Thursday, November 2, 2023

NJPW Power Struggle 2023 Preview & Predictions

NJPW Power Struggle is back after two years, and it just so happens to be this weekend!

What used to be sort of the final PPV stop on the road to the Tokyo Dome is returning on Saturday and there are a couple surefire bangers on tap, plus a major AEW guest talent.  Coming out of this show we should have a sense of what's in store for WrestleKingdom 18 aside from the lackluster-on-paper main event.  Let's take a look...

David Finlay vs. Tanga Loa

Kind of a get-back match for Finlay after dropping the NEVER Openweight Title to Tanga's brother Tama Tonga (who's already lost the title himself to Shingo).  I don't expect a classic here but maybe they'll pull off something solid.

Pick: Finlay

SANADA & Yuya Uemura vs. Tetsuya Naito & Yota Tsuji

This is a preview of the WK18 main event (which has to be the weakest since 2012), but with a couple of the young fellas thrown in.  Seriously, I don't know why they went back to the Naito well for this title match.  With an underwhelming champion like Sanada in there I get putting him against an established name, but NJPW desperately needs some new blood at the top of the card and Yota Tsuji would've been an exciting challenger to kick off a new era (look how rabid the Dominion crowd was for him to beat Sanada).  Are they doing this to set up Naito vs. Tsuji for the February show?

Pick: I'll go with the LIJ fellas to win

Super Junior Tag League finals: TJP & Francesco Akira vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & SHO

The Super Junior Tag finals will of course determine who challenges Bullet Club War Dogs at the Dome.  I guess I'll go with TJP and Akira?  Should be a fun match.

Pick: Catch 2/2

Jon Moxley vs. Great-O-Khan

Moxley makes his long-awaited return to a NJPW ring to take on Will Ospreay's henchman, likely to help set up Mox vs. Ospreay at the Dome (which should be fantastic).  Mox is obviously winning what is sure to be a rugged, grapple-heavy fight.

Pick: Moxley

NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Championship: Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomohiro Ishii vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Shane Haste & Mikey Nicholls

Okada, Tana and Ishii have been a great set of trios champs to help make this superfluous title mean something.  Over six months they've delivered some excellent work, but I think now it's time to free up these three, Okada especially, for a big Tokyo Dome match (hopefully against Bryan Danielson).  Should be an excellent bout with Ishii almost certainly doing the honors if his team does indeed lose.

Pick: Zack & friends

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori

These two always deliver together and this will be a potential show stealer.  I could see Ishimori capturing the title and setting up a rematch at WK18, though I could also see Takahashi retaining on his way to reaching a full year with the title.  But that begs the question, who gets the shot in Tokyo?  Do they have someone new coming in?  If Takahashi makes it the full year, he'd be the fifth-longest reigning Jr. Champ in history, so I guess that would be the smart move.

Pick: I'll go with Taka to retain

IWGP UK/US Championship: Will Ospreay vs. Shota Umino

This should be excellent like every Will Ospreay match.  Dude's had an absolute banner year in 2023 against an insane variety of opponents.  It will also be a great test for Umino as a future main event player.  There's no way Will is dropping the title before the Dome show, since you want him in the most prominent role possible on January 4th.  But it's gonna be a fun ride.

Pick: Ospreay retains

This is a very solid lineup on paper, only seven matches but no real gristle either.  The final two bouts should make the show worth a watch all on their own.  By Sunday we should have a good idea of what WK18 looks like....

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