New Japan Pro Wrestling
Destruction in Tokyo 2016
September 17, 2016
Ota Ward Gymnasium – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Meet our previewers

  • John Carroll: A layabout serial group previewer and co-host of Open the Voice Gate (@OpenVoiceGate), your favorite podcast that posts once every six weeks or so. Don’t follow their personal Twitter (@toshanshuinla), it’s really bad. There is a one in three chance they will start any sentence with some variation on “When I was in Japan….”
  • Dylan Noah: That one Brother Yasshi fan and co-host of Open the Voice Gate (@OpenVoiceGate) where he is notorious for crying over the Jimmyz on a constant basis. Also responsible for writing essay-length reviews about DDT. Can be found at his personal Twitter (@jimmysusumu) (not the REAL Jimmy Susumu) talking about DDT and BJW. Makes you wonder what he’s doing on THIS preview.
  • Rich Kraetsch: The person you can blame for the entire site existing — sorry! ½ of the VOW Flagship podcast, managing editor, creative director, tech support (he’s bad at this one) and much more. Follow Rich on Twitter @VoicesWrestling.
  • Matt MacLean: One of the newest members of the VOW staff, you can follow Matt at @shining_wiz13 and catch all his random thoughts and snarks on the world of pro wrestling.

David Finlay and Henare vs. Roppongi Vice (Beretta and Rocky Romero)

John Carroll: Roppongi Vice are kind of the perfect tag team for an opener when you think about it: fun theme song, goofy personas, but still pretty good in the ring. They’ll get the crowd going fast here against the young lion team of David Finlay (with his hideous new tights) and Henare. Henare has already showed flashes of potential in my opinion — he has a presence about him that will serve him well, even at this relatively early stage. And if you don’t know Finlay is great by now, I dunno what to tell you. This should be a really good little opener. Prediction: Roppongi Vice

Dylan Noah: Roppongi Vice are a tag team I like for many reasons and I wish they’d gotten SOMETHING in the grand scheme of bounce the tag titles back and forth but this is actually an exciting little match to see just the same. Finlay has really been able to shine now that he’s the main Young Lion down in New Japan as Shohei and Jay White are all gone now, leaving David all alone. He’s seem to had a small crisis of self in the meantime, picking out some really ugly leopard-print ring gear, but his wrestling has not suffered one bit. Henare is good. I like what I’ve seen of him i.e. his Lion’s Gate match and I’ll enjoy getting to see him more here. He’s got a presence to him, and he seems special. Rocky and Trent are good at working with just about anyone, so this match should be a fun opener. That being said, one team are Young Lions. Do the math. Prediction: Roppongi Vice

Rich Kraetsch: Hey, hey, more Henare! There’s nothing we love more at VOW than new young lions and though we’ve only seen a bit from him and he’s more experienced than your run-of-the-mill young lion, I’m still super pumped to see him in his first big tag match spot. Part of me feels for Finlay who is caught in a holding pattern—all of his young lion running mates have moved onto bigger and better things, yet he feels more important than the new imports coming in. Hey, at least he doesn’t have to eat pinfalls anymore. Prediction: Roppongi Vice

Matt McEwen:  Henare is the best Young Lion in New Japan today. He established that in his first match because….well…..he had a match. A rarity among Young Lions these days. Finlay was the best Young Lion in New Japan yesterday. While the negative of that promotion is those god-awful leopard tights, the big benefit is that there is finally someone below him in the pecking order to take the falls in tag matches. Yes, Henare is going to cost his team the match. Knowing that is the end shouldn’t spoil the fun you can have watching them get to that point though. Rocky Romero and Berretta have been stuck in the ennui inducing junior tag division since they formed. But that may be on the verge of change if the rumoured merger of the junior and heavyweight tag divisions actually occurs. Instead of hot potatoing the junior titles in interminable multi-team matches with the Young Bucks and reDRagon, they may actually add depth and meaning to the most neglected division in the company. I am all for that. Prediction: Roppongi Vice

Hunter Club (Captain New Japan and Yoshitatsu) vs. Manabu Nakanishi and Yuji Nagata

John Carroll: If you haven’t heard by now, Yoshitatsu has started a Twitter poll (well, actually he did the old “RT for this, like for that” deal because apparently no one told him actual polls were a thing now) on whether or not Captain New Japan will be allowed to remain in the PRESTIGIOUS HUNTER CLUB~~ and, uh, it’s not looking good for ‘ol Cap. With Leave currently up on Remain by a healthy margin of 2,988 to 2,133, it looks like Capxit is virtually assured, making this perhaps one of the final times the two will team together. There won’t be a dry eye in the house, I’m sure. Prediction: Nagata & Nakanishi

Dylan Noah: Nakanishi has been looking really good lately, which is a surprise given the fact that he’s been basically unable to move for the last few years. It may have been the older guys in general getting ready to bow out soon, as Nagata got a last title run in and Tenzan had his last G1, that’s inspired him to kick it up a little bit. I don’t really care what’s done it, I’m just grateful to see him proving there’s still a little gas left in the tank. Nagata is Nagata, he’s still amazing and shows no signs of being less amazing any time soon, and the two of them together are a great team. And on the other side we have CNJ and friend. I’m kidding, it’s Yoshitatsu, but after his initial return to New Japan, I don’t really think that many people care anymore. The Hunter Club storyline is a little sad, as it’s just one more person who doesn’t want Cap around. Maybe he’ll go to NOAH and he and Captain NOAH can be a tag team. Prediction: Nagata & Nakanishi

Rich Kraetsch: If the payoff of this Tatsu Twitter poll isn’t Captain New Japan beating down Yoshitatsu and proving he, not Yoshi, is the straw the stirs the HUNTER CLUB drink, then I don’t know what to believe in anymore. I’ve made it no secret that I can’t tolerate Yoshitatsu anymore and the sooner he’s not taking up a spot on this New Japan roster, the better. The dollar store, indie-riffic HHH cosplay is cringey on its own and it’s only made worse by the fact that Yoshitatsu does a piss-poor job of it including the worst executed spinebuster in recorded history. #TeamCap. Prediction: Nagata & Nakanishi

Matt McEwen: Oh Captain, My Captain. CNJ may still be loved by the crowds as the loser you can’t help but like, but Yoshitatsu has been getting tired of him lately. The results of Yoshitatsu’s Twitter referendum will set the tone for this deal going forward, but it looks like CNJ is getting the boot from the Club. Think about that for a second – CNJ is on the verge of being kicked out of the lowest rung ‘faction’ in NJPW. Anyhow, CNJ is going to lose here, but then the real question is “And now what?”  Does he unmask? Does he attack Yoshitatsu? They are set to team at each of the other Destructions shows, so there are multiple possibilities. And what about Yoshitatsu? He almost definitely will never fully recover from the broken neck to get back to what he once was (which admittedly, was not that great either), and this weird Triple-H impersonation thing he has on the go had a shelf life that expired about 5 minutes before he came up with the idea. Nakanishi and Nagata are Nakanishi and Nagata. Not much new, always kind of fun. Prediction: Nakanishi and Nagata

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jushin Thunder Liger and Satoshi Kojima vs. Tiger Mask, Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma

John Carroll: Is there anyone on the New Japan roster right now with less direction than Great Bash Heel? Makabe especially has done nothing since he and Honma lost the IWGP Tag Titles to the Guerrillas of Destiny way back on April 10th, and Honma has fared only a little better (he did get a NEVER title shot against Shibata after that). The only silver lining for them was both doing okay in the G1, though even then they started strong and then faded (Makabe won his first 4 matches only to lose his last 5, while Honma started out with big wins over Shibata & YOSHI-HASHI only to win just 1 match in the rest of the G1). With the G1 now behind us, it appears both are right back to where they were beforehand: facing other New Japan guys in meaningless tags on the bottom of the cards. I’m not necessarily saying they should be higher up, but it’s a pretty big fall from where they both were even last year (especially Makabe) and no one seems to be talking about it. Anyway! This match will be fine, I guess? I’m not sure what there is to say about it, to be quite honest. It’s…..a match. Prediction: GBH & Tiger Mask

Dylan Noah: On one side of this match we have three guys who are still doing pretty well for themselves and on the other side, we have a guy who’s doing pretty well for himself and friends. And this time, it’s not a joke. Liger has been impressive all year, surprising absolutely no one I’m sure, and he looks great in these tag matches because he can come in, do his thing, and then get out without having to deal with too much of a beating. Tenzan is coming off of what was a very emotional G1 Climax story where he and Kojima proved that the bonds of brotherhood are stronger than just about anything else, and that was great. Tiger Mask is still good. His grappling is always interesting and fun to watch especially for me, because I love the grappling. And then there’s Makabe & Honma, who have fallen literally all the way back down the card. I’m not complaining, though. I don’t really think Honma had much going for him after last year’s G1 story anyway, and Makabe is Makabe. This is another six-man tag. It’ll be like the others. Prediction: Jushin Thunder Liger & Tencozy

Rich Kraetsch: The grumpiest match in the modern era of NJPW, this six-man will be stinking up the greater Tokyo area with a blend of cigarettes, Icy Hot and, of course, lots and lots of grunting. The pain of it is most of these guys are rudderless, Tenzan has nowhere to go post-G1, Kojima is way too talented to be just an old guy but for whatever reason that’s his slot and Great Bash Heel is the very definition of “just there”, particularly after the first part of the year. I’m sure I’ll enjoy this match greatly but part of me wishes there was some speck of direction for the older veterans — give me a reason to care! Prediction: Great Bash Heel & Tiger Mask

Matt McEwen:  The first of too many six mans on this show. This is also the most meaningless of the group as no one in the match is currently up to a whole lot of anything. Kojima is in the match though, so I at least have that to look forward to. As GBH would be a nice re-addition to the a re-tooled tag division, I assume they will take the win. Prediction: GBH and Tiger Mask

Bullet Club (Chase Owens, Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa) vs. CHAOS (Gedo, Hirooki Goto and Tomohiro Ishii)

John Carroll: With their leader Kazuchika Okada having an upcoming (and inexplicably non-title) match with Bad Luck Fale on the schedule and ultimately, as of now at least, a title match with Kenny Omega to look forward to in January at the Dome, his unit has quietly transitioned from the long-running LIJ feud over to a feud with the Bullet Club. The current BC is honestly kind of a mess; you basically have an “ROH wing” and a “NJPW wing”, but when you have almost the entire ROH wing on at least part of this tour it makes the unit seem about as bloated and overcrowded as the nWo at its peak. Imagine all of these guys jamming into the ring for a 20-minute promo and you’ll see what I mean. Anyway, with all that said, did we really need Chase Owens (quite possibly the one guy who doesn’t belong to EITHER wing!) on this tour? I kind of think the answer to that is no, but okay. I assume he’s probably in this match to eat the fall, although given how quickly they’ve given up on GOD I suppose one of those guys could be getting pinned, who knows. Prediction: CHAOS

Dylan Noah: Why is Chase Owens here? That’s a legitimate question. I can appreciate Milano doing his part earlier this year and putting the guy over on Twitter but Owens has remained that guy who kind of looks a little bit like an AJ Styles cosplayer but lacking just about all of the talent. He’s not really anything special and I don’t necessarily think he’s ever going to be considering all they do is occasionally drag him onto these shows to remind you that he’s there for them to drag onto the shows when they want. He doesn’t even have Omega to lean on anymore because Omega moved up to the heavyweight division and he just seems extra at best. GOD at least shine in these six-man tags where they can move fast and show off their strong offense, especially Tama Tonga who has smoothed out the edges of his ringwork as time goes by. I don’t really know what’s in store for Goto, who was finally getting somewhere with the G1 and now seems to be kind of floundering a bit. Gedo is Gedo, and Ishii is always great. It’ll probably be a fun match provided Owens and Gedo don’t meet too many times or for too long in the ring. Prediction: CHAOS

Rich Kraetsch: Thank god Chase Owens is flying over to save us from another horrendous showing by G.O.D. He’ll look like a million bucks flying around the ring selling for Ishii and Goto. The interesting question becomes, who loses here? Where on the totem pole is Chase Owens relative to Gedo? Is there a possibility Bullet Club wins here? This could end up being the best Guerillas of Destiny-related match ever… I mean because Gedo, Goto and Ishii are in it but, hey, take your victories where you can get them. I’m looking forward to this. (Cheap plug: Our very own Kelly Harrass reviewed each and every Gedo match available on the award-winning WWE Network, you should read it, it’s good.) Prediction: CHAOS

Matt McEwen: I want to say this has no chance to be good, as every match with Tanga Roa makes me want to say that. The optimist in me looks at the other 5 men in this match and thinks there is a chance this could be pretty good. I hope my optimism is founded…… Speaking of teams I would like to see as part of a new focus on the tag division, how about Goto and Ishii? They have a straight up tag match at Destruction in Hiroshima (side note: what a HORRIBLE name), so they should carry the day here. Prediction: CHAOS

Juice Robinson vs. Kyle O’Reilly

John Carroll: Yes!!! More Juice Robinson singles matches!!! That’s not sarcasm, I’m freaking pumped. His match with EVIL at Korakuen Hall this past Monday was awesome, as Juice has some of the best babyface fire and comebacks in the entire business (and the crowd has responded to him in kind). Kyle O’Reilly is always great and I’m very much looking forward to him kicking the crap out of Juice to set up his big comeback. Juice is the best and this match should rule. Prediction: Kyle O’Reilly

Dylan Noah: I was very surprised about Juice coming as far as he has in New Japan. NJ doesn’t work for everyone and can shine a light on a lot of weaknesses that people have, but Juice has done nothing but excel in his time in the promotion. He’s gotten better and better, and that’s saying a lot because when he first started, it was clear he was out of his element. He’s put in the work, though, and he’s shown that he can be amazing. O’Reilly simply is amazing. He’s had some of his best matches in New Japan and he works well with just about anyone. I hope these two mesh well because, if they do, it’s going to be quite the sight to behold. If this match isn’t good, something is very fucking wrong. Prediction: Kyle O’Reilly

Rich Kraetsch: I’ll never complain about singles matches on a major New Japan show and I especially won’t complain about one that has the potential to steal the show. O’Reilly is one of the best going right now and Juice continues to improve upon the solid base he had as CJ Parker in NXT. This likely won’t get enough time to be a show-stealer but I fully expect these two to absolutely kill it, even if the result is in little doubt. Prediction: Kyle O’Reilly

Matt McEwen:  The best match on this card involving a member of reDRagon. I know most people reading this have noticed, but Juice Robinson is pretty damned good. Not necessarily in the way that he will be putting on main event classics anytime soon, but he has a way in the ring that is just different enough to stand out, but also smooth enough to fit in with NJPW. Making the move from NXT was a gutsy and incredibly smart move as he has likely added years (and quality) to his career, wherever they may be spent. This has a chance to be the best match of his career. O’Reilly is on a different level than most other wrestlers for mixing BJJ and MMA into his pro wrestling arsenal in a way that doesn’t expose any of the three. It’s a rare gift….one maybe only shared by KUSHIDA. Also, O’Reilly is moving up to heavyweight, and is the odds on favourite to face Shibata for the NEVER title in the Tokyo Dome in January. At least he was until this week’s news, which will be discussed below.  He’s getting the win here, but just kick back, enjoy, and let two of the best young wrestlers in the world entertain you for 10-15 minutes. Prediction: Kyle O’Reilly

Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Kenny Omega and Yujiro Takahashi) vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay and YOSHI-HASHI)

John Carroll: Another BC vs. CHAOS six-man tag, except this one will probably be worth your time. Yes, okay, it has Yujiro in it and Yujiro is no good, but he’s here to get pinned and stand on the apron (well, not in that order) and I don’t expect him to do much more than that. His teammates are both great and I am 100% here for Bad Luck Fale throwing Will Ospreay around the ring like a lawn dart. YOSHI-HASHI will bring the heat here in the final build to his (almost certainly doomed) briefcase challenge against Kenny Omega, and Kazuchika Okada at least rarely takes these six-mans completely off. Prediction: CHAOS

Dylan Noah: The last time a huge dude was in the ring with Will Ospreay, it was Vader, and Ospreay got fucking bodied, so I hope to God that happens here again because that was about as entertained as I’ve ever been watching Ospreay wrestle. This match is a big tease for Omega/Okada next year (provided Omega does get to keep that briefcase), Omega/YOSHI-HASHI on this tour which should be amazing given their G1 match, and Fale/Okada which is not a title match because for some reason, beating Okada in the G1 is not enough to earn a title shot even though Yoshi beating Omega was enough to earn a briefcase shot. I don’t know, kids, the rules change every day it seems. Yujiro is also here, and he won’t do very much probably, but he’ll stand there and look handsome, and that’s appealing to me. I hope Fale bodies the entire CHAOS team if I’m being honest. I love Fale. But this is Okada’s team, so I’m not going to bet against them. Prediction: CHAOS

Rich Kraetsch: Oooo this is going to be a fun one. There’s a lot of micro-stories throughout that build not only to later Destruction shows but also big events in other countries and, well, maybe even Wrestle Kingdom. Pairing off at various points of the match are Bad Luck Fale and Okada (due for a few matches very soon), YOSHI-HASHI and Omega (battling at a later Destruction show) and Okada and Omega (potential WK main event). Oh and, hey, Will Ospreay is in this match too! I’m calling for the upset here, Bullet Club wins and guess what… they are pinning Will Ospreay. Prediction: Bullet Club

Matt McEwen: The build to Wrestle Kingdom begins. Well, at least the tease will be there. This six man will actually build the two main events for the next Destruction card. Look for a lot of interaction between Okada/Fale and Omega/Yoshi-Hashi, and a little tease between Omega and Okada to be sprinkled in too. As for the remainders – Ospreay has an ROH title shot next week, and Yujiro gets pinned a lot. You do the math on this one. Prediction: CHAOS

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin and Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Los Ingobernables de Japón (EVIL, Sanada and Tetsuya Naito)

John Carroll: Our final six-man of the night continues the build to the Naito-Elgin IC Title match, as Elgin teams up with his heterosexual life partner Hiroshi Tanahashi and Mauro Ranallo’s favorite wrestler Ryusuke Taguchi to take on the LIJ. Naito has been hilarious in this feud, basically making it clear he cares even less about the Intercontinental title than he did about the IWGP Heavyweight strap, which will make it all the better when he wins it next week. Elgin meanwhile is an almost perfect foil for him simply because he takes crap from no one. LIJ six-man matches are almost always great and Taguchi will probably work a lot of this, so expect this match to be a hell of a lot of fun. Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japón

Dylan Noah: If there is currently a more beautiful friendship in New Japan than the one that has grown between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Michael Elgin, it’s the bond of brotherhood between the members of Los. Taguchi is also here to be his goofy self as he continues to steal every single gimmick in New Japan and combine them all with a sense of such self-awareness that it’s absolutely mind-boggling and great all at once. And he’s always good when he’s face to face with Naito because he’s one of the guys who can mock him relentlessly and make it work. And I love a feud where Naito says he doesn’t care about anything at all ever, because that’s only going to make Elgin angrier, and it’s going to make Tana angrier because it’s Tana, and so five of these guys are going to be beating the hell out of each other while Taguchi has all the fun in the world. Big thumbs up for Naito/EVIL teamwork because they are my favorite tag team. Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japón

Rich Kraetsch: On its face this match appears to be nothing more than a build to the main event of Destruction in Kobe (Elgin vs. Naito) but there’s really a lot to unpack. For one, Tanahashi, he’s an auxiliary part, not only of this match, but the entire Destruction tour. Is he just waiting in the wings? Could this be the start of a feud with either EVIL or SANADA? I’ll be paying close attention to what he does throughout as I don’t believe he’s just a throw-in member or there solely to support Elgin. There’s something more to him in this match. Taguchi is another interesting case, it’s doubtful that he’s on the precipice of a feud with either EVIL or SANADA but it seems strange to just have him thrown in this match. Pay close attention to both men as well as the result of this match. It could have more ramifications than we believe. Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japón

Matt McEwen: This match is all about building the rivalry between Elgin and Naito, which will main event at Destruction in Kobe on September 25. Of course, while that’s the point, this also should be a really fun match given the talent involved, though your level of intolerance for Taguchi’s ass offence will certainly play a factor in your level of enjoyment. Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japón

NEVER Openweight Championship
Katsuyori Shibata (c) vs. Bobby Fish

John Carroll: Thankfully it now sounds like this match is actually going to happen, which was a question just a day or two ago when Shibata missed a few shows with an apparent cervical injury. Hopefully Shibata is working this match because he legitimately feels better after a couple days off and not because he feels pressured to do it given he’s in the semi-main event and all. Either way, this match should be really good if Shibata can go at anything close to full strength. Bobby Fish has more confidence than ever as the new ROH World TV Champion and he apparently had a quite good match with Shibata on the ROH TV that just aired (I haven’t seen it yet but heard good things). He retained his title there and thus earned this shot at Shibata’s championship. Predictably he’ll come up short, as Shibata will then move on to Fish’s reDRagon partner Kyle O’Reilly and, hopefully, an upcoming showdown with Go Shiozaki. Prediction: Katsuyori Shibata

Dylan Noah: I feel like this is one of those matches that is merely a stepping stone for the champion, mostly because this is one of those instances where someone has tapped Gedo on the shoulder and reminded him that the NEVER Openweight title is— surprise!— an openweight title. Fish beat Shibata in ROH so Shibata will get his payback here, get his win back, and I hope move on to O’Reilly to get his win back from him as well. This is really all just a pathway to Go Shiozaki at (please God) Wrestle Kingdom anyway, which is the match I really want. So I’ll settle for this appetizer for now, and Fish is always good at what he does, and he has great matches with great opponents. Let’s just hope this matches up to their last match, or does even better. Prediction: Katsuyori Shibata

Rich Kraetsch: Phew. After some question if Shibata would even make it to this match, we now have official word from NJPW that he will be active. Unfortunately, the problem isn’t going away. While he can gut through this match and maybe a few more here and there, his being taken off the house shows and the words “cervical” “spine” and “injury” being used together should bring a chill to every New Japan fan. Bobby Fish isn’t winning this match but I’m not sure in a month’s time Shibata will still be the NEVER Champion. This sucks. Prediction: Katsuyori Shibata

Matt McEwen: As of this writing, Shibata has just been confirmed as competing in this match in spite of a “spinal injury” that has had him removed from smaller shows this week. As a result, what had seemed to be a relatively easy win for Shibata, is now totally up in the air. Is Shibata showing up to drop the title? Will he tough out a few matches to get the title where it was planned to be (assuming Shibata would be moving on from it soon)?  Or, and this should not be discounted, is Shibata not really all that hurt and will just keep chugging along? Fish would be an unlikely NEVER champ based on his NJPW run solely, but he has a win over Ishii in ROH and this is supposedly and openweight title, so who knows. Prediction: Katsuyori Shibata

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship

John Carroll: Holy crap a junior title match as main event! That doesn’t happen too often, folks, so enjoy it. KUSHIDA and BUSHI are more than worthy of this honor, though, as they’re two of the best in the entire company this year. Their previous match way back at New Beginning in Niigata was fantastic but they’ll obviously be a lot of pressure on both men to top it here, given the main event slot they’re in. KUSHIDA is having the kind of year most wrestlers can only dream about, reigning as IWGP Junior Champion since way back in January and winning the Super J Cup to boot. BUSHI meanwhile has thrived as a mist-spewing heel in LIJ, and you had to figure the paths of these two would cross again eventually. I really hope this is BUSHI’s night this time, because he’s earned at least a short Junior Title reign. I could easily see a scenario where BUSHI wins the belt here, loses it to Ospreay before the year is over, and that sets up another Ospreay-KUSHIDA junior title match for the Dome, with Young William as champion against the guy he was never able to beat for the title. Then again, I could also see KUSHIDA just retaining here and them doing KUSHIDA-Ospreay again at the Dome anyway, so who knows. But I’m gonna go with my gut and say BUSHI is getting a little run here. Prediction: BUSHI

Dylan Noah: This is one of those matches that absolutely infuriates me for one main reason, and that’s that New Japan’s long term booking can work against them something fierce when they don’t think through their details. Look, KUSHIDA has been named as the best in the promotion all year long. He wins the belt at Wrestle Kingdom and defends it and protects it decisively. There has been absolutely no one to really prove a threat to the belt. And because of what New Japan has done to Bushi, that becomes even more of an issue. Booking him in so many multi-man matches with Los means he’s dropped a ton of falls, and all of the arguing about being in Super J Cup, getting into Super J Cup, and then getting out-cheated in his first-round match by Suzuki-gun just to lose has not looked good for him. He beat KUSHIDA during BOSJ to earn this title match but because of all of the booking that’s come to work against him since then, it’s hard to be as excited for this as I want to be. I don’t really think Bushi picks up the belt here. Or I should say, I hope he doesn’t. Because I don’t really think it’s time to take the belt off of KUSHIDA. Prediction: KUSHIDA

Rich Kraetsch: I couldn’t even tell you the last time a straight match between two juniors main evented a non-junior tournament New Japan show. This is a special case made possible by not only Destruction being split into three shows but more importantly, the emergence of KUSHIDA. Even with three shows if KUSHIDA hadn’t become the bonafide Junior ace many of us though he could be, this doesn’t happen. This is Jushin Thunder Liger territory we’re in. That’s the precedent KUSHIDA has finally reached. The man across the ring is no slouch either, while not reflected in W-L record, BUSHI has had a tremendous year in New Japan and as the junior rep of the hottest stable in NJPW, this is a legit, well-built, main event level juniors match. That alone doesn’t happen often. KUSHIDA should win here and continue to cement his legacy as the ace of the division. Prediction: KUSHIDA

Matt McEwen:  KUSHIDA getting a main event is a pretty big deal, and it is well deserved. His current title run is one that will stack up against others as being legendary when all is said and done. It doesn’t feel like it is the right time for him to drop the title, but this is NJ, so that means jack in the grand scheme of things. BUSHI’s momentum has crested a bit since he failed in a title shot against KUSHIDA earlier this year, but this is probably the only time he will ever main event an NJ show in a singles match, so you have to figure he comes out guns a blazing here. There is also a little extra intrigue in the form of the new masked Ingobernable who showed up at Korakuen Hall earlier this week. The most well logiced theory I heard was that it will be another juniour so that BUSHI can have a tag partner in the coming tournament. Of course, if it is a junior, we could have an immediate challenger to KUSHIDA if they go that way. No matter what the deal there is, this show is going to end with KUSHIDA putting another feather in the cap of his run, winning the main event of a PPV. Prediction:  KUSHIDA