10 Under the Radar Matches from 2019
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10 Under the Radar Matches from 2019

January 1, 2020
By: Lou Pickney

New Japan Pro-Wrestling followed up on an off-the-charts great 2018 with an even better 2019. If you're like me and believe the current golden age of New Japan began at Wrestle Kingdom 7 on January 4, 2013, that makes seven years now of ultra high-end matches and brilliant booking by Gedo to create a remarkably outstanding product.

It's almost too much to process at times, an abundance of riches of enthralling, unpredictable, and often dangerous matches. That's especially true during the annual G1 Climax, a two-block round-robin heavyweight singles tournament that produces a staggering volume of incredible matches, year after year.

But with that in mind, the downside is sometimes missing out on excellent bouts that ended up lost in the shuffle. It's particularly tricky with the easy availability of pro wrestling content from around the world and the sheer volume of options.

With that in mind, here are ten matches from 2019 on New Japan World that you might have overlooked or otherwise missed, presented in chronological order.

IMPORTANT: A subscription to New Japan World is required to watch these matches. This helpful tutorial video has details on how to subscribe. The price is 999 per month, which is about $9 American per month depending on the exchange rate. It's a remarkable value.

1. Caristico vs. Volador Jr.

January 21, 2019 -- Fantastica Mania
Tokyo, Japan (Korakuen Hall)

New Japan's closest ally is CMLL in Mexico. And in recent years, CMLL has been sending over some of its luchadors to work an annual tour with NJPW, typically in late January, called Fantastica Mania. The timing makes sense with so many New Japan wrestlers having just endured especially challenging/physical matches at Wrestle Kingdom.

Fantastica Mania is mostly a fun-spirited tour, with the novelty of lucha libre and stars from Mexico working in front of a distinctly different crowd than usual.

There are sometimes great matches on these tours, particularly at the events held at Korakuen Hall, and that was true in 2019. Caristico, who once wrestled as Mistico, renewed a rivalry with Volador Jr. that dated back nearly nine years in Mexico. And they tore the house down.

Japanese commentary
English commentary

2. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yuji Nagata

March 8, 2019 -- New Japan Cup, Night 1
NJC opening round match
Tokyo, Japan (Korakuen Hall)

When Michael Elgin suffered an injury in late 2018, New Japan filled his spot on the card with Yuji Nagata. Part of the unofficial senior circuit of New Japan, Nagata is an all-time legend in the company. And he can still go when needed, even now at the age of 51.

Ishii and Nagata were on opposite sides in a six-man tag at New Year Dash 2019 that stole the show. And while their planned program for the New Beginning in USA 2019 tour was sadly nixed due to work visa delays, Ishii and Nagata ended up facing off in the first round of the 2019 New Japan Cup in an outstanding battle.

Japanese commentary
English commentary

See also:
Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii & Will Ospreay vs. Jeff Cobb & KUSHIDA & Yuji Nagata
January 5, 2019 -- Tokyo, Japan (Korakuen Hall)

3. BUSHI & Shingo Takagi vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)

April 26, 2019 -- Road to Wrestling Dontaku
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match
Hiroshima, Japan

The notion of Shingo Takagi being a junior heavyweight in a company where Kota Ibushi and Zack Sabre Jr. are classified as heavyweights was laughable. But it worked out very well, keeping Shingo strong early in his New Japan run.

This was the blow-off to a months-long feud between LIJ and RP3K dating back to the 2018 Super Jr. Tag League, and ultimately it was the best match of the bunch between the two teams.

Japanese commentary
English commentary

See also:
BUSHI & Shingo Takagi vs. Roppongi 3K
October 16, 2018 -- Tokyo, Japan (Korakuen Hall)

BUSHI & Shingo Takagi vs. Roppongi 3K vs. El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
November 3, 2018 -- Osaka, Japan

BUSHI & Shingo Takagi vs. Roppongi 3K
March 6, 2019 -- Tokyo, Japan (Ota City General Gymnasium)

4. Shingo Takagi vs. SHO

May 13, 2019 -- Best of the Super Juniors 26, Night 1
BOSJ Block A match
Sendai, Japan

The 2019 Best of the Super Juniors was an off-the-charts great tournament, perhaps the best BOSJ to date. And that covers considerable ground.

Shingo and SHO had tremendous chemistry in their tag team feud, and that carried over to this singles tournament match. Anything involving Shingo in this tournament will inevitably be overshadowed by his incredible match with Will Ospreay in the final, but this match shouldn't be missed.

Japanese commentary
English commentary

5. Rocky Romero vs. Will Ospreay

May 16, 2019 -- Best of the Super Juniors 26, Night 4
BOSJ Block B match
Aomori, Japan

Getting a crowd reaction at smaller market Japanese spot shows can be a challenge for anyone. That's especially true for non-Japanese wrestlers, particularly two from the same faction.

But that didn't deter Romero and Ospreay, who did an incredible job at forcing the crowd seemingly against its will into making noise and getting emotionally involved in the match, which turned into an absolute thriller.

Romero is a wily veteran who knows every trick in the book and can still go in-ring. Ospreay is a special talent who can warm up even the coldest of crowds, as evidenced here.

Japanese commentary
English commentary

6. Robbie Eagles vs. Will Ospreay

June 29, 2019 -- Southern Showdown In Melbourne
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship match
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

This match didn't air live on New Japan World and took a bit of time to finally go up, which meant some fans missed out on it. And that's too bad.

It was a unique presentation in several ways, from the deep blue ring canvas to Don Marnell doing play-by-play to the lively fans in attendance. Worth checking out at least briefly for the novelty of it, though the match is excellent and the storyline elements in play add intrigue to the outcome.

Japanese commentary
English commentary

See also:
Robbie Eagles vs. Will Ospreay
May 26, 2019 -- Chiba, Japan

7. Jay White vs. Tomohiro Ishii

July 15, 2019 -- G1 Climax 29, Night 4
G1 Block B match
Sapporo, Japan

It's a sign of the times that a top-level match by two talented stars like White and Ishii could be all but overlooked, but that's what happened with this excellent first-time matchup, which fell relatively early in the 2019 G1 calendar.

Ishii brings out the best in everyone, while Switchblade is a very talented wrestler who also happens to portray a smarmy, cheating, arrogant jerk. Two different styles, two different generations even, but they had a captivating battle.

Japanese commentary
English commentary
French commentary

8. SHO vs. Will Ospreay

August 24, 2019 -- Super J-Cup, Night 2
SJC quarterfinal match
San Francisco, California, USA

Similar to the Eagles vs. Ospreay match in Australia, this match didn't air live on New Japan World and took some time to be uploaded.

But the live reviews for this were strong, and when I finally saw the match I discovered why people spoke so highly of it. SHO just gets better and better, while Ospreay at age 26 is one of the very best in the biz today and still improving.

Ospreay is a strong contender to win Most Outstanding Wrestler in the 2019 Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards, and it's matches like this which help make a strong case for it.

The 2019 Super J-Cup was the seventh incarnation of the single-elimination junior heavyweight tournament that started in Japan in 1994. This was the first time for it to be held in the United States.

Japanese commentary
English commentary

9. Hirooki Goto vs. Shingo Takagi

September 22, 2019 -- Destruction in Kobe
Kobe, Japan

Their first singles match during the 2019 G1 was outstanding and is worth watching before this one if you have the time. If not, enjoy this very physical matchup as a stand-alone. Goto and Shingo click in the ring exceptionally well, and the crowd was very much into the outcome.

If you like strong-style strike exchanges, you've come to the right place. Here's hoping we get a third match between Goto and Shingo sometime later this year.

Japanese commentary
English commentary

See also:
Hirooki Goto vs. Shingo Takagi
August 11, 2019 -- Tokyo, Japan (Nippon Budokan)

10. EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Will Ospreay

December 21, 2019 -- Road to Tokyo Dome
Tokyo, Japan (Korakuen Hall)

In only his third match after returning from a severe neck injury that had kept him out of action going back to July 2018, Hiromu showed that not only has he recovered, but he can still compete at a very high level in the ring.

Ishii and Ospreay seemed to gel remarkably well for not being a regular tag team, to the point where I want to see that pairing again in a major match on down the line.

Japanese commentary
English commentary

See also:
Hiromu Takahashi & Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Will Ospreay
September 10, 2017 -- Fukushima, Japan
JPN only

Hiromu Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay
June 9, 2018 -- Osaka, Japan

EVIL vs. Tomohiro Ishii
May 4, 2019 -- Fukuoka, Japan

EVEN MORE: NJPW World -- The Very Best Matches

See any mistakes, omissions, or needed corrections? Please let me know: @LouPickney