Inside Pulse 12

Metalhead Previews NJPW New Beginning In Niigata (Tanahashi vs Omega, KUSHIDA vs BUSHI, CHAOS)

New Beginning in Niigata is NJPW’s second NB show. Traditionally, those shows are used to round up the eventual WK 10 re-matches and to set the tome for the first half of the year, so let’s see what they have in store for us this time:

Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV and Captain New Japan vs. Bullet Club (Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson and Cody Hall):

Standard NJPW opening match featuring the junior heavyweight legends (Tiger Mask and Jushin Liger) and the increasingly entertaining trio of The Young Bucks and Cody Hall. Oh and also Captain New Japan. I’m actually interested in this one since it has been rather fun to watch Hall lately. He’s still fairly green, but, then again, he’s still only 24 so I definitely have my eye on him as a potential star for the future. For the rest, legends will fight, Young Bucks will yell “SUCK IT” 268 times and the good Captain will end up taking the pin. Should be moderately fun.

Winner: Bullet Club

reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish) vs. CHAOS (Kazushi Sakuraba and Gedo):

ReDRagon needs a win after their loss by kidnapping on Thursday, so, the fearless Gedo will step into the ring to give them back their Number 1 contender status. No, really, that’s basically the story of this one. That being said it should be an entertaining bout featuring all sorts of interesting pairings. The Fish and Gedo interaction should be awesome while O’Reilly and Sakuraba will probably have lots of fun beating the hell out of each-other. But, in the end,  reDRagon never really loses and this time they have the NJPW booker himself in the ring to confirm that.

Winner: reDRagon

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Ricochet and Matt Sydal vs. Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi and David Finlay Jr.:

The sort of matches that are made when a booking team looks at a card, determines who doesn’t have a match yet and throws said wrestlers into random teams to fill out the card. I’m actually hoping for some Ricochet/Nakanishi interactions here because the contrast between Ricochet’s top speed and Nakanishi’s absolute immobility should be awesome. For the rest we have champions and number 1 contenders on one side and people with nothing to do on the other. Guess who wins…

Winner: TenKoji, Prince Puma and Evan Bourne

Michael Elgin and Jay White vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito and EVIL):

This should be interesting. Not only because we’re getting closer and closer to an Elgin vs Naito feud and I’m all for that but also because Elgin and White present Los Ingobernables with an opportunity to add the only thing that’s been lacking to the stable until now and that is a really great match. Plus we will have Naito’s awesome antics, Elgin’s super-over power-moves and White’s great in-ring work. What more can one ask for? As for the winner, well it’s pretty obvious that Naito and Co are going over here, which should put Elgin in a really bad mood. Can’t wait.

Winner: Los Ingobernables

NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Championship Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga and Yujiro Takahashi) (c) vs. Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe and Toru Yano:

See, this is where NJPW booking loses me from time to time. They created the belts for WK 10, had Yano and the Briscoes go over the Bullet Club’s B-team then had the same B-team go over Yano and Co in Osaka only to have the same two team battle over the belts three days later with, probably, Yano and friends winning the belts back. There are a lot of reason I prefer NJPW over, say, WWE and the booking is one of them. Of course if NJPW is gonna start apply WWE booking logic, I swear I’m gonna get grumpy and nobody wants that to happen. Anyway, at least this match will give all 6 the opportunity to redeem themselves from their underwhelming showing at Osaka.

Winner: Yano and the Briscoes

Hirooki Goto, Katsuyori Shibata and Juice Robinson vs. Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI:

At first glance this looks like the usual NJPW multi-ma tag match, but, it really has the potential to become so much more. First of all there is Okada the Okada/Shibata interaction. Okada is now NJPW’s top ace, but Shibata is receiving a strong push, so much so that observers are now making The Wrestler their top favorite for the upcoming New Japan Cup. Which would mean we wull get Okada vs Shibata for the title very soon. And even if that doesn’t happen, a showdown between those two at some point in 2016 seems inevitable. Then there is the Goto story. Goto just lost to Okada and, after the match Okada invited Goto to join CHAOS. Of course Goto is also know to be one half of the Meiyu Tag Team, alongside… Shibata. And on top of all that, NJPW chose to promote this match as “an occasion for CHAOS to demonstrate their cohesion following CHAOS leader Shinsuke Nakamura’s departure”. Now I’ve been a wrestling fan for over 30 years so such sentences bring a big smile on my face because now I KNOW something is bound to happen.

But what some might ask. Well it’s fairly simple actually. Nakamura was the founder and leadr of CHAOS. Okada was accepted as co-leader after he joined the group in 2012, but, part of that was because Nakamura allowed it to. When you look at CHAOS, you can actually divide the various wrestlers into “Nakamura guys” and “Okada guys”. With Nakamura gone, the question becomes: do all the others, who were right there with Nakamura from the start, accept Okada as their leader? More specifically does Ishii, who is a “Nakamura guy” if there ever was one, accept this or does he considers Okada unfit to be the heir to The King Of Strong Style’s Crown? So, you see, this is more than just a random tag match, this is actually more than just a wresting match, this is were the major angles, which will shape NJPW for the coming months, will happen. Should be awesome.

IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title Match – KUSHIDA (c) vs. BUSHI:

When KUSHIDA won the belt back at WK 10, many, me among them, predicted a well-deserved long title reign for the talented high-flier. Just one month later, we all off a sudden have to consider the possibility of BUSHI and Los Ingobernables being to much for the champ to overcome. And, surprisingly, I’m kind of alright with that, for the simple reason that if KUSHIDA indeed loses here, that might bring back Alex Shelley into the fold, who would then fight Naito’s stable alongside his former team-mate, which could eventually lead to the much-anticipated KUSHIDA-Shelley showdown? But i’m getting ahead of myself here, first this match. Way I see it, whatever they do, they can’t go wrong. If KUSHIDA wins, then it’s the classic underdog champion overcomes the odds to retain his title. If BUSHI wins it’s the classic dastardly heels cheating to rob the beloved champion of his title tale. Whichever way this goes, this should be an excellent match.

Winner: BUSHI

IWGP Tag Team Title Match – Great Bash Heels (Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma) (c) vs. Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows:

I should say that there are some rumors that Anderson and Gallows are swerving both NJPW and WWE to up their price, which could explain why they are still doing matches for NJPW and ROH (later this month). But I don’t really buy into this, for me, this will be Anderson and Gallows’ last NJPW PPV match, so GBH wins and that is that.

Winner: GBH

For The Vacant IWGP Intercontinental Championship – Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi:

This is actually a vey difficult one to call because they can go two ways with this. Either they decide to play it “safe” and have Tanahashi go over, because the top babyface must overcomes all the odds, always. And this is why Tanahashi is sometimes compared to John Cena by the way. Or they play off Tanahashi’s storyline/real life shoulder injury (Tanahashi does have some kind of injury, so that was worsened, storyline-wise by Omega’s action in Osaka) by having top heel Omega vanquish the diminished Tanahashi. I called the first the safe one from NJPW’s viewpoint because that would mean having their two top guys with their two top belts. Nothing wrong with that, but I do not think it would achieve much on this occasion. If they are serious about pushing Omega then he’s the one that needs two win here. An high profile loss just after replacing AJ Styles as the leader of Bullet Club would make no sense and actually set, not only Omega, but the whole group back. Furthermore, an Omega victory almost automatically sets the stage for a year-long feud between the Bullet Club leader and Tanahashi which is exactly what both wrestlers and the promotion wins. So I’m hoping NJPW will leave the bad Cena vibes for what they are and go with the right choice which is…

Winner: Kenny Omega

 

On paper, the Niigata show does seem like the lesser show, compared to NB in Osaka, and that has everything to do with the abundance of multi-man tag matches. But this is the show I’m actually anticipating the most for the simple reason it’s much harder to predict. I’ve said it before, this is a very important time for NJPW. With this show, they actually have all the cards in hand to set the stage for another exciting year AND take the first steps towards making the fan forget that Nakamura isn’t there anymore. All they have to do is dare go forward. We’ll know on Sunday if they did or not.

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