New Japan Pro Wrestling
Fighting Spirit Unleashed
September 28, 2019
New York City
Watch: New Japan World
Meet our previewers:
John Carroll: John will attend their fifth and sixth NJPW shows of the year this weekend in NYC and Philly, though they won’t blame you if you only want to count the MSG show as half. Follow them on Twitter @toshanshuinla and their podcast @wrestleomakase.
Lorien: Fighting Spirit Unleashed in NYC is Lorien’s second NJPW show of the year, and the first one not affected by a government shutdown. Follow her on Twitter @divingmeteora if you don’t mind also hearing a lot about video games.
Tyler: If Minnesota was anywhere close to the Northeast, he would be attending all 3 shows, but making it out there after attending the G1 in Dallas was too much to manage. Be sure to follow @CCSTheRealForno if you love wrestling and football, as he not only tweets, but also writes and podcasts about both.
TJP vs. Ren Narita
John: The LA Dojo young lions take center stage to start Fighting Spirit Unleashed from New York, and if you haven’t heard that now includes Ren Narita after he came to Katsuyori Shibata directly to ask him if he could join. Narita and his NJPW cohort Shota Umino are both finally heading off to excursion, with their young lion runs ending after 225 and an amazing 319 matches, respectively (for comparison’s sake, SHO & YOH wrestled 276 & 264 as young lions, Hiromu Takahashi wrestled 242, and El Desperado wrestled just 126). Umino is heading to the UK and won’t be appearing on any of these three shows, but Narita’s new status as an LA Dojo member should make him a regular on New Japan’s US shows for the foreseeable future, much like his new cohorts have been.
Where else he may turn up while in LA remains to be seen; ostensibly New Japan’s partners in the US are Ring of Honor, but you may notice a distinct lack of ROH participation on this show. That’s because ROH is running their own shows this same weekend, their Death Before Dishonor PPV and following night TV taping from Las Vegas. Outside of exactly one ROH participant in the Super J-Cup toward the end of August (Jonathan Gresham, who lost in the first round to Ryusuke Taguchi) there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot going on with the two companies right now. Given that none of the LA Young Lions have even appeared in ROH since the War of the Worlds shows back in May, Narita may not be turning up there anytime soon. Anyway! Narita’s opponent here is TJP, who made his return to NJPW after a long absence back at the same SJC (where he defeated Clark Connors in the first round only to lose to eventual winner El Phantasmo in the second). Obviously he’ll be winning this match, but I’ll be more interested in seeing what kind of reception he gets from the New York crowd than anything. I do want to praise them in general for booking these young lion battles on these cards, which is where having the LA Dojo guys comes in handy. It just makes for a much more authentic-feeling New Japan experience to start with young lion battles instead of, like, a random six-man with So Cal Uncensored like we’ve seen in the past. Prediction: TJP
Lorien: The way time flies! Shota and Ren are the second and third Young Lions I’ve seen take flight, the first being Hirai Kawato back in early 2018. I too am very interested to see what Narita will be doing in the LA Dojo, since I’m not aware of any shows they wrestle outside of main roster New Japan shows. I kind of do want him to show up on some ROH shows, because I’d love a chance to see him, but I also don’t want him to, because that would mean I’d have to go to another ROH show. (Not that the last one I saw was actually bad, but that’s a topic for another time.) TJP I honestly don’t have much of an opinion on one way or the other, except for the fact that Kota Ibushi dabbed with him once, and that’s just slightly cursed. The main thing I’m excited for is to see an actual Noge Dojo Young Lion in a match in person. That entrance theme is a banger. Prediction: TJP
Tyler: As John pointed out earlier, it’s about time that Ren Narita and Shota Umino go on excursion. Watching them for the past couple of years, you could tell back in January that they were ready, but in hindsight, it was wise to keep them for the first nine months this year. The experience and excellent matches that we got from Narita in the Best Of The Super Juniors tournament will prove to be invaluable for him. While he lost every match, you could see him grow and become more comfortable in each one, providing hope spots in each match that had you feel like he was going to win.
Even more interesting about the beginning of the excursion for Narita is that he is heading to the LA Dojo to train with Shibata. Not only will he be featured prominently on US shows moving forward as John mentioned, but it seems to me that with Narita’s excursion, along with Karl Fredericks winning the Young Lion Cup, the LA Dojo is being positioned as the superior training facility within the New Japan system. Over the coming months and years, the storyline between the Noge and LA Dojo’s will be one to watch closely.
As for TJP, it is interesting that he is being featured for the second consecutive tour. We all know that he is going to beat Ren Narita, but what will be worth monitoring is how Gedo positions him during and after this tour. As Lorien mentioned, TJP dabbed with Kota Ibushi during the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team classic and they will tag again at the Philly show on Sunday as well. Will we see more of them tagging on the road to Tokyo Dome or could we see TJP turning on him and possibly positioning himself with Bullet Club or LIJ, the two factions led by two of the presumed competitors in the assumed mini-tournament come January? Prediction: TJP
Lance Archer vs. Karl Fredericks
John: Gotta hand it to Tyler here: of the three of us he was the only one to predict Karl Fredericks would be your 2019 Young Lions Cup champion, which is exactly what happened after he defeated Shota Umino at Destruction in Kobe. His reward is three straight singles matches on the Fighting Spirit Unleashed tour, as he’ll have Alex Coughlin in Lowell, Mikey Nicholls in Philly, and sandwiched in between is the American Psycho, Lance Archer. Archer is easily the most high profile of these three singles matches, as he makes his first appearance back in NJPW after a critically acclaimed G1 run. There have definitely been rumblings that Archer might head elsewhere after he had such a great G1 Climax, but personally I hope he stays with New Japan. A big man with his kind of athleticism and speed is almost tailor-made for NJPW singles matches; he would be wasted for sure in WWE where you’d probably never see him on television (especially given Vince’s hang-ups with age), and even in AEW he just wouldn’t have nearly the same quality of opponents to match up with. I expect this to be a great match, perhaps your sleeper of the night. Prediction: Lance Archer
Lorien: Karl! My prediction for the Young Lions Cup was flipped on its head, and I’m very excited to see Fredericks take that big success and run wild with it. A frustrated Umino who came up short and demanded to be sent on excursion immediately afterward is actually also interesting in a way that Young Lions Cup champion Umino wouldn’t be, so that shows what I know. I’m glad that the NYC show has his match with Archer, because I think he’s really going to shine and this match will, basically, rule. I was pro-Archer already, but his G1 got me way more excited about him than I ever thought I would be. Of course, the Young Lion has to lose, but I think it’s going to be a hell of a match. Prediction: Lance Archer
Tyler: As John mentioned, I was the only one of the three of us to pick Karl Fredericks to win the Young Lion Cup (insert victory lap here) and I believe it was the right decision. Shota Umino didn’t have much to gain from the win, but Spicy Karl, as @thesuperjcast refers to him, needed it to help him get truly noticed by the Japanese fans. At the end of the match, the crown was oddly silent for a tournament crowning, as if they were in shock that Karl won the match. I for one am excited to see the response to Karl after this tour, as I think he will get much better responses upon his return.
As for this match, how great is it going to be? As John alluded to earlier, Archer had a fantastic G1 Climax tournament and showed himself to the best and most athletic big man in the business. At the young age of 42, Lance is doing moonsaults off the ring apron and Spanish Flys that someone at his size normally would be ridiculous to attempt, but not only is he great at them, he makes them look easy. Archer is the perfect opponent for Fredericks to grow, as they are both very athletic big men. I hope Karl is able to expand his move set to do some really athletic stuff for this match, because this could easily be the Young Lion match of the year. Prediction: Lance Archer
Juice Robinson & Mikey Nicholls vs. Clark Connors & Alex Coughlin
John: Speaking of guys we haven’t seen in awhile, Juice Robinson and Mikey Nicholls reform their tag team from their unsuccessful IWGP Tag Team Title challenge back in Australia on 6/29. Nicholls, in fact, hasn’t been seen in New Japan at all since that mini-tour, while Juice was one of several wrestlers to have the Destruction tour off after a grueling G1. The other roster member G1 participants who had that whole tour off were the aforementioned Archer, Taichi and Toru Yano, while KENTA and Kota Ibushi had more than half the tour off until the Destruction in Beppu event, as New Japan has quietly done a great job rotating guys and giving them time off to heal even during a packed schedule. Juice will be preparing for his United States title challenge of Jon Moxley on 10/14 at Sumo Hall, though Moxley, of course, isn’t on this or any other US cards (this made it funny when NJPW put out their merch lineup for the shows and the US Title belt shirt was on there; buy the shirt dedicated to the belt whose holder contractually can’t appear in the country it’s based on!). Nicholls will be trying to look more impressive than he did in his NJPW appearances earlier this year, to try and earn some future bookings. And Connors and Coughlin (the H is silent apparently!) are coming off their great YLC runs, where they looked like possible future stars for the company. If New Japan can keep this whole young crew together in the promotion long-term (which is no guarantee; where the hell is Oka, by the way?!) the future looks very bright for them. Prediction: Juice Robinson & Mikey Nicholls
Lorien: I will admit that I sometimes have to take a second to remind myself which one is Mikey Nicholls and which one is Robbie Eagles, just because they’re both white dudes who came into NJPW around the same time, and I didn’t know anything about them beforehand. I now have a pretty decent handle on Robbie Eagles, but Mikey Nicholls still evades me in terms of what I actually think of him as a wrestler. A lot of times I get a big impression off seeing someone live that I never get from watching them on TV, so I’m wondering if this will happen in NYC. Connors and Coughlin had that amazing YLC, so even without having won, I feel like they’re coming into this with a full head of steam. Connors especially impressed me with his crazy strength when I saw him in Nashville earlier this year, so I kind of want him to throw Juice and/or Nicholls into the balcony just because he can (whichever one is smaller, for maximum velocity). Prediction: Juice Robinson & Mikey Nicholls
Tyler: Along with Lorien, I am also trying to figure out who Mikey Nicholls is as a wrestler. So far in his New Japan run, he has been very underwhelming in both his in-ring work and in showing emotion. We know how good he is as a tag team wrestler, having teamed with current WWE wrestler Shane Thorne in Australia, NOAH and NXT, but establishing himself as a singles star has been a struggle. His partnership with Juice Robinson could either help draw out some personality, as the flamboyant one is excellent in this area, or Juice could really overshadow him and make it feel worse. As far as Connors and Coughlin, their chemistry with them both being LA Dojo boys could provide a test for Juice and Mikey, although I think the experience and talent will be too much for the Young Lions to handle. Prediction: Juice Robinson and Mikey Nicholls
CHAOS (Roppongi 3K & Rocky Romero) vs. BULLET CLUB (Guerillas of Destiny & Jado)
John: Despite GOD specifically mentioning New York during their post-match promo in Kobe, their tag team title defense against Roppongi 3K is actually happening the prior night in Lowell. That’s a very surprising decision, especially since this NYC show is the only one you’ll be able to watch live on New Japan World. The Lowell & Philly shows will come later via VOD (as will English commentary for this event, as the live airing is only going to have Japanese commentary) but with all due respect to the fine people of Lowell, I think it would have made more sense to have both title matches on the show the rest of the world can actually watch without waiting who knows how long. But perhaps the decision to run that title match there (along with a surprisingly awesome main event of Tanahashi, Okada & Ibushi teaming up to face the LIJ trio of Naito, EVIL & SANADA) is because they’re hoping to sell some last minute tickets, as Lowell is the only venue that still has some seats remaining (Philly just has last-minute standing room tickets while NYC is completely sold out). Anyway! That title match is taking place due to YOH surprisingly pinning both members of GOD on the Destruction tour in different multi-man tags, but I suspect their run of good fortune will come to an end the previous night, as it just seems way too early to graduate Roppongi 3K to the heavyweight tag division. But after they likely lose the previous night, perhaps they can get some small measure of revenge here by pinning Jado. Prediction: CHAOS
Lorien: I’ll admit to being a little crestfallen when I realized the title match isn’t in NYC after all, because… well, I guess I would have had a chance to see Roppongi 3K get beaten, because I also don’t think they’re going to go there with them just yet, especially on a US show. However, I feel like a lot of the interaction in this match is going to depend on what exactly goes on the night before; I still want to know how they’re going to deal with YOH getting those two surprise pins. Will Tama pin YOH, showing that his two wins were just a stroke of luck? Maybe GOD will pin SHO and GOD will still have no pinfalls on YOH. Maybe YOH will get pinned in the title match, and SHO will avenge him by pinning someone (Tama?) in this match. Of course, it’s also possible that GOD will retain in Lowell and go on to beat CHAOS some more in NYC, but if that’s the case, Rocky’s going to take the pin. This is a really hard one to call. In my heart I’m a Roppongi 3K enthusiast, though, so I’m going to put my faith in them. Prediction: CHAOS
Tyler: The one peculiar thing about this match, along with Philadelphia the following night, is that Roppongi 3K is going against the Guerrillas of Destiny after their title match, leading me to believe that this rivalry is not over. While it is not out of the question for Roppongi 3K to win the titles, I am with John that it is too early to graduate Roppongi 3K to the heavyweight tag division. The only way I see Roppongi 3K winning the belts at this show is if Gedo plans on combining the tag team divisions and making them openweight, which I doubt will happen for some time, if ever. I fully expect GoD to win in Lowell, but with nefarious means, as they are prone to do. I am with John 100% on this, as I think Jado eats the pin to exact a little bit of revenge. Prediction: CHAOS
Hiroshi Tanahashi & The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI)
John: Folks, if you are not excited to see Hiroshi Tanahashi team up with THE FRIGGIN’ ROCK N ROLL EXPRESS to fight, of all people, Los Ingobernables de Japon, we just have very different priorities as wrestling fans. It’s nearly a day after the card first came out as I write this and I still can’t believe I am going to see this one live. Wrestling is really great sometimes. There’s no real story here, and this isn’t the start of some Tana-Naito feud or anything- Tanahashi is booked on King of Pro Wrestling in a “20th anniversary tag” teaming with Tomoaki Honma against Togi Makabe & Toru Yano, while Naito is booked opposite the man I think he’ll face at Power Struggle in some kind of #1 Contendership match for the Intercontinental Title, Zack “I want to be the first triple crown champion to hold three belts at once so I’ve never seen All Japan I guess” Sabre Jr.- but frankly, who cares. This is going to be an absolute delight, and I can’t wait to witness it in person. Naito selling for a Robert Gibson hot tag should sure be something. I just hope Shingo knows he can’t lariat these old dudes as hard as usual! Anyway, I think BUSHI gets pinned here and we get to see what everyone wants: Tanahashi and the RnRs doing some air guitar together. Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi & The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express
Lorien: My god, this is certainly a match. Of all the people in it, the only one I’ve ever seen in person is Naito, and the circumstances for seeing all the others for the first time at this show couldn’t be more unexpected. As soon as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express was announced, not ten minutes passed before my husband showed me a message board post about “confused New Japan fangirls” who weren’t going to know who the RnRs are. Come on, of course, I’m excited to see the damn Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. Who came up with this booking? Anyway, I can’t add a lot to what’s been said, I don’t think – Tanahashi will air guitar with his new old man friends, an Ingobernable will be pinned. (It’s not going to happen, but imagine Ricky Morton pinning Shingo. Just imagine it.) Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi & The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express
Tyler: As always, BUSHI is here to ruin something, since he will be the only wrestler not sporting some version of a mullet. How great is this match though? The king of air guitar is going to be teaming with the Rock N Roll Express, arguably a top-five tag team of all time. In New Japan canon, this match is likely going to mean nothing, but we will get to see The Ace air guitar with the RnR Express, as I think BUSHI will eat a pin and a Canadian Destroyer, just because wrestling absolutely rules and BUSHI won’t be sporting a mullet. Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi & The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express
Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & The Amazing Red vs. BULLET CLUB (Jay White, Chase Owens & Gedo)
John: In addition to a likely Naito-ZSJ match, the other big match for Power Struggles looks to be Jay White vs. Hirooki Goto for the IWGP Intercontinental Title. Goto came out to challenge White after he defeated Naito at the end of Destruction in Kobe, and despite White’s complaining, he has a legitimate case. After all, Goto won their last meeting (in the G1 on 7/13), and has the most momentum he’s had in a while after going 5-4 in that tournament and then avenging one of his losses, to Shingo, on the same Destruction in Kobe event. Goto was one of just 6 wrestlers out of 20 participants to end the G1 with a positive record (thanks in large part to the log jam of 7 out of 10 A Block wrestlers all finishing with the same 4-5 record) and is on a better run since coming back from LA than you probably think. White of course is on a pretty great run of his own, as he beat Tetsuya Naito to win the G1’s B Block and go to the finals, and bounced back from losing that to Kota Ibushi by beating Naito again to win the IWGP Intercontinental Title (making him the second triple crown champion to win the IWGP Heavyweight, IC & US Titles after Kenny Omega; Naito is the only other triple crown champion but he did it with the NEVER instead of the US, and so far no one has held all four belts). White’s now more sure than ever that it’s his destiny to become a double champion at Wrestle Kingdom, but for now he’ll have at least Hirooki Goto to get through before he can make it to the main event of the January 5th event at the Tokyo Dome (something tells me he’ll have a Naito-shaped hurdle to get over on 1/4 too, but who knows). None of the others in this match have anything going on right now but it’s cool to see Amazing Red get another New Japan match, in his hometown of NYC no less! Gedo sticks out like a sore thumb as the pin eater here, of course. Prediction: Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & The Amazing Red
Lorien: Because I only started watching wrestling about five years ago, I wasn’t introduced to The Amazing Red until pretty recently. It’s my understanding that he’s been really influential on junior heavyweight-style wrestling, so I like that he’s teamed up with Goto and Ishii, because I always like seeing someone fast and flippy zipping around with some big hard hitters. I was also pretty satisfied to see Goto win against Shingo and come out to challenge for the IC title at Destruction in Kobe — like I said in the preview for that show, I, foolishly, am ever hopeful for Goto’s success. So, if White vs Naito had horny scumbag energy, what’s the energy of White vs Goto? I’m going to say “strait-laced dad annoyed with his edgelord son.” Prediction: Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & The Amazing Red
Tyler: After seeing Tomohiro Ishii and Will Ospreay display some chemistry and unique tag team moves in their match at Destruction in Kobe, I am incredibly excited to see what kind of stuff he can do with Amazing Red in, as John mentioned, his hometown. Also mentioned by John, this seems to be a preview match for the likely IC Title match with Goto and White, one that I presume to be a preliminary match for the likely Wrestle Kingdom mini-tournament. It wouldn’t surprise me to see most of the match be carried by Chase Owens for BULLET CLUB, as White will get a few cheap shots in and use character work to try and get into the mind of Hirooki Goto. At the end of the day, I would not be surprised to see Amazing Red get the pin in his hometown. Prediction: Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii and The Amazing Red
NEVER Openweight Championship
KENTA © vs. YOSHI-HASHI
John: I want to start by simply saying that if you’re rolling your eyes when you see this one, I totally understand. YOSHI-HASHI is generally portrayed as little more than a lovable loser; as we talked about during the build-up to his recent IWGP Tag Team Title challenge alongside Tomohiro Ishii (which ended with YOSHI getting pinned, of course), he’s one of the only non-young lions on the entire roster to never hold a single championship, not even the NEVER 6-man belts (the only others? Chase Owens, who you may not even want to count since he’s at least defended the NWA World Jr. Title in NJPW, Hikuleo, Mikey Nicholls, Robbie Eagles and Toa Henare). This is clearly a filler defense designed to get KENTA a quick notch under his belt and fill a semi-main spot on this show. But! I will give New Japan credit for leaning into the fact that it’s a filler defense via YOSHI-HASHI’s amazing promo at the end of Destruction in Kobe. YOSHI flat out says that he knows KENTA only started targeting him during their tag match earlier because he thinks YOSHI will make for an easy defense, a cheap way to extend his reign as NEVER Champion. It’s very hard to sound so vulnerable and self-aware in a wrestling promo and still come off like someone you’d like to cheer on, but YOSHI-HASHI really pulls it off here as he acknowledges this reality, but then swears to prove KENTA wrong and take his title from him anyway. After that great little promo, I hope he just shows some fire here and pulls off a surprisingly great match before he loses. Because yeah, obviously he’s losing. He’s YOSHI-HASHI. Prediction: KENTA
Lorien: Alas, YOSHI-HASHI. He’s really at his YOSHI-HASHI-est in that promo, promising to do his best, just like the fan in the Memories of G1 Climax 28 video says. I love this as a way to approach this match, though, because there’s no way to play it straight as if the audience is really on the edge of their seats about who’s going to win this one. Instead, make YOSHI-HASHI’s YOSHI-HASHI-ness a part of the plot. Also, not that this is exactly relevant to anyone but me, but I am feeling absolutely buck wild at the idea of seeing KENTA live. He was always out on injury during his NXT run at the shows I went to, and anyway, that was a whole different animal. Will YOSHI-HASHI one day hold a title? As he is the lovable loser, I can’t help but hope that he does. This is not that day. Prediction: KENTA
Tyler: I completely agree with John on this, as this match feels like a fill-in match, since YOSHI-HASHI hasn’t really done anything other than be in the match where KENTA joined BULLET CLUB. As Lorien mentioned with his post-match promo at Destruction in Kobe, he was really at peak YOSHI-HASHI-ness. There really isn’t much to say about this match, as YOSHI-HASHI has never won a title, and I expect this to continue to be a story moving forward. Plus, any capable wrestler is going to beat a bag of socks every time. Prediction: KENTA
Kazuchika Okada & Kota Ibushi vs. EVIL & SANADA
John: When this match was announced I definitely gave myself the no-prize, as I had assumed that this would be our main event even before EVIL officially challenged Ibushi for the briefcase in Kagoshima. Once again, like with the Destruction in Kobe where they teamed up in a six-man tag, this means current 1/4 IWGP Heavyweight Title match opponents Okada and Ibushi are teaming up together. Needless to say, January 4th opponents on the same team is not something that really ever happens, but with CHAOS and Hontai now basically the same unit (they team together on virtually every show, basically leaving CHAOS as little more than a Taguchi Japan-style “unit within the home army” type thing) it was bound to happen. CHAOS would never team with Hontai on any show during the years when Okada and Tanahashi were building up their 1/4 main events, and obviously the same goes for BULLET CLUB or LIJ when the main events involved Omega or Naito instead.
Regardless, there didn’t seem to be much in the way of friction between the likely WK opponents so far, but with Okada and Ibushi continuing to team together we’ll see if anything eventually changes there. As mentioned earlier they’ll be on the same six-man team with Tanahashi on the previous night’s event in Lowell, and this same exact tag match will headline the New Japan Road Korakuen on 10/7, the last stop before the Okada-SANADA and Ibushi-EVIL singles matches for the title and briefcase, respectively, at KOPW on 10/14. Running back this exact match again means either the two teams will split both matches 1-1 or one of them will win both warm-up matches. It would make no sense for the champion and contract holder to win both these advance skirmishes, as that would kill any limited momentum behind the LIJ duo, so you’re either talking an EVIL/SANADA sweep or a split. I’m gonna go ahead and pick an Okada/Ibushi victory here- maybe Ibushi pinning EVIL?- so they can give their little post-show speech and try to send the crowd home happy, with EVIL & SANADA then getting the win at the last stop before KOPW instead. But I won’t be surprised if EVIL & SANADA win both tag matches either. Either way, I’m sure this will be a great match and I can’t wait to see it in person. Prediction: Kazuchika Okada & Kota Ibushi
Lorien: I loved seeing Okada and Ibushi on the same team at Destruction in Kobe, so I’m really pleased to see them tagging here. I’d kind of like to see them start to mess with each other, either here or at the New Japan Road show (probably there). I think Ibushi especially has a lot of room to let his chaotic side out in these matches. I suppose there’s a chance that someone gets the briefcase before Wrestle Kingdom and that these two don’t actually end up being the heavyweight title match opponents, but I don’t see any strong indicators. Of course, I’ve been wrong before. If you look at it from purely a booking point of view as opposed to storyline, having the two guys who seemingly barely know each other beat the established tag team and former heavyweight tag champions multiple times makes no sense, so the question I’m asking myself is whether there’s a big enough reason to have Okada and Ibushi win to override that. So I almost want to say that I think EVIL and SANADA will win — until I think about what John brought up, that they probably want Okada and Ibushi, the big Wrestle Kingdom rivals, to win at the big NYC show that’s being streamed, to pump them up a bit and to please the crowd. (As an aside – I didn’t intend to agree with all of John’s predictions, but either we have some kind of freaky mind meld thing going on or else they’re just really convincing.) Prediction: Kazuchika Okada & Kota Ibushi
Tyler: As I mentioned in the preview for Destruction in Kobe and John and Lorien mentioned here, it is very peculiar that Okada and Ibushi are continuing to team together. Obviously, along with their 6 man tag in Kobe, it makes total sense as a lead up to their respective King Of Pro Wrestling semi main and main event matches. The match will likely consist of each participant working on specific body parts to try and weaken their opponent for their respective finishers. I highly doubt we get anything of storyline substance here (maybe we finally get some tension between Okada and Ibushi?) but we will get a great match with four incredible in ring workers. As both John and Lorien mentioned, New Japan will want to send the crowd home happy and it will be quite a moment to see Okada in the middle of the ring for a post match promo in the historic Hammerstein Ballroom. Prediction: Kazuchika Okada & Kota Ibushi