New Japan Pro Wrestling is returning to live television in the United States.
The opening night of New Japan’s famed G1 Climax tournament will be broadcast live this July 6 on AXS TV, the network told SI.com.
New Japan has revamped the top of its card following the departures of Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks, and Cody Rhodes, as well as longtime junior heavyweight pillar Kushida. In their place, the spotlight has been placed directly upon “Switchblade” Jay White.
White defeated Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 13 in January, then shocked the wrestling world with a victory over Hiroshi Tanahashi in February to win the IWGP heavyweight championship.
New Japan is holding its annual 32-man single-elimination tournament, the New Japan Cup, in March to decide White’s opponent for the IWGP heavyweight title at the sold-out Madison Square Garden show this April.
Cohosted by Ring of Honor, the “G1 Supercard” show at MSG will take place on April 6 (the night before WrestleMania), and those in attendance are likely to see an IWGP heavyweight title match—and title change—on American soil as White defends against Okada.
White, Okada, Tanahashi, and Tetsuya Naito are all expected to be in this summer’s G1 Climax.
The G1, regarded among pro wrestlers as the most physically demanding tournament in the business, is a 20-man round-robin tourney that runs more than a month until its August 12 finale in Tokyo. The July 6 show on AXS will take place in Dallas at the American Airlines Center, serving as the official kickoff to the 29th edition of the G1.
Kevin Kelly will call the action of what will be the fourth NJPW event in the U.S. to be aired live on the network.
New Japan Pro Wrestling airs every Friday at 8 p.m. ET on AXS. This week’s show will feature the IWGP heavyweight title match from the ”New Beginning in Osaka 2019”, which is when White defeated Tanahashi to crown himself New Japan’s new world champion.
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.