Wednesday, October 3, 2018

NJPW King of Pro-Wrestling 2018 Preview & Predictions

Phew, another NJPW show is upon us.  I need a rest.

Anyway, this Monday is New Japan's biggest show of the season traditionally, King of Pro-Wrestling.  Oddly the company decided to hold off on announcing ANY matches for this thing until Fighting Spirit Unleashed was over, thus only giving themselves eight days to hype/sell out this show in a 10,000-seat venue.  Not the route I would've taken, but what do I know?

KOPW is less stacked than I could wish; the four big matches all look great, but the undercard is your standard multi-man tag fare.

So let's get after it...

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask

I don't know what happened to this division.  The Bucks leave and it goes straight to hell.  Why Sho & Yoh aren't having a dominant title run right now or at least persistently chasing the champs is beyond me.  So it's the Jr. Suzuki-Gun guys against the two old dudes.  I mean, it'll be entertaining but kind of a fluff match.

Justin: SZGN retains
Landon: Where did this match come from? I haven't been paying too much attention recently, was there build to this? As much as I'd like to see Tiger Mask in a defender's position again, Despy and Kanemaru retain.

Great Bash Heel vs. Juice Robinson & Toa Henare

Not much going on here.  Juice just dropped the US Title so he could use a win.

Justin: Juice & Toa
Landon: I still have no clue why Juice lost the title. The amazing win against Jay White was the most momentum Juice had in his career, but the G1 did more damage than help I think, and losing the belt was a cold stop in my eyes. I guess Juice and Henare win here?

The Young Bucks, Hangman Page & Chase Owens vs. Bullet Club OG

The Bullet Club vs. Firing Squad feud continues after the Bucks dropped the belts to GoD.  I'm guessing the Bucks will enter and perhaps win the World Tag League, which I think would be their first foray into said tournament.  Rematch at WK13?

Justin: OG wins this round
Landon: BCOG

Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & Will Ospreay vs. Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & Iizuka

How in the fuck is Taichi the NEVER Champion right now?  That's pure insanity.  Please tell me he's not going into the Dome with that belt.  The NEVER Title match needs to be a show highlight, and if Taichi is the champ at that point, it will not be.  Goto has to win that thing back, pronto.  I love this CHAOS trio.

Justin: CHAOS to get Goto back in the hunt.
Landon: CHAOS

Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano, RPG3K vs. Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, Bushi & a Mystery Partner

Who's the mystery partner do you suppose?  Is it someone to fill the void till Takahashi gets back?  Another Young Lion returning from excursion?  Maybe Neville, since no one's heard squat from him in months?  Actually there's speculation it could be Shingo, which seems out of left field.  Either way, LIJ is obviously winning here.  You always pick the team with the mystery partner.

Justin: LIJ
Landon: LIJ.  My money is still on Kawato

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Evil

Evil has been struggling for weeks against Zack in tag matches.  It is weird to see Evil playing such a sympathetic role for so long.  This is obviously to build to a match with Jericho next month, so Evil has to win here.

Justin: Evil
Landon: Evil

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Kushida vs. Marty Scurll

Coming off two excellent semifinals, we should get a spectacular bout here to fill the vacancy left by Takahashi.  "Timebomb" won't be back for several months, so it's unlikely whoever wins here will even still be champ by the time he gets back.  I'd say the smart money is on Kushida since he's such a division yardstick, but it seems like the company is really pushing Marty these days, so I think I'll go with him to get a longer run than last time.

Justin: Marty
Landon: Marty

Briefcase Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White

It's the WK12 rematch that now has LOADS more heat.  White has become one of the best villains in the business, and with the newly turned Gedo in his corner he's on track to be 2019's breakout star.  They're obviously going to set up White vs. Okada at the Dome, which should be excellent.  And so should this.  I'd say there's zero suspense about Tanahashi keeping the briefcase, but White will be presented as a major threat.

Justin: Tana
Landon: Tanahashi

IWGP Heavyweight Championship Triple Threat: Kenny Omega vs. Kota ibushi vs. Cody

After teasing a Kenny Omega-Kota Ibushi rematch, the company added Cody to make it an extremely rare triple threat match for the IWGP Title.  I'm fine with this, as Kenny-Kota II needs to happen at a much bigger show with much more buildup.  So this will be a great main event that further teases that match.  Gedo is all about the long game.  Hopefully it will redefine the gimmick in the same way Ibushi-Devitt-Low-Ki did at WK7, or like Hunter-Shawn-Benoit did at WM20.

Justin: Kenny retains obviously
Landon: Kenny Omega

Well the second half of this show should be stupendous.  The first half will be a bunch of fun but mostly insignificant tag bouts, but maybe they'll help set up some Power Struggle matches.  Seems like last year and this year the company put more oomph into the November PPV than the October one.

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