New Japan Pro Wrestling
Destruction in Kagoshima
September 16, 2019
Kagoshima Arena

Watch: NJPW World

Meet our previewers:

Gerard Di Trolio: Kyushu might be Japan’s coolest island. Beppu has hot springs, while Kagoshima has a freaking volcano, Sakurajima, that has had an eruption as recently as 2017. Scientists are predicting a major you-have-to-evacuate-Kagoshima kind of eruption within the next 30 years. My money is on Tetsuya Naito winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship before that happens. You can follow me on Twitter at @GerardDiTrolio.

John: I’ve never been to Kyushu but I would like to go on a future trip someday. Actually I’ve never been off the main Honshu island at all; furthest west I’ve ever gone in three trips is Kobe (which rules by the way, definitely don’t miss Kobe on your own trip). Follow me on Twitter @toshanshuinla or, better yet, just follow my podcast @wrestleomakase instead, it cuts out a lot of the nonsense.

12th Young Lion Cup League Match
Yuya Uemura vs. Clark Connors

Gerard: Sadly, Uemura has cut his hair and no longer looks like he’s about to challenge Antonio Inoki for the NWF Heavyweight Title in Ota Ward Gymnasium. However, he has had a great tournament so far. I highly recommend his match against Karl Fredericks from the 9/10 show. It is a Young Lions match with leg work! Connors has also looked great so far with great matches against Fredericks and Umino. As for the result, Uemura is winless so far so I’m going to go with him. While Uemura is clearly slotted below the other Japanese Young Lions, they will probably give him at least a win over one of the foreign Young Lions. Prediction: Yuya Uemura

John: Both of these guys have looked pretty impressive in this YLC so far, although it’s really not much of a surprise if you’ve seen their prior work. This is a battle of two guys who are both a bit on the small side (Connors at 173cm or about 5’6 ½ is by far the smallest of the three LA young lions, and Uemura at 180cm or 5’9 is just behind Shota & Narita as the smallest of the four Japanese young boys) but both wrestle with a lot of heart and fire, so I suspect they could show great chemistry here. I’ll go with Gerard and pick Uemura for the win. Prediction: Yuya Uemura

12th Young Lion Cup League Match
Ren Narita vs. Michael Richards

Gerard: Richards isn’t doing much for me so far. He’s not horrible by any means, but he doesn’t stand out the way that a guy like Narita does. Narita is a guy who will be in play to win on the final night so I am going to go with him here, though an upset – if you can have such a thing in a Young Lion Cup – is always a possibility. Prediction: Ren Narita

John: Will definitely agree with Gerard that Michael Richards (I almost typed Mike Richards and thought of the Philadelphia Flyers/LA Kings center instead of the racist actor) has shown the least of the eight in this tournament at this point. He’s got a good mean guy look with the bald head and generally unpleasant looking face, but then he kind of ruins it with his ridiculous facial expressions that alternate between “first day of wrestling school” and “very bad actor told to look like he’s taking a shit.” Narita will beat this nerd, hopefully. Prediction: Ren Narita

Yuji Nagata, Ryusuke Taguchi, Shota Umino & Yota Tsuji vs. Manabu Nakanishi, Toa Henare, Karl Fredericks & Alex Coughlin

Gerard: Same deal as the Destruction in Beppu show. Put some of the Young Lions not in tournament matches in a tag match with a couple New Japan Dads. This should be a lot of fun as long as Nakanishi isn’t tagged in for more than 30 seconds. Since I predicted Nagata’s team would win in Beppu, I’ll go with Team Nakanishi here. Prediction: Manabu Nakanishi, Toa Henare, Karl Fredericks & Alex Coughlin

John: A lot of this undercard can be described as Beppu But Slightly Different (and unfortunately there’s one match that’s actually exactly the same) and this is definitely one of the prime examples. I had Nakanishi’s team winning the prior night but I’ll stick with them again here, as I think Henare-mania will RUN WILD (aka he will pin two different young lions on back to back nights). Prediction: Manabu Nakanishi, Toa Henare, Karl Fredericks & Alex Coughlin

CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Roppongi 3K) vs. BULLET CLUB (Guerillas of Destiny, Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens)

Gerard: Ideally, this will be the first appearance of the new IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI with their freshly won belts. That’s about as excited as I can get for this match. It will probably be okay, the CHAOS team is talented enough to make something out of this match, and hopefully Owens does most of the heavy lifting for the Bullet Club. I expect Bullet Club to win because 1.) One of the members of GOD will get a pin to get some heat back after their title loss, and 2.) The rules of New Japan hierarchy dictates that CHAOS loses because half of their team are Jrs., while the Bullet Club has none. Prediction: Bullet Club

John: Unfortunately I don’t share Gerard’s optimism that Ishii & YOSH-HASHI will be entering this show as the new champions, as much as I would personally like to see poor YOSHI finally get himself a belt. Either way, I would agree that the BC is winning when you’ve got two juniors available to take a pin on the CHAOS side. Not much going on here otherwise. Prediction: BULLET CLUB

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Suzukigun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI)

Gerard: This version of a Liger vs. Suzuki multi-man tag match looks really cool with the inclusion of addition of Tanhashi and ZSJ. They can bring something to this match beyond more (albeit still really fun) crowd brawling. I could also see Suzuki being a challenger this Autumn for Tanahashi’s British Heavyweight Title, given Murder Grandpa’s own history with it. Since I think Tanahashi is retaining against ZSJ, I think Zack gets a tap out from Honma to win this one. Prediction: Suzukigun

John: Tanahashi and Sabre will be one day removed from their main event contest for the British Heavyweight Title here, and to Gerard’s point perhaps we find out the next challenger right away. I didn’t think of the Suzuki challenger idea should Tanahashi retain, and that is a great one considering he did indeed reign as champion for 108 days last year. It’s also been over a year since the last Tanahashi-Suzuki singles match (Tanahashi defeated him on the opening night of G1 28) so it would make sense from that standpoint as well. I’m endorsing this idea! Now watch Sabre win the belt back in Beppu and make everything we both just wrote here moot. Prediction: Suzukigun

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

Gerard: The march to King of Pro Wrestling continues. This is yet another repeat of this match on this tour, which again you really can’t go wrong with. These teams are genetically incapable of having a bad match. Anyway since I picked CHAOS to win this in Beppu, I’ll go with LIJ here. Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japon

John: What do you want me to say about the fifth televised meeting between these two trios on this tour? Yeah, I’m sure it will be pretty good, but it will also be the fifth time I’ve seen it in like two-and-a-half weeks so you can hopefully excuse me if my excitement is a bit muted. Anyway, I’ll pull a reverse Gerard and say that since I put LIJ over in Beppu, CHAOS pulls this one out. Prediction: CHAOS

Tetsuya Naito & EVIL vs. Jay White & Yujiro Takahashi

Gerard: NO LIMIT explodes! But seriously, as much as I am digging White vs. Naito, putting the Tokyo Pimp in this match makes the finish a little too obvious. While I still really enjoy White, and am quite high on him, his stalling tactics are hit and miss with me. Sometimes I think they fit the match perfectly, other times I find them annoying. I’m sure that as he evolves as a wrestler, White will eventually find that perfect balance. However, if White’s stalling gets annoying, having Yujiro as a partner is not going to be able to compensate. This could still be a decent match based off of the chemistry between Naito and White. Look, I generally don’t like to be a gatekeeper, but if you don’t realize that Yujiro is taking the fall here, then maybe you need to watch some more New Japan, and more closely. Prediction: Tetsuya Naito & EVIL 

John: Gerard joked about this but I really do enjoy whenever Naito and Yujiro are in the ring together. Given that Team NO LIMIT broke up way, way back in May 2011 by now there’s likely very few people watching who even remember them as a tag team (I got to see them live on a TNA PPV, of all things!) but they still seem to have a weird amount of chemistry together. I do love when Naito makes little remarks in the post-match interviews about the vast gulf between them as well. It’s easy to forget this now, but there was a time after their breakup when he struggled to beat Yujiro. After they broke up Yujiro won 2 out of the first 3 matches between them and had a 5-3 record against him overall, including defeating him in THREE STRAIGHT G1s (!) in 2011, 2013 & 2014. That 2014 G1 match would turn out to be, as of now at least, their final singles meeting, as they’ve never fought each other 1 on 1 since; Yujiro’s last G1 Climax was in 2015, when they were in separate blocks, and he went 3-6 with his only 3 wins coming over Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma, while Naito went 5-4 and was in the midst of reinventing himself as El Ingobernable. The following year Yujiro was absent from the G1 and he’s basically never been relevant enough to match up in a singles match with a star the level of Tetsuya Naito ever since. Yujiro only has 10 singles matches period since that year’s G1, in fact, and none at all so far in 2019. To really give you an example of how long it’s been since his last singles match, it was actually a win over, of all people, Ayato Yoshida (in September 2018).

Anyway that’s enough Team NO LIMIT history I guess! This is our last televised hype match before Naito defends the Intercontinental Title against Jay White six days later in Kobe, so we’ll see if anything happens here that could be taken as an indication of a particular result. The result of THIS match of course is not in doubt- someone is pinning Yujiro- but I would be more interested in seeing what the post-match angle looks like, because it seems likely we’re getting one. Does Jay lay Naito out again or even vice-versa? Do they just end with a big staredown? As mentioned in the Beppu preview, I’ve really enjoyed this feud so far and I’m excited to see how it plays out further. Prediction: Tetsuya Naito & EVIL

IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship
El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori © vs. Birds of Prey

Gerard: As I mentioned in the Destruction in Beppu preview, the heavyweight tag team division needs more established teams going into World Tag League, and that’s why I think Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI are beating GOD. Same situation applies to the Jr. tag team division. We don’t know when El Desperado is coming back, though I’d bet he will be back in time for the Jr. Tag League. But apart from El Desperado & Kanemaru and R3K, there aren’t as many credible Jr. tag teams as there were a couple years ago when you had Young Bucks, Roppongi Vice, ReDragon, and Ricochet & Matt Sydal all in contention for the Jr. tag titles. So that’s why I think it’s time to give Birds of Prey a quick run with the titles. It creates a new credible tag team for the Jr. Tag League. It also finally gives Ospreay a Jr. Tag Title run that will go on his list of career accomplishments. Since I think Ospreay is going to Heavyweight as soon after 2020 starts, the Birds of Prey win here, then drop the titles to the Jr. Tag League winners. 

I also like John’s idea that they mentioned on the latest Wrestling Omakase. Basically it was that ELP beats Ospreay at King of Pro Wrestling for the Jr. Title then loses to the returning Hiromu Takahashi at Wrestle Kingdom. I think the proper thing to do here so we don’t have ELP going over Ospreay three times in a row with no revenge is have Ospreay pin ELP here to win. Also the Ishimori & ELP team isn’t really doing much for me as a tag team. Prediction: Birds of Prey  

John: Everything Gerard said totally makes sense to me but with one major problem: if Birds of Prey are winning the junior tag titles here and then dropping them to the Super Junior Tag League winners, where is that title match happening? Traditionally, the Jr. Tag League (or previously Jr. Tag Tournament before last year) winners always got their title shot at Wrestle Kingdom, because there’s simply no other big shows on the schedule between Power Struggle and the Dome. But this year’s schedule does have New Japan Showdown in San Jose on 11/9, six days after Power Struggle, so perhaps that could be the venue for Ospreay & Eagles to drop the titles to the tournament winner. Or maybe since Wrestle Kingdom is two nights this year, Ospreay & Eagles lose the belts on one night while Will still has a major heavyweight match on the other. Either way, a junior tag title match isn’t going to be the only thing Will Ospreay does at Wrestle Kingdom this year, so I think it’s for sure one of those two scenarios if they win the belts. I wouldn’t write off ELP & Phantasmo retaining either, although it would make me wonder if perhaps ELP is losing at KOPW after all. Prediction: Birds of Prey

#1 Contendership for IWGP Hvwt. Title Contract
Kota Ibushi vs. KENTA

Gerard: I am one of those nerds that loved the match between these two at the G1 show in Dallas. If KENTA has recovered from getting his bell rung at Royal Quest, I’m expecting another stiff battle here that feels like a vicious fight. Ibushi is also the kind of tremendous wrestler that does great callbacks to his previous bouts. I hope they to a callback to the ankle injury from their G1 match here.

But I still have an issue with this match. I think it’s too soon to beat KENTA again. Since KENTA is either facing Shibata or a Shibata proxy at Wrestle Kingdom in an extremely hot program, I think it’s a bit silly to beat him a couple of weeks after winning the NEVER Title. Hopefully he doesn’t do any other jobs in the interim. Only other major concern I have with this match is that since when got Bullet Club interference in the NEVER Title match at Royal Quest, we may get it here too. These two can tell a great story on their own, but that didn’t stop Gedo from having interference in KENTA’s match against Ishii. But given that this match is in the main event spot, I am holding out hope there are no Bullet Club shenanigans. And since it is the main event, this match will definitely get all the time it needs. Ibushi is obviously retaining his briefcase here to go into whatever this mini tournament thing is probably going to be at Wrestle Kingdom 14. Prediction: Kota Ibushi

John: I will disagree with my colleague here somewhat and say I don’t really have any problem with KENTA losing here. Losing to the guy who won the G1, who you already beat in said tournament to get this shot in the first place, isn’t the kind of loss that’s going to cool someone down, especially when they’re fresh off a super hot heel turn and a championship victory. KENTA can survive eating a Kamigoye for the pin in mid-September, still with plenty of time to give him a couple of big NEVER title defenses before the Dome. Where Gerard and I agree is in really liking their Dallas match (I went ****¼, and I thought being there live helped a lot because it was just a brutally stiff match), so I have high hopes for this one as well provided that KENTA has fully recovered from his issues at Royal Quest. The other thing that could cause the match to fall a little flat though is, as Gerard mentioned, the very distinct possibility of BULLET CLUB interference rearing its ugly head down the stretch. If that absolutely has to happen, hopefully they try their hand at interfering and get removed fairly early somehow, leaving us with a real stretch run with just these two wrestlers. Even though Ibushi is obviously winning either way, a finishing stretch not immediately marred by GOD or whoever running in would very much be preferable. Once this match is over, I fully expect Kota Ibushi to be challenged by the only other wrestler who defeated him in G1 29, EVIL, probably for King of Pro Wrestling. Prediction: Kota Ibushi