Inside Pulse 12

Metalhead Previews NJPW’s Invasion Attack 2016 (Okada vs Naito, Ospreay vs KUSHIDA, Shibata vs Tenzan)

After WrestleMania Weekend madness it’s time to once again concentrate on wresting and what better way to do that than with previewing one of NJPW’s biggest shows of the year: Invasion Attack. The event will take place this Sunday (04/10) at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan. This will be the fourth event under the Invasion Attack name and will be available on the New Japan network with a English Commentary provided by Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino. That all being said, let’s now take a look at the matches:

Juice Robinson and Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Yujiro Takahashi and Bad Luck Fale:

As far as NJPW opening matches go, this won’t be the best one, Takahashi and Fale are just too limited for that. Taguchi and Robinson have been teaming up on occasion recently and didn’t do badly in the usual NJPW multi-man tag formula. Speaking of Robinson, this match is likely for his benefit. Indeed, the former CJ Parker has been showing much fire and enthusiasm recently and is now a fixture on the NJPW under-cards. Also he has made that all-important connection with the Japanese crowds so matches such as this are a good way for him to not only gain more experience but also strengthen that connection. This time around i’m guessing he’ll find out how difficult it can be to wrestle with a brick wall.

Winner: Takahashi and Fale

Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Yuji Nagata and Satoshi Kojima vs. YOSHI-HASHI, Kazushi Sakuraba and Toru Yano:

The Veterans vs CHAOS’ B-team, it doesn’t take a genious to figure out who will win here. Especially since Kojima and Nagata are both members of the Angry NJPW Dads Club, currently feuding with NEVER champion Shibata. So Nagata and Friends win here, but there should still be some interesting interactions, especially between Nagata and Sakuraba.

Winner: Jushin Liger, Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima

CHAOS (Hirooki Goto and Tomohiro Ishii) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI and EVIL):

Well, since it’ the main story right now, it’s kind of difficult to envision any NJPW event without some kind of tag team battle between the two factions. But that’s not a bad thing, on the contrary, since the recent 6-man battles between CHAOS and Los Ingobernables have been incredible. BUSHI and EVIL have already proven they have good chemistry as a tag team and it will probably be quite a sight witnessing Goto and Ishii work together. Indeed, these two could easily become quite a powerhouse tag team in the coming months, to the point that they could form a more than credible challenge to ANY IWGP tag team champions. Add to that the fact that Ishii and EVIL have developed this great little rivalry, that Goto’s career has been revived since he joined CHAOS and that BUSHI will add some high-flying to the heavy-hitting and you have all the ingredients for a great tag team battle. Goto needs to be kept strong to make his CHAOS membership mean something, so he’ll pick up the win here.

Winner: CHAOS

IWGP Jr. Tag Team Title Match: Matt Sydal and Ricochet (c) vs. Roppongi Vice (Trent Baretta and Rocky Romero):

I have kind of mixed feelings about this one. Don’t get me wrong, this will be a great match, and I love the fact NJPW has been booking more straight up tag matches for this division lately, but, in my opinion, they have barely scratched the surface of what Sydal and Ricochet can do as a team and, given the recent rumors about Ricochet joining NXT, NJPW might be tempted to take no risk and put the belts on RPG Vice. Not that Romero and Baretta would be a bad choice, on the contrary, but I was already anticipating an all-out battle between Sydall, Ricochet and reDragon which would have been a great match. We’ll have to see how this goes, if Sydal and Ricochet indeed retains, you’ll know what to make of the aforementioned rumors.

Winner: Roppongi Vice

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match: KUSHIDA  (c) vs. Will Ospreay:

The fact that the 22 year old Ospreay was immediately offered a spot in NJPW’s most popular faction AND a big title match at one of the promotion’s big shows speaks volume. NJPW has high hopes for the aerial assassin. And why shouldn’t they? The Ospreay has been turning head left and right for the past few years with his amazing offence and in-ring presence. Add to that the awesome ground-work and explosiveness of KUSHIDA and you have nothing less than a classic in the making. I’m having a really though time calling this one. KUSHIDA’s push was long overdue, so many fans are hoping he will get a long title reign. On the other hand, you have this new and very exiting wrestlers who has already made a huge impact BEFORE even wrestling his first singles match. I have to go with the Aerial Assassin here, because his win would completely open the scene, give us a ready-make storyline involving KUSHIDA looking for revenge and that’s not even considering other candidates eager to get in the title picture. This match could usher in a very exiting era for the sometimes neglected Junior Heavyweight division.

Winner: Will Ospreay

IWGP NEVER Openweight Six-Man Title Match: Champions The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega vs. Yoshitatsu, Michael Elgin and Hiroshi Tanahashi:

The Elite’s matches have really been an eye-opener for me. Not that I was doubting their talent, but rather because I wasn’t always too keen about their constant shenanigans. But when Omega and The Young Bucks joined forces to form The Elite, all suddenly clicks together to give us a hugely entertaining unit that has been wrestling one great match after another. The NEVER Openweight Six-man therefore seems tailor-mad for them, not only do the titles give the group’s name some legitimacy, the group’s awesome chemistry also gives the title some legitimacy. A marriage made in heaven if you will. But their opponents can also make a good claim to win this one. Elgin and Tanahashi have, of course, been working together for some time now and they are joined by Yoshitatsu who will make his official return after spending almost a year and a half on the sidelines following a very serious neck injury (Yoshitatsu injured himself while taking  the Styles Clash during a match at Power Struggle ’14).So The Bullet Club Hunter his back, he has immediately reformed his alliance with Tanahashi, he’s out for revenge and if he can’t get styles, Omega and Co will have to do. This all makes this one another very difficult one to call. I would say the titles look awesomely good oj the Elite, but Tanahashi, Yoshitasu and Elgin all are hell-bent on defeating Omega and co for a variety of reason. Who will come out on top? Given the emotional factor involved, I would say Yoshitatsu’s long-awaited return can’t end in a loss, so… Oh and if they indeed win, expect Elgin to challenge Omega for the IC title.

Winner: Tanahashi, Yoshitatsu, Elgin

IWGP NEVER Openweight Title Match: Katsuyori Shibata (c) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan:

This is a match were I probably have some explaining to do. This week-end I blasted WWE for over-using 40 + veterans and now I’m preparing to speak very positively about a feud involving wrestlers I myself have called the Angry NJPW Dad’s Club. Hypocrisy? Well not exactly, the difference is obvious. First there is a storyline. As a reminder, Shibata trash-talked the NJPW veterans, saying they didn’t have it anymore some time ago, Nagata, Kojima, Tenzan and Nakanishi responded by forming an alliance, vowing to show the disrespectful “youngster” (Shibata is 36), that they still had it. All of this has given us a very entertaining faued until now, with the Angry Old Dad’s routinely defeating Shibata and friends in Multi-man tag matches, while Shibata has already defeated Kojima in singles matches on one of the previous Road To shows. This time it’s Tenzan turns and, beforehand I would have said the better choice would have been to keep Kojima vs Shibata for the big show. That is until I saw Tenzan’s awesome brawl with Shibata at last’ week’s Road To show. Those two kicked the living hell out of each-other like there was no tomorrow, and, if anything, their match will be even more intense.

And that’s the second difference with the WWE way of doing things. The veterans are ultra-motivated to show they still got it… By doing everything they can to put Shibata over. Great things are expected form The Wrestler this year, including a title shot at the big one somewhere along the road. When that happens, Shibata will hold wins over three of the most decorated and well-respected former IWGP Heavyweight Champions in recent years. That, my friends, is how you use veterans that can still go.

There is no doubt Shibata will win after an intense and ultra-stiff demonstration of ass-kickery by both, but that doesn’t mean SHibata will be out of the woods yet. And that’s the last difference with WWE. in this feud, there WILL be a pay-off. Indeed, his biggest challenge will await after that in the person of Yugi Nagata, the leader of the group. This should happen at Dominion and should be moderately awesome.

Winner: Katsuyori Shibata

IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Champions Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe vs. Guerilla’s of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa):

Let’s call a cat a cat here, despite the fact this will be their first match, it’s already make or break time for the Guerilla’s. After year’s od staring at the ceiling for about everyone in NJPW, Tama Tonga has finally seen his loyalty to the promotion rewarded with a push. But things can change quickly in wrestling, so Tonga MUST show that he deliver a great match, capture the crowd’s attention and guide his brother trough his first NJPW match all at the same time. Because the man formerly known has Camacho also has something to prove. If he screws this up, it’s doubtful he’ll ever get another chance with any promotion of note. That being said, the two do have some things going on for them, being real-life brothers they should have great natural chemistry and Roa’s first appearances have been met by cautious optimism. Their opponents have been champions since Wrestle Kingdom 10 and, it must be said, Honma and Makabe have had a rather entertaining run. Which should be no surprise since Honma’s popularity remains sky-high and his Face-in-peril work has been top-notch while Makabe is utterly convincing as the team’s power-house. So who is gonna win? NJPW has done quite some effort to hype their newest tag team (Guerilla of Destiny) so I’m afraid GBH’s title run is about to hit an insurmountable obstacle.

Winner: Guerilla’s of Destiny

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito:

This match is one of those happy times where being a wrestling fan earns you the right to sit back and enjoy what will probably be an awesome spectacle, simply because the wrestlers, the promotion and the bookers have done EVERYTHING right with this feud. When Okada finally vanquished his nemesis Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 10, most fans were already looking towards Naito as a potential challenger. Which is amusing because only 8 months before that, nobody would have given a damn about a Naito vs Okada match. Indeed, Naito’s stock has fallen so far that he was stuck in mid-card multi-tag matches with little hope of doing anything else. And then came the slow-burn heel turn. It’s difficult to put into words how awesome Naito’s character work has been in recent month, but the fact Naito managed to go from babyface some fans boo-ed to heel EVERYONE loves speaks volume about the effort and work he put into this. Not only that be he and his Los Ingobernables compadres have really set NJPW on fire in recent week, courtesy of some amazingly heated battles against CHAOS followed by the destruction of literally anyone they could lay their hands on.

I feel very strongly that this is exactly the right time for Naito to become champion. The feud has worked (not in the least because Naito and Okada have history dating back to Wrestle Kingdom 8) and has the potential to become feud of the year IF Naito defeats Okada this Sunday. NJPW has to be careful here, their goal should be the creation of new mega-star after the departure of Nakamaru and Styles. If they let Okada wins this, this WILL take away some of Naito’s momentum without Okada gaining anything by retaining. In other words, If Okada wins, they kinda pulls a Cena and nobody wins. If Naito wins, EVERYBODY because they completely open up the playing field, in no small part because Naito has already announced this was much more than a war against Okada and CHAOS, this was a war against NJPW booker Gedo and NJPW president Kidani. In other words, Los Ingobernables’ aim is to take over the promotion and they need that big win right now to avoid the perception they can’t back up their words. Sometimes the heel just has to win. This is one of those times.

Winner: Tetsuya Naito

The stage has been set, the storylines have been written down, the challenges have been answered, the first skirmishes have been fought, now it’s time for everyone to prepare for war because that’s exactly what Invasion Attack is gonna be. An awesome wrestling war, NJPW style. And that’s exactly what wrestling fans wanted out of this show. See? Sometimes promotions DO listen to their fans…

Full review of the show this Sunday, until then!

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,