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NJPW News: Full 'Honor Rising' match cards announced; Kenny Omega to face Okada in tag team main event

NJPW announces the full match cards for 2/26 and 2/27 HONOR RISING events, featuring the return of Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada!

Photo Credit: New Japan Pro Wrestling / TV Asahi
Omega will face Okada in the tag team main event

What’s the story? 

New Japan Pro Wrestling has announced the full match cards for its HONOR RISING tour, co-produced with Ring of Honor from February 26th to 27th.

Perhaps the biggest piece of news coming out of the reveal is that Kenny Omega will be making his in-ring return for the tour, and will collide with IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada for the first time since their universally praised Wrestle Kingdom 11 match, as the “six-star” rivals face off in an epic tag team main event. 

In case you didn’t know...

Kenny Omega has been missing since January 5th, one night after losing the biggest match of his career against Okada in the main event of New Japan’s annual Tokyo Dome show. The bout was deemed an instant classic, receiving the first six-star rating in decades from Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

After coming up short in the most important moment of his veteran wrestling career, Omega recoiled away from New Japan to reevaluate his future, sparking debate and speculation of where he might land. There was even a massive rumour that he would turn up at WWE's Royal Rumble pay-per-view back in January. 

The heart of the matter

HONOR RISING will be broadcast live on New Japan World from February 26-27th featuring English commentary for non-Japanese speaking viewers. Omega will team with his Bullet Club brethren Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks to take on Okada, Will Ospreay and Ring of Honor veterans Mark and Jay Briscoe in a huge 8-man tag team main event to close out night two of the tour.

Also announced was the ROH World Championship match, a NEVER Openweight Championship match, and more. Below are the full match cards... 

NJPW Honor Rising Night 1
February 26, 2017

Mark & Jay Briscoe vs. Kenny Omega & Adam Cole

Jay Lethal & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hangman Page & Cody Rhodes

Ryusuke Taguchi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Dalton Castle vs. Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito & Punisher Martinez

War Machine vs. The Young Bucks

Will Ospreay, Yoshi-Hashi, Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada vs. Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale

Tiger Mask, Jushin Thunder Liger & Delirious vs. Bushi, Evil & Sanada

David Finlay, Juice Robinson & Kushida vs. Jado, Gedo & Silas Young

NJPW Honor Rising Night 2
February 27, 2017

Will Ospreay, Kazuchika Okada & The Briscoes vs. Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks

ROH World Championship
Adam Cole (c) vs. Yoshi-Hashi

NEVER Openweight Championship
Hirooki Goto (c) vs. Punisher Martinez

Juice Robinson, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Jay Lethal vs. Hangman Page, Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale 

War Machine vs. Guerrillas of Destiny

Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask, Jushin Thunder Liger, Dalton Castle & Delirious vs. Hiromu Takahashi, Bushi, Evil, Sanada & Tetsuya Naito 

Henare, David Finlay & Kushida vs. Jado, Gedo & Silas Young

What’s next?

Two weeks after HONOR RISING starts the annual New Japan Cup, a 16-man single elimination tournament featuring the biggest Heavyweight wrestlers in the promotion, with the winner earning a shot at either the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, or the NEVER Openweight Championship.

For the last four years, the winner of the New Japan Cup has cashed in his title opportunity at the April INVASION ATTACK event. Although brackets have not officially been announced yet, Kenny Omega is expected to compete in this year’s tournament. 

Sportskeeda’s take

Although this is also a Ring of Honor show, the match card is New Japan almost to a fault, with the use of big multi-man tag matches to get as many stars on the card as possible. This is somewhat of a “minor” tour, much like their FANTASTICA MANIA events with the Mexican CMLL promotion, but the first interaction between Omega and Okada since Wrestle Kingdom is a big deal.

This will likely set up the events of the next few months, which will lead to the inevitable rematch at either INVASION ATTACK or DOMINION. 

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