New Japan Pro Wrestling
Destruction in Kobe 2018
September 23rd, 2018
Kobe World Hall

Watch: NJPW World

Meet our previewers

  • Lawson Leong: Lariat enthusiast and Match of the Month writer for this very site! Follow me @Lawsoncomedy89 and my podcast Talking Smark.
  • Ryan Glaspell: New addition to the Voices of Wrestling Dojo. Paying my young boy dues, one mild take at a time. Follow me on Twitter @RyGenerico.
  • John Carroll: This makes me 3-for-3 on Destruction tour previews, which frankly should win me a medal of some kind. And I’m gonna come back next week and do it all over again for a shitty looking US show too! Please clap. Follow me on Twitter @toshanshuinla and check out my podcasts Wrestling Omakase & Moon Makeup!

Yota Tsuji vs. Yuya Uemura

Lawson: This should be a fun Young Lion’s opener. I’m less familiar with these Lions than others of their class but these always deliver as they should. Prediction: Yoto Tsuji

Ryan: Young Lion’s singles matches are almost always fun to watch. If for no other reason than watching green guys develop into talented workers. Tsuji is a lovable hoss, and Uemura is no stick in the mud. Seems like a good opportunity to let them both get as much mat time as possible. Prediction: Time limit draw

John: We’ve got yet another time limit draw in the making here, I think. It’s clear they don’t really see either guy above the other just yet, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out going forward, especially into next year. Prediction: Time limit draw

Roppongi 3K vs. Shota Umino & Ren Narita

Lawson: This could be a lot of fun! A lot of handsome young men in this one. 3K is one of my favorite teams in the world and I’m high on both members of the Young Lions team. I expect Umino to be the ace of this company some day. Here though, I’ll be glad to see them get any substantial offense against the Aces of the Jr. tag division. Prediction: Roppongi 3K

Ryan: It was not so long ago when SHO and YOH were wrestling in black trunks and limited to dropkicks and Boston crabs. Now they are hunky superstars. I think this will an enjoyable flashback for SHO and YOH, and a glimpse of the future for the Young Lions. Prediction: Roppongi 3K

John: SHO and YOH haven’t done a whole lot of anything in quite a while, but that should probably change by the time we get to the upcoming Super Junior Tag League. I know some are restless with these two but you guys need to relax, they’ve got their whole careers ahead of them. After SHO especially got to showcase his skills in BOSJ it’s not like they’ve done nothing since losing the junior tag titles, and they’re in no danger of losing their sizeable female fanbase either. I mean, have you looked at them recently? Prediction: Roppongi 3K

El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV

Lawson: I like Despy, especially this year but I have no use for this team as the Jr. champions. If it was up to me 3k would still be in their first reign. Liger and Tiger are cool when they have the spotlight on them but that’s not the case here. I hope this is short. Prediction: Desperado & Kanemaru

Ryan: Like Lawson, I feel like 3K should be champions right now. They seem like the marquee names for this division. I honestly forgot who held the belts, as there has been zero focus given to them in so long. I guess Liger and TMIV could get a win to set up a challenge, but I feel like Despy and Kanemaru desperately need a win to remind people that they are indeed the champs. Prediction: El Desperado & Kanemaru

John: I’m not nearly as down on Despy & Kanemaru as my two colleagues are- I think they’ve had a very strong reign, actually- but I will say I was pretty surprised when there was no junior tag title defense scheduled for this entire tour. You expect the belts to take a back seat during the G1 just cause everything junior heavyweight-related does by its very nature, but ignoring them for the Destruction tour too is just weird. It makes me think something is up here with this match and the veteran team of Liger & Tiger are winning to set up a pre-junior tag league title shot, maybe at King of Pro Wrestling. After all, if they were meant to be the next challenger team, you couldn’t just book the match out of nowhere for a Destruction show given the standing of the two veterans. But a non-title win here gives a legitimate reason for the match to happen. Prediction: Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask

Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Ryusuke Taguchi & Ayato Yoshida vs. TenKoji, Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi

Lawson: This should be fine. Main story is if Honma will continue to get back his wrestling legs or not. Yoshida eats the fall. Prediction: TenKoji, Nagata & Nakanishi

Ryan: Yoshida is going to get the opportunity to bust out his comedic sensibilities in this match, as I’m sure Taguchi will be orchestrating some ridiculous spot. I was amazed we didn’t see Kojima murder anyone with a Western lariat in Beppu, so I suspect that time is now. Prediction: TenKoji, Nagata, & Nakanishi

John: Yoshida has shown kind of a no nonsense-like demeanor so far that I really enjoy, as in a lot of ways he almost comes across like a junior Shibata, a role that is desperately missing from modern New Japan (of course I’m not comparing them on wrestling skill, as Shibata is one of the best of all time and Yoshida is just starting out his career- that should go without saying). Putting him into a situation where he’ll be asked to participate in wacky Taguchi Japan comedy could go a number of different ways; personally, I’m hoping he blows Taguchi off and insists on maintaining his air of legitimacy, but I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. Either way he’s probably getting pinned by a dad here. Prediction: TenKoji, Nagata & Nakanishi

Killer Elite Squad vs. Best Friends

Lawson: This could be quite good! I’ve been on the Trent (or is it Beretta?) train since he was in WWE, much like I have with Cody. Best Friends are a fun act and Trent’s only improved as a worker since then. KES can sometimes be great! You never know with them. Prediction: Best Friends!

Ryan: Best Friends vs KES was my MOTN from Beppu. Chuckie T and Beretta slowly got the crowd behind them then, and I anticipate they will do the same in Kobe. While KES picked up the victory in their last encounter, I’d like to hope that Best Friends will even the score here. Prediction: Best Friends

John: The tag match these two teams had in Beppu was indeed quite good (can’t say it was my MOTN when I had Naito-Suzuki at ****¼ of course), so hopefully they can follow that up with an equally solid rematch here. What sets Killer Elite Squad apart in this division is that when they’re at their best they are able to project an aura of being virtually unbeatable, and they really showed it against the Best Friends in Beppu, who despite looking competent also looked like they were no threat to KES whatsoever. Now that KES has taken the first match, this can either be another win for them to make them look dominant ahead of a tag title challenge or a surprising upset by Beretta & Chuckie to set up a rubber match, maybe in Long Beach next week. I think both results are about as equally likely, so I’ll just go with what my own personal preference would be. Prediction: Killer Elite Squad

CHAOS (Jay White, YOSHI-HASHI & Will Ospreay) vs. Juice Robinson, David Finlay & Toa Henare

Lawson: A lot of great wrestlers in this match should make for a fun undercard bout. Would love to see Ospreay score the fall on Henare to put him over right before the Jr. tournament he’s taking part in. But I won’t hold my breath. Prediction: CHAOS

Ryan: There aren’t many feelings to be mustered up about this match. White and YOSHI-HASHI will probably have some interesting interactions while teaming together. I haven’t seen a Blade Runner in awhile, so hopefully that happens. Prediction: CHAOS

John: Surprised by the predictions for a CHAOS victory here, because it seems pretty likely to me YOSHI-HASHI is gonna have more problems with White and end up getting pinned again to further along that dissension storyline. I hope these teases ultimately lead to him leaving the unit, because if there’s anyone who desperately needs a shake-up in every single way it’s him. He showed during the G1 he can still be a very effective underdog wrestler at times, putting on some good matches, but after six years largely spinning his wheels as essentially the same look and character it’s probably long past time for a change. A YOSHI-HASHI in white and red following the Ace of the Universe in Sekigun would certainly be that. Prediction: Juice Robinson & David Finlay & Toa Henare

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

Lawson: Now that Naito has vanquished Suzuki, what more remains of this feud? Naito is 0-2 against Sabre this year, so perhaps that’s on the horizon for him. Either way, Taka eats the fall here. Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japon

Ryan: The most intriguing thing about this match for me is EVIL. He was so despondent after losing in Beppu that he didn’t make it out for the LIJ role call at the end of the night. I see another loss on his horizon to further his turmoil, likely at the hands of ZSJ. Prediction: Suzukigun

John: I have no clue what is up with that whole EVIL storyline; it looked like he was going to be Jericho’s first challenger, maybe as soon as King of Pro Wrestling, but instead he got pinned by ZSJ in Beppu. Maybe he just pins ZSJ right back here, maybe it sets up a singles match at the US show next week, maybe it’s not setting up anything at all. I just have no real read on it at all, because that finish in Beppu completely stunned me. Naito of course probably has unfinished business with ZSJ as well, so we’ll see if they start things heading in that direction here. Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japon

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship Tournament Semi Final

Lawson: I’ve expressed before my disappointment in BUSHI since his push to relevance as part of LIJ. At this point there’s no question to me that he’s the weakest LIJ member and also the weakest link in this 4 man tournament. That said, the best match BUSHI’s ever had was against KUSHIDA, and so was the second best match he’s ever had, because KUSHIDA is one of the best wrestlers on the planet. I wouldn’t be surprised to see BUSHI win here and end up going all the way, as him winning the title for his fallen comrade Hiromu seems like a story they would tell. KUSHIDA doesn’t need that title again, he should be fighting heavyweights by now. Here’s hoping these two can have another great one. Prediction: BUSHI

Ryan: It seems like KUSHIDA has done everything he could possibly do in the junior division. He’s won the title many times, and had multiple feuds with just about everybody. With that said, I just cannot see him losing to BUSHI. If they were going to move KUSHIDA up, a first-round loss to the weakest link in LIJ seems like a strange way to do it. I wouldn’t be mad if Lawson called it right. BUSHI is super over with the NJPW crowd, and is underrated as a wrestler. I, however, think that they go with the safe bet. Prediction: KUSHIDA

John: Yeah as much as I would love to see Lawson be right here (I think BUSHI is criminally underrated by a certain segment of the NJPW fanbase and the natural story with Hiromu’s injury would really work for me), my brain just says KUSHIDA isn’t losing here. If KUSHIDA isn’t walking out of this tournament with the title, he’s losing to Ospreay again in the finals (I do think there’s a chance Scurll beats Young William next week, but in that case KUSHIDA is probably beating Scurll). But either way, these two have had some strong matches together in the past and hopefully this one can deliver as well. Prediction: KUSHIDA

Tokyo Dome IWGP Heavyweight Championship Challenge Rights Contract
Hiroshi Tanahashi (holder) vs. Kazuchika Okada

Lawson: After missing out on Dontaku there’s no way I was going to let the chance to preview this pass me by. This is the feud that got me into Japanese pro wrestling. To me, there’s no outcome I like here. I don’t like Tanahashi being the first man to lose the briefcase on his way to the Dome. But I also don’t like Okada losing to the man he firmly put in the rearview at Wrestle Kingdom 10. Even if he’s not the champion, or even Dome challenger, this is still Okada’s era. The only outcome I would be ok with is a time limit draw. Yes another one, this time 60 minutes. I’m sure some will groan at this idea, but it’d be an incredible 60 minutes of pro wrestling. Look who’s participating! The only other outcome I’d entertain is Okada losing, leading to some shenanigans with Jay White and the splitting of CHAOS or something like that. At least that’s a story I’d be into. Either way, this should be another fantastic chapter to their legendary series. Prediction: Time Limit DRAW

Ryan: When this match was first announced I wondered how they could possibly make it fit into Okada’s story arc. He conquered the Ace at Dontaku. After he lost his title he faltered and found himself in a G1 time limit draw, but I didn’t think that the Rainmaker should feasibly suffer another step backwards with a loss here. That is, however, before the ever-present subtle dissension within CHAOS began to blossom. With Tanahashi making one tiny statement about putting YOSHI-HASHI on the line, he threw a massive wrench at the straightforward build to this match. From there, Jay White began his manipulative mayhem in multi man matches. All of a sudden, we have a confused YOSHI-HASHI, a distracted Okada, and a determined Tanahashi heading into Kobe. Prior to these little nuances, I was leaning towards Okada ripping that suitcase out of Tanahashi’s defeated hands. Instead, I foresee Tanahashi standing tall. This way, Okada’s redemptive story can develop with the slow burn that New Japan does best, YOSHI-HASHI can get some much needed character rejuvenation, and we can get a fresh match at Wrestle Kingdom 13. Also, Tana has a movie to promote, but I’m pretending like that has nothing to do with it. Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi

John: When this match was first announced it felt like the first time we’d head into a briefcase match without being certain of the victor: Okada is of course a legitimate top star (with all due respect to many previous briefcase challengers like Ishii last year you can’t really say the same about them) and more importantly Tanahashi hasn’t beaten him since Wrestle Kingdom 9 in 2015. If you remove their match from 2010 when Okada was still a young lion (which you absolutely should), the record breaks down very closely but with a clear edge in the Rainmaker’s favor: 5 wins for Okada (New Beginning 2012, Invasion Attack 2013, King of Pro Wrestling 2013, Wrestle Kingdom 10 in 2015, and Wrestling Dontaku this year), 3 wins for Tanahashi (Dominion 2012, Wrestle Kingdom 7 in 2013, and Wrestle Kingdom 9 in 2015), and 3 draws (G1 Climax matches in 2013, 2016 & 2018). When you look at it like that it becomes clear that Okada should be the favorite, on paper at least. But unfortunately the booking during this Destruction tour has made it increasingly obvious that Tanahashi is winning, which is not exactly ideal. As the others have mentioned, Okada has been totally caught up in an ongoing “CHAOS IN CHAOS!!!” storyline, with Jay White continuing to question his leadership and one of his oldest allies YOSHI-HASHI drifting away. That has completely overshadowed any real build toward Okada-Tanahashi on Okada’s end. Meanwhile Tanahashi in his promos, podcasts and Twitter posts has been talking about nothing but Kenny Omega and his “style of wrestling”, making it clear the build to Wrestle Kingdom has already begun (Omega, too, has talked plenty about Tanahashi as well). It would be super impressive if all of this turns out to be a red herring on Gedo’s part and Okada wins here, but I just don’t see that being the case. I also think people had better prepare for this to end less than clean, with the aforementioned White perhaps getting involved. But either way, by all appearances what once looked like the first briefcase match with real uncertainty has become nearly as much of a foregone conclusion as all of the others in the past, and that’s a real shame. Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi