New Japan Pro Wrestling
Destruction In Kobe 2015
September 27, 2015
Kobe World Hall – Kobe, Hyogo, Japan
Watch: NJPW World

The second, and larger scale, NJPW Destruction event takes place on Sunday in Kobe, Japan. Featuring an Intercontinental Championship match, plus KUSHIDA’s second title match of the week, Destruction in Kobe promises to be a NJPW event that could change the way we look at the road to Wrestle Kingdom.

David Finlay & Jay White vs. Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu

Damon McDonald (Posts by Damon): Single leg Boston Crabs for everyone! Kidding aside, you could copy and paste every single review of these Young Lion tag matches and flip-flop the results. Good, solid, well paced, wrestle-by-numbers action. Oh, and a single leg Boston Crab. That is for sure.

Prediction: David Finlay & Jay White

Rich Kraetsch (@voiceswrestling): There’s really nothing better than watching talented young boys do their thing on early Sunday morning! What, there isn’t!

Prediction: Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu

Rob McCarron (@ShakeThemRopes): All four young lions thrown together in a tag match? I’ll take it. Young, Oh MY!

Prediction: Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu

Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask & Yuji Nagata vs. Captain New Japan & Juice Robinson & Manabu Nakanishi

Damon McDonald: The two things to look for in this match are the interactions between Liger and Tiger Mask and the progression of Juice Robinson (what a terrible name, BTW). As I noted last week, Juice looks to be in full “young boy” mode here in New Japan and you have to tip your cap to him if that was a decision he made. Let’s see how that impacts him and his style. As for the rest of the match, I do enjoy watching Nakanishi slow motion offense and tree-trunk selling like no one else. Wait what?

Prediction: Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask & Yuji Nagata

Rich Kraetsch: Listeners of the Voices of Wrestling flagship podcast know my intrigue with tag partners is always, what are they going to talk about, what do they have in common. I can’t imagine you team with someone or a group of guys and don’t talk at some point before, after or during the match. I present you one of the best “What are they going to talk about?” teams ever: Captain New Japan, Manabu Nakanishi and Juice Robinson, the former CJ Parker on NXT. Will Nakanishi ask about fellow stiff wrestler Baron Corbin? Captain New Japan reminiscing about his favorite Mojo Rawley moments? Will the Cap and Nakanishi ignore any of Robinson’s attempts at small talk? I can’t wait. Though he won’t really have a chance, I’d love to see Juice Robinson show something, anything, he’s been very unimpressive thus far in New Japan.

Prediction: Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask & Yuji Nagata

Rob McCarron: Jushin Liger and Tiger Mask are teaming again. Oh, and look who now holds the NWA Jr Heavyweight Title. It’s Tiger Mask. What did Tiger Mask say he was going to do before even winning the title on Wednesday? He said he’d win, defend against Liger, and beat Liger. INTRIGUE! Despite the possible tension later, which follows these two always in current NJPW, they should get through this night as victors against the lowly team of CJ Parker, CNJ, and Maybach Don.

Prediction: Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask & Yuji Nagata

CHAOS (Beretta, Rocky Romero, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) & Mascara Dorada & Ryusuke Taguchi

Damon McDonald: Questions I’d like answered before the bell rings on this match: What does “Oh my and Garfunkel” mean? Can I buy Dorada’s mash-up Liger mask he wore to the ring at the last show. No really, I want it. How underrated is Rocky Romero? Even with the same silly comedy he does every match, I can’t help but think the guy is fantastic and a pleasure to watch. In a ring full of great talent, he might be the best “professional wrestler” of them all. Oh, the match? It has no reason to be bad with all the talent in the ring. Will you remember it in the morning? Probably not. It is the salad before the main course. Who remembers a salad?

Prediction: Great Bash Heel & Mascara Dorada & Ryusuke Taguchi

Rich Kraetsch: I’m sorry, I just can’t do it. I can’t give any strong thoughts about this eight-man. Dorada will be fun, Taguchi will be full of unfunny jokes, Honma, Makabe and Ishii will crack skulls.

Prediction: Great Bash Heel & Mascara Dorada & Ryusuke Taguchi

Rob McCarron: The 10-man tag on Destruction in Okayama, which many of these guys were in on Wednesday, was pretty fun. This is a fun, don’t think about it at all, match that should allow everyone to do what they’re known for doing individually. It’s a pick’em, to me.

Prediction: CHAOS

Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tetsuya Naito

Damon McDonald: Who is not jacked up to see this match? Two guys with different “I don’t give a shit” attitudes who have done an outstanding job building toward this match. If you saw that post-match beatdown on the last Destruction show, and it didn’t get you excited for this match, then I don’t know what to tell you. Looking forward to a high-paced, wild, kicks-to-the-face, fight that is positioned to be MOTN. Fingers crossed that these guys go wild and let it all hang out. Naito has been getting the short end of the stick in these brawls and the “Road To” tag matches, so I’ll go with him to pick up a dirty win here.

Prediction: Tetsuya Naito

Rich Kraetsch: Far and away my most anticipated match of the night. The 75-minute Shibata beatdown that followed their multi-man tag at Destruction in Okayama only heightened my interest. The real intrigue is how Naito integrates his shithead attitude into this match. Will he even care enough to try to win? Will he be giving half effort until he eventually snaps on Shibata? I’m thinking more the latter and that will make for a better match even if the former is a cool little story vehicle. Expect many kicks to the face, a few flips here and there and dudes screaming and beating the hell out of one another.

Prediction: Tetsuya Naito

Rob McCarron: They teased it pretty well throughout the Road To Destruction and Okayama events, and now it is here. Naito has merch in Mexico now, so there’s something! I’m looking forward to it, partially because it’s one of the few singles matches, and mostly because I’m loving the new Naito.

Prediction: Tetsuya Naito

BULLET CLUB (AJ Styles, Tama Tonga & Cody Hall) vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano)

Damon McDonald: It is all about Okada and Styles, kids. Okada and Styles. Just keep repeating that to yourselves to understand that this match is all about October. Let the nose-to-nose, belt in the air camera shots fly! Depending on which Sakuraba shows up, the interaction between Styles (and even Tonga) could prove to be interesting as well… but yeah, Okada and Styles in October.

Prediction: Bullet Club (AJ Styles, Tama Tonga & Cody Hall)

Rich Kraetsch: This match is nothing more than a vehicle to progress Okada/Styles until their huge title match at King of Pro-Wrestling. The others in the match are just along for the ride. It’s a mortal lock that Tama Tonga takes the fall.

Prediction: CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano)

Rob McCarron: We have the precedent for this from Okayama, that Toru Yano or Sakuraba can pin Cody Hall while AJ and Okada remain on their own little island in the match. We could see AJ Styles’ team get the win to even it up, but I’ll just go with what we’ve already seen.

Prediction: CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano)

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title
reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) © vs. TimeSplitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA)

Damon McDonald: For me, the way New Japan books KUSHIDA is an absolute mystery. I can’t sit here and tell you I know the reasons for his stop-start IWGP title runs. To my eyes, KUSHIDA is a star. Sadly, KUSHIDA is living proof that New Japan does not book their shows to cater to the small percentage of non-Japanese fans who salivate at the thought of a nice, long run at the top. It has never been about me or you. New Japan books professional wrestling shows to make money in Japan. That said, slow build and measured steps have always been the way for New Japan, but to me this doesn’t feel like a build. It feels like someone correcting what they feel is a mistake. The Time Splitters win here and the match will be very good. I just feel there could be so much more for KUSHIDA.

Prediction: TimeSplitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA)

Rich Kraetsch: I’ve never been less excited to predict a title win for one of my favorites in New Japan, KUSHIDA. After losing the Jr. Title at Destruction in Okayama, all signs point to another Time Splitters tag run. Should I blame Alex Shelley for wanting to come back or was this decision made before then? Who knows. Either way, I think it’s the wrong move. Not that Time Splitters aren’t great Jr. Tag champs, they absolutely are. Like Damon above, I see more for KUSHIDA and New Japan should too. They carefully constructed a great build for KUSHIDA through the spring and summer only to blow it off after one title defense. That sucks, there’s no other way to say it. It sucks, it’s unimaginative and it does no favors to anyone involved.

Prediction: TimeSplitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA)

Rob McCarron: Only way the Jr Title drop makes sense.

Prediction: TimeSplitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA)

IWGP Heavyweight Championship – #1 Contendership
Hiroshi Tanahashi © vs Bad Luck Fale

Damon McDonald: I want to throw some stats at you before I give my prediction. This year, in singles matches (including G1 and New Japan Cup), Bad Luck Fale is 7-5. To put that in perspective, Kota Ibushi is 8-8 in singles matches for New Japan in 2015. Katsuyori Shibata is 6-6 so far in New Japan. In a promotion where singles matches are so important and rare, this sticks out to me. Two wins might not seem a lot, and there are a ton of other booking factors involved, but at the core of those numbers is the simple fact that New Japan places a lot of value in Bad Luck Fale. I am not saying that value is strong enough to headline The Dome. Lets not get silly. I do think it is strong enough to not be shocked if Fale wins here and then loses the “briefcase” back to Tanahashi before Wrestle Kingdom. Just something to keep in the back of your minds. I am going to play it safe here, not over-book, and go on record with a Tanahashi win.

Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi

Rich Kraetsch: Look, you can tell me 1,000 times that Bad Luck Fale has his best matches against Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura. You can tell me the G1 match between Tanahashi and Fale was good. I don’t care, I don’t want to see this guy anywhere near the top of a New Japan card. As his girth has increased in the past two years, he’s regressed as a worker and is downright awful in the ring. He doesn’t present himself as an imitating monster, his offense is weak and he lumbers around the ring at a Nakanishi pace. You can tell me New Japan values him, whatever, I’m not listening. I don’t want to see this and the best part of this match will be when it’s over.

Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi

Rob McCarron: Rich and Damon have said it. This is Tanahashi getting over the hump that has been Bad Luck Fale, on to bigger and better things (finally).

Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi

IWGP Intercontinental Title Match
Hirooki Goto © vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Damon McDonald: What I find amazing is that Shinsuke Nakamura could lose three consecutive title matches to Hirooki Goto and not get a single dent or scratch. There aren’t many wrestlers in the world today that can pull that off. The flip-side is Goto who, having defeated Nakamura for the title and has successfully defended that same title against Shinsuke, still comes into this match with a general feeling that he needs to win. Another small point that may not mean anything but I am going to share. On my two trips to Japan this year, New Japan had a good amount of advertising for their shows. Train posters, billboards, and event posters were all over Tokyo for G1. Hirooki Goto was on every single one of them. In fact it was always five guys – Nakamura, Tanahashi, Okada, Makabe, and Goto. Three weeks ago on PuroCast I went on record saying Goto was going to get the win here and I am sticking to my guns. Western wrestling logic screams that Nakamura wins, but I am going to ignore the logic, be bold, and say Goto wins.

Prediction: Hirooki Goto

Rich Kraetsch: The Japanese wrestling twitter community may not be able to handle this match. Though I can’t imagine it’ll be worse than the outrage of Kota Ibushi’s loss at Destruction in Okayama, it’ll be close. I think Shinsuke Nakamura is winning. I can’t fathom a scenario where New Japan books Nakamura to lose to Goto on three consecutive occasions. It may happen, it’s not out of the realm of possibility and as Damon said above, it wouldn’t hurt Nak. I just don’t see it. As Joe Lanza and I discussed on this week’s VOW podcast, the IC Title has to be a draw. It has to be able to main event shows (like this). If New Japan doesn’t believe Goto is a man that can do that, then it makes sense to put the title back on Nakamura. Of course, you could ask, why don’t you build up Goto to become that type of draw. I agree with you, but I’m not booking this promotion. Goto winning is the right move in my mind, but, not the move they are going to make. Prepare for the Twitter meltdown.

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

Rob McCarron: Excluding G1 Block matches, Shinsuke Nakamura has a singles record of 2-3 this year in NJPW, with his last victory coming back in February against Yuji Nagata. That’s right, Nakamura hasn’t won a non-G1 Block singles match in NJPW since February. Included in his three losses are two straight losses to Hirooki Goto in Intercontinental Championship matches. If Nakamura is going to have anything meaningful at Wrestle Kingdom, I am fully believing that he will win here. If that happens, it will almost seem as if, to me, this Destruction run was a minor reboot of sorts for NJPW. KUSHIDA lost his newly won Jr Heavyweight title surprisingly, and could win the Jr Tag titles on Sunday if I’m seeing clearly. Nakamura winning would further the   shift in what we were seemingly being set up for. It’ll be a good match, and an even more interesting result, whichever way NJPW goes.

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura