New Japan Pro Wrestling
Destruction in Beppu 2019
September 15, 2019
Beppu B-Con Plaza

Watch: NJPW World

Meet our previewers:

John Carroll: The Destruction tour every year is John’s ultimate challenge as a New Japan previewer. Can they find something, anything interesting to say about all these damn undercard tags?! Probably not. Oh well. You can follow them on Twitter @toshanshuinla or their podcast @wrestleomakase.

Gerard Di Trolio: Beppu seems like a nice place to go on vacation to with its hot springs. However the only other Destruction in Beppu show New Japan has done, which was last year, was not so nice. Does this year have a chance of being different? We’ll you’re going to have to read this preview. You can follow me on Twitter at @GerardDiTrolio

12th Young Lion Cup League Match
Yota Tsuji vs. Karl Fredericks

John: The Young Lions Cup has brought a dose of much-needed excitement to this otherwise very sleepy tour, as the four NJPW youngsters clash with Shibata’s three LA Dojo pupils, plus one dude from the Fale Dojo as well. Shibata made waves with a recent interview in which he noted that the Japanese young lions “play to the crowd too much” in his opinion, among other critiques, and he’s almost holding up his own LA Dojo Young Lions as a more pure version of what NJPW used to be. So far, I think he’s pretty much been right, as the LA Dojo boys are living up to Shibata’s no-nonsense spirit, and they’re definitely an interesting contrast with the flashier, more outgoing Japanese young lions. Here we have a matchup between the biggest young lion from each side. Tsuji at one point was lagging far behind Uemura in his development but seems to have closed the gap greatly in recent months. Meanwhile, Fredericks came into this tournament with a lot of hype but if anything has actually been the least impressive of the three so far. Which isn’t to say he’s been bad by any stretch, but the other two have been that good! It’s tough to throw a prediction out there for any of these YLC matches without knowing the other tournament results from this week, but for now I’ll give the nod to Spicy Karl here. Prediction: Karl Fredericks

Gerard: There were people saying that Tsuji was behind the other Young Lions in terms of development. While he is no Umino, Narita, or Fredericks, he has shown that he still has a ton of potential thus far in the Young Lion Cup. Fredericks of course is Fredericks. He arguably has the most potential of any Young Lion in either Japan or the L.A. Dojo and the Japanese crowds are warming to him. Anyway Fredericks is going to be in play to win this tournament going into the final night in Kobe, so he’s likely to win this one. Prediction: Karl Fredericks

12th Young Lion Cup League Match
Shota Umino vs. Alex Coughlin

John: Our other YLC match for the show sees Shota ‘Shooter’ Umino square off against the man Shibata termed “The World’s Strongest Baby”, Alex Coughlin. Coughlin was the only one of the three LA Dojo young lions in this tournament to not take part in the G1 tour, but if anything he’s been the most impressive of his crew so far. He and Tsuji opened up the 2019 YLC with a match I gave **** on the 9/4 Korakuen (definitely one worth going out of your way to see if you missed it), and I’m excited to see what he and Umino can do here. I think Shota still ultimately has to be looked at as the favorite to win the entire thing, so I’m assuming he picks up a big win over the World’s Strongest Baby, a nickname I’m going to try to work into every Alex Coughlin preview from now until the end of time. Prediction: Shota Umino

Gerard Di Trolio: Again, like in the previous YLC match on this card, we have someone who is going to be in contention to win going into the final night. In this match, that’s Shota Umino. So I think he’s going to win. Anyway, a world about Coughlin. When he was left off the G1 tour, I assumed that perhaps they felt that he was not up to snuff like Fredericks and Connors were. Well they turned out to be wrong. He’s been awesome in this tournament and on this tour so far. John is correct that Coughlin vs. Tsuji is a must-see match, though I personally didn’t as high as **** on my rating (which was ***1/2). Prediction: Shota Umino

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Yuji Nagata, Ryusuke Taguchi, Ren Narita & Yuya Uemura vs. Manabu Nakanishi, Toa Henare, Clark Connors & Michael Richards

John: Here’s your “get the rest of the young lions not involved in YLC matches tonight on the card” tag, and there’s not much of anything I can talk about here. Hey, how about that Blue Justice show in Chiba drawing a packed house of 2149 fans? Some wrestling promotions can’t top 2k for their biggest show of the year, and meanwhile they were hanging from the rafters to see the New Japan Dads™ fight BULLET CLUB in a 10-man tag. Yuji’s still got it I guess. Anyway, this feels like a “Henare pins a young lion with the Toa Bottom” match to me. Prediction: Manabu Nakanishi, Toa Henare, Clark Connors & Michael Richards

Gerard: If you’re going to do throw away multi-man tags to get all the Young Lions on the show who don’t have tournament matches, the best way to do it is like this match where you have some veterans in the ring them. While I do like the look of this match I will also say poor Toa Henare who I wish they would do something with. Anyway, I’m going to bet Team Nagata wins this one because all four members of that team are in fact mobile, and Richards seems to be at the absolute bottom of the ranking of Young Lions. Prediction: Yuji Nagata, Ryusuke Taguchi, Ren Narita & Yuya Uemura

Jushin Thunder Liger & Roppongi 3K vs. Suzukigun (Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI)

John: Minoru Suzuki was scheduled for the main event of the 9/6 Road to Destruction Korakuen show (teaming with Zack Sabre Jr. against Hiroshi Tanahashi and Ryusuke Taguchi) and Jushin Thunder Liger just so happened to be at ringside doing commentary. Just when everyone had forgotten about the Suzuki-Liger issue, which raged in the spring and early summer before receding during the G1 tour and build up to Suzuki’s IWGP title challenge at Royal Quest, Suzuki suddenly brought it right back to the front of our minds by attacking our soon-to-retire hero. He dragged Liger into the ring and delivered a Gotch-style piledriver on a chair, which is certainly one way to make a statement. So now the feud is back on, and the only real question is where this ultimately comes to a close. Does this go all the way until Wrestle Kingdom? Will Liger’s final match be against Suzuki?! Prediction: Suzukigun

Gerard: Glad to see that the Suzuki vs. Liger blood feud is back on though I think it is dragging on a bit too long at this point. I hope they don’t wait until the Dome to do it. Anyway, I expect a great match here with a bunch of crowd brawling that is actually good. That has been one unexpected good side effect of this feud. I’m going to choose the opposite team John did to win, not to be a contrarian but I don’t see R3K dropping a fall in a match where DOUKI is on the other team (and Liger could actually use some momentum). Prediction: Jushin Thunder Liger & Roppongi 3K

Kota Ibushi, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Birds of Prey vs. BULLET CLUB (KENTA, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori)

John: Here’s our hype match for the main events of the following day’s Destruction in Kagoshima event, as Kota Ibushi gets ready to defend his IWGP Heavyweight Title challenge contract against KENTA while Will Ospreay and Robbie Eagles (the Birds of Prey) will look to take the IWGP Jr. Tag Team Titles from El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori. The GBH duo of Makabe & Honma are along for the ride here, as are Bad Luck Fale and Yujiro Takahashi on the BULLET CLUB side. Fale has very little to do on this tour and gave a great example of how far he’s fallen as a singles competitor back at Korakuen, where he and Jay White teamed up to face Tetsuya Naito and EVIL in the main event of the 9/5 show. Fale ate a clean fall in the middle via the Destino, something that would never really happen in the past. In 2018 Fale only lost one single fall in a straight up 2 vs. 2 tag team match, when he and White had faced the Best Friends of Beretta & Chuckie T at Power Struggle, and that was via a flash pin-style hurricarana roll up from Beretta. Fale has just never been in the position before to be a guy getting hit with someone’s finisher and beaten clean in the middle in an otherwise meaningless hype tag match like that before, and it’s obvious his status in the company is slowly diminishing. Now since I wrote all that, he’ll pin Honma here with the Grenade for sure. Prediction: BULLET CLUB

Gerard: Not only to we get a tease of the top matches in Kagoshima main but we have a good way to have a match that will cover up the weaknesses of Fale, Yujiro, and Honma. Going to bet that Fale gets tagged into this match only once. The Jr. tag teams will probably do most of the  heavy lifting here with a couple of spots from Ibushi and KENTA. Oh and Honma will miss a Kokeshi and KENTA will be a dick to him when he does. Given the obvious outcome of the Destruction in Kagoshima main event, Bullet Club gets the win here. Prediction: Bullet Club

CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & Rocky Romero) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI)

John: If you like this matchup of these two trios you’re in luck, because this just so happens to be the fourth of five televised meetings on this tour (!). The first two happened back at Korakuen Hall on 9/5 and 9/6, and while the 9/5 one was nothing much to write home about, I can highly recommend the 9/6 encounter. It only went 11:35 and was a great example of how less can sometimes be more, as both trios went out there and had a super fun sprint of a match that I went ***¾ on, the best mark I gave any of the undercard tags at Korakuen. This one unfortunately I think will probably get a little more time, but I would love to see another quick sprint of a match here. Of course, all these six-mans are building up to a pair of upcoming singles matches: Shingo vs. Goto in a special singles match at Destruction in Kobe on 9/22, and Okada vs. SANADA for the IWGP Heavyweight Title at King of Pro Wrestling on 10/14. Both are rematches from two LIJ victories in the G1. Anyway, you can pretty much flip a coin on this match since both BUSHI and Rocky are always capable of taking a fall. Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japon

Gerard: John is once again correct that these teams had a great match on 9/6. Nothing much more to except that I expect some more intensity than the last match given that this is a bigger show than Korakuen which could make this an awesome match. Since LIJ won the last outing on 9/6, I’m going to guess CHAOS will probably win here. Prediction: CHAOS

Tetsuya Naito & EVIL vs. Jay White & Chase Owens

John: We’re on our way to a major IWGP Intercontinental Title match on September 22nd in Kobe, a match that honestly feels far bigger than your garden variety IC Title contest. It’s all thanks to what you might call “double title fever” in New Japan at the moment, as Ibushi, Naito and White are all talking about becoming the first ever wrestler to hold the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Titles at the same time. It increasingly looks like that road will lead to the first ever two-day Wrestle Kingdom at the Tokyo Dome, which means it runs right through Kobe and makes who walks out of there with the white belt even more important than usual. The one thing I wasn’t really prepared for with this feud was how, uh, kinda horny it’s been? Jay White whipping a smirking Tetsuya Naito face-first into the steel fencing and then noting afterwards with a wry smile that he “seemed to enjoy it” has a very strange “when the sadist met the masochist” feeling to it that I wasn’t at all expecting. It’s also just amusing to watch Jay, the master of trolling his opponents, finally run into The Man Who Physically Cannot Be Trolled. Sometimes they just seem to have a good laugh about it together and both seem to be greatly enjoying themselves, and then suddenly White just flies off the handle and gets very angry about how little effect he can actually have on Mr. Tranqilo. I’ve been enjoying the ride in another words. Meanwhile, EVIL is biding his time probably looking to make a major challenge, perhaps on the following night’s show in Kagoshima, and Chase Owens seems like a very nice guy. Prediction: Tetsuya Naito & EVIL

Gerard: Folks, someone is walking out of Wrestle Kingdom 14 with two belts. There has been too much teasing of it just to be considered some throw away line in a promo. That’s not how NJPW angles and storylines work. I personally think it will be Tetsuya Two Titles. Such faith seems crazy after all that has happened but it actually makes the most sense to make it seem like Naito is down and out and utterly defeated before the dawn breaks. White is also the perfect opponent that brings Naito to his lowest point before everything picks up. I am more bullish on White than many, but I’ve seen even some White skeptics admit that he has great chemistry with Naito. These guys don’t even have to do much to have a good match here I think. Sparks fly just when Naito and White have a staredown. Owens is the obvious pin eater here. Prediction: Tetsuya Naito & EVIL

IWGP Tag Team Championship
Guerillas of Destiny © vs. Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI

John: Originally when this card came out this was scheduled to be a non-title encounter between these two teams, but after Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI and Rocky Romero defeated GOD and Jado in a six-man tag on 9/4 (YOSHI tapping out Jado), they made their intentions clear to challenge for the tag titles, and this match was changed. Before that happened I figured Ishii & YH were a lock to get the win here to set up a future title match, perhaps on the upcoming Fighting Spirit Unleashed tour in the US, but instead they’re just skipping that step and going right to the title bout. The main focus has been on the fact that GOD cost Ishii his NEVER Openweight Title back at Royal Quest in his match with KENTA and now Ishii is coming for revenge; Ishii, well known for his devotion to having great matches, noted that GOD for all their tag title defenses (this would be their 6th defense if they can pull it off, believe it or not!) don’t have any memorable matches among them. He said the “quality of their fight was low”, and vowed to expose them in Beppu. YOSHI-HASHI, as usual for him unfortunately, kinda feels like an afterthought here- Ishii needs a partner, so here’s this guy! I would have liked to have seen them talk up the amazing stat that YOSHI-HASHI has never held a single championship in New Japan before (yes, he’s never even held the NEVER 6-Man Titles, belts held by such luminaries as pre-’Hawaii Vacation’ Matt Sydal, David Finlay, Yujiro Takahashi and even Yoshitatsu). They could have made this about YOSHI-HASHI’s quest to finally win his first NJPW championship after seven and a half years since his return from excursion, but maybe they just felt like it would make him look like too much of a loser. Especially if the end result is the one I expect it to be: GOD hitting their super powerbomb on YOSHI for the pin to retain. 

I don’t think a title change is totally out of the question here or anything- the IWGP Tag Team Titles really don’t mean anything at the end of the day, so there’s not really much harm in having the belts change hands. But GOD has quietly put together one of the longest reigns in recent memory: they will have just surpassed 200 days as champions as of this show, giving them the longest reign since Anderson & Gallows held them for a full year from 1/4/14 to 1/4/15, and their 5 defenses are the most since Gallows & Anderson had 6 in the same reign. If they successfully defend here, those 6 defenses would tie them for the third most in a reign with Gallows & Anderson, TenCozy (7/20/00-9/23/01), and the team of Shinya Hashimoto & Junji Hirata (7/13/95-6/12/96), which is pretty rarified air. They would then only be one defense behind the legendary Cho-Ten team of Masahiro Chono & Tenzan (who amassed 7 defenses from 3/24/02-6/13/03), although they’d still have a lot of work to do to catch the all time record holders of Bad Intentions (Anderson & Giant Bernard) at 10 defenses (6/19/10-1/4/12). The point of all this is that this GOD reign has somehow become one that will quite literally be in the record books, and it seems strange to waste their defeat on Destruction in Beppu at this point. You may as well have them head into the Tokyo Dome as champions to lose to whoever wins the World Tag League this year, and then let’s be real: they’ll probably just take these dumb belts right back a month later anyway. God how did I write this much about this stupid match?? Prediction: Guerillas of Destiny

Gerard: Big thanks to John who crunched the numbers on previous IWGP Heavyweight Tag Title reigns. I had noticed that GOD has already had 5 defences this reign, but reading just how far they still have to go to beat the defense record plus how Gedo has booked the tag titles the past couple years, makes me think we’re getting a title change here. I like GOD. I think they’re good, but not great. I am entertained by their out of the ring antics. But it is easy for their tag title reigns to begin to drag, and I feel that is the case here. But I’d bet that in Japan, the team of Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI in a tag title match would have more drawing potential as the semi-main event of a show than GOD.

Going into World Tag League, who are the established teams? It is still only GOD and EVIL & SANADA. Those teams faced each other in the finals the past two years. Time to establish a new tag team before the tournament starts. The only slight negative to the CHAOS team winning here is that I’d like to see the pop YOSHI-HASHI would get in say Korakuen Hall for finally winning his first title in New Japan. Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI

British Heavyweight Championship
Hiroshi Tanahashi © vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

John: Our main event of the evening is the fifth meeting of the year between these two men (!), and to be quite honest with you I have no idea what I can really write here after I just previewed their last match two weeks ago at Royal Quest. I guess let’s just take it from there: Tanahashi pinned Zack clean in the middle with the High Fly Flow, ending his 239 day reign as British Heavyweight Champion. That was the first time anyone has ever won two matches in a row in this long-running feud (Tanahashi also beat ZSJ during this year’s G1), dating back to their very first meetings in 2017. That of course now begs a very simple question: is Tana really going to beat Zack three times in a row?! The very quick nature of this rematch has to make you suspicious as well, but if you think about it you pretty much needed this match for the tour; unless you were going to do an IWGP Heavyweight Title match on Destruction this year, which they did last year but hadn’t done from 2014 through 2017, you had no other titles available with NEVER champion KENTA challenging Ibushi for the contract and US champion Jon Moxley out nursing an injury (if he was ever even scheduled for this tour to begin with). What other challengers did new champion Tanahashi realistically have on such short notice? The only other person you could think of right away would be Will Ospreay, who beat him on the last A block night of the G1, but Will is busy on this tour too challenging for the junior tag titles (and also he and Tanahashi’s rematch feels too big for Destruction in Beppu anyway right?). So that’s all a long-winded way of saying I wouldn’t take this quick rematch to be a guarantee of a ZSJ victory. I think they’re doing this match because there’s no other match to do, and I really won’t be surprised with either result here. I’m gonna go with my gut and say Tanahashi retains. Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi

Gerard: I never get tired of these two wrestling each other. I love their matches and they keep my attention. This might be the rivalry between two wrestlers that I love the most that I have never rated at a Match of the Year Candidate level. While better than still 80-90% of what you see in wrestling, Sabre vs. Tanahashi never reaches that sublime level that say, Okada vs. Tanahashi does. That being said, it’s still a great choice for a main event here. While this match is the fifth between these two this year, don’t forget that two of those matches occurred outside Japan at the G1 Supercard and Royal Quest. And you’re not really going to the well too many times running this in Japan by having it in Beppu, where New Japan only runs once or twice a year.

As for the winner, like John I’m also on the Tanahashi train. I think another Tanahashi vs. Ospreay match is what they are building to. Also you got to give a happy ending in a market that you don’t run often. Save those heel wins for Tokyo. As for Zack, I think his recent slump is also headed somewhere storyline wise.  Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi