Metalhead’s Riff: The Road to… Invasion Attack! (New Japan Cup, Invasion Attack 2015, WM31)

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t WANT to talk about Wrestlemania 31, but, seriously, what am I supposed to write? That the ladder match is starting to look like a who’s who of people WWE doesn’t know what to do with right now? That I’m not really interested about Cena/Rusev UNLESS it involves a Cena turn (like that will ever happen)? That it’s very difficult to get exited for a tag-team championship match when there is no tag-team division to speak of? That I’m sick and tired of part-timers and almost no-timers taking the top spots for Wrestlemania? That I’m at a point that I really hope Lesnar is done with the WWE after Wrestlemania because It’s time for those who are there week in, week out to regain the main event spots? Same for the Undertaker? That I couldn’t care less who wins between Triple H and Sting because that match comes at least 10 years too late? I mean come on, what’s the selling point here,  semi-retired against three quarters retired? And I’m supposed to get exited about that? Give me a break. Yes it’s never been done, Sting has never wrestled for WWE blah-blah-blah. You know what? Either do it when it still matters or don’t do it at all. Now you just have something half-assed where the only thing that really seems to matter is how much  money Sting will make (same for Lesnar). Seriously, who cares? I’m at a point that I can’t wait for Wrestlemania to be over so all the part-timers can go back to whatever it is they’re doing when they’re not spoiling my Wrestlemania mood and, hopefully,  the creative team can finally again concentrate on what they should do with the wrestlers that are actually there full time.

So no, I’m not gonna write about all that.

Instead I’ll stubbornly continue to write about something that actually interests me, the new Japan Cup and the first rumors concerning NJPW’s next big Pay-per-view, Invasion Attack, to be held on April the 5th. Now there is something I look forward to. Simple booking, focus on match quality, great performers in the ring, being used like they should be, in short, count me in for that one.

Last week I reviewed the results of the first round, and gave you my predictions for the second round. This week we’re gonna see how many I got wrong (yes, yes you can begin laughing already, the answer is: a lot) and of course preview the semi’s and final which will take place this Sunday.

Little reminder, we were left with the following Quarter-Finals:

QF1: Toru Yano vs. Kota Ibushi
QF2: Tetsuya Naito vs. Bad Luck Fale
QF3: Yujiro Takahashi vs. Togi Makabe
QF4: Hirooki Goto vs. Katsuyori Shibata

And now let’s see what happened:

QF1: Toru Yano vs. Kota Ibushi

I predicted an Ibushi win here, based on the fact that thunder doesn’t strike twice and, as it turns out, I was correct for once. Yano did his usual shenanigans, Ibushi countered him in the end and that was that.

QF2: Tetsuya Naito vs. Bad Luck Fale

Here I predicted a Fale win, because I had this beautiful little scenario in mind where Fale would smash trough everything and be Shibata’s final roadblock. Made sense. Forget about it, Naito won. Typical small guy/big guy match, Naito at  least made Fale look like a genuine threat before taking the win.

QF3: Yujiro Takahashi vs. Togi Makabe

You know, I keep saying Makabe won’t win because he doesn’t NEED to win to get that NEVER title-shot, and that’s actually true, Makabe WILL get that shot no matter what. The problem here is Makabe keeps winning. So yeah another failed prediction from my part. Good match between those two though.

QF4: Hirooki Goto vs. Katsuyori Shibata

And here was were i went wrong. To me, after the elimination of Okada and Tanahashi Shibata was the odds-on favorite to win this, turns out NJPW thought differently. Goto won the battle of the team-mates after a quality match between those two.

So, that leaves us with  two VERY interesting matches for the semi’s. A potential barn-burner between two excellent athletes, Naito and Ibushi and what will probably be a battle for survival between Goto and Makabe. Both matches should be great and very different in style. I, for one, can’t wait to see them.

But now the big question is, of course, who will win? I’m going for Ibushi in the first, because that’s what makes the most sense. Ibushi really is on the rise and can realistically pose a threat to both Nakamura (in a rematch after their amazing battle at WK9)and AJ styles. Naito is coming back after being lost in the shuffle for awhile but I sense it’s still a bit too soon for him. Another thing pointing towards an Ibushi win is that the rumored re-formation of Golden Stardust with Naito is seemingly put on hold for now. So Ibushi vanquishes Naito and wins it all in the final?

Not quite. The problem here is Makabe. Like I said (many times) before Makabe doesn’t need to win this, but he’s still there and Ishii vs Makabe for the NEVER title is already set in stone for Invasion Attack. Could this mean he will win? Possibly, but this could still be a red herring. Again, Makabe will get his title shot no matter what.

Don’t discount Goto either, a celebrated veteran, three times winner of the NJ Cup already, he’s still one of the best performers in the world and could easily insert himself into any title chase now that his tag team with Shibata seems to be over for now.

So, choices, choices. Who should I pick here?  I’m gonna go with an Ibushi/Makabe final with Ibushi narrowly winning. The reasoning behind this is simple, Ibushi is really on the rise right now, getting people behind him and has entered stellar performances after stellar performances. This might very well be his time to shine.

That all being said, let’s take a look forward at Invasion Attack and see how that card is shaping up. Remember, IA is still three weeks away, NJPW is no WWE, “card subject to change” is really applicable here. Still let’s have some fun.

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Toru Yano. This seems likely, Tanahashi will look for revenge after his surprising loss in the first round of NJ Cup and has nothing else going on anyway. Not a match I’m really very exited about but at least it makes sense.

Kazuchika Okada vs. Bad Luck Fale. The revenge-grudge-rematch. I actually wasn’t sure this was going to happen. Fale beat Okada in the first round so Okada seeking revenge actually makes sense too, then again that first round match wasn’t really well received. On the other hand some things indicate a full on Chaos (Nakamura, Ishii, Okada, YOSHI-HASHI) vs Bullet Club feud. This match could be the starting point of that.

Ishii vs. Makabe for the NEVER Openweight title. Like I said this one is set in stone, the only thing that remains to be seen is how Makabe will get there.

Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Michael Bennett & Matt Taven for the IWGP tag titles. A bit of a surprise if this happens. But another one that makes sense, with the ROH/NJPW Global Wars coming in may, ROH’s Bennett and Taven are likely added to set up a feud that will last until then. Not a bad idea, I’ll watch those.

Tenzan vs. Kojima for the NWA Heavyweight title. This one has been announced since the New Beginning events back in Februari. Those two have battled before, but are always in for a spirited performance. Another match I look forward to.

Kenny Omega vs. Mascara Dorada for the IWGP Jr. championship. Another one that has been announced since NB. Should be good IF Omega remembers he’s there to wrestle, not to do silly stunts.

The Young Bucks vs. Time Splitters for the IWGP Jr. tag titles. Also seems bound to happen, once ReDragon went back to ROH, the Time Splitters sere first in line to challenge The Young Bucks. There is a rumor about Trent Baretta and Rocky Romero being added here, but nothing certain yet. Another one which should provide fireworks.

Finally Ibushi OR Goto OR Naito will almost certainly go after AJ Style’s IWGP Heavyweight title, leaving a question mark about what Nakamura will do on the card. Rob Conway? It’s been quiet after the twitter war in late February/early March, but no doubt Nakamura will have a role to play on April the 5th.

So there you go, still some question marks but already a very solid card for Invasion Attack 2015. All matches are logical and 4 star performances and above are almost a certainty given the talent involved. Try to beat that WWE!

This is all from me this week, I’ll keep you posted on the final results of the New Japan Cup and any other information that comes from NJPW next week. Have fun you all!

 

P.S. People… Ok FD Swayze mainly, have asked me were they could watch the NJ Cup, I promised I would give you guys some links if I could find them, so here are some decent quality Dailymotion (hope this doesn’t violate any site policy) links for the first two rounds. Bear in mind these are basically house shows so don’t expect WK9-like production values and it’s not HD, I know, but this is the best I could find for now. Still more than enough fun to be had if you enjoy tournaments and are into good wrestling matches. Enjoy!

For round 1:

For round 2:

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