Metalhead Previews NJPW’s Power Struggle 2015

NJPW’s Power Struggle will take place this Saturday in Osaka, Japan. This will be the fifth show under that name and it will also be the last big NJPW PPV before Wrestle Kingdom. So let’s not lose any time and take a look at what NJPW has in store for us.

Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask IV and Jushin Liger vs. Jay White, Sho Tanaka, Yohei Komatsu and David Finlay Jr:

Your typical NJPW opening match, this one features The Young Lions vs two of the teams that were knocked out in the first round of the Junior Tag Team Tournament. The fact Tiger Mask IV and Jushin “Thunder” Liger are still teaming together is a bit odd as they have been more or less feuding on various house shows. We also know Liger is set to be Tiger Mask’s next opponent for the NWA Junior Heavywaeight belt, a match that will now likely happen at the Wrestle Kingdom 10 under-card. Regardless of what might happen between those two, Dorada will fly and The Young Lions will lose. That’s just how things are on those NJPW opening matches. I do expect a fun opener as all of those guys, except maybe Taguchi, can (still) be awesome in the ring.

Winner: Liger and friends

Juice Robinson, Captain New Japan and Togi Makabe vs. Cody Hall, Tama Tonga and Doc Gallows:

With all due respect to the performers involved, this is just a card filler. The only question here is who will take the win as we have two perennial losers on each team. I suppose this would be a good spot for Captain New Japan to pick up a rare win against the hated Bullet Club, so I’ll go with that.

Winner: Robinson, Makabe and the good Captain

Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL:

EVIL is of course Takaaki Watanabe’s new found heel persona, after he formed an alliance with Tetsuya Naito at King Of Pro Wrestling. As a reminder, Goto and Shibata came out to help Tanahashi when Watanabe interfered on Naito’s behalf, which led to Watanabe attacking Goto, which all leads us to this match. This one is interesting because, while Watanabe has been involved in some ROH matches, it’s been ages since we have seen him in NJPW. How much has he improved, can he carry that EVIL persona, what plans does NJPW have for the former Young Lion, some of those questions will be answered on Saturday. It is unlikely Goto will win here, I mean there is no sense in  bringing Watanabe back and putting him in a high-profile spot complete with new persona only to let him lose on his first match back. Furthermore, Watanabe’s affiliation with Los Ingobernables means Naito and, possibly, La Sombra should be at ringside with him or intervene during the match. It’s a bit sad for Goto, as his days in the sun seem to be over for now, but I’m rather curious to see what Watanabe can bring to the table.

Winner: EVIL

reDragon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) and Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA) vs. The Young Bucks (Nick Jackson and Matt Jackson), Chase Owens and Kenny Omega:

This one is basically the rest of the teams involved in the Junior tag Team Tournament pitted against each-other. And it should be lots of fun, given the talent involved. But it’s also a bit of a card filler, as reDragon’s opponent for Wrestle Kingdom 10 will be determined in the Finals of said tournament. The fact that Chase Owens is involved kinda gives away the ending, reDragon and Time Splitters win without having to pin either of the Young Dragons or IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega. But the result is irrelevant here, it’s about fun and nothing else.

Winner: reDragon and Time Splitters

Super Jr. Tag Tournament 2015 Finals: Matt Sydal and Ricochet vs. Roppongi Vice (Trent Baretta and Rocky Romero):

I unfortunately haven’t been able to follow the tournament much but I can tell you the semi-finals pitting RPG Vice against reDragon and Sydal and Ricochet against The Young Bucks were phenomenal so this one is highly anticipated. And a bit difficult to call. RPG Vice seems like the logical choice, because they’re one-one in recent encounters against reDragon so a tie-breaker against the Champions at WK 10 would make sense. On the other hand the very spectacular Ricochet/Sydal team has been turning heads, is hugely over with the Japanese crowds and would provide a completely fresh challenge to reDragon at WK 10. Not to mention that particular match would be awesome. The problem here is Ricochet. Both him and Sydal are part-timers in NJPW, which is fine is Sydal’s case as the collaboration between ROH and NJPW is more than good enough for all sides to find some sort of agreement, but Ricochet is also Prince Puma in Lucha Underground, will be one of the main characters of LU season 2 and the tapings for that are scheduled in November, December and January. It’s of course possible all sides can work out a deal, but the safer choice for NJPW would obviously be RPG Vice. I’m still going for Ricochet and Sydal as the winners though, simply because I really want to see those two go against reDragon and also because RPG Vice already have a rematch against reDragon secured since they beat the champions in the semis.

Winner: Matt Sydal and Ricochet

YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano vs. Bad Luck Fale & AJ Styles:

FILLER! But it will be interesting to see what they do with Styles here. He’s out of the title picture for now and has suffered some injuries lately. Also he’s made more appearances for ROH. So no AJ Styles at WK 10? Or would they put him in a multi-men tag match? That seems unlikely, but the simple fact is that Styles has nothing going on in NJPW at the moment. Will that change at this show? We’ll see.

Winner: Fale and Styles

NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. Tomoaki Honma:

I’m very surprised that they put this match on the Power Struggle card because I was convinced this was one for Wrestle Kingdom. Story is known of course, Honma and Ishii have been feuding for some time and have assembled a great  series of matches in the process. Honma’s biggest moment this year was when he beat Ishii at Wrestle Kingdom, so the question is if history can repeat itself. I’m not sure, since this is, for me,  a strange spot to put this match in. If Honma wins, we’ll have a re-match at Wrestle Kingdom which Ishii will then probably win, much to the disappointment of the crowd. If Ishii wins, then it all seems rather pointless unless they come up with a way to have Ishii/Honma at Wk 10 anyway. If this was an American wrestling promotion, I would predict a DQ finish, or a no-contest or something like that. But such things seldom happen in Japan, so it will be interesting to see how they play this one out.

Winner: Tomohiro Ishii

Katsuyori Shibata and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazushi Sakuraba and Kazuchika Okada:

Now that’s what I call a great tag match. Okada vs Tanahashi will of course be the main focus, but Shibata and Sakuraba have also had an heated rivalry. And if they switch things up you then have Okada/Shibata and Tanahashi/Sakuraba. In other words every exchange in this one will be awesome. I’m still a little sad at the news that Ibushi will be out for a long time due to injury (he was originally in this match and would likely have continued to team up with Tanahahsi during the World Tag Tournament), but things being as they are, Shibata is certainly a worthy replacement. I expect an all-out war and can’t wait for it to start.

Winner: Shibata and Tanahashi

IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Karl Anderson:

There has been a rather strange build-up to this one because Nakamura issued an Open Challenge for after the match, which means everyone is speculating about who could take this Open Challenge and therefore become Nakamura’s opponent at WK 10 which has actually diminished interest for this match. And that’s a shame, because Nakamura vs Anderson is certainly worth everyone’s attention. Anderson has once again been pushed as a singles performer in recent months and that’s to the good because the Machine Gun certainly knows how to deliver those big matches. On top of that, he and Nakamura always have great chemistry so this should be awesome. The problem lies in the result as not many were banking on an Anderson win in the first place, and, after Nakamura’s Open Challenge, the chances of an Anderson win now seems non-existent. Could all this have been a red herring? Is Nakamura’s Open Challenge reminiscent of the first Nakamura/Goto match where Nakamura treated Goto’s challenge as an afterthought until he lost the title? Perhaps, but I find it unlikely that NJPW would push the Open Challenge in this way only for it to deliver nothing. So Nakamura wins after an excellent match. Question then becomes,  what’s next?

Lots of names are being thrown around but I have two favorites for the Open Challenge.

First one is AJ Styles. This would answer the question I’ve been  asking about Styles’ future in NJPW and would be logical since both Styles and Anderson are part of the Bullet Club stable. Beat one and you have to fight the other or something like that. And, admit it, Styles vs Nakamura at WK 10 certainly sounds awesome, in fact it doesn’t come much bigger than that. Finally, Nakamura himself has been asking for something new, booking-wise, feeling he was often in the same type of matches against the same opponents. And Styles is one he has never faced before. Only problem with that is that Styles is scheduled to face Jay Lethal at Final battle (this December) and most observers expect him to win the ROH World Title. Title vs Title match at WK 10? I don’t know.

Another insistent rumor is equally exiting. On September the 28th, Go Shiozaki, one of the biggest Japanese names currently not under contract with NJPW, announced he was leaving All Japan pro wrestling to become a freelancer. Since then, nothing. And, as you all know, sometimes nothing in wrestling means everything. Now, Shiozaki vs Nakamura would obviously be a huge match for Wrestle Kingdom 10, at least as big as Nakamura vs Styles would be and it would also be a big coup for NJPW. We’ll know more on Saturday.

 

It’s funny, in some ways, I’m anticipating this show more than I was King Of Pro Wrestling. While KoPW featured some excellent matches, what makes Power Struggle interesting is that you really have the feeling anything can happen. How will the Nakamura/Anderson match go down? And what with that Open Challenge? Who will win the Super Junior tag team Tournament? What will happen between Honma and Ishii? How good will EVIL do (haha, ermh… never mind)? And what about that Tanahashi/Okada tag match? See what I mean? This is almost the last big PPV before WK 10, with only the World tag league left between now and then. The biggest NJPW show of the year is being shaped right now. These are certainly exiting times to be a NJPW fan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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