NJPW News: Big names missing from 2017 Super Junior Tag Tournament
What's the story?
NJPW has announced the brackets and teams for the 2017 Super Junior Tag Tournament, and a number of big names are noticeably missing from the line-up. New IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag champs Roppongi 3K were named for the event but there was no sign of The Young Bucks or Ricochet.
In case you didn't know...
Every division in NJPW has its own tournament for deciding top contenders, and the junior heavyweight tag team division is no different. The first ever Super Junior Tag Tournament took place in 2010 and was won by El Samurai and Koji Kanemoto, who defeated Ryusuke Taguchi and Prince Devitt (Finn Bálor) in the finals.
The tournament returned in 2012 and has taken place every year since, with the winners traditionally getting a shot at the junior tag titles at the Wrestle Kingdom. Past winners include The Young Bucks, reDRagon and Roppongi Vice.
The heart of the matter
The 2017 tournament will consist of eight teams featuring talent that has consistently appeared in NJPW over the years. New IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Roppongi 3K will take on the untested duo of KUSHIDA and Hirao Kawato in the first round. The winner of that bout will take on either Dragon Lee & Titan or the Los Ingobernables team of BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi.
The other half of the draw will witness two Suzuki-gun teams in action. Yoshinobu Kanemaru will team with El Desperado as opposed to Taichi, to take on the legendary team of Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask. Taichi finds himself teaming with former WWF Light Heavyweight Champion TAKA Michinoku, to go against Ryusuke Taguchi and ACH.
Many expected Taguchi to team with Ricochet, and the absence of the latter may lead to many assuming he is on his way to WWE. The Young Bucks are also missing, along with representation from CHAOS and Bullet Club.
The tournament is scheduled to begin on October 23 at the Road to Power Struggle show in Tokyo, with the finals taking place at the Power Struggle event on November 5 in Osaka. The winners will earn themselves a shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag titles at Wrestle Kingdom 12.
Roppongi 3K's return has made this a far more intriguing tournament than it could have ever been. Sho and Yo are expected to hold the belts at least until the Dome, meaning their challengers should be set up here. The teams on the opposite side of the bracket, with the exception of Taguchi and ACH, don't inspire much excitement, however.
My guess would be that Roppongi 3K win the tournament, before being challenged by The Young Bucks at the Wrestle Kingdom 12. As for Ricochet, he may well be at the WWE Performance Center by the time January 4 comes around.