NJPW G1 Special in USA – Night 1
July 1, 2017
Long Beach Convention Center
Long Beach, California
Watch: AXS TV (Live) / NJPW World (Delay)
Meet our previewers:
Michael Spears: Co-host of Open the Voice Gate, Dragon Gate previewer, and gets talked into doing dumb things like reviewing Joey Janela’s Spring Break nearly blackout drunk by Rich. Michael’s actually going to be VOW’s in-person correspondent during G1 Special, so follow him on twitter at @fujiiheya for updates, photos and general musings about NJPW’s big US expansion.
Andrew Rich: Andrew is the co-host of the wrestling music podcast Music of the Mat (@musicofthemat). When he’s not writing for Voices of Wrestling, he’s sort of understanding the new Twin Peaks and preparing to see Iron Maiden and Gorillaz in July (but not at the same show). Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewTRich.
John Carroll: Michael’s co-host at Open the Voice Gate, and also the host of the brand new podcast Wrestling Omakase (@wrestleomakase)! If you already listened to the first episode you’d know that John’s excitement level for these two shows isn’t exactly high, but damnit they’ve got a streak going on these NJPW roundtables and they aren’t about to break it now! Follow them on Twitter @toshanshuinla if you really like trash.
Rich Kraetsch: The face that runs the place. VOW founder, co-owner and co-host of the Voices of Wrestling flagship podcast. Cheap plug: my wife (the famed “The Nurse) and I just started a 90s nostalgia podcast, All 90s Podcast and I’d really appreciate if you can give it a listen or pass it along to any family and friends who may enjoy it. You can follow the podcast @all90spodcast or all90spodcast.com. For ‘rasslin content, follow @VoicesWrestling.
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Marty Scurll, The Young Bucks and Yujiro Takahashi) vs. CHAOS (Beretta, The Briscoe Brothers, Rocky Romero and Will Ospreay)
Michael Spears: I think it’s pretty smart to kickoff the weekend with this match as it’ll feature several California mainstays and people whom have made their name in PWG. I always forget that the Briscoes are CHAOS affiliated until the show up tagging with the rest of the unit. With Roppongi Vice and the Young Bucks having a Junior Tag Team Title match the next night, I figure this is going to be a bit of a preview and highlight show for them. Prediction: CHAOS
Andrew Rich: It wouldn’t be a New Japan show without a multi-man tag match to open up. Thankfully we’ve got an array of great talent (Briscoes, Bucks, RPG Vice, Scurll, Ospreay) to make this ten-man affair a spicier meatball than ones found on a random Road To show. It will warm up the crowd nicely and serve as a preview for the RPG Vice-Bucks IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match on the next night. One does wonder: Will Yujiro bring over his personal cavalcade of buxom beauties, or will he rely on a supply of femme fatales courtesy of stateside pimp The Godfather? Oh the questions we must ask. Prediction: CHAOS
John Carroll: It’s match 1 of New Japan Pro Wrestling USA, and there’s a grand total of….one Japanese person in it. And his name is Yujiro. Yikes. At least 7 out of 10 can be considered NJPW regulars, but this match could basically be Exhibit A for people who think the promotion has too many gaijin in it. It could be a preview of what the real NJPW US promotion will look like, as you could see basically everyone here except Fale as regulars (Yujiro strikes me as exactly the kind of guy who will wash up on our shores for eight months at a time, especially given his unit affiliation). Still, I would have liked to see a first match for this show that screamed NJPW, not one that you could replace Fale & Yujiro and easily have on a PWG show. Prediction: CHAOS
Rich Kraetsch: This isn’t the ideal way to kick off NJPW USA as it looks and feels more like a PWG BOLA Day 3 match than the beginning of New Japan expansion. With that said, starting off with acts like The Young Bucks, The Briscoes and Will Ospreay guarantee a hot match with plenty of silly dives, a ton of superkicks and a lot of spots to get the fans excited for the rest of the night. This will be a hot opener even if it’s not the right opener for NJPW USA. Prediction: CHAOS
Dragon Lee, Jushin Thunder Liger, Titán and Volador Jr. vs. Los Ingobernables de Japón (BUSHI, EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi and SANADA)
Michael Spears: I’m really stoked for this match, as it’s people I’ve never thought I’d see in person. This is pretty much an exhibition match that could play into a possible NEVER Six-Man title match if they wanted to fill out the second night with more action. With the potential of a lot of Dragon Lee and Takahashi interactions, I wonder what crazy stuff these kids pull off. Prediction: Dragon Lee/Liger/Titan/Volador Jr.
Andrew Rich: Another multi-man tag that has some zest to it. Firstly it’s an LIJ tag match that doesn’t involve Taguchi Japan, so that’s a nice change of pace. You’ve got the inclusion of Volador Jr. and Titán, whom we know are gonna fly all over the place. Dragon Lee and Hiromu are gonna share the ring at some point, so that will be fun to see. You’ve got Jushin Thunder Liger, who is always always ALWAYS over with the U.S. crowd. And you’ve got the possibility that a win by Team CMLLiger will earn them a NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship match on night two. Prediction: Dragon Lee, Jushin Thunder Liger, Titán and Volador Jr.
John Carroll: It’s still not a match that I would expect to see on a regular NJPW show (maybe on a Fantasticamania, I guess) and the heavyweight/junior mix is a little weird, but I’m nitpicking a match that I’m as excited for as anything else on the show. Like the others I’ll go the predictable route and say BUSHI gets pinned to set up a NEVER 6-man title match the next night, which could also be really good. Prediction: Dragon Lee & Jushin Liger & Titan & Volador Jr.
Rich Kraetsch: The inclusion of CMLL talent was a nice surprise for NJPW’s G1 Specials in Long Beach and this is perhaps the perfect use of said talent. These guys will no doubt shine in a six-man format and you just hope the fans in attendance give them the same respect and admiration that the Korakuen Hall fans give them each Fantasticamania. LIJ have perfect the six-man tag format over the last year—I mean, jeez, they’ve been in about 500 of them—and I expect this to be no different. While it probably won’t be match of the night (I’ll get to that later), this could be in the mix as the best match of Night 1. Prediction: Dragon Lee & Jushin Liger & Titan & Volador Jr.
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Tournament – First Round
Hangman Page vs. Jay Lethal
Michael Spears: Our first match of the US Championship tournament is the one I think is a total crapshoot. Lethal has been pretty underwhelming when New Japan has brought him over for shows, whereas Page is firmly positioned as a loss post in Bullet Club matches. I can’t realistically think either of these guys in this match are serious contenders for the tournament, so I’m going with the “outsider” so at least a Ring of Honor guy gets a win on this show. Prediction: Jay Lethal
Andrew Rich: As Michael notes, neither Lethal nor Page could be considered the standout favorite to win this match. Lethal hasn’t done anything of note in New Japan since his IWGP Intercontinental Championship match against Naito at Power Struggle last year (which didn’t exactly burn the house down), while Page is on the lower end of the Bullet Club totem pole. There’s a possibility that Page pulls an upset, but I’m more confident that he shows up in a Bullet Club multi-man on night two while Lethal advances to the semifinals. Prediction: Jay Lethal
John Carroll: Ugh. I haven’t really liked anything out of Jay Lethal since the end of his ROH World Title reign, and Page is a guy who is far more likely to miss than hit. Not sure what we did to deserve this bad ROH undercard match here, but I’d like to apologize for whatever it was, because it must have been pretty bad. I flipped a coin and it came up Lethal. Prediction: Jay Lethal
Rich Kraetsch: Yawn. I was always in Jay Lethal’s camp and considered him a long underutilized talent. That has certainly changed in the last year as Lethal has just done nothing to impress me. Worse yet, when he’s gone to Japan or had big time opportunities in NJPW he’s failed to deliver. There’s a clear effort issue these days with Lethal. Does the possibility exist that he goes out and kills it here? Certainly. The problem… his opponent. I know there are a few Adam Page fans still hanging around but, man, does he just have no buzz and nothing to offer right now. This is as dead a match as we’ll see all tournament. Let’s hope it’s first just so we get it out of the way. Prediction: Jay Lethal
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Tournament – First Round
Juice Robinson vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Michael Spears: It has been said plenty of times, but Juice Robinson has proved that if you bet on yourself, you can reinvent your career. Sabre, outside of being the absolute boy, hasn’t done too much and has felt out of place in his short tenure in New Japan and Suzuki-gun. He’s someone that makes sense in the group on a surface level, with his technical skills being a complement to the catch stylings of Suzuki and Davey Boy Smith Jr, but just feels awkward acting as a lumberjack in beatdowns. I’m excited about this match stylistically, as Juice has some of the best babyface selling/fire in the industry today. I’m leaning ZSJ, if only because he’s been positioned higher than Juice since his debut. Prediction: Zack Sabre Jr.
Andrew Rich: If you’re not a fan of Zack Sabre Jr.’s Suzuki-gun antics in New Japan—which we shall henceforth refer to as “Wacky Zacky”—you’re in for a treat. With Minoru and company back in Japan, Zack is on his own here. This is gonna be heel Zack Sabre Jr. relying more on his limitless stretching capabilities and saucy banter than Taichi hammers and Desperado guitars, which is the heel Zack Sabre Jr. that we all can love. And with an underdog hero like Juice Robinson—who sports a set of lungs that would make Laura Palmer jealous—ready to take a beating and come back with that babyface fire, this could easily be the sleeper match of the night. Prediction: Zack Sabre Jr.
John Carroll: Unlike most of the rest of this supposed “G1 Climax Special”, this match actually is kind of a preview of the upcoming G1. As Andrew talked about, we’re gonna get to see Zack in NJPW without a parade of Suzukigun run-ins, so given that they tend to keep the run-ins to a minimum in the G1 anyway, it’ll be an interesting preview of what Zack will be like during the tour. I think he’s poised to break out thanks to the simple fact that he’ll stand out among the field with his in-ring style, but step 1 is having a good match with Juice here. I’ll also be interested to see how over Juice is with the crowd; he’s a good test case for how close the people in attendance have actually paid attention to NJPW, because he’s a guy who doesn’t really have a ton of name appeal to a more casual fanbase but is very over on most New Japan undercards. If the fans sit on their hands and don’t even get into the JUICE! JUICE! JUICE! punches, it’s probably a sign that it’s a crowd of people who have seen Okada-Omega and not much else. Prediction: Zack Sabre Jr
Rich Kraetsch: Oh yes. The perfect antidote to Lethal/Page. Both men should be motivated to deliver as they march towards their G1 Climax debuts. Sabre should be familiar to most fans in attendance and already has a foothold in the area with his PWG exploits. You have to think Juice will be extra-motivated as well, as he’ll be working in front of an American audience that once knew him as CJ Parker. You’d hope most of those in attendance are aware of the transformation Juice has undergone over the last few years. If not, they are in for a hell of a surprise. The finish is in little doubt but if there’s one man that can have you rooting for the big upset, it’s Juice Robinson. Prediction: Zack Sabre Jr.
David Finlay, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jay White and KUSHIDA vs. Billy Gunn, Sho Tanaka, Yohei Komatsu and Yoshitatsu
Michael Spears: So I guess Hunter Club is still a thing and the Tempura Boyz are new members? Anyways, it’s intriguing to see the four dojo contemporaries on opposite sides of this match and we’ll get to see how Tanaka/Komatsu match up with everyone mid excursion. The focus will be on Tanahashi and Billy Gunn previewing their match the next night, and I’d rather have that then this be the Yoshitatsu show. Prediction: Finlay/Tanahashi/White/KUSHIDA
Andrew Rich: Class reunion! One minute Sho, Yohei, David and Jay are endlessly wrestling each other in New Japan openers, the next they’re sharing the mat with the 1999 King of the Ring Billy Gunn. What a life. The crux of the match will be Tanahashi squaring off with Gunn before their IWGP Intercontinental Championship match the next night, but it will be cool to see the four former Young Lions reuniting after oh so many months. KUSHIDA will hit some cool moves. Yoshitatsu will try not to mess up a hip toss. Prediction: David Finlay, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jay White and KUSHIDA
John Carroll: If you were to ask the Guilty Gear announcer guy to describe this match, he’d say HEAVEN OR HELL. Heaven, on one hand, because you have a reunion of the last young lion class, with the White Lions and the Tempura Boyz crossing paths once again. Hell because, uh, you’ve read that Yoshitatsu is in this match, right? As long as he’s in the match for less than, like, a quarter of it I can’t see it being anything less than good, maybe even great. The longer he’s in this match, on the other hand…. Prediction: Gunn & Tanaka & Komatsu & Yoshitatsu
Rich Kraetsch: What in the what? Where do we start? The unfortunately named Tempura Boyz (Tanaka and Komatsu) make their return (?) to NJPW in this match. I’d be very excited to see both back on NJPW proper so let’s hope Tiger Hattori stuffs them on a plane once these shows are over. Either way, I’m interested to see how they respond back in the ring with the likes of David Finlay and Jay White, their former young lion running-mates. Better yet, you’d like to see how they chop it up with Hiroshi Tanahashi and KUSHIDA. If they prove they belong—which they probably will—NJPW observers will be clamouring for them back in Japan as soon as possible. Oh yeah and there’s Yoshitatsu and Billy Gunn. Former World Tag League participants. These are all real things. The big question for me, is Billy Gunn going to get the win. Is it even fathomable they’d have Billy freakin’ Gunn pin Finlay or Jay White? I don’t think so, but, stranger things HAVE happened… like, you know, Billy Gunn challenging for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Prediction: David Finlay, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jay White and KUSHIDA
IWGP Tag Team Championship
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa) (c) vs. War Machine (Hanson and Raymond Rowe)
Michael Spears: It seems like the usual “the tag teams bounce around the belts” strategy is alive and well, and this iteration features GoD and War Machine. Please don’t take that as me complaining, Tonga/Roa have greatly improved over the last year and War Machine are a delight so this should be another strong matchup in their series. You can probably flip a coin, throw a dart, show a picture of both teams to your non-wrestling watching mother and let her choose to decide who she likes. Well let us just say GoD retains and move on. Prediction: Guerrillas of Destiny
Andrew Rich: Not a lot to say about this one. War Machine are getting their rematch here after losing the belts to GoD at Dominion. Their last encounter was a lot of fun and I expect more of the same here. You can’t go wrong with big sweaty vikings doing planchas and springboards, as my grandpa liked to say. I see GoD retaining here, which also gives Tama some added juice going into his second G1. Prediction: Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa)
John Carroll: I like GoD and I like War Machine but I’ll continue to complain that this is the best Gedo can come up with for the heavyweight tag team titles. Let’s look at the journey of these belts over the first 6 months of the year: Ishii & Yano won the titles from GoD in a wacky 3-way tag match, defended the belts in two more wacky 3-ways, lost them to TenKoji, who lost them to War Machine (the third straight year a random American ROH team showed up to win the belts, by the way), who defended them in a wacky 3-way, who then lost them to GoD (who were involved in almost every single wacky 3-way, of course), who are now defending them against War Machine here. Wow, what a division. Think of how much better this division could be if singles wrestlers could mix it up more often, instead of what’s basically just the same teams over and over again with a random team of gaijin dropping in each year and then disappearing (without the freak injury to Makabe’s normal tag team partner Tomoaki Honma, it would have been GBH winning the belts instead of TenKoji which would have been even more of a retread). Anyway. Yeah, GoD is gonna win and retain, I guess. Who cares. Prediction: Guerillas of Destiny
Rich Kraetsch: War Machine lost their titles at Dominion. While it seems far too soon for them to win them back, it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility. War Machine is a bigger deal in America than a lot of people give them credit for and a win here, after a fun match, could generate a great reaction from the live audience. Sure, it’s probably too soon for the tag titles to switch but it’s not totally unprecedented. Prediction: War Machine
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Tournament – First Round
Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Michael Spears: Boy, am I super stoked for this one. Ishii has always been one of my favorites (and someone who did a Toryumon stint, so I’m required to have an affinity for him), and this screams possible match of the night. To be honest, I feel like we can say that about all the first round matches outside of Lethal/Page. For all the bravado of Naito wanting to trash another belt, I just feel like the US title is beneath him. Ishii is someone that I could see going far in this tournament. So I’m going with him. Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii
Andrew Rich: If you looked up the word chemistry in the dictionary, do you know what you would find? The definition of chemistry, which is the science that deals with the composition and properties of substances and various elementary forms of matter. Now put that dictionary away, Ishii and Naito are wrestling, you NERD! Seriously though, I don’t think it’s possible for these two guys to have a bad match together. Every time they step in the ring together to meet one-on-one, it’s magic. Ishii has this way about him where even though he’s the bigger, stronger man in the match, you feel like he’s an underdog. And Naito is perfect at playing the smaller bully who you just want to see get smashed in the face. With a little bit of time and a super hot crowd, you’ve got the makings for another slice of wrestling gold and a potential match of the night. Naito’s prospects are bigger and better than this belt, but Ishii is the right fit for a midcard title like this one (should he win, of course). Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii
John Carroll: I can see where Michael & Andrew are coming from picking Ishii, but I don’t think Omega AND Naito are both losing in the first round of this tournament, so that to me means Naito picks up the win here (yeah, I just gave away my pick for the next match, I guess). It’s very true that these two have fantastic chemistry and this is one of the few matches on the card I absolutely can’t wait for. Naito’s dream of smashing up another title belt will live on for at least one more night. Prediction: Tetsuya Naito
Rich Kraetsch: If you’re new to NJPW, you may not be aware of the awesome series of matches these two had in 2014 (Invasion Attack 2014 & New Beginning in Osaka 2014, you’ll thank me later). If you are new to NJPW, you are probably aware of the awesome series of matches these two had in 2016 (Wrestling Dontaku 2016 & New Japan Cup 2016 Night 2). Let’s make it easy: these two have great chemistry and kill it every time they wrestle. Ishii is arguably Naito’s best opponent and really, you could probably say the inverse too. There’s just something about these two in the ring together. Now this match isn’t as big a deal as the ones prior, it’s just a first round matchup in a lengthy tournament. But, are you really going to doubt these two? Don’t be silly, this is going to be great. Ishii will be seen as a mild upset here but in the grand scheme of things Naito has bigger things to worry about that moving on in this tournament. Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Tournament – First Round
Kenny Omega vs. Michael Elgin
Michael Spears: A real interesting match up, given recent events. Omega’s on the run of his life, and really of a lot of people’s combined lives. Elgin’s been solid since his return from injury, but I feel like he’s missing the spark he had pre eye injury. A tourney like this leading into the G1 can really provide BIG MIKE with the momentum he needs. Regardless, both dudes are going to kill it. Prediction: Michael Elgin
Andrew Rich: Two Canadians, but only one can win. Kenny Omega is at the top of his game and given what he’s been able to accomplish over the past year, he’s number one with a bullet to lead the charge into North America. Michael Elgin, on the other hand, is a credible, upper-midcard babyface with championship experience in New Japan and a familiar face to an American audience; I can easily see him winning here and eventually winning the title. An eager beaver would capitalize on Omega’s superstardom, have him run the bracket and win the belt, and then set up a title match against Ibushi at the Dome. But to me, that’s a match that does not need a title to make it interesting, nor does Omega really need the win over Elgin. I also think night two will give us another Okada-Omega interaction to further that feud heading into the G1 and beyond. Elgin winning gives him a nice bump since he hasn’t made much of an impact since coming his match against Naito back in February. Prediction: Michael Elgin
John Carroll: This time I’m with Michael and Andrew here; I think Omega losing this one makes a ton of sense. Elgin could use some momentum heading into the G1 Climax, as he’s really not done much in NJPW since losing to Naito at New Beginning (a ***** match, by the way), mostly disappearing to get his promotion off the ground and only re-emerging to job to Cody. Even if he doesn’t go all the way to winning the US Title, pinning one of the hottest wrestlers on earth in Omega will certainly do a ton to get Elgin’s momentum going again. I never thought their IC Title matches last year clicked to the level I expected, but maybe they can produce something a level above that here on their home continent. Prediction: Michael Elgin
Rich Kraetsch: Oooo, this is a tough one. Before the G1 announcements, I had Omega penciled in as the easy winner of this first-round matchup and maybe even the whole tournament. Now, I think Omega may play a bigger role in the G1 and that the US Title—while new, shiny and ultimately important to NJPW’s future growth—may be beneath him. Omega is bound to do bigger and better things in NJPW. Does this title really fit him and his current goal? On the flip side, what better representative of NJPW’s United States expansion than viral sensation Kenny Omega. That’s not to say Elgin wouldn’t be a great champion, he absolutely would, but he doesn’t have the cache and crossover appeal an Omega does. Elgin is a wrestler’s wrestler, a guy who will go out there and give you a great match night in and night out. Omega is a marketers dream, a relatable, jump off the page wrestler that can help NJPW reach new heights in a brand-new market. Prediction: Kenny Omega
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Cody
Michael Spears: Well it’s this match. The match that a lot of people dreaded, but makes total sense from “wanting to defend your main title on the first big show of your American incursion.” I’m not going to play around and act like Cody’s going to win. He’s not. Why would it be good for New Japan, and their native business, to put their belt on a gaijin who isn’t knocking them dead like AJ Styles or Omega? So the match itself. Cody is one of the most weirdly consistent guys working today. His floor is about **½, but the bad thing is that his ceiling is just under ****. So we’ll see if Okada can truly be transcendent and smash through Cody’s ceiling. Prediction: Kazuchika Okada, please god.
Andrew Rich: I was driving to work one day. Typical morning. About five minutes into the drive, I start thinking, “Did I lock my apartment door?” Now, I could have sworn up and down ten times over that yes, I did indeed lock my apartment door. But there was this tiny piece of doubt that kept bugging me like a tiny popcorn kernel stuck to the side of your tooth. Did you lock the door? Yes, I definitely locked the door. Are you sure? Of course, I distinctly remember putting my key in the lock and turning it. Are you really sure? Yes, I’m really sure. Shut up. Because if you didn’t lock the door, then you never know what could happen… It got to the point where I couldn’t let that nugget of doubt eat at me any longer. I had to turn around, drive back to my building, walk up the four flights of stairs to my apartment door, put my hand on the knob and turn. It was locked.
Am I certain that Okada is beating Cody? Yes, of course I am. There’s no way Cody is winning the title. But I won’t be satisfied until I actually see Okada give Cody a Rainmaker and pin him. Until then, that little popcorn kernel is gonna keep gnawing away at me. Prediction: Kazuchika Okada
John Carroll: Don’t overthink this one: this match sucks. It sucks really bad. I don’t want to see it, you don’t want to see it, really no one except the Bullet Club fanbase and Cody’s own strangely obsessive fans want to see it. This is a bad choice to main event New Japan’s first-ever US show, and it honestly made me feel better about choosing not to go the moment it was announced. With all that said: yes, it’s possible Cody is winning the title here. If you put a gun to my head and told me I had to pick the winner, I’d still say Okada, and if pressed I might even say I’m 90% sure or so, but that nagging 10% remains. If the Okada 2017 story of him getting through all these incredibly tough challengers by the skin of his teeth has all just been leading up to crowning friggin’ STARDUST as the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion, that will be, uh, a pretty big mistake. But I can’t completely rule it out. About the only thing I’m looking forward to in this one is the possibility of Cody pulling out his hilariously awful Rainmaker from the ROH show last weekend, because damn that was funny. Oh yeah, this is IWGP Heavyweight vs. ROH World Champion, by the way. The fact that the first time that’s being mentioned is the very end of the THIRD PERSON’S paragraph should tell you all you need to know about the state of ROH these days. Prediction: Kazuchika Okada
Rich Kraetsch: My anticipation level is through the roof for a match I’m not even sure is going to be great. Why? The story or rather the story we—wrestling fans—have created. For the record, I don’t think Cody is winning. I think that would be an absolute disaster of a decision by New Japan Pro Wrestling and I can’t fathom a company that is often so smart with booking decisions being so tone-deaf. But… there’s a little bit of doubt. A little bit of questioning entering my brain. What if? Why not? After all, this is a company who booked Billy Gunn to work a featured match in Night 2 of this USA excursion. This is a company who has promoted Long Beach meet & greets that didn’t feature some of NJPW’s biggest acts but does feature former WWE and WCW wrestler Haku. They shouldn’t have Cody win. They probably won’t have Cody win. But, could they? There’s enough doubt in my head to make this match a big deal. I’m also curious on the crowd dynamics. If there are a lot of Bullet Club shirt Ring of Honor fans, I can absolutely see them getting behind Cody. if there aren’t and this is a primary fly-in, NJPW hardcore crowd than Cody and every nearfall Cody gets, will be filled with heat. When this match was first announced I groaned but as we draw closer and closer, I’m salivating. Okada will win… I think. Prediction: Kazuchika Okada