February on the US indies just got a little less governable, folks.
Already at their last event Something Wicked, Michael Elgin’s Glory Pro announced that Los Ingobernables de Japon mainman Tetsuya Naito would be wrestling AR Fox at One Year Anniversary on February 18, but it seemed like it was just a one-off as a favor to a man who’s been a stalwart presence in New Japan for a few years now.
Well, shortly before this week’s Raw, Sami Callihan’s Wrestling Revolver teased a “top New Japan star” for their next Ohio show on February 16 and shortly after they got the one hundred retweets they requested, they made their move…
We return to Dayton, OH on 2/16/2018
NAITO takes DAYTON!
— Wrestling REVOLVER (@PWRevolver) October 31, 2017
And it wasn’t too long after that that AAW tossed their hat into the ring, announcing Naito for February 17, and they had a matchup ready!
— AAW Wrestling (@AAWPro) October 31, 2017
This is exciting in and of itself, but it does raise a question for the man who holds the right to challenge for Kazuchika Okada’s IWGP Heavyweight Championship in the main event at Wrestle Kingdom 12 in January… doesn’t this kind of telegraph the ending of that match? Ring of Honor is one thing, but will New Japan be willing to let their heavyweight champion out for a tour of the midwestern indies?
Fortunately, when you dig even a little, it’s a silly question.
After all, AJ Styles continued to work a healthy schedule on the indies when he held that title, and while New Japan do traditionally have a heavy slate of shows in February in support of their New Beginning tour, the 2018 edition has been moved up to January 27-28 and February 10, neatly clearing the end of the month off for any of New Japan’s top stars to do some freelance work, should they so choose.
Which leaves us right where we want to be, unable to say with any real certainty who will walk out of Wrestle Kingdom as champion. Okada remains a juggernaut in and out of kayfabe, the 200 million yen project having just passed Shinya Hashimoto’s record for longest single reign with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and set to pass the record for total days with the title on the day of Wrestle Kingdom, but if Naito loses the day, it won’t have had anything to do with this excursion.
There you have it, folks
Tetsuya Naito is coming to the American midwest for three indie shows next year. Excited, Cagesiders?