Metalhead Previews King of Pro Wrestling (Tanahashi vs Naito, Okada vs Styles)

This Monday, NJPW will present their biggest show of the fall season, King of Pro Wrestling. At first glance, this looks like on hell of a card, but NJPW’s booking has been the subject of some criticism lately, so it will also be interesting to see how they react to that. As a reminder, this event will also be available in English, with commentary provided by Kevin Kelly and Matt Striker. Now, let’s take a look at the card:

Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA and Mascara Dorada vs Juice Robinson, Yohei Komatsu, Sho Tanaka, David Finlay and Jay White:

It’s strange to see KUSHIDA in one of those opening matches again, but regardless of that, this should be fun. The only drawback to these multi-man tag team openers is nobody really gets a chance to shine. Still KUSHIDA and Dorada are always up for some fireworks and the Young Lions will, typically, try to make the best of things. Team Liger wins of course, I’m guessing “new” guy Juice Robinson ends up being the one pinned.

Winner: Liger and friends

Tomoaki Honma vs Yoshi-Hashi:

This is an interesting one, two “Heroic Losers” fighting each-other. While the reason for this match to happen is, ostensibly, YOGHI-HASHI being furious with Honma for “stealing” his G1 Climax spot, it is clear that whoever wins this will go on to bigger things, most likely a shot at the NEVER title. In a way, this is a difficult one to call, since both have made their career on always losing, except on special occasions. This hardly seems to qualify, but, on the other hand, if NJPW indeed wants one of them to be a future challenger for the NEVER title, I guess that wrestler does need a couple of singles win under his belt. Most likely candidate to win is Honma for me, more in this during my preview of the NEVER Title match.

Winner: Tomoaki Honma

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi vs Hirooki Goto, Katsuyori Shibata, Kota Ibushi and Captain New Japan:

Amusingly, many are convinced this match is NJPW booker Gedo’s way to troll NJPW fans. And, more specifically, fans of Goto, Shibata and Ibushi who demand that their favorites be placed higher up the card. Whatever the reason, it does seem likely Shibata and Co will lose here, since they’re teamed up with professional pin eater Captain New Japan. I mean that guy ALWAYS ends up losing. I wonder if Goto and Shibata will reform their tag-team soon and if that’s the reason they’re teaming up here, but it’s difficult to see what this match will bring to Ibushi. Tenzan and Kojima will almost certainly participate in the upcoming World Tag League, a Nagata/Ibushi feud would seem kind of pointless at this point and Nakanishi can barely move. I do hope Gedo isn’t planning for Ibushi to team up with Captain New Japan at the Tag League because THAT would be trolling.

Winner: TenKoji, Nagata and Nakanishi

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Title Match, reDragon (c) vs Roppongi Vice:

On the plus side, I’m glad NJPW has stepped away from their multi team matches formula for this title. A lengthy reDragon reign will indeed add some much needed stability to this title, and if they’re tackling their challengers one at the time, it will make the whole scene seem less rushed. That being said even that can not hide the lack of story-lines for this scene. Sure the match will be exiting, but RPG Vice has no chance of winning against the ultra-protected reDragon and it’s more than likely this will all lead to the Young Bucks returning and a ReDragon/Young Bucks match at Wrestle Kingdom 10. I’m fine with that but they’ll need more to hide the fact that, despite the spectacular matches, this scene is growing stale.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match: Kenny Omega vs Matt Sydal:

First of all, this is one of those occasions where they really need to let a match be a match. This could be awesome, if they keep the shenanigans and Bullet Club interference to a minimum. As  for the winner, this is one that’s difficult to call. After KUSHIDA’s unexpected loss to Omega at the first Destruction show, there is no telling what NJPW plans to do with this division. If Omega retains, Sydal’s fantastic debut for NJPW will be meaningless. If Sydal wins, everyone will wonder why KUSHIDA had to lose at Destruction. Unless they want to create a situation where the new guy (Sydal) becomes champion with two challengers (Omega and KUSHIDA) entitled to a rematch? That’s a possibility of course. This could easily lead to a three-way at Wrestle Kingdom 10, so we’ll see what happens. But, please NJPW, just let these guys do what they do best and that is wrestle up a storm inside that ring.

Winneer: Matt Sydal

Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano and Kazushi Sakuraba vs Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows and Bad Luck Fale:

This one is pretty straightforward. Anderson has already challenged Nakamura for the IC title, a match that will happen at Power Struggle, so look forward to some fun Anderson/Nakamura interaction. Anderson should win this one too, possibly even by pinning Nakamura, to augment interest for their upcoming match.

Winner:  Bullet Club

NEVER Openweight Title Match, Togi Makabe vs Tomohiro Ishii:

Yes, yet another match between those two. Makabe vs Ishii is right on the verge of becoming NJPW’s answer to Orton vs Sheamus. Not that this match will be bad, it just will be the same as every Ishii/Makabe matches that have already happened. Furthermore, Makabe and Ishii have already clashed three times this year, with Makabe winning all three, so another rematch makes no sense, unless they have plans for Ishii at Wrestle Kingdom 10. And this is why I predicted a Honma win earlier. Honma getting that elusive win against Ishii during the G1 Climax was one of the high points of the tournament, with a fantastic crowd reaction. So I’m guessing NJPW would want to re-create that on a bigger stage. And what bigger stage is there than Wrestle Kingdom 10? Only problem whit that is, if Ishii indeed wins, we’ll probably get yet another Makabe/Ishii rematch at Power Struggle. See why everybody wanted Ibushi to win at destruction in order to refresh the scene? Nothing against Makabe but after Power Struggle, he needs to move down the card to allow Ibushi, Goto and Shibata to take their rightful place higher up the NJPW hierarchy.

Winner: Tomohiro Ishii

Tokyo Dome IWGP Heavyweight Title Shot, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tetsuya Naito:

Well, this should be awesome. On the surface, Tanahashi wins, but Naito has been getting so much heat lately that even if I KNOW Tanahashi will win (in order to have that Tanahashi/Okada moment at Wrestle Kingdom), this match remains highly interesting because with Naito, you never know what will happen. And that is what has been so great about Naito’s heel character, unpredictability coupled with great matches. Expect to be on the edge of your seat and jumping up and down several time thinking Naito is about to pull of the upset. But Tanahashi will win. Unless… Did I mention this will be awesome?

Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Kazuchika Okada vs. A.J. Styles:

While this is yet another re-match, this is one re-match everybody is anticipating. And that should be no surprise since it involves two of the very best workers in the world who always have incredible chemistry together. The match makes sense too, since, after his loss to Okada at Dominion, Styles was certainly entitled to another shot. But, much like the Tanahashi/Naito match, the winner seems obvious here. Okada will win so he can finally get that big win over Tanahashi at the Tokyo Dome (Okada lost twice to Tanahashi in Tokyo Dome matches already). As for Styles, early rumors seem to indicate that he will be going after Nakamura, continuing the Bullet Club/Chaos feud and setting up an IC Title match between those two at the Tokyo Dome. But that’s all for later, first we have one hell of a match to look forward to.

 

On paper, King of Pro Wrestling seems like a sure fire Card of the Year contender. But repetitive booking has let NJPW down at Destruction. This is their chance to come back in full force and set fire to the road towards Wrestle Kingdom 10.

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