Metalhead’s Riff: It’s All About NJPW … and ROH. (Wrestling Hinokuni, Wrestling Dontaku, War of the Worlds, Global Wars, Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kevin Steen)

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I’m really Glad Inside Pulse and Widro have introduced the little concept of Rasslin Roundtables for WWE Events. Really, I  am. It means I can post some thoughts on (in this case) Extreme Rules over there and then have fun devoting my entire column to events that actually matter and will (probably) deliver amazing matches. So no WWE stuff here this week, but that doesn’t mean I have nothing to write about, on the contrary. I’ve already hinted, a couple of columns ago, that May was gonna be a crazy month for wrestling fans and, believe me, I wasn’t exaggerating one bit.

Before I give you guys a full preview of the upcoming Wrestling Hinokuni and Wrestling Dontaku events, NJPW and ROH have announced the full cards for their (now) annual War of the Worlds and Global Wars events. Both will be two days Supershows, and anybody who has managed to obtain tickets (color me jealous) is in for a real treat. I apologize in advance for what will basically be a loooooooong list of matches, but, hey, someone has to keep track of all those things, it just happens to be me today. Those events will be held on May 12 and 13 (for Wotw) and May 15 and 16 (for GB) so expect a full preview on all those shows on my May 11 column.

War of the Worlds:

To be held at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia:

Day 1

Battle of the Bookers: Delirious vs. Gedo
“Mr ROH” Roderick Strong vs. KUSHIDA
Jay Lethal (with Truth Martini) vs. Takaaki Watanabe
Tetsuya Naito vs. Michael Elgin
The Addiction (Daniels and Kazarian, ROH Champions) vs. The Kingdom (Taven and Bennett, NJPW Champions with Maria Kanellis) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson)
reDragon ( Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Jushin Liger
AJ Styles vs. a Mystery Opponent
Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Kazuchida Okada

At time of writing everybody was sill very tight-lipped about AJ’s opponent, which might mean we should expect something big (and the negotiations are still going on probably). For the rest, it looks like one hell of a card on paper and I have no doubt the final result will be even better. My personal favorite? The Briscoe Brothers vs Nakamura and Okada. I’m already going crazy for that one.

Day 2

Adam Page vs. Takaaki Watanabe
Michael Elgin vs. KUSHIDA
Kyle O’Reilly vs. Tetsuya Naito
Roderick Strong vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Kazarian) vs. Chaos (Kazuchika Okada and Gedo)
Four Corner Survival Match: Jay Lethal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Mark Briscoe vs. Jushin Liger
ROH World Title Match: Champion Jay Briscoe vs. Bobby Fish
Bullet Club (AJ Styles and The Young Bucks) vs. The Kingdom (a returning Adam Cole, Matt Taven and Michael Bennett)

And it continues with more amazing action. Standouts here, for me, are the Strong/Tanahashi match-up and the 4 way.

Global Wars:

Moving on to the Global Wars Supercard which will take place at the Ted Reeve Arena in Toronto, Canada. The first night will be a Internet PPV, the second night (along with the WotW events) will be taped.

Day 1

ACH vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Gedo and Moose vs. Silas Young and Watanabe
KUSHIDA vs. Chris Sabin
Four Corner Survival Match: The Addiction  vs. The Decade (Adam Page and BJ Whitmer) vs. reDRagon vs. Roppongi Vice (Baretta and Rocky Romero)
Cedric Alexander vs. Kazuchika Okada
The Kingdom vs. Jushin Liger and Matt Sydal
Michael Elgin vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
ROH TV Title Match: Champion Jay Lethal vs. Naito
All Stars Match: Team ROH (Roderick Strong, War Machine, Jay & Mark Briscoe) vs. Bullet Club – (AJ Styles, Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson and The Young Bucks)

Again lots of fun, the Tag team Survival match should be amazing, considering who is involved, but I’m VERY curious about Elgin vs Tanahashi myself.

Day 2

KUSHIDA vs Will Ferrara
Michael Elgin vs Gedo
Jushin Thunder Liger vs Dalton Castle
The Kingdom (Matt Taven and Mike Bennett) w/Maria Kanellis VS The Bullet Club (Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows
Tetsuya Naito and Hiroshi Tanahashi VS ACH and Matt Sydal
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Roderick Strong
The Bullet Club (AJ Styles and  The Young Bucks) vs Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero and Trent Baretta) and Kazuchika Okada

Damn, when ROH and NJPW say they are going to do a Super-show together, they ain’t kidding. Nakamura/Strong and Styles and Young Bucks/Okada and Roppongi Vice should be outstanding to close down the events. My favorite? Probably Strong/Nakamura, but you should all know by know I’m a Nakamura fan, so…

Much more on this later of course, but it’s time to speak about what will happen next week (and weekend) in NJPW, as promised in full preview format.

 

First off, Wrestling Hinokuni. A new event on the NJPW calendar, it’s a bit of a strange one. Just a few days before Wrestling Dontaku, people can’t seem to agree if this is a Supershow or a big house show. One thing is for certain, this will be taped so available trough the usual channels. Let’s look at what NJPW has in store for us.

Wrestling Hinokuni

Jay White, Sho Tanaka and Yohei Komatsu vs Chaos (Gedo and Roppongi Vice):

featuring the usual opening match suspects on the one side and a team which could be seen as NJPW booker Gedo officially welcoming Roppongi Vice into the Chaos stable on the other, this should deliver in terms of action. Of course with Chaos on a roll lately and being pushed more and more as a unit, the winner isn’t really in doubt, but it’s the way that leads to that that is always interesting with those guys.

Winner: Chaos

Captain New Japan and Satoshi Kojima vs Bullet Club (Cody Hall and Yujiro Takahashi):

The on-going war between Bullet Club and all things new japan is of course also featured. Takahashi could use a win here, his profile is very low and the Bullet Club could definitly use another singles wrestler a little higher up the cards, but the crowds pleasure is also to be considered here. Should be a fun little match, nothing more.

Winner: Captain new japan and Satoshi Kojima

NWA Jr Heavyweight Championchip: Steve Anthony (c) vs Jushin Thunder Liger:

Ok, have to admit, I know little about Steve Anthony, except that he beat Liger for the title on April 13, so this is actually a re-match. Shouldn’t be bad from the little I’ve seen.

Winner: Steve Anthony

NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Big Daddy YumYum:

Here my first reaction was, Tenzan vs who? I’m sorry NWA and all you NWA fans out there, I promise I will catch up with what happens over there as soon as time permits. A quick search yielded a few things that ranged from not bad to funny, so difficult for me to predict what this match will be like. Tenzan seems comfortable with this title and is probably the biggest name NWA can afford right now (especially since he’s being paid by NJPW) so I expect he will keep the Championship for a while longer.

Winner: Hiroyoshi Tenzan

Alex Shelley, Tetsua Naito and Tomoaki Honma vs Bullet Club (Kenny Omega, Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows):

last set-up match for Shelley vs Omega at Wrestling Dontaku of course, it will be interesting to see who takes the win. They an have Shelley beat Omega of course to raise interest for their match, or use the popular Honma to further Shelley’s cause. But they also need to protect Anderson and gallows for their match against The Kingdom. And Naito is a bit lost on the cards right now but I don’t see HIM taking the pin either, so it could all come back to Heroic looser Honma. or not. Quite a pickle this matchh is actually. I can see Shelley scoring the upset win over Omega here.

Winner: Shelley, Naito and Honma

Chaos (Kazuchika Okada and YOSHI-HASHI) vs Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga):

A match used to further the feud between Chaos and Bullet Club, and a absolute no-brainer given Okada is involved, Okada takes the win (probably against Tonga) and glares at AJ Styles afterwards.

Winner: Chaos

Katsuyori Shibata, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Hirooki Goto vs Kazushi Sakuraba, Toru Yano and Shinsuke Nakamura:

Without a doubt the most interesting match on the card, aside from the Main Event, ALL the wrestlers involved in this one have a feud with someone on the other team going on. Shibata/Sakuraba, Tanahashi/Yano and of course Goto/Nakamura. It will be a wild match and VERY interesting to see who takes the pin here as there is no obvious choice. Also, it will be interesting to see how Yano and Nakamura co-exists. While part of the same stable, Chaos, they are on rather opposite sides of the Heel/face spectrum. Nakamura’s popularity is such that he can do whatever he wants, fans still love him. Yano on the other hand is the kind of sneaky heels people love to hate. And of course, expect very heated exchanges between Goto and Nakamura who will want to get crowds wild for their upcoming match at wrestling Dontau. Should be fun!

Winner: I go for Chaos with Yano stealing one on Shibata.

NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii vs Togi Makabe:

Make no mistakes, Wrestling Hinokuni is a one match card, and Ishii vs Makabe is that one match. As said before this will probably be used to test Ishii’s drawing power (Grandmesse Kumamoto, where this will be held, can hold over 8000 fans) and to see if the NEVER title can be raised further with him holding it. Ishii has been on a roll lately, pulling off one outstanding performance after the other. Makabe, of course will be eager to show he should still be NEVER champion if not for an ill-timed illness. So the question is, can those two pull this off? Well for those who doubt it, go back and watch their exchanges at Invasion ATTACK and, especially the crowds reactions to it. This will be an all-out war, a brawling masterpiece that will have everybody on the edge of their seats and I have no doubt the event will be sold out (or as close to it as can be). Do I even need to state I can’t wait for this one to begin? Of course I don’t.

Winner: Ishii

There you go, a one match card, yes, but with some intriguing match-ups (especially the six-man) and one hell of a main event. Not card of the Year material by any means, but should provide plenty of fun, as NJPW events so often do.

 

Wrestling Dontaku:

NJPW’s May PPV, this will be the twelfth event under that name. It will take place at Fukuoaka Kukosai Center, Fukuoka on May 3.

Mascara Dorada & Tiger Mask & Jushin Thunder Liger & Yuji Nagata VS KUSHIDA & Ryusuke Taguchi & Captain New Japan & Manabu Nakanishi.

Typical opening match, featuring the usual NJPW stalwarts and KUSHIDA. A lot of observers have been clamoring for a KUSHIDA push lately and he certainly has the talent for it. With the Best of Super Jr Tournament coming up soon, him taking the win here would certainly turn a few heads. Usual crowd warmer, it should achieve its purpose without too much effort.

Winner: KUSHIDA and co.

Tomoaki Honma & Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan VS Bullet Club (Cody Hall & Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale).

Repeat from what happened at Invasion attack, the main story here is if Honma will continue his Tag Team winning streak. If he does, expect a move up the cards for him. is popularity certainly warrants it.

Winner: HonmaMania

Sho Tanaka & Tetsuya Naito VS Yohei Komatsu & Kota Ibushi.

It seems like quite a steep drop fro ibushi, from headlining Invasion Attack to a tag team  match with the young Lions and naito. In njpw, appearances can be deceiving however. The IA Event was well received and no doubt the office noted that. NJPW has been known to take their time with things and this is likely one of those cases. Should be a very good match but there can only be one result. Ibushi takes the win and goes on winning until after Dominion were he will move up the card once again.

Winner: Ibushi and Komatsu

IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship:  Roppongi Vice  (Baretta & Rocky Romero) (c) vs. reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) vs. Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson).

The sort of incredibly entertaining match-ups the Jr Tag Team Scenes invariably delivers. Expect fireworks, incredible multi-team spots, loads of fun and a match that will effortlessly pass the four stars mark. As for the winner, reDragon seems to be more focused on ROH lately and there are some question marks about the Young Bucks future (Triple H is seemingly still interested, ROH and NJPW are trying to counter), so…

Winner: Roppongi Vice

IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs. Alex Shelley.

This is an intriguing one. Obviously Shelley is more than talented enough to warrant a run with the Jr title, but the real story here might be what’s in store for Omega later on this year. Are the signs of tension between him and his Bullet Club leader just a red herring? Will Ibushi play a role (Omega and Ibuhi have a long history in other promotions, history that has been acknowledged by the NJPW booking team)? Is Omega looking towards the ultimate prize? This match might give us some indications towards all that (a story within a story if you will). On first sight Omega wins,  but all might not be what it seems (plus Shelley has a ready-made dream match against KUSHIDA if he wins).

Winner: Alex Shelley

The Kingdom (Maria Kanellis & Michael Bennett & Matt Taven) VS Bullet Club (Amber O’Neil & Doc Gallows & ”The Machine Gun” Karl Anderson).

One of the least interesting NJPW rivalries in recent months, this match is basically there to put Maria in the spotlight. Everybody loves Maria, right? Well I don’t, really, but that’s beside the point. Anderson will probably try more slapstick comedy, Gallows will growl, O’Neil will want to kick Maria’s ass, everybody else will be looking at that same body part and the feud between those tow groups will continue. Only slight suspense is if the tension between Anderson and Gallows will grow.

Winner: The Kingdom

Katsuyori Shibata & Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe VS Chaos (Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii).

The continuation of the Shibata/Sakuraba and Tanahashi/Yano feuds and the aftermath of the big Ishii/Makabe match, this one is not without interest. Lately the spotlight has been more on Shibata and Sakuraba, but no doubt Yano will find ways to rekindle the feud between him and Tanahashi. As for Ishii and Makabe, the big question will of course be who will be champion a this time. Aside from that, expect more intense brawling between those tow (to the greatest delight of the crow)

Chaos (YOSHI-HASHI & Kazuchika Okada) VS Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & A.J. Styles).

The first PPV confrontation between Okada and Styles since Invasion Attack should provide fireworks. Of course it’s no secret by know that either Takahashi or YOSHI-HASHI will take the fall on this one, but, this is the kind of match that the NJPW booking team likes to use to add further intrigue or heat on upcoming big matches. And let’s be fair, it doesn’t get much bigger than Okada vs Styles at Dominion. So the smart money here is obviously on Okada, since he’s the one hoping to end Style’s reign. It will also be interesting (like in all the Bullet Club matches nowadays) if further sign of tension inside the stable are teased. Aside from that, expect a great match (of course).

Winner: Okada and YOSHI-HASHI

IGPW Intercontinental Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura (c) VS Hirooki Goto.

The advantage that NJPW has over everyone else is that nearly all of their major titles can easily headline any event or fill up any arena. It allows them to space out their big matches and make every title feel special. This year at Wrestling Dontaku we have an intriguing Nakamura/Goto clash. Since his tag team with Shibata has ended, Goto has been pushed slowly but firmly back into the main event picture. And why not? An accomplished and highly respected performer, I firmly believe guys like Goto are physically incapable of having a bad match. And what to say of the “King of Strong Style himself, Nakamura? To be fair, aside from his amazing match against Ibushi at WK9, it’s been a rather slow year for Nakamura until now, on PPV at least. The point I’m trying to make is that both WANT this to be the best match they can possibly have; They WANT the crowd and PPV audience to be entertained. And they WANT everybody to be talking about one thing and one thing only once the event ends. I’ll bet 30 tons of cat hair that they will pull it off, expect another MotY candidate here. As for the winner? Nakamura is odds-on favorite of course and I believe he will win here. He brought so much to the IC title already, to push it in a place where it gets as much respect then the World Heavyweight Championship, and I don’t believe his work is done yet.

Winner: Nakamura

 

On the surface, WRestling Dontaku might seem like yet another one match event, but it is much more than that. Firmly supported by the Jr heavyweight singles and tag team championship, further enhanced by intriguing storylines and little hints here and there in various matches, Wrestling Dontaku will deliver some answers… And raise a lot more questions which will keep the NJPW product fresh and entertaining.

Was a bit of a preview extravaganza this week, hope I didn’t bore you guys too much but with so much things happening it’s bound to happen sometimes. Next week I’ll be back to my usual routine (hopefully).

I will then also bring you a full report on Wrestling Hinokuni, and I’ll try to post a review on wrestling Dontaku the day after that for those who are interested.

In the meantime it’s time for my

Match of the week:

Since I’ve been gathering a lot of info about the upcoming ROH/NJPW events this week, it was completely natural for me to watch some of last years matches again. And I choose a very fun little match between two of my favorite wrestlers, Kevin Steen and Shinsuke Nakamura. To be honest, both could have done much better if given more time, but, their only goal was to entertain the crowd in the best way possible and they succeeded admirably. Besides when the fans start chanting “This is awesome” BEFORE the match even starts, you know you got something special. Enjoy!

 

This is all from me this week, see you all later and have fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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