NJPW finally awakes from its post-G1 Climax slumber to give us not one but two shows this week. The fact those shows are the NJPW equivalent (more or less) of the WWE B-shows, which is still way better than an actual WWE B-show, can’t even spoil the fun. The really big matches might be for later, but plenty of action to keep any NJPW fan happy the coming days. Destruction in Kobe will happen this Sunday (expect a full preview on Friday) but lets first look at Destruction in Okayama, which will happen this Wednesday (09/23) at At the Momotaro Arena in Okayama.
8-Man Tag Team Match: David Finlay, Jay White, Manabu Nakanishi and Tetsuya Naito vs. Katsuyori Shibata, Sho Tanaka, Yohei Komatsu and Yuji Nagata:
Of course you can expect lots of the traditional multi-man tag teams on those shows, designed to keep feuds simmering or to give some wrestlers something to do, but this opener is rather interesting. No less than 4 “Young Lions” are featured (White, Finlay, Tanaka and Komatsu) and while one of those four will take the pin, it will be interesting to see them interact, especially with the upcoming Tag Teams Tournaments. Nagata and Nakanishi have been teasing a feud, so some heat there, even if I don’t see how the virtually immobile Nananishi can make it trough a singles match nowadays. Finally Shibata and Naito will resolve their differences at Destruction in Kobe (more on this Friday), so expect Shibata to go after Naito and Naito to continuously mock him. Should be fun.
Winner: Shibata and friends.
Jushin “Thunder” Liger and Máscara Dorada vs. reDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly):
Now this one is intriguing. ReDragon has always been very protected by NJPW’s booking, but now they are against two guys that were generally protected as well. What adds to the intrigue is that putting Liger and the excellent Dorada in a tag team seems to be NJPW’s way to prepare on hell of a team for the upcoming Junior Tag Team Tournament. So, is it possible that they could go over, despite the fact reDragon seldom loses in NJPW? On the surface, no. But BOTH ROH and NJPW have been teasing pushing Fish and O’Reilly in singles competition for a time now, and, let’s face it, both could make a hell of an addition to the Junior Heavyweight ranks. On the other side, Dorada already had his shot against KUSHIDA, while Liger’s days as a contender for major singles titles are over. Also this is a non-tile match (ReDragon are still Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions), so I can see a surprise here. However this goes, hope they get some time because this could be awesome.
Winner: Liger and Dorada
NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship Match: Steve Anthony (c) vs. Tiger Mask IV:
I have low expectations here. Anthony is not a bad wrestler but lacks the charisma necessary to carry any kind of title. Tiger Mask seems to be there to add some name value to the NWA title scene. Furthermore, Tiger MAsk IV recently suffered a neck injury, so do not expect him to go all out. Seems more filler than anything else, I expect Anthony to retain until they can find a viable replacement.
Winner: Steve Anthony
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Matt Sydal:
This is about two tings. First and foremost, Fale and Tanahashi’s match at Destruction in Kobe for Tanahashi’s Wrestle Kingdom 10 contract. Secondly, Matt Sydal’s big debut in NJPW. And what a debut, believe me, they don’t just put anybody in a team with Tanahashi. This should be good, Tanahashi can certainly carry Fale to something decent while Tama Tonga and Sydal should have some excellent exchange. Picking the winner is not that easy though. Sydal is rumored to be in line for a prolonged NJPW stay AND a big push in the Junior heavyweight ranks. So do you start his run with a loss? Especially since he’s likely the one getting pinned in this situation? Tama Tonga’s profile isn’t very high so he is the obvious choice to take the pinfall. Problem with that is NOBODY sees Fale winning at Destruction in Kobe. A loss here would only confirm that. Or they go for the big surprise, and have Fale somehow pin Tanahashi but that seems highly unlikely, even if that’s the best way to augment interest for their upcoming match. So I’m guessing Sydal will pin Tonga and Fale will attack Tanahashi afterwards or some such.
Winner: Tanahashi and Sydal
IWGP Tag Team Championship Match: Bullet Club (Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson) (c) vs. Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima):
And here I am, constantly harping and complaining about WWE pushing “old” guys, and at the same time hoping Tencoszy will win. Two standards? Not exactly. For those who followed my G1 rantings, I predicted this match, for the simple reason there isn’t any other obvious choice right now. NJPW will no doubt start building other tag teams in the coming weeks, but, for now, a Tencozy reunion was the obvious choice. Besides, while Tenzan is plagued by injuries, Kojima has had an excellent G1 and is more than capable of carrying the work load. Gallows and Anderson, on their side, have already achieved all they can together, and Anderson seems in line for a singles push. The NJPW Heavyweight Tag Team scene has been dreadfully stale lately and, as illogical as that sounds, another Tencozy run might be just the thing to freshen things up. And Like I said, there aren’t any other options right now.
10-Man Tag Team Match: Alex Shelley, Captain New Japan, Hirooki Goto, Ryusuke Taguchi and Tomoaki Honma vs. CHAOS (Baretta, Rocky Romero, Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii and Yoshi-Hashi):
Typical NJPW Tag match if there ever was one. But with some interesting things going to happen. First of all, Alex Shelley is back which is a good thing. Secondly, Goto and nakamura will continue their feud that will (hopefully) see its conclusion at destruction in Kobe. Finally Ishii and Honma will butt heads again, of course, but all of that can’t really remove the “filler” etiquette from this one. Oh it will be fun, most likely, but nothing we haven’t seen before. Either Captain New Japan or Yoshi Hashi will take the pinfall here so I’m going to go for a CHAOS win. Why? Because I like CHAOS as that’s as good a reason as any.
Winner: CHAOS, stare-down between Nakamura and Goto afterwards.
Bullet Club (A.J. Styles and Cody Hall) vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada and Toru Yano):
This is why some call these B-shows. The re-match between Styles and Okada is set for King of Pro Wrestling, so we will get Styles/Okada tag team matches both here and on Sunday. Don’t expect much to happen, this is just to keep things going until their match. That being said, I don’t mind too much since I always find it funny to see Yano interact with the other CHAOS members, especially Okada and Nakamura, since his behavior is so different than that of his two leaders. They’ll probably trade wins, so I’ll give the first one to Okada and Yano.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match: KUSHIDA (c) vs. Kenny Omega:
And now we get to the big matches on this one. KUSHIDA has really been on a roll this year. His title-winning effort against Omega was fantastic so I expect this match to at least equal that. Omega is an interesting case. he was, of course, entitled to a re-match, but more interestingly, NJPW has been giving us some hints that there were problems brewing inside Bullet Club. Omega’s behavior when AJ Styles beat his former friend Ibushi at Invasion Attack was one of those hints. Furthermore, Omega seems to have toned down his “cleaner” persona in recent months, which adds fuel to the rumor of a possible face turn. His behavior during this match will give further indication. I fully expect KUSHIDA to win here, as a title change at this point would achieve little and NJPW really seems to count on KUSHIDA to carry the title against the possible upcoming influx of challengers (O’Reilly, Fish, Sydal) while Omega and his Bullet Club friends will have other problems to solve if things go they way I think they will go.
NEVER Openweight Championship Match: Togi Makabe (c) vs. Kota Ibushi:
Ibushi’s has known a strange year thus far. From number 1 challenger for the IC title to J-cup winner to number 1 challenger for the Heavyweight title to… Well, nothing. His booking during the G1 Climax was strange to say the least, but his win over Makabe did bring him a shot at his first heavyweight gold. Makabe has never been know has the world’s best wrestler, but he his a more than competent brawler that can usually produce an entertaining match. This one is about a clash of styles, but could also be about steering the NEVER title into a very different direction. And I believe that is exactly what will happen, nothing else makes sense. They can’t steer Ibushi towards the Heavyweight title in the coming months since Okada already has Styles, Tanahashi and, possibly, Nakamura to contend win. The IC title is a possibility, but I think they want to keep it on Goto for the time being, meaning Ibushi would fail once again in his title quest. Makabe has had his run with the NEVER title, but now his feud with Ishii is over there are no actual reasons left to keep the title on him. Many believe 2016 will be Ibushi’s year. Winning the NEVER title might indeed be the first step towards that.
Winner: Kota Ibushi
And there you have it, the first Destruction show. I also want to note that I’ve taken a lot of risks with my predictions. It could be NJPW takes the safe way (wins for reDragon and Anderson and Gallows for example), but I think that would only confirm the B-show perception. Whatever happens, on paper it seems the lesser of the two shows, but it’s up to the wrestlers and NJPW’s booking team to prove otherwise.
Tags: AJ Styles, Alex Shelley, bad Luck fale, bullet club, Chaos, Destruction in Okayama 2015, doc gallows, Hirooki Goto, hiroshi tanahashi, Jushin "Thunder" Liger, Karl Anderson, Katsuyori Shibata, Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi, Kushida, Mascara Dorada, njpw, redragon, Steve Anthony, Tama Tonga, Tencozy, Tetsuya Naito, Tiger Mask IV, Togi Makabe, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano