“Wrestling Dontaku 2014″
Saturday, May 3
17:00 (JST) / 4:00 a.m. (EST)
WPW/PPV/iPPV: www.ustream.tv/njpw ($25)
Fukuoka International Center

New Japan Pro Wrestling’s “Road to Wrestling Dontaku” tour completes this Saturday at 4:00 a.m. EST/17:00 JST with the much-anticipated “Wrestling Dontaku 2014” iPPV, highlighted by a huge main event IWGP Heavyweight Title match between champion Kazuchika Okada and newly-minted Bullet Club leader and former TNA superstar A.J. Styles. The card also features a number of solid matchups including a potential match of the night with Kota Ibushi defending his Jr. Heavyweight Title against Eddie Guer… sorry, Ryusuke Taguchi.

Shinsuke Nakamura teams with Kazushi Sakuraba in a Dream (as in I’ll be sleeping, get it!) Match against The Gracies (Daniel and Rolles). The Young Bucks defend the Jr. Heavyweight Titles against former champion The Forever Hooligans, while top stars Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe and Tetsuya Naito team with Jushin Thunder Liger to take on The Bullet Club (Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga).

Instead of a boring preview, we decided to grab a few members of our staff to take stab at predicting who we think will win and how the match will go. Look for this format to be a regular part of our New Japan coverage going forward. Special thanks to Jason Felix for kickstarting this idea and getting it off the ground.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, KUSHIDA, Tiger Mask & Yohei Komatsu vs. El Desperado, BUSHI, Mascara Dorada, & Captain New Japan

Rich Kraetsch (@richkraetsch): This one is hard to predict because these matches are completely worthless and wins/losses in this spot alter nothing. Still, I’ll go with Tenzan’s team since he’s still kind of a big deal along with KUSHIA’s jacket. Tiger Mask and Komatsu on the team drags them down a bit but I still see them coming away with the win here.

Prediction: Hiroyoshi Tenzan, KUSHIDA, Tiger Mask & Yohei Komatsu

Joe Lanza (@JoeMLanza): Tenzan has mercifully been moved to the opening match old guy spot. He had one hell of a run and I have a ton of respect for him. Hey, we’re all getting that gold watch & pat on the back some day. Komatsu is my boy, but he’s probably taking the “L” here. But he’ll go down fighting, and look awesome doing it.

Prediction: El Desperado, BUSHI, Mascara Dorada, & Captain New Japan

Bryan Rose (@br26): Eh, it’s your typical New Japan opener. This should be fine. Interesting to see Dorada here as I guess he’s on the tour. At this point Tenzan really should just be doing these type of matches in the Nakanishi type role as he’s not that good anymore. I think Desperado’s team has more of an upside so I see one of them pinning the young lion Komatsu here, probably Desperado.

Prediction: El Desperado, BUSHI, Mascara Dorada, & Captain New Japan

Jason Felix (@Felix824): This isn’t scientific or anything, but I tend to feel like in an opening dark match, New Japan gives the win to the most Senior former top guy, so I’ll go with Team Tenzan….but I will be rooting vehemently against him.  If Team Tenzan loses, Komatsu will take the fall.  I feel like something is brewing for Komatsu…I’m not sure what…but something big is coming.

Prediction: Hiroyoshi Tenzan, KUSHIDA, Tiger Mask & Yohei Komatsu

Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi

Rich: This is a no-brainer, Goto and Shibata win here to get themselves back on track towards a possible run for the tag belts regardless of who holds it. Goto especially needs the win here as he’s been losing high-profile matches left and right.

Prediction: Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata

Joe: I am of the belief that Tanahashi & Makabe will win the tag titles from Guns & Gallows, setting up what should be a killer feud over the belts with Goto & Shibata.

Prediction: Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata

Bryan: This doesn’t sound like a great match, but if you just have Nagata doing most of it with Nakanishi doing his comeback here and there I think this should be fine. Shibata and Goto seem to be the next challengers for the tag team titles, so it makes sense for them to win here. Next time they meet Bullet Club I’m pretty sure the titles will change.

Prediction: Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata

Jason: This should be a fun little match.  Three really good wrestlers and Nakanishi, who has the mobility of 1990 Andre the Giant, which makes him awesome in my book.  So I think this match will be a fun 10 minute war or hard kicks and an occasional Flying Nakanishi.  What’s not to love?  Goto & Shibata just seem kind of…there…right now.  2014 hasn’t been very kind to them.  Hoping they can break out and actually WIN a big match at some point, because these losses are killing both of them right now.

Prediction: Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata

Special Tag Team Match

Minoru Suzuki & Shelton X Benjamin vs. Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka

Rich: Please don’t die, please don’t die! Of course I’m referring to the endless Yano/Suzuki match which I still enjoy but has definitely worn out its welcome. As Jason said, you know every spot before you even watch this match, it’s all right there for you but hey, maybe you get Shelton jumping to the top rope for an arm drag!

Prediction: Minoru Suzuki & Shelton X Benjamin

Joe: Minoru Suzuki, creative has nothing for you. So feud endlessly with Yano.

Prediction: Minoru Suzuki & Shelton X Benjamin

Bryan: Why has Suzuki been feuding with Yano for so long? Both of Suzuki-gun can be better implemented in other places on the card. Yano and Iizuka are good for comedy, but at this point they shouldn’t be feuding with people who have upward mobility.

Prediction: Minoru Suzuki & Shelton X Benjamin

Jason: The feud that saved my love for professional wrestling…but my gosh, that feud needed to be done at the New Japan Cup.  The Bullet Club took over Suzuki’s spot at the top heel in New Japan and other than a couple instances, Suzuki has been stuck in the lower card ever since.  So…here’s what will happen.  Iizuka will spray paint Shinpei Nogami.  They’ll brawl to start.  Yano will rip the corner pad off.  Suzuki and Yano will do the spot where Suzuki avoids going into the corner and kicks Yano.  Yano will pull Suzuki’s hair.  I’ve seen it so many times at this point.  Suzuki crushed Yano in their last match… but Yano won the last tag match…so 50-50 booking says Suzuki wins.

Prediction: Minoru Suzuki & Shelton X Benjamin

Pro Wrestling vs. Jiu-Jitsu Match

Shinsuke Nakamura & Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Daniel & Rolles Gracie

Rich: I’ll watch Shinsuke Nakamura’s entrance and then go wash my hair or something. I can’t even attempt to come up with enough effort to muster up a prediction. Enough of them please. There’s a few needles in the haystack that enjoy them but I don’t associate with those people (Jason, you’re fired, turn in your password) and Sakuraba has been dreadful. Please no more of this, alas the Gracies probably win to setup an IC Title match with Nakamura down the line… HOORAY!

Prediction: Daniel & Rolles Gracie.

Joe: Three people involved here that I have no desire to watch and couldn’t possibly care less about. I guess one of the Gracie’s has to beat Nak to set up an IC title match that exactly nobody wants to see, right?

Prediction: Daniel & Rolles Gracie, but there are no winners here.

Bryan: I don’t care who wins, I just never want to see the Gracies again after this. Or just have them spend months in the dojo if you’re using them long term. It’s not over with the crowd and I don’t know why they’re still here. And I hope to high heaven they really aren’t going towards an IC title match because that will mean instant death to everything they’ve been trying to do with that belt for the last year or so.

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura and Kazushi Sakuraba

Jason: I may be the only person on the planet that enjoys the Gracie’s participation in New Japan.  I enjoy train wrecks and do we ever have a train wreck here!  I wouldn’t have guessed in a thousand tries that this would be the semi-main event of a New Japan show if you’d have put a gun to my head a month ago.  It’s such a weird, out of left field type match.  Logic seems that the Gracie’s would win to set up an Intercontinental Title match, but then again, Shibata challenged Okada for the IWGP Title and…yeah.

Prediction: Daniel & Rolles Gracie

Elimination Match (Elimination by Pinfall, Submission or Over the Top Rope)

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, Tetsuya Naito & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows & Tama Tonga)

Rich: Ooooh, elimination-style, I’m a huge fan, totally blows standard multi-man tags out of the water. I’ll predict Anderson/Gallows surviving though I could see some combination of Tanahashi/Makabe/Naito moving on if not all three. I can’t see Fale surviving but New Japan thinks very highly of him and the booking has reflected that. Liger and Tonga don’t stand a chance.

Prediction: Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows survive

Joe: I have always loved the elimination match gimmick, as it really allows for some creative multi-layered booking if done properly. Logic says Guns & Gallows, the worst IWGP Tag Champs in recent memory, get some measure of revenge on Tanahashi & Makabe here. But this can really go either way.

Prediction: Bad Luke Fale & Karl Anderson survive, and move on to the Ultimate Survivor match at the end of the show.

Bryan: This sounds pretty fun. Eight mans in New Japan are almost never bad, and with a survivor series scenario this should be very interesting. Bullet Club needs the win here because after losing their top guy and reshuffling things around, they need a win to solidify themselves. I say Karl Anderson and Fale survive, since Anderson seems to be the new top guy in the group and they have interests in Bad Luck Fale.

Prediction: Karl Anderson and Bad Luck Fale survive.

Jason: I’ll never forget my first New Japan Elimination Match.  CHAOS vs. Suzuki-Gun.  After a few minutes, I couldn’t figure out why the crowd was going insane at Minoru Suzuki trying to lift Kazuchika Okada over the top rope.  It took me a bit, but then I understood.  These matches are a lot of fun.  I remember one of them (may have been the same match) where it ended up with Okada vs. Taichi & TAKA Michinoku.  The over the top rule allows for the top stars to get eliminated early in the match, so it makes for a really unpredictable match.  That being said, I think the Bullet Club is taking a hard loss here.  I don’t see Tanahashi losing again after losing at Invasion Attack.  Makabe will survive to help set up the imminent Tag Team Title match with Anderson & Gallows.  Naito may even survive just because I still think New Japan views him at the #4 guy in the company.  They’ll want to protect him a bit.  And further (and I know this goes against my prediction in the main event,) Bullet Club losing here would be forgotten about if Bullet Club wins in the main event, if you know what I mean.  I’ve found in life that if you hedge your bets, you never fail, you never succeed, but it does wonders for maintaining the status quo.

Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe & Tetsuya Naito survive

NEVER Openweight Title Match

Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. Tomoaki Honma

Rich: This is going to be awesome. We all know who’s coming out victorious but nobody steps up for a singles match like Honma. Expect a stiff as hell match, tons of headbutts both of the top rope and standing variety. This is going to be awesome.
Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii


Prediction: We all win. 

Bryan: This should be brutally stiff. And very fun, to boot. Homna isn’t used too often beyond eight man tag team matches, but when he’s in a singles match things can be fun. I very much doubt Ishii is losing the belt to Homna, so he’ll retain here.

Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii

Jason: This is going to be so awesome.  New Japan’s two biggest underdogs battling in the battle to end all battles.  This may as well bump Okada vs. Styles from the main event.  Nothing will be able to follow this.  Think Undertaker at WrestleMania level of match here.  These two are going to kill each other and it is going to be great.  I totally expect Ishii to win this one.  Honma having a title wouldn’t fit his character in New Japan at all.  But it doesn’t matter who wins, because as Joe said, “We all win.”

Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii

NWA World Heavyweight Title Match

Satoshi Kojima (c) vs. Wes Brisco

Rich: Look on the brightside everybody… Bruce Tharpe will be there! And uh…yeah…that’s the only thing to look forward to here. This is going to be awful, definitely the frontrunner for worst match of the night and yeah, Kojima wins here because good lord we don’t need a Wes Brisco NWA Title run.

Prediction: Satoshi Kojima

Joe: Unless there have been miracles performed in the New Japan dojo, Kojima has his work cut out for him. I like the idea of Kojima facing random NWA dudes in the midcard, but Brisco is pretty terrible. Wes Brisco as NWA World Champion would be interesting from a historical perspective and just wacky enough that I wouldn’t put it past them to do it, but that isn’t happening here, especially with Kojima defenses already lined up this summer in Europe & the states.

Prediction: Satoshi Kojima

Bryan: All I’ll say is hopefully Wes Brisco has been spending all that time after leaving TNA in the New Japan dojo because if not…eesh.

Prediction: Satoshi Kojima

Jason: If I refuse to write anything about this match, you think this whole NWA angle in New Japan will just go away?  I’m going to try it.

Prediction: Satoshi Kojima

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match

The Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson) (c) vs. Forever Hooligans (Rocky Romero & Alex Koslov)

Rich: The Young Bucks win this one easily, they are the new kids on the block but still have a ways to go in this division with tons of future matchups. Going back to the Hooligans would be extremely disappointing and I doubt New Japan goes that direction. Young Bucks, easily.

Prediction: The Young Bucks

Joe: Bucks have been a breath of fresh air to what had been a stale junior tag scene. They still have fresh matches on the horizon.

Prediction: The Young Bucks

Bryan: This should be good, but this feels like I’ve seen this bout countless times already. Next you’ll be telling me they’re facing Taichi/Taka next month and Timesplitters the following month. I don’t see why they’d change the titles here.

Prediction: The Young Bucks

Jason: I better not say anything bad about the Bucks.  I already found out they search Twitter for anything said about them (I stand by my statement that I enjoyed the Gracie’s more than the Bucks at Invasion Attack.)  I’ve never watched the Bucks pre-New Japan, and honestly, I don’t get their act.  I’ve enjoyed the Hooligans in all their New Japan matches I’ve seen over the past year…but I don’t like this match at all.  I got to see the preview at the Road to Wrestling Dontaku show.  They just moved at a million miles an hour with no rhyme or reason to anything and eventually the Hooligans won.  So at Wrestling Dontaku, they’ll move at a million miles an hour and the Bucks will win.

Prediction: The Young Bucks

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match

Kota Ibushi (c) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi

Rich: Here’s where I’ll use shocked — I’d be shocked if Taguchi wins. Ibushi has all the momentum in the world and is clearly being built as one of their biggest stars of 2014. There’s no chance he drops the title here. I’ve been interested in Taguchi as of late, even the Eddie Guerrero knock off act so here’s hoping we get a great match between the two.

Prediction: Kota Ibushi

Joe: Ibushi is just getting warmed up, so I don’t see him dropping the title yet. Good to see Taguchi back in the mix, but what’s up with the Eddie Guerrero knock off act?

Prediction: Kota Ibushi

Bryan: This title is not really in the mix of things in recent years. It’s rarely defended and there’s no real major program. I think it will be a hot match anyway. Ibushi is always good and also always up for some high flying fun. Taguchi I haven’t seen much since his return, but he was pretty fun in the Devitt match last month. I see a long reign here for Ibushi so I don’t see him dropping the title anytime soon, especially Taguchi.

Prediction: Kota Ibushi

Jason: Taguchi is coming off a great match with Prince Devitt at Invasion Attack, but I haven’t seen him do much of anything besides that match in the last year and a half.  Now that Devitt’s gone, I really expect him to just slide back down to the lower card again.  Ibushi is setting up for great things.  I expect him to jump into the Heavyweight division full time later this year, so I do expect him to lose the title sooner than later, but Taguchi’s not the guy.

Prediction: Kota Ibushi

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match

Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. A.J. Styles

Rich: Shocked may not be the right word but I don’t really see a scenario where A.J. Styles doesn’t leave Dontaku as the champion. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to bring him in and have him fail in his first try at the belt. It’s totally possible they could do that, but if the plan is to build Styles into something more than Bullet Club fodder, he has to win here.

Prediction: A.J. Styles

Joe: I’d be pretty surprised if AJ doesn’t win the title here, and go on to defend it on the ROH shows next month. Okada will win it back in a few months.

Prediction: A.J. Styles

Bryan: This is a pretty interesting scenario. The ROH shows are coming up and it would be an interesting twist if AJ were to win the IWGP championship here. I can see this scenario developing- AJ wins at Dontaku. The G1 is soon after with Okada winning. Okada then beats Styles to regain the IWGP championship. It’s a new, interesting program so I can see them going that route. Then again, Okada can just retain and move on. I don’t have an idea of where they’re going anymore really. I say AJ wins, though.

Prediction: A.J. Styles

Jason: The ROH tour looms in the distance.  Michael Elgin is getting the next shot.  Who will he face is the question.  Here’s the issue for Okada.  He’s running out of contenders for the title.  Styles, Shibata, Nagata, and Fale (and that’s a stretch) are the last non-CHAOS members that could conceivably get the title shot.  Well…and the real wild card of Kota Ibushi. He’s beaten everyone else.  So this makes perfect sense for Styles to win the title.  But that ROH tour looms.  While Styles vs. Elgin would appeal to a typical ROH show, this one just feels like a New Japan showcase show.  I can’t help but think that New Japan will want their Ace in the main event.  Okada’s losing the belt very soon.  I just don’t think it will be until after the ROH shows.

Prediction: Kazuchika Okada

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