NJPW Road to Power Struggle
New Japan Pro Wrestling
October 23, 2015
Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan
New Japan Pro Wrestling is back to hitting the road and making towns, this time on the Road to Power Struggle. This tour is interesting for more than just the final night, which will be the Power Struggle Pay Per View. Indeed, we all get a break from the endless stream of six to ten man tags running up and down the card of every Road To show. On tomorrow’s event, October 24, the first round of the annual Super Junior Tag Team Tournament takes place! Following up on November 1 will be the second round of the tournament, with the finals coming on November 7’s Power Struggle PPV.
Tonight’s show in Tokorozawa heavily focused on both the Super Jr Tag tournament, as well as the key matches for the November 7 PPV. It was a fun opening night, despite the bland single camera presentation on New Japan World.
- Full Card for November 7’s NJPW Power Struggle in Osaka
- Discuss NJPW Power Struggle on the VOW Forums
NJPW Super Junior Tag Team Tournament – First Round
Korakuen Hall (October 24)
- Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask vs Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish
- Beretta & Rocky Romero vs Chase Owens & Kenny Omega
- Mascara Dorada & Ryusuke Taguchi vs Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson
- Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA vs Matt Sydal & Ricochet
Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask def. Yohei Komatsu & Sho Tanaka
The opening match on the opening night of the Road to Power Struggle featured the most veteran team in the Super Junior Tag Tournament going up against a young lion non-tournament team. Liger and Tiger Mask have teamed up three times prior in the Super Jr. Tag tournament, each time failing to make it out of the first round. I see no change this year, as Liger and Tiger have the unfortunate task of going up against reDRagon in the first round this year.
Komatsu and Tanaka had control of the match early, one-upping the veterans with speed and youth angst. Going nearly nine minutes, the match was a clear showcase for what Liger and Tiger Mask can do in there tomorrow with another quick, but more methodical, tag team in reDRagon. Tiger Mask got the win over Komatsu with the Tiger Bomb. **3/4
reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) def. Juice Robinson & Jay White
Juice Robinson is excited to be in New Japan Pro Wrestling. That much is obvious. He also seems intent to force crowds to remember him, even if they remember him just for being the loud American who shouts after every move. Arm drag… WOOO! Wrist lock… WOOO! Tag in… WOOO! Juice would play to the crowd after every single thing he did, and the crowd noticeably reacted less and less every time he would make a sound. Ease up a bit, Juice, you’ll be better off. As Juice and Jay were making their entrance, they did get a great welcome. This team has potential in this undercard job duty, and worked quite well with the current Tag champions.
In the end, Fish and O’Reilly got the win as they welcome the challenge from Liger and Tiger Mask tomorrow. reDRagon goes into this tag tournament as the defending winners. In fact, the last three tournament victors are in this year’s tournament, with the Young Bucks and Time Splitters being the other two former champs entered. ***
Bullet Club (Kenny Omega & Chase Owens & Young Bucks) def. Ryusuke Taguchi & Mascara Dorada & Time Splitters)
Before the match, Chase Owens was introduced as an official member of the Bullet Club. Somehow, I see this lasting all of one more show. Maybe one week, if Omega & Owens can outlast Roppongi Vice tomorrow. Funny enough, Omega put over Owens as a future Junior Division star. A Junior Division that Omega himself currently leads, and it isn’t as if Omega has been that leader for a super long time. Chase had something weird going on with his hair that made him look even more like an AJ Styles cosplayer than usual.
Comedy was the name of the game, from start to finish, as the Young Bucks worked some self-depricating humor throughout. Lasting ten minutes, we didn’t see much semblance of straightforward wrestling until the very final stretch when Mascara Dorada got in the ring. That isn’t to say that the match suffered too much by the focus on comedy spots, as the crowd ate it all up. I expect to see less comedy tomorrow, although we’ll almost assuredly get some, when the Young Bucks open up their tournament against Mascada Dorada & Ryusuke Taguchi. **1/2
— Deno (@DenoakaGod) October 23, 2015
Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto def. Cody Hall & Tama Tonga
Our pre-intermission bout was the first match of the night to feature heavyweights. Surprisingly, the match went over ten minutes, while at the same time it felt like the quickest match of the night. Cody Hall, who has been in New Japan for less than one year still, is no longer an eye soar in the ring. He’s a fully competent participant who doesn’t stick out like he did earlier this year, so hooray for him and all those who have gotten him ready.
With Hirooki Goto having a match against the former Takaaki Watanabe at Power Struggle, and Shibata having nothing on his plate yet, this was basically just a special attraction match with nothing on the line for future plans. Tonga looked good, Hall looked fine, Shibata was Shibata, and Goto eased through it. If you’re looking to fly by this show, and watch only that which is necessary, this is the first match to hit the cutting room floor. As for the result, Shibata beat Hall with the Penalty Kick. **1/4
Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma def. Gedo & Tomohiro Ishii
Surprise, the lone junior heavyweight took the fall in a tag filled with NEVER title brawlers. Honma and Ishii may be the NEVER Openweight title match at Power Struggle, but there was enough of Ishii and Makabe in here to make me think that story is nowhere near over. A chop fest, brawl fest and more with Makabe showcasing his power more when in there with Gedo. The ending was a little flat, as Makabe hit the King Kong Knee drop on Gedo while Honma simply held onto Ishii for almost a minute on the outside. This was not the best precursor to Ishii vs Honma, really, but they have a ton of time to showcase the upcoming title match more. **1/2
Up to this point, the show had been a breeze to get through, while simultaneously being pretty nondescript.
Bullet Club (Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows & Bad Luck Fale) def. CHAOS (Shinsuke Nakamura & Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI)
YOSHI-HASHI tried to fight off the Bullet Club valiantly in the final stretch, as he was alone to fight all three opponents by himself. However, with a GUN STUN OUTTA NOWHERE, Karl Anderson defeated YOSHI-HASHI to pick up the Bullet Club W. Afterwards, Anderson and Nakamura had a face off, with each man holding up their respective title belts in each other’s face. Juice Robinson was out there performing young boy duties, and I mention it now, because he took a beatdown from Bad Luck Fale towards the end of the match just simply for getting in Fale’s way. **1/2
Young Lions def. Ring Canvas
A show of just average tonight, but the main event was the whole shebang anyway. For me, at least. Before we could get to the main event, however, trouble struck! All throughout the show, the mats under the ring canvas towards the far side were noticeably bunching up. It’d get worked on every once in a while briefly, until the final match, when it bunched up so much that you could see the bubble from the rear of the building. Luckily, they took some time to fix the trouble and we were on our way. ***1/4
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Matt Sydal & Ricochet def. Kazuchika Okada & Beretta & Rocky Romero
The longest match of the night, going over sixteen minutes, we finally got something well above average. Not only that, but we had a pretty good amount of interaction with Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada. The two didn’t go full force, unlike their tag partners, but when the two were in it felt pretty important.
As for Roppongi Vice and Sydal & Ricochet, these four cemented how great this Junior tag league can be. I’m quite excited for not just the potential semi-final and final matchups, but we have really good scheduling in the first round, too. Tomorrow night, Roppongi Vice will open up against Kenny Omega & Chase Owens. Omega in the ring with Beretta is something to look forward to, as is seeing how long Owens’ future in the Bullet Club may actually be. The main event of the first round, though, is Matt Sydal & Ricochet vs Time Splitters. In fact, that main events the entire card tomorrow night in Korakuen. I can see both teams winning, for various reasons, but the match in ring itself should be quite great. I wouldn’t be surprised if the bout goes over twenty minutes, giving these four guys plenty of time to wow the audience and make some believers for the winners’ possible tournament win. ***3/4
What would a preview be without predictions assured to go wrong!? I expect reDRagon, Roppongi Vice, the Young Bucks, and Matt Sydal/Ricochet to win in the first round. That last one is the toss up, to me. If Time Splitters win, we’re back to the big four of the NJPW Junior tag division all getting into the semi-finals. While Time Splitters are a regular team, and a win would break the all-foreigner semi-finals, I think we’re in for a big run from Sydal & Ricochet. Or, as is likely, I could be super wrong. If I am super wrong here, I’m super wrong for the rest of the tournament, because the winner of Sydal & Ricochet vs Time Splitters is my pick to win the entire tournament. I could bust my bracket quite quickly. The finals, I believe, will be reDRagon vs Sydal & Ricochet, with Sydal & Ricochet getting the win. With that win, a Jr. Tag Title match should come their way.
Road to Power Struggle’s opening night ended with the crowd of nearly 900 applauding along to Hiroshi Tanahashi jamming with his air guitar. Keep on rockin’ in the free world. Ru Gunn will be back tomorrow with the Voices of Wrestling review of Road To Power Struggle: Korakuen Hall!