It appeared event organisers had already made their decision, but overwhelming support from the New Zealand pro-wrestling community has earned Paul Sayers an even bigger opportunity at Sakura Events On the Mat.
Sayers, who had been campaigning for a match against outspoken American RJ Brewer, will face NJPW star Hirooki Goto on November 12.
Sakura Events broadcast its decision via Facebook at 11am this morning.
“[RJ Brewer] has a very high opinion of himself and he feels that he wants the best so obviously the man who will be facing RJ Brewer at On the Mat will be Jay White,” Sakura Events President Peter Josephs announced.
White had already been confirmed to be part of the On the Mat card, and responded to Brewer’s challenge less than 24 hours before the cut-off for applications. This prompted fans watching the Facebook broadcast to cry foul.
Sakura Events acknowledged the level of support behind Paul Sayers and quickly redeemed itself with an even bigger bombshell. Sayers will wrestle Hirooki Goto at The Trusts Arena on November 12.
“We just felt that if we are bringing NJPW to New Zealand for the first time, then one of our kiwi locals should get a shot at a bona fide NJPW star,” Josephs told NZPWI.
Goto is a former two-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion. He won the G1 Climax in 2008, and was a finalist in this year’s tournament. Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked Goto number 46 in the 2016 PWI 500.
Sayers was shell-shocked when NZPWI reached out to him after the announcement.
“I’m still so shocked,” he said. “I need a bit of time to process this all.”
Jay White, hours away from competing at ROH All-Star Extravaganza VIII, could not be reached for comment.
Everyone else who responded to Brewer’s open challenge will receive floor seats and a backstage pass—valued at $599—to the event, Josephs said.