NJPW
King of Pro-Wrestling 2016
October 10, 2016
Sumo Hall – Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Meet our previewers

  • Rich Kraetsch: The person to blame for this entire site existing. Co-host of the Voices of Wrestling Flagship podcast and primary editor, tech support and forum moderator among other things. Follow him on Twitter @VoicesWrestling.
  • Case Lowe: Voices of Wrestling’s official young boy. Current duties include cooking meals for other writers, mopping the floor, and reviewing Dragon Gate major events. Find him on the Open the Voice Gate podcast or on Twitter @_InYourCase
  • John Carroll: John is in full baseball mode with the playoffs underway. Don’t get them mad or they’ll throw a beer can at your head, cause that’s just what Blue Jay fans do, apparently. Go listen to the first new Open the Voice Gate in 2 months! Follow their Twitter (@toshanshuinla) if you enjoy complete nonsense!
  • Matt MacLean: In spite of being Canadian, Matt had no idea the Jays were in the playoffs. They’re in Onterrible though, so only BIFFO’s really care. One of the newer voices on the site, you can follow Matt on Twitter @shining_wiz13 for deep thoughts about oily men in spandex play fighting.

Adam Cole, Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay & YOSHI-HASHI

Rich Kraetsch: What a weird match… even by “get everyone on the card” standards. Regardless, this will be short and it will be fun. An odd part of me actually likes the contrast pairing of Ishii, Ospreay and YOSHI-HASHI so I’m eager to see how those dudes interact in the ring. Otherwise, hey, it’ll be 6-8 minutes, flips and headbutts will happen, what more could you want? Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay & YOSHI-HASHI

Case Lowe: I hope Tomohiro Ishii ruins Adam Cole’s pretty face. Cole is too pretty. It kills my self esteem. Yujiro is a pimp, meaning he isn’t my competition, and Bad Luck Fale is in the “big poppa” division of men. That leaves Cole, who is obnoxiously pretty. I hope Ishii ruins him. Oh, Tacos and Will Ospreay (who always wins) are in this opener. At least this feels kind of, sort of fresh for a CHAOS vs. Bullet Club match. I expect the CHAOS side to win after Yujiro eats a pin. Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay, & YOSHI-HASHI

John Carroll: If you’re not at least a little sick of CHAOS vs. BULLET CLUB by now, well, I hope you’re enjoying your first day as a New Japan Pro Wrestling fan. This is a very strange opener though, just because it’s got far more high profile guys than you typically see even in an NJPW PPV opener. On the CHAOS side you have a former NEVER champion (who challenged for the IWGP Heavyweight title earlier this year), the reigning BOSJ winner, and a guy who has been receiving the biggest push of his life as of late in YOSHI-HASHI. On the BC side you have the reigning ROH World champion, a well-protected monster, and…..uh, Yujiro. So there’s one guy in here you’d expect to see in an opener, at any rate. Anyway, this will probably be pretty decent if it gets any time at all. Yujiro is here to eat the pin more than likely, so looks like CHAOS gets the win here. Prediction: CHAOS

Matt MacLean: As far opening six mans go, this is star studded. While this is an offshoot of the BC/CHAOS feud destined to be with us until WK, there is not much in the way of ongoing issues here. Still though, this will be fun leading up to Yujiro getting pinned. Prediction: Ishii, Ospreay & Yoshi-Hashi

Bobby Fish, Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Beretta, Jado, Rocky Romero & Toru Yano

Rich Kraetsch: Much of the focus will be on the ever-growing tension between Beretta and Rocky Romero. Those expecting some type of breakup to occur here will be sorely disappointed. The duo has an upcoming tag match and any breakup or subsequent feud between the two will likely be held off for a few weeks, if not months. I have no feel for this match and feel like it could be a coin tos….oh wait, there’s Jado. Yeah, they ain’t winnin’. Prediction: Fish/Taguchi/GBH

Case Lowe: This is a prime example of Fire Pro teams. Even the CHAOS side feels so random and there’s an established team in there with Beretta and Romero. The other side is a complete mess with Great Bash Heel, Taguchi, and Fish. I assumed Fish was a heel? Maybe not. This is a complete mess and as long as it doesn’t overstay its welcome, it should be rather enjoyable. It’s pro wrestling that will put a smile on my face. I expect Romero to eat the pin and continue his descent into madness. Prediction: Fish/Taguchi/GBH

John Carroll: The forgotten men of NJPW, Great Bash Heel, team up with the ROH Television champion and the Funky Weapon to take on the CHAOS comedy troupe. This is probably the most skippable match of the entire show, to be quite honest. It won’t be, like, bad or anything, don’t get me wrong. But you could pretty safely not watch this match and lose nothing from your life. Prediction: Fish/Taguchi/GBH

Matt MacLean: Weird mix here, and feels more like an opener than the opener. The only thing to keep an eye out for here is if Romero pisses off his chaotic brethren by losing yet again. Prediction:Fish/Taguchi/GBH

Go Shiozaki, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Masa Kitamiya & Maybach Taniguchi vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi, Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata

Rich Kraetsch: All-in, baby. Subbing Katsuyori Shibata with a New Japan dad has some people looking less forward to this NJPW vs. NOAH showdown but I’m the opposite. Sure, you won’t have the explosiveness that a Shibata brings to the table but look at those dads, dammit! There may be more emotion in this match as a result of those guys living and dying for NJPW and wanting to defend it against those punks from NOAH. The inclusion of the dads also presents an interesting (but unlikely) scenario where Masa Kitamiya, one of NOAH’s brightest young stars, can pin one of the dads and set up a big push down the road. I know, I know… wishful thinking. Either way, I’m really looking forward to this match and hope it has the type of intensity we crave for an interpromotional match. I have someone on Team NOAH, probably Go Shiozaki getting the pin. Prediction: Team NOAH

Case Lowe: Woo boy, this is what I’m talking about. NOAH has been a cesspool for almost two years now. It’s crazy to think that most of us were so excited at the thought of Minoru Suzuki and his goons becoming the figureheads of a promotion. I don’t know if anyone expected them to leave the giant black mark they have on the promotion. Shiozaki, Nakajima, Kitamiya, and to a less extent, Taniguchi, have been slaughtered by Suzuki-Gun’s booking. The August G-1 match that set this up is the most interesting thing NOAH has been involved with since KENTA left, maybe even a little before. I am all in on this match. Shiozaki coming into New Japan is one of the most exciting ideas in wrestling. I expect this to be brutal. Nakanishi might not make it to the end. All on board. Two thumbs up. 10/10 levels of excitement. Prediction: Team NOAH

John Carroll: Now this is more like it. The NOAH-NJPW feud continues and if it’s anything like the tag match on the G1 final show, this match should have a LOT of crowd heat. Nakanishi in for Shibata is obviously a downgrade, although I love my big awkward dad so I will still enjoy having him on the show. Honestly, people who make a big deal about him still being on these cards need to sit the eff down- he’s about as good as an immobile guy can be (he still knows how to time his spots and comebacks and stuff) and it’s not like he’s getting a push or anything. Leave Nakanishi alone, I’m serious! Anyway. The NOAH team is the same as last time and that’s a great thing, because they were awesome in the last match. Honestly, when you take these dudes away from the perennially dead crowds of NOAH (and get them away from the staler-than-the-nWo-in-99 Suzukigun, for that matter), they all look like such huge stars in front of a crowd like this. It makes you want to watch more NOAH, until you actually….try to watch more NOAH. Expect them to get the win once again, possibly with Go getting the pin to set up his long-rumored NEVER title challenge. Prediction: Team NOAH

Matt MacLean: This should up the intensity. The kick off to the NOAH/NJ rivalry at the G1 finals was an unexpected treat, so hopefully it being back burnered until now didn’t hurt the momentum too much. The NOAH team should win, making Marufuji look like more of a threat in the main event, as well as to hopefully keep this rivalry alive. Prediction: Team NOAH

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
The Young Bucks © vs. David Finlay & Ricochet

Rich Kraetsch: The Bucks have undoubtedly gotten their year back on track after a shaky few months. You can chalk it up to motivation, clear direction in their careers and lives, whatever the case, the Bucks have been killing it over the last month or two in NJPW, ROH, PWG and really wherever they step their foot. This is yet another chance for them to showcase this turnaround in a rare 2 vs. 2 IWGP Junior Heavyweight battle. Conventional wisdom says the Bucks win and win easily but don’t be so sure… NJPW will likely have them drop the titles before World Tag League. We do have Power Struggle coming up next so they could do it then but would it completely floor you if young David and Ricochet are victorious here? Personally, I think they wait until Power Struggle or just say “Fuck it, our junior tag champs aren’t around during Tag League”. Bucks win and continue their worldwide momentum. Prediction: The Young Bucks

Case Lowe: I can’t help but smile when I see the Bucks on a card and Kenny Omega’s name isn’t next to them. I love the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, but I have loathed The Elite gimmick this year. The Bucks, while still not feeling as fresh as they did a few years ago, have returned to what I enjoy from them. They aren’t too meta, but they are still the Young Bucks. The pairing of Finlay and Ricochet makes me nervous. It worked in the trios match last month with Kojima, but Ricochet and Sydal were practically made to tag and Finlay, for as great as he is, is not exactly Matt Sydal. Of course, that could work to his benefit. I have no idea how this is going to turn out, quality wise, but I have no doubt that the Bucks are going to pick up the victory and I am totally okay with that. Prediction: The Young Bucks

John Carroll: A funny thing happened to me at some point this year: I was pretty sick of the Young Bucks as 2016 started, but I guess I sort of had a break from seeing them very often (they don’t appear on every NJPW tour and I wasn’t watching every ROH show) and around the time they came to the Super J Cup finals and had a really good junior tag title match with the Machine Guns (one of the few reasons to watch that otherwise bad show, along with the GHC jr. tag title match and maybe like Kenoh-KUSHIDA) they just sort of clicked for me again and I was happy to see them. They’re on something of a roll right now, with their first ever Meltzer ***** in PWG (that I still haven’t seen; is it even out on DVD yet?), a very good match with the Briscoes that was their first-ever IWGP Heavyweight tag title shot, a really good NEVER six-man title match with Omega on the Destruction tour, and finally an outstanding performance in the Ladder War match on PPV that saw them finally win their second ROH tag title. Across the ring from them here will be Ricochet, and, uh, Not Matt Sydal. I like Finlay a hell of a lot more than Sydal anyway so I’m honestly fine with this, but no way we’re getting a title change here. Prediction: The Young Bucks

Matt MacLean: I like David Finlay. You could say I’m a David Finlay fan. I thought it was awesome he won the NEVER six man title. But he is not winning the jr tags, not less than a month removed from being a Young Lion. That being said, if we get the semi-serious Bucks, this will be really fun. If it’s semi goofball Bucks, it still won’t be bad. Prediction: The Young Bucks

IWGP Tag Team Championship
The Briscoe Brothers © vs. Guerrillas of Destiny

Rich Kraetsch: Gross. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone in the world who wants to see this match or Guerrillas of Destiny again. Yet, here we are. Look, I understand the easy story of the rematch clause but you don’t HAVE to do it. There’s no reason with a roster as deep as New Japan that we need to see this match or GoD ever again. Literally any combo of two wrestlers on the roster would be a more desireable match than this one. Pray GoD doesn’t win only because a title win guarantees us MORE GoD matches and humans aren’t evil enough to deserve that cruel, unfortunate punishment. Prediction: The Briscoe Brothers

Case Lowe: YUCK! Why can’t The Briscoes be saddled with Ishii and Goto or TenKoji or anyone besides GoD. This is one of the only times that NOAH wrestlers will be much more over than New Japan homegrowns. I get that Dem Boys won’t be in the Tag League due to ROH commitments, but it’s the Tag League. Who cares? Bookerman does, I guess. GoD is winning and we will all be losing. Prediction: GoD

John Carroll: Look, what do you want me to say about this? It sucks. The Briscoes are the most fun gaijin heavyweight tag team champions we’ve had since Bad Intentions (I’ll hear arguments for KES too), and they’re gonna drop their belts to the only team I would take the Kingdom over. I get that they aren’t gonna work the tag league or whatever but jesus, you couldn’t pick literally anyone else??? I would have taken Yujiro and one of his valets instead, honestly. Prediction: GoD

Matt MacLean: God’s Not Dead was one of the worst movies of the decade. Keeping GoD alive is one of the worst decisions NJPW has made this decade. Roa or Loa is just not up to snuff, and keeping them in top of the tag division just brings the whole division down to that level. The Briscoes have failed to make an impression on NJ crowds; whether that’s because they haven’t been put in great positions, or because “I’m a angry redneck” isn’t a great character for Japan, I don’t know. I do know they have better matches as champs than anyone has in a long time, so I will shed a tear when they lose the belts here. Prediction: GoD





BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jay Lethal, KUSHIDA & Michael Elgin

Rich Kraetsch: An odd match on its face as the Japanese fanbase has no clue why Jay Lethal is going against his former Ingobernables brethren. But, hey, for all we know they mention something on commentary or play a video before the match and everyone catches up to speed. I’m not too worried about it. Elsewhere, we’ll see the continuation of BUSHI vs. KUSHIDA and the glaring de-pushing of Hiroshi Tanahashi as he rests up for the end of the year and Wrestle Kingdom. Prediction: LiJ

Case Lowe: I live in America and I don’t keep up with ROH TV. I have a bad feeling that Sumo Hall is going to be completely silent for this. Not that Jay Lethal was a major player before splitting with LiJ, but I can see Sumo Hall sitting there in utter confusion as Jay Lethal trades punches with Naito. This is a nice WK11 preview as I’m positive we’re getting both Naito vs. Tanahashi and KUSHIDA vs. BUSHI. I hope they refrain from a Lethal & Elgin team. That doesn’t sound fun at all. Naito is planting Lethal in the middle of the ring with a Destino. It will be lovely. Prediction: LiJ

John Carroll: We’re getting Lethal and Naito at Power Struggle it looks like, so this will probably be about building up that match (and also teasing the likely Naito/Tanahashi match at Wrestle Kingdom as well). Like everyone else is saying the crowd is not going to care about Jay Lethal because they don’t watch ROH, so a big challenge of this match will be getting Lethal over for his IC Title challenge. Expect him to get the pinfall, probably over EVIL or SANADA. Also expect this match to be really good, as virtually all the LIJ multi-man tags have been all year long. Prediction: LiJ

Matt MacLean: This will be good. The writing is clearly on the wall for a Tana/Naito showdown at WK, so expect that to start to become more obvious here. KUSHIDA’s not done with BUSHI and the junior title either. It will be interesting to see how Big Mike and Lethal get slotted, as theoretically both have more issue with Naito than LIJ at large. Any mix is aok though, as there is a lot of fun talent in this one. Prediction: LiJ

NEVER Openweight Championship
Katsuyori Shibata © vs. Kyle O’Reilly

Rich Kraetsch: Okada vs. Marufuji has me amped for this show but there’s no single match I’m more looking forward to than this one here. The mirroring of their styles, their approach to wrestling, even their ring gear and demeanor. Everything just fits with these two, it’s amazing they haven’t had hundreds of matches with one another at this point. I think those on the fence about Kyle O’Reilly as a top-level talent are going to be shocked by how well he does here. I’m probably over-selling it based of my bias but this has every chance in the world to be a MOTY contender level match, I’m that confident in what these two can bring to the table. The lone downside: there result is in no doubt, Kyle is not winning so even with the multiple nearfalls that are sure to occur, you’ll be left (at some point) with the dread of inevitability. Prediction: Katsuyori Shibata

Case Lowe: I forgot this match was happening until just now and now my heart is happy. O’Reilly defeated Shibata at Ring of Honor’s Field of Honor to lead to this match. O’Reilly reached the finals of the Best of the Super Juniors last year in an epic match with KUSHIDA, but I would listen to an argument that this is the biggest match of O’Reilly’s career. I have no doubt that these two will go out there and kill it (and each other). O’Reilly winning would be a fun scenario, but I think New Japan is all aboard the Shibata train. The NEVER title has to draw, and as much as I love O’Reilly, he’s not going to draw the people Shibata is going to. Prediction: Katsuyori Shibata

John Carroll: I’m super hyped for this one, with the caveat about Shibata’s health of course. I was lucky enough to be live for their first non-title battle at Field of Honor, and you could tell they were saving a second gear for this rematch in Japan. With that said, the match was still great, filled with all sorts of really cool MMA-style grappling and nifty striking that completely went over the heads of some of the dipshits in the ROH crowd (one of them actually yelled at Shibata to sell more after they had just done a no-sell suplex spot, which would have been fine had this same person not been marking out for the Young Bucks like two matches earlier). If they do find that second gear here, this match could be phenomenal. Again, it all depends on what shape Shibata’s neck is in, of course. I think he’s going to retain here and maybe get into a confrontation with NOAH’s Go Shiozaki, setting them up for a title match at either Power Struggle or Wrestle Kingdom. Prediction: Katsuyori Shibata

Matt MacLean: So much about this match depends on what kind of shape Shibata is in. If he’s close to healthy, his striking against O’Reilly’s Jiu Jitsu infused grappling could make for a classic. Even if he’s not healthy, this still won’t be bad. As for a winner, it’s clear that NJ kept reDRagon insanely strong for the past two years because of what they see in O’Reilly more than the 40 year old Fish. I think his ascension starts here, freeing up Shibata to move out of the NEVER division. Prediction: Kyle O’Reilly