, which also saw a move to freshen up the non-Elite wing of Bullet Club with the introduction of former WWE hand Camacho by his brother Tama Tonga:
- Jay White submitted David Finlay
- Jushin Thunder Liger & Juice Robinson defeated Tiger Mask and Captain New Japan
- EVIL & Bushi defeated Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
- Tetsuya Naito defeated Toru Yano to advance to the New Japan Cup Finals
- Hirooki Goto defeated Michael Elgin to advance to the New Japan Cup Finals
- Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan defeated Ryusuke Taguchi & Katsuyori Shibata
- Okada & Sakuraba defeated Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi
- Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Bad Luck Fale, Takahashi) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
- Tetsuya Naito defeated Hirooki Goto to win the 2016 New Japan Cup
The card for Invasion Attack on April 10 will likely include:
- Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Heavyweight championship
- Katsuyori Shibata (c) vs. Satoshi Kojima for the NEVER Openweight title
- KUSHIDA (c) vs. Will Ospreay for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight championship
- Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. EVIL for the ROH TV title