Thursday, April 26, 2018

NJPW Wrestling Hirokuni & Dontaku 2018 Preview & Predictions

Welcome to an unusual installment of NJPW Predictions here at!

Well New Japan is in full-on saturation mode right now, with Wrestling Dontaku more or less being expanded to three full shows, plus a slew of Road To shows before and in between.  We're not going to try to predict every match on this tour, but we'll give you the highlights and pick the important matches.  So here we go....

Wrestling Hinokuni

IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Evil & Sanada vs. Killer Elite Squad

These two teams had a goddamn helluva contest at WK12, with the LIJ fellas playing the babyfaces in peril role to perfection and KES playing absolute monsters.  I daresay this was my favorite HW Tag Title match in WrestleKingdom history.  This match should be excellent too.  I had hopes that Evil & Sanada would be the new division centerpiece but I feel like that hasn't happened exactly.  Seems like the company is reluctant to lose them as singles stars.  With that in mind I could see KES regaining the straps here.

Justin: KES
Landon: Evil and SANADA

IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Minoru Suzuki vs. Tetsuya Naito

It's LIJ vs. SG again, as the sadistic bastard takes on everyone's favorite anti-hero.  Suzuki just won the belt in February and I'm honestly not sure if Naito is penciled in to challenge Okada again, so a title change here would seem strange to me.  But it could happen I suppose.  I'll still with the champ though.  Should be a fine main event.

Justin: Suzuki retains
Landon: Suzuki retains

Wrestling Dontaku Night 1

NEVER Six-Man Championship: Bad Luck Fale & Guerrillas of Destiny vs. Marty Scurll & The Young Bucks

The Bullet Club implosion continues as the Omega and Cody factions face off for the six-man belts.  Fale & GOD have to be one of the longest reigning trios so far, right?  These belts have been all over the place.  This should be a fun match, given how good the challengers are.  Probably time for a title change too.

Justin: Marty & the Bucks
Landon: Team Tonga

10-Man Tag Match: LIJ vs. Suzuki-Gun

It's the entire LIJ lineup vs. most of the SG guys in an all-out war.  These factions have been fighting up and down the tour and it comes to a head on both Dontaku shows, with the exact same match.  Very strange if you ask me.  I imagine the teams will split these victories, but who gets the last laugh?  Probably LIJ I guess.

Justin: SG wins the first one
Landon: SZGN to solidify all the victories they've had along the way

Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kushida

This should be great.  The heavyweight and Jr. champs against their respective Night 2 challengers.  They'll have to hold back a little to save something for the singles bouts, but this could steal the show nonetheless.

Justin: The challengers win here to hype the title matches
Landon: Okada Rainmakers KUSHIDA

Kota Ibushi vs. Cody

A rematch from WK12, these guys had a shockingly good match on January 4th and still have room to best it.  Being in a semi-main event slot, this should be pretty incredible.  Cody's so much better than he was a year ago and seems like he's finally added whatever was missing in his WWE run.  And of course Ibushi is one of the best in the world.  Sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

Justin: Cody gets his win back
Landon: Cody

Kenny Omega vs. Hangman Page

This is a ballsy move, headlining the first Dontaku show with a non-title main eventer vs. midcarder match.  Page has grown a lot in the past year though, and in a match with Kenny we'll really get to see what he's capable of.  Even holding his own in this match will add greatly to his credibility.  It'll be one of those starmaking losses.

Justin: Kenny wins
Landon: Page looked great at Supercard and regardless of winning or losing he'll look great here. Giving it to Kenny though.

Wrestling Dontaku Night 2

10-Man Tag Match: LIJ vs. Suzuki-Gun, again

And here's the rematch.  Should also be a lot of fun but with the opposite result.

Justin: LIJ wins to save face
Landon: LIJ

10-Man Tag Match: Kenny Omega/Kota Ibushi/Bad Luck Fale/GOD vs. Cody/Hangman Page/Marty Scurll/Young Bucks

Does anyone else feel like Marty and the Bucks oughta be on Team Kenny while Fale & GOD should be in Cody's camp?  Last year in the G1 Tama Tonga was super pissed at Kenny for thinking his Elite group was somehow better than the rest of the Bullet Club.  Seems like they'd be up for new leadership, no?  And given how emotional the Golden Lovers-Bucks match was you'd think Matt and Nick would've made up with Kenny by now.  Regardless this match will also be a lot of fun to watch.  It's gonna be a wild one.  Not sure where this Bullet Club vs. Bullet Club feud is ultimately going, but it's something different.

Justin: Team Kenny
Landon: This is getting out of hand. Now the whole Club is getting involved. Team Kenny.

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay vs. Kushida

Holy lord this is gonna be spectacular.  These two have torn the house down multiple times and will almost certainly do so again here.  Being in the semi-main slot, this should get a lot of time.  The Jr. division is pretty well stacked these days, to the point that poor Takahashi is biding his time in the Jr Tag division.  I'm still holding out hope for an eventual triple threat with these two and Hiromu.  But anywho.....

Justin: I think Kushida regains the strap for a while
Landon: Ospreay retains here, rounding out everyone who was in the 4-Way at Wrestle Kingdom

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

Welp, here we go again.  The greatest NJPW rivalry of all time is about to have a new chapter written.  Okada hopes to break Tanahashi's record streak of successful title defenses, and how fitting for it to be against the man himself.  Now that Okada has actually surpassed his ultimate rival's accomplishments, this match should have a bit of a different feel to it.  Every prior match had kind of a master vs. student vibe, but now it's master vs. new master.  This should be epic.

Justin: Okada has to break the record here, right?
Landon: I don't see a reason why Okada doesn't win here. No offense to Tanahashi, but the spectacle that has been this entire reign would be lessened a bit if he just lost it back to Hiroshi.

The NJPW calendar is loaded to the gills these days and just keeping up is no small task.  Fortunately the company is firing on all cylinders so it doesn't feel like work.  This is gonna be a helluva ride over the next several days, setting up the #2 PPV of the year in June.  Enjoy it.

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