Thursday, December 30, 2021

NJPW WrestleKingdom 16 Night 2 Preview & Predictions

And we're back for NJPW WrestleKingdom 16 Night 2!

Click HERE for Night 1.

Night 2

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Flying Tiger vs. Taiji Ishimori/El Phantasmo vs. Ryusuke Taguchi/Rocky Romero

I'd like this better if it were just the first two teams but this should be a very enjoyable clusterfuck of a Jr. tag match, a la WK7-10.  Flying Tiger have only been champions for a couple months so it makes sense for them to retain here I think, but these belts hop around all the time so who knows?

Pick: Flying Tiger retains

Stardom Match: Mayu Iwatani/Starlight Kid vs. Tam Nakano/Saya Kamitani

I like that the Stardom gals are getting a showcase match on the main card.  Much more fun than the same old throwaway undercard tags they usually do.  I know nothing about any of these four women so my pick is coming from a completely uninformed place.  I guess I'll pick Iwatani and Starlight.

Pick: Iwatani & Starlight

KOPW 2022 Fatal 4-Way

We already know Yano and Owens will be involved here and maybe Kanemaru as well.  This is gonna suck regardless.  Get rid of this stupid comedy trophy.

Pick: I'll pick Yano to start the year as provisional champion

NEVER Openweight Six-Man Championship: Evil/Sho/Yujiro Takahashi vs. Hirooki Goto/Yoh/Yoshi-Hashi

Another title that means very little, the six-man tag belts will be decided.  I have Goto and Yoshi capturing the IWGP Tag belts the night before, which means they have no need for this set of belts.  Thus I think Bullet Club retains.

Pick: Bullet Club retains

Sanada vs. Great O-Khan

O-Khan has improved a great deal since his return from excursion last year.  Against an accomplished opponent like Sanada he should have a fine bout, likely substantially better than his match with Tanahashi at WK15.  I think Sanada gets a win here to maintain his spot as a gatekeeper.

Pick: Sanada

Tetsuya Naito vs. Jeff Cobb

Speaking of improved, and not that Cobb was ever not good, but Cobb is fucking awesome now.  This should be a pretty excellent G1-esque match from a newly healthy Naito and a ready-to-kick-ass Cobb.  I'm actually banking on this being the second-best match on the card.  Cobb is ready to start headlining major PPVs, while Naito will want to prove he's still got it.

Pick: Cobb should get the breakout win

IWGP US Championship: Kenta vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

Our Night 2 semi-main is a rematch from Power Struggle, with Tanahashi hoping to regain the company's #2 championship.  Tanahashi at the Dome pretty much always pulls off something good-to-great, so this should be a fine contest.  We're still awaiting the Tanahashi-Moxley showdown that was teased over the summer, so I'm gonna pick Tana to regain the strap.  That open door is still waiting for someone to walk through....

Pick: Tanahashi

IWGP World Championship: TBD vs. Will Ospreay

Will finally has a chance to win back the title he never lost, and either opponent will make for a basically guaranteed Match of the Year contender.  Ospreay delivered classics against both guys in 2021 and in the main event of the Tokyo Dome there's no reason he can't do so here as well.  I have Okada defeating Shingo on Night 1, so I'm betting we'll see a WK15 rematch, and it will likely end the same way that one did, with Kazuchika Okada standing tall.  However, if Shingo gets past Okada I think Ospreay beats him.

Pick: If Okada wins on Night 1, Okada.  If Shingo wins on Night 1, Ospreay.

Night 2 looks a bit more even-keel than Night 1, but with fewer chances for a five-star match.  Kinda like WK14.  To me these two nights are the proper WrestleKingdom lineup, while Night 3 is a whole different animal.  But don't worry, my colleague Landon Wayne will be back to predict that show!

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