We’re still missing a key component of New Japan’s plan crown the first-ever IWGP Women’s champion — namely the identities of the competitors. But they’ve given us some information about their plans, including dates for tournament matches and the inaugural champ’s first title defense.
The first quarterfinal match will take place Oct. 2, the second night of NJPW’s Royal Quest event in London. From the looks of what they released at a press conference this morning (Aug. 23), there will be three international entrants fighting for a spot in the final against whoever emerges from the four Stardom wrestlers on the other side of the bracket.
Official for Royal Quest II!— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) August 23, 2022
October 2, night two of #RoyalQuest will see the first International Bracket match in the tournament to crown the first IWGP Women's Champion! Two of Europe's best will do battle in London!https://t.co/UE3RhWYa6A#NJPWxSTARDOM pic.twitter.com/h3b55htKhB
Quarter finals for the tournament will be held on Royal Quest II night two in London on October 2, as well as STARDOM’s October 22 event, with semifinals taking place on October 23 at STARDOM’s card in Tachikawa. The first ever women’s champion will be crowned on November 20 in Ariake!
It was also announced that the new champ will defend her belt for the first time in the Tkyo Dome on Jan. 4, 2023 at Wrestle Kingdom 17.
Three mixed tag matches were also announced for Nov. 20’s Historic X-Over show with Stardom:
• Tom Lawlor & Syuri vs. Giulia & Zack Sabre Jr.
• Hiroshi Tanahashi & Utami Hayashishita vs. Hirooki Goto and Maika
• El Desperado, DOUKI, Starlight Kid & Momo Watanabe vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taichi, Natsupoi & Tam Nakano
For the uninitiated, New Japan is positioning the first as a chance for Giulia to get some momentum against World of Stardom champ Syuri and for ZSJ to get back on track after a frustrating, disappointing G1. Tanahashi & Hayashishita are the “Ace combination” thanks to the former’s legendary status and the latter’s recent lengthy World of Stardom title run. The eight-person match has members of Suzuki-Gun on both sides, and questions about how the babyface Cosmic Angels duo of Natsupoi & Nakano will co-exist with their more ruthless partners.
It’s all part of the plan to integrate joshi (women’s) wrestling into the NJPW product. Like it so far?