New Japan Pro Wrestling
Destruction in Hiroshima
September 15th, 2018
Hiroshima Sun Plaza Hall

Watch: NJPW World

Meet our previewers

Jack Beckmann: Currently, I am riding the high of a Week 1 fantasy football victory, as well as the continued success of the Milwaukee Brewers. If the Brewers win the division over the Cubs, I will be a very happy man. Follow on Twitter @packerman120.

Joe Lanza: All of these predictions will be correct, or I will quit the site.

John Carroll: I host not one, but two weekly podcasts- Wrestling Omakase (@wrestleomakase) on all things professional wrestling and Moon Makeup (@moonmakeupcast) on Jonathan Snowden’s favorite anime. My Twitter is @toshanshuinla but you shouldn’t follow it, it’s bad.

KUSHIDA, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV vs. CHAOS (Roppongi 3K & Rocky Romero)

Jack: This should be a fun junior opener to kick off the show, as Tiger Mask IV is always enjoyable when he is kicking those younger than him. It would be expected that both Liger & Tiger as well as Roppongi 3K will be in the upcoming Super Jr. Tag League, meaning this could be a preview for a potential match in that tournament. The big news coming into this tour was that that tournament was expanding into block style, opening up many possibilities and many more matches to watch for us New Japan hardcores. Prediction: Roppongi 3K & Rocky Romero

Joe: Rocky typically eats pins when he teams with his R3K boys, as he’s now entered the “pin eating manager” (think: Gedo) stage of his New Japan in-ring career. I see a Hoverboard Lock in his future. People worry too much about SHO & YOH. They’re already multi-time junior tag champs, and the new junior tag league will likely be a tour long showcase for them. This is a massive roster and you can’t give everyone a megapush at the same time. R3K is fine. Prediction: KUSHIDA, Liger, TMIV

John: Now that the Super Junior Tag League is, well, a tag league and not a tournament, does literally anyone on Earth wanna take bets that it won’t be significantly better than the always awful World Tag League in December? Even if like 90% of it stays untelevised (we don’t know what the schedule looks like for the tour yet; you would think they would air this stuff but who knows!) it would somehow still be better than the WTL. Anyway, as Jack said this could basically be seen as a preview for the tag league, and I’m always down for Liger & Tiger mixing it up with some younger juniors. This is definitely an above average opener for a glorified B-show. Prediction: KUSHIDA & Liger & Tiger

Bad Luck Fale vs. Toa Henare

Jack: This match sticks out like a sore thumb, the second time it’s taken place in the last two months and only one of two singles matches on the card. The connections between Fale & Henare are clear – both are from the Australian scene, and with Fale being the leader of a Bullet Club sub-faction that is almost entirely composed of members of that scene, it wouldn’t be shocking if this match wasn’t just an angle to set up Henare joining the Firing Squad. This match being here is no coincidence, and it will be interesting to see the direction New Japan takes as they wrap up 2018. Prediction: Bad Luck Fale

Joe: Like a lot of other fans, I though they might do an angle the last time Fale faced Henare. Perhaps they were saving it for a bigger show, but more likely this is just another squash win as they continue to get the Togans over as the next big heel unit. Prediction: Fale

John: It would be a mistake to turn Henare. He’s got great presence and babyface fire already and there’s no real need to waste that on giving a loss post to a boring faction like the BC OGs Hopefully this is just another quick Fale win. Prediction: Bad Luck Fale

Michael Elgin & Ayato Yoshida vs. Killer Elite Squad

Jack: The addition of Ayato Yoshida to these Destruction undercards has added a lot of intrigue to me personally, as it’s always fun to see new talent mixing it up with NJPW’s own. This match should have a fun dynamic of young underdog vs. big brute foreigners, adding some value to it beyond a random undercard tag third from the bottom. Since Elgin & KES are higher on the totem pole than Yoshida, KES will most likely pick up the win here. Prediction: Killer Elite Squad

Joe: Yoshida is working a full tour, and it sure looks like his future lies in New Japan as opposed to K-Dojo, which is good news for him. He’s been featured on Lion’s Gate for a long time, and has the size and look the company covets. He’s not a young lion, but he’s already dropped a singles match to Chase Owens, so don’t expect his hand raised very often. He’s surely eating a pin here. Prediction: KES

John: Am I the only one who thought Yoshida kinda stuck out like a sore thumb on the two Korakuen shows? He just looked green and awkward and out of place, in my opinion, in a way he never has on the LION’S GATE shows. It may just have been nerves- your first Korakuen appearances for New Japan on your first full tour might do that to you- but I suppose some better performances starting here will go a long way toward answering that question. It’s good to see KES back, who are a solid heavyweight tag team. It’s never good to see Michael Elgin. Prediction: Killer Elite Squad

CHAOS (Best Friends & Will Ospreay) vs. Kota Ibushi, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens

Jack: It’s always nice to see the Best Friends in NJPW, as I have a personal soft spot for the team. This has a chance to be very interesting, hopefully leading to more Ospreay/Ibushi interactions building off of the incredible tag team main event of the 9/7 Korakuen. I also am hoping for some Yujiro/Chuckie T comedy spots to get me through what looks like a long show. Prediction: CHAOS

Joe: We’re careening towards an Ospreay/Ibushi singles match, and maybe even Ospreay moving up to heavyweight. Both of those things sound fantastic. Prediction: CHAOS

John: Chuckie T in New Japan remains one of the weirdest things going, but it’s a legitimate feel good story for a guy who probably deserved more breaks than he’s gotten in his career. This match will probably be a fun little six-man, as everyone involved is at least solid (no one send me any hate mail about Yujiro please). Prediction: CHAOS

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
BULLET CLUB OG (Guerillas of Destiny & Taiji Ishimori) (c) vs. Taguchi Japan (Juice Robinson, David Finlay & Ryusuke Taguchi)

Jack: I won’t pretend to find any of this Bullet Club OG stuff interesting, as frankly, I think it is quite shit. However, this match could be fun if they play their cards right. It may be fun in the sense that is bad, as the Guerillas of Destiny do stink, but hopefully this match has some sort of redeeming value. Taiji Ishimori is too talented to have the BCOG stench on him, so hopefully he can rise above that and shine in this match. Since these titles are rarely defended, it will probably change hands here. Does it really matter? Who cares? Prediction: Taguchi Japan

Joe: Unlike a lot of you probably reading this, I have no issue with Ishimori holding this title. What else would he be doing right now? We all know there is no such thing as non-title junior singles programs. This title run keeps the new Boner involved in two things that are relevant; title matches, and the Firing Squad push. Bullet Club OG is getting a mega push, and they will retain here. Prediction: Bullet Club OG

John: Hey, so BULLET CLUB OG is one of the dumbest storylines of the entire year, in any promotion. Let’s recap what happened: There’s a relatively hot angle where the OGs turn on the rest of the unit at the end of the San Francisco show. Kenny Omega, ostensibly leader of the BULLET CLUB, reacts to this by…..not giving a single shit about it. Seriously, go back and watch his promos from the G1 and count how many times he mentions Tama or the split. He barely even mentioned it in his promos leading up to and after the match with Tama! He had far more to say about his “average star rating” in the G1 than he did about a rogue band of Tongans committing mutiny on the unit he leads. He spent the entire G1 either talking about that or the match with Ibushi, which is understandable since that was a big match and all, but why bother doing this angle at a moment where it wasn’t going to matter? If the guy who leads BULLET CLUB doesn’t give a shit about a bunch of guys splitting off, why should any of us? This split is so stupid it’s even dumber than the last BC split storyline (which was resolved on the same show that THIS split started, by the way!) and makes the nWo Wolfpac/Hollywood split look like Shakespeare by comparison. Anyway, I hope the BC OGs retain their titles here, because they mean just about as much as they do, which is to say nothing at all. Prediction: BULLET CLUB OG

CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano & Gedo) vs. Suzukigun (Taichi, Takashi Iizuka & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)

Jack: This is a match! Really, that’s all I have to say about it, as Toru Yano might be my favorite wrestler in this match. Yano will do comedy with Iizuka, Kanemaru will spit whiskey, Taichi will do his long entrance and kick Goto a bunch, and Goto will return the favor. I’ll take Taichi pinning Gedo here to look strong going into his NEVER title challenge on Destruction in Beppu. Prediction: Suzuki-gun

Joe: We’re building heat for the next NEVER title match. Taichi pins Gedo. Prediction: SZG

John: I don’t know what you want me to say about this one. It’s certainly a match. Go Taichi. Prediction: Suzukigun

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI) vs. Suzukigun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr, El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku)

Jack: Despite being personally underwhelmed by the Naito/Suzuki match in May, I’m still excited to see what they can do this time. EVIL appears to be headed to a confrontation with Chris Jericho, and Naito with Sabre Jr. to avenge his G1 loss. LiJ undercard matches are always fun, and I’d expect nothing different here. Prediction: LiJ

Joe: We’re building heat for the Naito/Suzuki match. TAKA is the low man, so I’ll say he eats a Destino, but it’s entirely possible BUSHI loses here too. Prediction: LIJ

John: I really have no idea why Naito-Suzuki is happening again, but I still maintain their disappointing ***½ affair last time is a roughly seventeen billion times better than Omega-Cody (an exact figure I reached with science) and yet I didn’t see people freaking out after that match the way they did on Twitter after Naito-Suzuki. Anyway. These Suzukigun vs. LIJ matches are kind of all the same, just big wild brawls, but at least the addition of Sabre (making his first televised NJPW appearances since he pinned Naito to end his G1) will mix things up a bit from the Korakuen ones. Prediction: LIJ

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Jay White & YOSHI-HASHI)

Jack: The downside of having three medium sized shows to fill is that the big matches are spread thin, as is evidenced by this being a semi main-event. I will admit that I am very nervous about Okada winning the briefcase, but fortunately we have days to ruminate on who will win that match. I’ll take Team Tanahashi to win this one, as YOSHI-HASHI stands out as a pin-eater in a world where Honma is still riding his post-injury high. Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma

Joe: Tanahashi is in real danger of losing his briefcase to Okada, but that’s a discussion for another day. The real intrigue here will be the interactions between Okada & White, who is also due a shot at the case. Prediction: Tanahashi, Makabe, Honma

John: I don’t buy yet that Okada is winning the briefcase from Tanahashi. It just doesn’t feel like the right thing to do, but maybe I’m just transfixed by Tana’s beautiful white-and-red briefcase. Either way, maybe I’ll get a better feel for it after this very weak semi-main event. Nice to see Jay White make his first appearance of the tour as well after sitting out the Korakuens, as he’s a guy I expect to be a major mover and shaker in the latter half of the year. If Tanahashi is fighting Omega and Naito is fighting Jericho, is it Okada-White at the Dome? Could be! Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma

IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kenny Omega © vs. Tomohiro Ishii

Jack: This match is going to rock. Whenever Kenny Omega & Tomohiro Ishii meet, they create magic, and that will be the same when they meet in the biggest match of Tomohiro Ishii’s year. While there is some criticism of Kenny Omega to be stated, as I’m sure fellow previewer John Carroll will note, I remain a fan of Omega, having loved his G1 run. I find that Omega brings a unique aspect to New Japan that specifically appeals to me, both in-ring and out. However, no wrestler truly gets my pro wrestling love fired up more than Tomohiro Ishii. It’s clear that at this point in his career, Tomohiro Ishii will never get his run at the top we all desire. That’s fine, if not a little disappointing, as Tomohiro Ishii doesn’t need a title to prove his greatness. Despite a consistent stream of greatness that is almost unprecedented in terms of length, Ishii continues to be forgotten almost every year after the G1 ends, bar one or two NEVER-level matches. Don’t sleep on Tomohiro Ishii (or Kenny Omega) here, as this match is sure to be great. These two top themselves every night they perform, and I’d expect nothing else here. Prediction: Kenny Omega

Joe: While Kenny Omega is enduring the inevitable backlash of being the new IWGP champion, he quietly put together a tremendous G1, and is in the midst of another Wrestler of the Year caliber year. Ishii was the G1 MVP, as his improbable late career surge as one of the best wrestlers on Earth continues. These two have always had great chemistry, and I can’t see a scenario where this is anything less than great. The ceiling is MOTY level. I’ve seen some rumblings that Ishii should win this, but that’s crazy talk. I think Omega has 0% chance of losing, but if you’ve talked yourself into an Ishii win, it will only add drama to what will surely be a fantastic match. Prediction: Omega

John: As VOW’s resident Omega-Basher-In-Chief™ I must take issue with the idea that he had a “tremendous G1” or is having a good run as champion so far. His first defense against Cody was maybe the worst IWGP Heavyweight title match I’ve ever seen. His G1 run was as big of a feast or famine situation as I can recall in modern wrestling: on one hand, two legitimate classics (a ****¾ match with Naito to open it up and a ***** match with Ishii) along with a pretty damn good **** match with Goto, but on the other hand, some of the most underwhelming crap I’ve ever seen get widely praised (he had a run of three straight matches, 7/26 with Juice, 7/28 with SANADA & 8/1 with ZSJ that I had at **¼, **½ & ** respectively, and his match with Tama Tonga was just hideously bad). This culminated in an Ibushi match that I would charitably put at about ***¾, which given the mountains of hype (and the fact that Ibushi himself delivered a ****½ final with Tanahashi the very next day) can only be called severely underwhelming. However, with all of that said, I just noted he had a five star match with Tomohiro Ishii in that said G1, and that happens to be who his opponent is here. Omega and Ishii have tremendous chemistry- their match in this year’s G1 was their best, but I’ve never gone lower than ****¼ on any of their prior meetings- and I have little reason to doubt this won’t be another fantastic match. I wouldn’t bet on it quite reaching the heights of that G1 match, as it won’t have the Osaka crowd to help it along for one, but I would be shocked if it wasn’t at that 4.25/4.5 level at least. I would be equally shocked if Ishii won this. Prediction: Kenny Omega