JUNE 9, 2019

Watch: NJPW World

Meet our previewers:

  • Suit Williams: (@SuitWilliams): I’m currently watching the WWE Super Showdown card while writing this review, so pardon me if I break out into laughter at random points. Dominion will probably be a much better show. Listen to me on the Smark Sports podcast if that interests you.
  • Gerard Di Trolio (@GerardDiTrolio): I’m still on a high from the Best of the Super Juniors finals show from Sumo Hall, and am incredibly hyped for this show. Though Sumo Hall wasn’t an all-time show, it was still awesome. If Dominion is a Home Run, surely that has got to be some kind of record of putting on two amazing shows in less than a week? These are the things I think about laying in bed at night.


Gerard: Possibly the most unexpected match announced for this show. I’m digging it though. Moxley is gonna beat the crap out of poor Umino here but I’m sure it will be awesome. This is Umino’s second biggest match of his career, after his match against Hiroshi Tanahashi in the first round of the New Japan Cup this year. I would expect even fewer hope spots from Umino here than in that match, but I’m expecting the Osaka-Jo Hall crowd to explode when he does get one. Hopefully the re-energized Moxley is into making young guys look, because this will no doubt be a match we look back on a decade from now when Umino is a huge star. Prediction: Jon Moxley

Suit: The Fire Pro Wrestling random button gives us this awesome match, as Moxley is probably going to eat this kid alive. Osaka-Jo will be screaming for this kid to survive, and they’re probably gonna lose their minds at the one nearfall he’ll get. But Moxley is gonna bust this kid open and drop him on his head before going into the G1 (probably). It is a good sign for Umino that New Japan is giving him this big match against Mox, instead of sticking a veteran loss post in there. Hopefully he gets out of here well enough, because New Japan seems to have high hopes for him. Prediction: Jon Moxley


Gerard: After losing in the BOSJ finals, Takagi demanded to face heavyweights in order to prove himself. New Japan has obliged his request and now we’re getting a battle of Animal Hamaguchi Dojo graduates. Despite missing a large chunk of 2018 with a knee injury (and that can be really devastating at his age), Kojima still hasn’t lost too many steps. I just saw him live in May at a ROH in Toronto last month and he had a ***3/4 match with Jay Lethal that went just under 15 minutes. So I’m expecting great stuff here. Kojima is obviously low on the pecking order in the company these days, but I hope this match isn’t too much of a Takagi squash. This deserves 12-15 and if they get that this should be awesome. Looks like despite losing the BOSJ finals, Takagi isn’t going to be hanging around the Jr. division much longer. I think having this match is a pretty strong hint that Takagi will probably be in the G1. Prediction: Shingo Takagi

Suit: What a world we live in where New Japan can just toss this match together. Takagi wanted a heavyweight challenge after being embarrassed in the Best of the Super Juniors finals, and he got a good one in former IWGP World Champion Satoshi Kojima. This may end up being a non-official G1 qualifier match, as Kojima missed last year’s tournament due to injury. This looks like a real good bounce-back match for Takagi, and a good jump off point to the heavyweight division for him as well. Shingo sends Kojima to pasture, and moves on to his first Grade-1 Climax tournament. Prediction: Shingo Takagi


Gerard: While Liger vs. Suzuki has been building for a while, at the BOSJ finals, we got a tease of a ZSJ vs. YOSHI-HASHI match for the RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship. This match will probably have Suzuki and Liger brawl around ringside while ZSJ and YOSH-HASHI do some stuff in the ring. Not exactly sure how this is going to end. Logically, ZSJ and Suzuki would win their singles matches coming out of these feuds, so you would give the win here to the Liger and YOSHI-HASHI team. But I don’t exactly see YOSHI-HASH pinning ZSJ here. Liger could roll up Suzuki for a shock win here, and I think that would had a ton of fuel to their feud. Prediction: Jushin Thunder Liger & YOSHI-HASHI

Suit: This is building to two separate singles matches that will happen down the road. YOSHI-HASHI and Sabre have gotten into a tiff recently, and YOSHI seems interested in the RevPro Title. Meanwhile, Liger and Suzuki have been at each other’s throats since the Dontaku tour. I think this will be less of a match and more of an angle to keep these matches hot until they happen. As far as who wins, I’ll agree with Gerard and say that Liger gets a flash pin on Suzuki here. Prediction: Liger & YOSHI-HASHI



Gerard: Feels weird that this is the only multi-man tag on this show. Given how Tanahashi vs. White ended, I think their feud is going to continue, at least at a simmer, for the next few months and that’s what this match is designed to make happen. I’d give Juice the win here in order to help get him back some momentum after losing to Moxley on Wednesday. Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi

Suit: White and Tanahashi are probably going to run into each other in the G1 again, so I think they will be preoccupied with each other. I don’t see Ishimori and Taguchi getting the next Jr. Title match, so I don’t see them scoring a pre-emptive fall here. So it comes down to Juice Robinson and Chase Owens for me. I doubt Chase gets into the G1, while Juice needs a rebound win after losing the US Title, so I’ll say a Pulp Friction gets the win. Prediction: Tanahashi, Robinson and Taguchi


Gerard: This is a good first title defense for Taichi. We know he can have a great match against Ishii and I think it will also tell the story of Taichi improving against heavyweights that have defeated him in the past. Given their match during the New Japan Cup this year, this could easily hit at least ****. Taichi continues to be over with crowds and I think this will be his first of several successful defenses with the NEVER Title in order to firmly establish him in the heavyweight division. Prediction: Taichi

Suit: This isn’t as open and shut for me as it seems to be for Gerard. Taichi has gotten over with me, and the match these two had in the New Japan Cup was dope. But Ishii has been NEVER Champ before, and I could see him get it for the G1. I’m going to pick Taichi because his push has been more consistent than Ishii’s has, but I really wouldn’t be surprised either way. Prediction: Taichi


Gerard: Usually a title match in this company, even for something like the NEVER 6-Man titles, gets some kind of build up or tease. There was nothing at all to this. These teams have had good matches before, but since the later half of 2018, G.O.D. seems to have stalled as a team and have just been having average matches, after finally managing to become a pretty good tag team after an abysmal early run. The 2018 World Tag League finals between these teams was kind of boring and went way too long at 27 minutes. I hope that they decide to just do a sprint here. I think EVIL & SANADA are going to win here, despite no build. The G.O.D. vs. The Briscoes feud isn’t over. It would not shock me that we get another rematch on an ROH show sometime during the G1, which we know that Tonga or Loa isn’t going to be in. This is one of the last chances to get the IWGP Tag titles off of G.O.D. before G1 starts. New Japan being New Japan, I think isn’t going to want the IWGP Tag champs to do a job to an ROH team when only the ROH tag titles are on the line, which explains the finish here. Prediction: EVIL & SANADA

Suit: Yawn. IWGP Tag Team Title matches kinda just happen, and EVIL and SANADA just end up in this one. Neither guy in GOD are in the G1, and they have the ROH Tag Team Titles to defend (and possibly lose), so I will pick LIJ to win. If you couldn’t tell, I have no strong thoughts about this. Prediction: EVIL & SANADA


Gerard: Ospreay is fresh off his BOSJ win here. He’s clearly on fire right now and I have no problem saying that the star rating floor on this match is ****. Now I gave ***** to Ospreay vs. Takagi BOSJ, but could this match it? I’m going to say probably not, but given Ospreay is on a career defining run and Dragon Lee will no doubt want to prove something because he wasn’t in the BOSJ finals, it’s certainly not impossible. The most interesting thing about this match is the result. Everyone think Ospreay is going to be in the G1. Does he beat Dragon Lee here and go into the tournament as the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion? That is actually not unprecedented. Tatsuhito Takaiwa in 2000, Koji Kanemoto in 2006, and Prince Devitt in 2010 and 2013 (he also won BOSJ both of those years too) enter the G1 as the Jr. Champ. Looking back at that history and Ospreay’s momentum is enough for me to make my prediction. Prediction: Will Ospreay

Suit: This match starts off the insane back half of the card, as Dragon Lee defends against Best of the Super Juniors winner Will Ospreay. This has the chance to be a seminal Jr. Title match, as these two have very complementary styles as flippy guys. I wouldn’t completely write off Dragon Lee here, as a rematch against Hiromu (whenever he returns) is a big money match. However, I’m gonna go with Ospreay here. Ospreay just beat the unpinned Shingo, he’s moving to the country, and he’s possibly entering the G1 as well. Dragon Lee loses nothing in losing to Ospreay, so I will call for the title change. Prediction: Will Ospreay


Gerard: As we hit the halfway point of the year, I think a strong case can be made that Ibushi vs. Naito is the feud of the year so far. Not only did they had incredible matches in the New Japan Cup and at the G1 Supercard, the multiman tags featuring these two during the Wrestling Dontaku tour that regularly flirted with **** and were super heated. The result of this match is going to be interesting as to what I mean for the rest of the 2019 New Japan calendar. While Naito has said he want to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Title as IC champ, now that Ibushi has signed a long term contract, you need to find something for him to do and I think Ibushi should have a long IC title run. Losing three big singles matches in a row like this is rare booking New Japan these days, but Naito can always get a win over Ibushi in the G1 (which I think Naito is going to win anyway). These guys are going to try to outdo their previous matches this year I’m sure, and I believe that they can accomplish that. I worry for their health, however. Prediction: Kota Ibushi

Suit: I’m calling it now. The loser of this match will win the G1 Climax this summer. That’s a take quake right there, but I can honestly see either man main eventing one of the Dome shows this year. Ibushi did just win the title, and there is no rush to give him the big belt since he’s signed a “lifetime deal” with New Japan. Naito has been beaten like a drum by Ibushi this year, and losing to him for a fourth time in a row doesn’t seem like the best way to go into a G1. I’m going to go with Ibushi here. They have been telling the story that Ibushi holds the Intercontinental Title in such high regard, that having him lose the title this soon doesn’t feel right. Naito can get his win back in the G1, and everyone wins. I just hope they don’t try to break each other’s necks. Prediction: Kota Ibushi


Gerard: In my head canon, Jericho is worthy of this title shot because he defeated former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega at Double or Nothing. Given that Japan made the list of top countries that bought Double or Nothing, and that the show made the front page of Weekly Pro-Wrestling, I think plenty of Japanese fans know this also. So Jericho’s title shot is less strange now than it was coming out of Wrestling Dontaku. This match is a very much a coup for New Japan given the booking in AEW. Jericho may very well lose to Okada less than three months before he becomes AEW’s first champion. I don’t think AEW cares that much about this situation because they have already won over the hardcore North American fans who watch New Japan and are now targeting WWE and/or lapsed fans who don’t know anything about New Japan as they get ready to premiere on TNT this Autumn. Okada is Jericho’s most interesting opponent thus far in New Japan from a stylistic standpoint. Omega was able to do plenty of American style stuff with him. Naito and EVIL can both do the brawling style. That doesn’t mean I have major concerns how this match will turn out. Jericho clearly thinks hard about how to put together a great match, and Okada is a Ric Flair level of wrestler in the fact that he can carry a broomstick to a good match. So I expect this to be great, and think it will be at **** or higher. What interests me the most about this match is how exactly it will look. Okada has a solid formula when it comes to creating great matches, but I could see both of these guys trying something different here. However, this match has the most predictable result of anything on this show. Prediction: Kazuchika Okada

Suit: Some people have issues with Jericho getting a title shot coming off of a loss at Wrestle Kingdom. My response to them is that it’s Chris fucking Jericho. This isn’t Hirooki Goto coming out. It’s one of the most acclaimed wrestlers of all time. If anyone can show up and call for a match, it’s him. A point of interest here is how this match will look. Okada is a master of the current epic 30+ minute title match. Jericho has evolved into a master of the wild lucha brawl. Will one man fight the other man’s style? Will they meet in the middle? How good would that be from a viewer’s standpoint? It’s an interesting clash of styles, and I can’t wait to see how these two make it work. Now for the winner. Jericho has a non-zero chance of winning the title here. A Jericho title win would get a ton of buzz, and guarantee at least one more big money match with him down the line. However, I’ve got Okada retaining here. I can’t see New Japan running the first night of the G1 in America without the IWGP Champion, and I don’t see Jericho doing that show. Plus, it’s not like Kazuchika Okada is struggling to draw on his own right. Okada gets a big win here and adds to the legend of the Rainmaker. Prediction: Kazuchika Okada