Tuesday, January 4, 2022

NJPW WrestleKingdom 16 Night 3 Preview & Predictions (by Landon Wayne)

JB Note: For Night 3 of Wrestle Kingdom 16 (I'm still not sure why they're calling this part of WK instead of making it a separate event, but whatever), I've enlisted the services of our old pal Landon Wayne, whom you may remember as an Enuffa.com contributor from a few years back.  Landon is up on all things Pro Wrestling NOAH, so he'll be able to offer much greater insight about said promotion than I will.  Take it away Landon!

We're half a decade later but much better off for it, it's NOAH vs New Japan time, everyon1! I wanna thank Justin for letting me guest write for this night of Wrestle Kingdom, given my relative expertise on the matter. In 2020 I dropped New Japan entirely and took up being a bannerman for Pro Wrestling NOAH, so the moment this show was announced I was excited. Seeing the card, there's a lot that I wouldn't have booked but it's not a bad show, especially if this is only the first show in a series? Let's go through the matches, You ready, Justin?

Yasutaka Yano vs. Kosei Fujita

Yasutaka Yano has only been wrestling for a year and change, but he already shows greater promise than his elders Yoshiki Inamura and Kinya Okada did at this stage of their careers. In what is likely the first match of the show, he gets to make the first strike against the New Japan Roster.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, & Yuji Nagata vs. Akitoshi Saito, King Tany & Mohammed Yone 

UNCLE FIGHT. The Third Generation of New Japan clahses with the Disco draped veterans of Pro Wrestling NOAH. The word is out on whether this will be a particularly good match, but all six men are fun to watch when they're motivated. So, will they be motivated this night? We'll find out/

Atsushi Kotoge vs. SHO

Probably the most dissapointing match on the card. I'd rather have had Hajime Ohara in Kotoge's place for a grappling duel with SHO, but Atsushi isn't exactly a soft target. While the smart money is on SHOtime, Kotoge may surprise us with a win. Maybe is he brings his Revolutionary Cloak...actually, no let's not do that.

Gedo & Taiji Ishimori vs. HAYATA & Seiki Yoshioka

The first match with interesting implications, we see Taiji Ishimori on a NOAH branded show for the first time since 2018. What's interesting is he stands across the ring from HAYATA, the current GCH Junior heavyweight champion. At the time of writing, he's racked up seven title defences [and hopefully he'll be on eight defenses by the time of the show], slowly creeping up on Taiji's record of ten. It'll be interesting to see if either man even recognizes the scenario, Taiji out of arrogance or HAYATA out of his inherant silence. I think HAYATA pins Gedo, but that won't be the end of the story. Mark my words.

DOUKI & El Desperado vs. NOSAWA Rongai & YO-HEY

This should be a fast paced, high octane juniors match, even with NOSAWA in it. I feel like this is a lock for the Suzuki-Gun members to win, but the Los Perros men could surprise me. Kinda wish it was YO-HEY and Kotaro Suzuki, though. Despy to pin NOSAWA. [Los Perros are the NOAH Junior's resident cheaters and trouble makers. Get ready for some wacky bullshit in this one.]

Daiki Inaba, Daisuke Harada, Hajime Ohara, Kinya Okada & Yoshiki Inamura vs. Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI, Master Wato, and Ryusuke Taguchi

If the ten men in this match go on full blast, this could potentially be a show stealer. The NOAH Juniors have an edge on the New Japan Juniors, with Harada being one of the best unsung talents in the division currently. But up against the CHAOS heavyweights, I'm afraid the piecemal team of the beefy tire boy Inamura, Showa Kohai Okada, and the still headingless Daiki Inaba might get swept away. Heres hoping they don't, though... [AND WHERE IS JUNTA MIYAWAKI? Okada, Inamura, and Yano are all here. Why can't all of the men I saw debut be on this show!?!]

Naomichi Marafuji & Yoshinari Ogawa vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr.

Yoshinari Ogawa trained all of the other participants in this match. He's a font of experience, a direct student of Giant Baba himself, and watching him grapple with Zack Sabre Jr. is going to be a treat. Not as much of a treat as watching how Marafuji treats Kanemaru though, the latter having abandoned ship [heh] in 2013, only to come back with the Suzuki-Gun invasion. Naomichi has some of the hardest chops in professional wrestling and I'm looking forward to seeing both Zack and Yoshinobu eating them.

Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & TAKA Michinoku vs. Kazushi Sakuraba, Takashi Sugiura & KENTA

Sugiura was, for a time, in Suzuki-Gun during their invasion of NOAH. Teaming with Bullet Club's NOAH born KENTA, and the only man who can match Suzuki in grappling Sakuraba. There's a lot of moving parts in this one and I'm excited about all of them. Oh and TAKA TAICHI MANIA, BABY.

Go Shiozaki & Masa Kitamiya vs. Dick Togo & EVIL

This match...very little about this one makes sense. Go's Regular partner is Kaito, he might be walking in GHC Heavyweight champ, teaming with a cooled off Masa after a great first half of 2021. Taking on EVIL and his personal second in a just middle of the card match. I honestly feel bad for everyone in this match except Dick Togo, unless he also deserves better. It's been a while since I watched New Japan, can you tell? Masa and EVIL could have some great, meaty exchanges, but I've been lead to believe that the latter just doesn't do that kind of thing anymore. Look for Togo to eat a Gowan lariat for the NOAH pin.

Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada vs. Kaito Kiyomiya & Keiji Muto

The most surprising match on the card, given I was expecting Okada and Kiyomiya to be a singles match. But they've decided that the Ace battle (I'm gonna be gracious and call Kaito an Ace) needed another pair of Aces in it, in the form of Tanahashi and Mutoh. The more the merrier I say. This could turn into a pretty good match, I expect Okada and Kiyomiya to fill in the majority of the work with Tanahashi and Mutoh bursting in when they can. An early contender for Tokyo Sports' Best Bout award.

Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito) vs. Kongo (Aleja, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kenou, Manabu Soya & Tadasuke)

The only match that I predicted would 100% happen on this show. There is almost perfect symmetry in this matchup; The cult of personality Leader [Naito/Kenoh], the standout singles wrestler who took full advantage of 2021 [Takagi/Nakajima], the former All Japan and Wrestle-1 Mutoh acolyte [SANADA/Soya], the charismatic Junior Heavyweight [Takahashi/Tadasuke], and...I mean...the masked one? [BUSHI/Aleja]. It's going to be an amazing match, I fully expect all ten men to go all out. The interactions between the linked pairs I mentioned above should be great, and the breakdown at the end of the match should be an adrenaline laced manic rush towards a pinfall.

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