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NJPW News: Hiroshi Tanahashi set to return after a lengthy knee injury

Soumik Datta
894   //    27 Feb 2018, 23:10 IST

The Ace is set to comeback!
The Ace is set to come back!

What’s the story?

With the latest announcement of the 2018 New Japan Cup, it has now been confirmed that “The Ace” of NJPW, Hiroshi Tanahashi is all set to make a return to the promotion after being sidelined with a lengthy knee injury.

In case you didn’t know…

41-year-old veteran pro wrestler Hiroshi Tanahashi was recently diagnosed with right knee osteoarthritis, following his IWGP Intercontinental Title loss to Minoru Suzuki last month at the New Beginning in Sapporo event.

Tanahashi, who is a former seven-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, has been dealing with his knee problems for the past couple of months and “The Ace of New Japan” wasn’t also up to the mark during his IC Title defence against Jay White at Wrestle Kingdom 12, earlier in the year.

The heart of the matter

During the recent New Japan Cup 2018 press conference, former IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi seemingly announced his participation in this year’s New Japan Cup tournament and stated that he will make his return to in-ring competition on the 9 March 2018.

Tanahashi stated that the reason why he has decided to make his return during the New Japan Cup is that of having the right to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight, IC or Never Openweight Title and assured that, this will not be another case “leave, train, come back and then leave again”. Tanahashi added, this return will rather be for the long haul and he isn’t leaving anytime soon.

Additionally, “The Ace” also weighed in on Suzuki Gun’s Taichi, who will square off against Tanahashi in the first round of this year’s New Japan Cup. Tanahashi added that he has not forgotten about the shame that and the assault that Suzuki Gun brought on him a few weeks ago, however, in the back on his mind he has also got IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada and his consecutive title defence record.

What’s next?

As noted, the 2018 New Japan Cup will kick-start on 9 March and will conclude on the 21st of the same month. Here are the first round matches and the full list of competitors who will participate this year:

Michael Elgin vs Tomohiro Ishii
Juice Robinson vs Yujiro Takahashi
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Taichi
Bad Luck Fale vs Lance Archer
Tetsuya Naito vs Zack Sabre Jr.
Yoshi-Hashi vs Kota Ibushi
Toru Yano vs Davey Boy Smith Jr.
Chuck Taylor (Chuckie T) vs Sanada

Author’s take

Personally, I think this year’s New Japan Cup line-up looks absolutely stacked. Seeing the likes of Chuck Taylor, Taichi, and Zack Sabre Jr. in it is somewhat surprising and great at the same time in my opinion.

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Soumik Datta
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