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Nemeth, Riddle & Danielson headed to Japan for NJPW New Beginning shows

Unlike how companies often do it here in the United States, New Japan Pro-Wrestling sets their event cards well in advance. Today (Jan. 9), NJPW announced key matches for their New Beginning shows happening across their country in January & February — and some of those matches that will feature prominent American talent.

On Feb. 11 at New Beginning in Osaka, Will Ospreay will work his final match under contract to New Japan before he officially becomes a member of the AEW roster. That will be a five-on-five Steel Cage match with his United Empire mates against David Finlay & Bullet Club War Dogs. On the undercard of that show, Bryan Danielson and Zack Sabre, Jr. will run back their AEW WrestleDream classic in their quest to prove which man is the world’s best technical wrestler.

That show will also feature two title defenses, as Hikuleo & El Phantasmo defend thier IWGP Heavyweight Tag belts against Bullet Club’s Chase Owens & KENTA, and Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & company president Hiroshi Tanahashi put the NEVER Openweight 6 Man titles on the line against ZSJ’s TMDK teammates Shane Haste, Mikey Nicholls & Kosei Fujita.

When New Japan takes up residence in Sapporo’s Hokkai Kita Yell to close out the tour on Feb. 23 and 24, Nic “Dolph Ziggler” Nemeth will make his in-ring debut for New Japan. On the first New Beginning in Sapporo show, The Wanted Man will follow-up on his brawl at the Tokyo Dome when he challenges Biz Cliz leader Finlay for the IWGP Global championship.

That night will also feature Matt Riddle stepping into a NJPW ring for the second time, challenging President Ace for this Television championship. There’s been some online conversation about whether “4:20 Bro” Riddle would travel to Japan, which has notoriously strict laws against marijuana. But it looks like he’ll leave it at home and make the trip.

Night two in Sapporo will be headlined by a Wrestle Kingdom 18 main event rematch. This time, Tetsuya Naito holds the IWGP World Heavyweight title and SANADA is the challenger.

Here’s a rundown of marquee New Beginning bouts announced today, which include build to some of the above... and what could be Tama Tonga’s New Japan swan song.

New Beginning in Nagoya — Sat., Jan. 20

• Tama Tonga (c) vs. EVIL for the NEVER Openweight title

• Taiji Ishimori (c) vs. Great-O-Khan for possession of the KOPW 2024 trophy

• Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Yota Tsuji, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) vs. Just Five Guys (SANADA, Taichi, Taka Michinoku, DOUKI & Yuya Uemura)

• Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & Togi Makabe vs. TMDK’s Zack Sabre Jr., Mikey Nicholls, Shane Haste & Kosei Fujita

• Guerillas of Destiny (Hikuleo & El Phantasmo) vs. Chase Owens & KENTA (non-title)

• El Desperado & Master Wato vs. SHO & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

• United Empire (Callum Newman, Francesco Akira, TJP, Henare, & Jeff Cobb) vs. Bullet Club War Dogs (David Finlay, Drilla Moloney, Clark Connors, Gabe Kidd, and Alex Coughlin)

• Tomoaki Honma & Shota Umino vs. House of Torture (Ren Narita & Yujiro Takahashi)

• Shoma Kato vs. Katsuya Murashima (Kickoff match)

New Beginning in Osaka - Sun., Feb. 11

• United Empire (Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb, Henare, TJP & Francesco Akira) vs. Bullet Club War Dogs (David Finlay, Alex Coughlin, Gabe Kidd, Clark Connors & Drilla Moloney) in a Steel Cage match

• Bryan Danielson vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

• Hikuleo & TJP (c) vs. KENTA & Chase Owens for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team championship

• Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. TMDK’s Shane Haste, Mikey Nicholls & Kosei Fujita for the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team titles

New Beginning in Sapporo (night one) — Fri., Feb. 23

• David Finlay (c) vs. Nic Nemeth for the IWGP Global championship

• Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Matt Riddle for the New Japan World Television title

• Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Yota Tsuji, Hiromu Takahashi, and BUSHI) vs. SANADA, Taichi, Yuya Uemura, DOUKI, and Taka Michinoku)

• Toru Yano & Tomoya vs. ???

New Beginning in Sapporo (night two) - Sat., Feb. 24

• Tetsuya Naito (c) vs. SANADA for the IWGP World Heavyweight championship

• Shingo Takagi vs. Taichi

• Taka Michinoku vs. BUSHI

• DOUKI vs. Hiromu Takahashi

• Yuya Uemura vs. Yota Tsuji

• Toru Yano & Tomoya vs. ???

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