Thursday, October 10, 2019

NJPW King of Pro-Wrestling 2019 Preview & Predictions: No Red Spotlights!

It's October and that means it's time for NJPW's biggest show of the fall season, King of Pro-Wrestling!

This year's lineup has five big matchups with potential Tokyo Dome ramifications, plus the usual undercard tag bouts.  Should be a helluva fun PPV to watch, and boy do we need one of those desperately these days.  One thing I can guarantee with this show, we'll never see a red-tinted, no disqualification match stopped because one dude was using a hammer.  KOPW will automatically be better than Hell in a Cell.

Sorry, had to get a WWE dig.  Let's do some predictions.

Ryusuke Taguchi & RPG3K vs. El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Douki

Your standard undercard six-man opener.  I suspect this is about getting Sho & Yoh a win.  I was on hand in Lowell to see them almost defeat GoD for the tag belts, which was a helluva match.  I'd love to see them move up to the heavyweight division full-time.

Pick: Good guys win

Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomoaki Honma vs. Togi Makabe & Toru Yano

Okay, first off, how is Tanahashi in the second match of the night?  Bizarre.  Second, when did Makabe and Yano become buddies again?  Third, does this mean we'll see the violent Yano of old?  This could be good, could be a throwaway.  We shall see.  I guess Honma probably eats the pin?

Pick: Most Violent Players

Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & Bushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Lance Archer & Taichi

Another shockingly low spot on the card belongs to Mr. Naito, who's been on a bit of a tailspin lately.  I'm guessing we'll see a Naito-White rematch at the Dome where he'll regain the I-C Title.  Or maybe he'll feud with Zack over the RPW belt.  One thing's for sure though, I wanna see an Archer-Shingo feud.  Goddamn that'd be something.

Pick: Either Taichi or Bushi is taking the pin in this one.  Flip a coin.  I'll say LIJ wins.

Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Jay White, Kenta & Yujiro Takahashi

This is to set up the Goto-White match at Power Struggle, and I assume a Kenta-Ishii rematch so they can redeem themselves after their Destruction bout was derailed.  Yoshi or Taka is probably taking the pin.  This should have some good stuff in it.

Pick: Chaos wins

Minoru Suzuki vs. Jushin Thunder Liger

I guess this is the first of two big matches between these two, with the other being at the Dome with an unmasked Liger.  That match will probably be violent as fuck, this one might be one-sided in favor of Suzuki to trigger Liger's "demon," so to speak.

Pick: Suzuki wins, Liger unmasks again and sparks fly

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay vs. El Phantasmo

This could very well steal the show.  These two guys have had spectacular showings before and this match will be the biggest stage to date for this pairing.  Ospreay is in the middle of a stunning run, while Phantasmo is establishing himself as one of the new division highlights.  I was a little surprised Ospreay and Eagles didn't win the Jr. Tag belts, so maybe this will just be a case of both champions failing to win the second title.  Ospreay could retain and face a returning Hiromu Takahashi, who I think is supposed to be back any time now.  That'd be a great match for the Dome.

Pick: Ospreay retains

IWGP US Championship No DQ Match: Jon Moxley vs. Juice Robinson

This'll be a crazy, violent brawl and will likely be Moxley's last NJPW match for a while as he concentrates on helping AEW become a hit show.  I'm sure he'll be back at some point, but for now he's had a fantastic run in New Japan, delivering some of his best-ever bouts and proving his doubters 100% wrong.  This match will be Juice's redemption as he becomes the first three-time US Champion.

Pick: Juice

Right to Challenge Match: Kota Ibushi vs. Evil

Like Ospreay, Ibushi is having a banner career year, winning the Intercontinental Title and the G1 tournament, and almost certainly headlining the Dome for the first time.  His G1 match with Evil was great, and so should this be.  Ibushi's recent big matches have featured him playing a consummate old-school good guy role, and if that continues here we should see Evil at his most, well, evil.  Ibushi's become an incredible "storytelling" guy and I think this will fit into that style.  I certainly prefer that to Ibushi as a "he might die at any time" guy.

Pick: Ibushi keeps the cert

IWGP Championship: Kazuchika Okada vs. Sanada

I've been lukewarm to this pairing in the past, but these two had an incredible G1 match full of drama and suspense, wherein Sanada finally defeated Okada with only seconds to go in the time limit.  If they wrestle this match like that one, this should be their definitive bout together.  Sanada's been on the cusp of reaching the next level for a while now, so this should help him get there.  He won't win the title, but he'll become a main eventer who could potentially take over as the leader of LIJ.

Pick: Okada retains

So this looks like another NJPW show where you could skip the first hour but the last five matches should stack up against just about any other show this year.  It's the second-to-last major stop on the road to the Dome.  Sit back and buckle up!

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