Thursday, September 13, 2018

NJPW Destruction 2018 Preview & Predictions

It's September, and that means it's time for New Japan's triple PPV!  Destruction will once again emanate from three different cities on three different days, with only one or two really important matches on each show.  With that in mind, Landon Wayne (@LSWayne21) and I are back with our picks for the top nine matches of the tour.

It goes without saying, but NJPW offers an incredible product.  2018 has been, by and large, just as much a banner year for New Japan as 2017 was (financially moreso), with numerous five-star matches, fantastic major shows, and an absolutely stellar G1 tournament.  The fall months are typically when things wind down a little and build toward the Tokyo Dome, but that doesn't seem to be happening this year.  The Destruction shows feature two of the biggest and potentially best matches of the year, both of which could've reasonably been saved for King of Pro-Wrestling in October.  I'm curious how big that show is going to be, given the scheduled Destruction main events.

Anyway, let's get to the picks....

Destruction in Hiroshima

Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, Evil & Bushi vs. Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Taka Michinoku & El Desperado

These shows, as always, have no shortage of multi-man tag matches, so I limited this preview to the biggest few.  This one pits the active members of LIJ (Hiromu Takahashi is sadly out with a neck injury until mid-2019) against four of the Suzuki-Gun thugs.  All three Destruction shows feature this feud in some form.  This'll be fun and chaotic, with both stables making liberal use of rulebreaking tactics.  I'll go with SG to win the first round.

Justin: SG
Landon: SZGN

Hiroshi Tanahashi & Great Bash Heel vs. Kazuchika Okada, Jay White & Yoshi-Hashi

A preview of the briefcase match in Kobe, Tanahashi will team with his old pals GBH against Okada and two of his stablemates.  I suspect we'll get a Tanahashi-White rematch in October since White did defeat Tana in the G1.  Stands to reason I would say.  With that in mind I think White scores the pin on someone here.

Justin: CHAOS
Landon: CHAOS, who is still trusting Jay White for some reason

IWJP Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii

Oh man.  This match stole the entire G1 tournament for me.  What in god's name are Omega and Ishii gonna to do each other when the title is on the line?  This is basically an automatic five-star match.  If The Greatest Match Ever hadn't already happened at Dominion I'd say this had a good shot at Match of the Year.  Might have to settle for second-best.

Justin: Omega retains obviously
Landon: Omega retains, but there's this shred of me that still wants Ishii to win.

Destruction in Beppu

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson & Great Bash Heel vs. Kazuchika Okada, Jay White, Yoshi-Hashi & Toru Yano

Another preview of Tanahashi-Okada, this time Juice and Yano join the fray.  Again I think it's about building Jay White up as Tana's next briefcase challenger, so CHAOS takes this one too.

Justin: CHAOS
Landon: Tanahashi

NEVER Openweight Championship: Hirooki Goto vs. Taichi

Taichi?  Really?  That's one way to go I guess.  Was Michael Elgin not available?  I actually find Taichi fairly entertaining but he's definitely not NEVER Championship material.  Goto'll kill him pretty quick.

Justin: Goto

Tetsuya Naito vs. Minoru Suzuki

It's the rematch from Wrestling Hinokuni, but with no belts involved.  These guys feuded back in the spring until Chris Jericho showed up and ruined Naito's life.  This'll be the beginning of Naito's redemption; first he defeats his old nemesis, then he gets another crack at his current one.  This should be a fine main event.

Justin: Naito
Landon: Suzuki

Destruction in Kobe

Tetsuya Naito, Sanada & Evil vs. Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taka Michinoku

The fourth LIJ-SG on these three shows should put this rivalry to bed for the time being.  I have SG winning the first match, Naito winning the singles main event, and LIJ taking this one.

Justin: LIJ
Landon: SZGN

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Semi-Final: Kushida vs. Bushi

Poor Hiromu had to reliquish the Jr. Title after that awful neck injury in SanFran, so they've designated Kushida, Bushi, Will Ospreay and Marty Scurll as the top four contenders in a mini-tournament.  The first semi-final is here and the other will be in Long Beach on the 30th.  I can't see them knocking Kushida out this early, so he wins here.

Justin: Kushida

#1 Contenders Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada

Incredibly, this will be the third meeting between the legendary rivals in 2018.  More incredibly, after six years of this feud Tanahashi and Okada still have more stories to tell in the ring.  It's been a while since Okada challenged Tana for anything; their last meeting with this dynamic took place at WrestleKingdom 9.  Coincidentally that was also the last time Tanahashi defeated his younger adversary.  Over three-and-a-half years ago.  Does Gedo know how to play the long game or what?  Tana's been desperately grasping at the cliff walls since WK10, trying to climb that mountain one more time, and now he has a chance to once again main event the Dome.  But first he has to get through his arch-nemesis, the nigh-unbeatable Okada.

Justin: After 44 long months, Tanahashi will finally remember what a win over Kazuchika Okada feels like.
Landon: Tanahashi

It's a pretty sparsely populated trio of shows, but the important matches will almost certainly deliver big-time, and I can't wait to see what KOPW shapes up to be, if matches like Omega-Ishii and Tana-Okada are happening at Destruction.  Enjoy the shows, and follow us on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter (@EnuffaDotCom)!


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