New Japan Pro Wrestling
Power Struggle 2019
November 3rd, 2019
Osaka Prefectural Gym (EDION Arena Osaka)

Watch: New Japan World

Meet our previewers:

John: John is very tired at the end of a long workday and doesn’t know what to put here, besides once again reminding you that Homura did nothing wrong. Follow them on Twitter @toshanshuinla or better yet their podcast @wrestleomakase.

Tyler: October and early November is one of the best times on the New Japan calendar for him as this is when most of the questions finally get some answers. You can follow Tyler @CCSTheRealForno for all kinds of football and wrestling-related takes. 

Suit Williams: While the main event scene is pretty much set, Suit is ready to see how the rest of the TWO Tokyo Dome shows shake out. He’s also ready to be massively disappointed when two certain people don’t show up. Listen to Suit’s sports podcast @SmarkSports and follow him on Twitter at @SuitWilliams

Yuya Uemura, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask and Jushin Thunder Liger vs Clark Connors, TJP, Titan and Volador Jr.

Tyler: After a really good junior tag league, we have the classic “these four teams are going to be in an 8 man tag” tag team match. One of the things that initially caught my eye here was having TJP and Liger on opposite sides. Liger mentioned after King Of Pro Wrestling that he wants to wrestle as many people as possible that he hasn’t wrestled before, and with how much New Japan is using him, maybe TJP gets that spot at the dome? In all honesty, I really don’t think it will happen but we have seen crazier things with Gedo’s booking before. Overall, this will be a fun match and I think we see some 50/50 booking and Yuya Uemura gets the pin over Connors after losing in their JTL match. Prediction: Yua Uemura, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask and Jushin Thunder Liger

Suit: Now with the full card booked, we can turn our attention to the New Japan San Jose show which is…next Saturday? Oh boy, I hope they’ve promoted it better locally. Anyway, Liger mentioned wanting to wrestle new opponents before he retires. According to, Liger has never wrestled TJP one-on-one. So I expect TJP to score the fall, and for Liger to challenge him in San Jose. Prediction: Connors, TJP, Titan and Volador Jr.

Robbie Eagles and Rocky Romero vs Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo

Tyler: With Will Ospreay having been challenged by BUSHI for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, we get to see his Birds of Prey partner Robbie Eagles team up with the coach Rocky Romero against the Bullet Club team of Ishimori and ELP. One thing we have learned from the booking of Gedo over the years is that guys are not put into positions randomly. There is almost always something behind it. With this in mind, I wonder if we see Eagles and Romero become an established team for Tokyo Dome season, as Ospreay will be busy with the Junior Title at Wrestle Kingdom. Joel from @thesuperjcast mentioned that the CHAOS guys could get the win and possibly staking their claim to be in the Jr Tag Title match at Tokyo Dome and I agree with him. I hope you love triple threat tag team matches! Prediction: Robbie Eagles and Rocky Romero

Suit: Eagles and Romero team up here to take on Ishimori and Phantasmo in a non-title match. Surprisingly (and maybe naively), I don’t think we’ll be seeing an extra team shoehorned in here. While they are a part of the same unit, this Eagles and Romero team is only together because their partners are busy. Ishimori and ELP get an emphatic win to establish them before Wrestle Kingdom. Prediction: Ishimori and El Phantasmo

Shingo Takagi, SANADA and EVIL vs Lance Archer, Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr

Tyler: As I mentioned earlier, Gedo doesn’t just throw guys together for these matches, they almost always mean something. After we saw LIJ and Suzukigun feud for what feels like two entire years, I believe this match is setting up 3 singles matches between these wrestlers, pairing off Shingo/Suzuki, SANADA/ZSJ and EVIL/Archer. Who gets the pin? I believe it will be EVIL pinning Lance Archer, because he needs some sort of credibility to challenge for the US Title. Prediction: Shingo Takagi, SANADA and EVIL

Suit: These guys have been paired up for a while now, with this being another chapter in it. It looks like we’re gonna get Shingo against Suzuki, EVIL and Archer for the US belt, and SANADA against Zack for the British Heavyweight Title. Considering how popular LIJ is outside of Japan, it makes sense to have EVIL and SANADA fighting for those titles. And I don’t think you’re gonna hear much complaining about Shingo and Suzuki. With the Showdown show coming up, I think EVIL will get the pin here and challenge Archer in San Jose. Prediction: Shingo Takagi, SANADA and EVIL

Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi

John: I have weird, mixed feelings on Okada-Ibushi so far. On one hand, we just saw the match on the last night of the A Block finals of this year’s G1 Climax and they pulled off an awesome ****½ contest that somehow still felt like they were holding something back, so I have little doubt that the match won’t be awesome, especially in a Tokyo Dome main event slot. On the other hand…..we just saw it in the G1 Climax this year, something that hasn’t happened with a 1/4 main event in 9 years (the WK 5 main event of Tanahashi-Kojima met in the G1 in August 2010; since then none of the WK main eventers had fought in the G1 leading up to it, with usually a 1 year or greater gap since their last meeting). This is probably the primary reason why the Okada-Ibushi match just doesn’t feel as special as previous years’ IWGP Heavyweight Title matches, although there are certainly other factors as well (the fact that there’s a second Dome with another main event and Ibushi’s curious booking of getting pinned repeatedly leading up to the EVIL match leaving him feeling like he has little momentum). So I’ll be watching this one closely to see if they can start to put together a build for Wrestle Kingdom that makes this feel like a true marquee title match. Obviously you don’t exactly need to be a Shin Nihon expert to guess that YOSHI-HASHI is getting pinned here. The other big question: will we see a Chris Jericho run-in or at least a promo video to kick off the build to the Tanahashi-Jericho WK match? Prediction: Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi

Tyler: The second that New Japan announced the blocks for the G1, I immediately wrote off a potential Okada-Ibushi Wrestle Kingdom main event. As John alluded to, we hadn’t seen a G1 rematch main event Tokyo Dome since WK 5 in 2011. They described the situation perfectly, as it really did feel like Okada and Ibushi only went about 80 percent in their G1 match. Even more curious was that Okada and Ibushi spent their time leading up to King Of Pro Wrestling teaming up together. Unlike past years, there isn’t a level of built-up animosity or a true rivalry between the two, but rather a mutual respect and dare I say, friendship. Being that this match is likely a semi-final of the mini-tournament, it makes all the more sense. As John pointed out, YOSHI-HASHI is in this match to be a pin eater, where I expect Tanahashi to get the victory for his team and be met by a Chris Jericho challenge. Prediction: Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi

Suit: The Okada/Ibushi match on 1/4 feels very cold to me. I have no doubt that they will have an incredible match, but there’s no real feud here. New Japan has booked a dream match, a few months after doing it in the G1, and haven’t done anything to really ramp up the tension. Now, will we get that big angle here? Will we get cocky Okada waving off the forever bridesmaid Ibushi and sparking that fire? Will Ibushi do something to draw Okada’s ire? Hopefully, those questions get answered, but one question that doesn’t need to be asked is who is eating the pin. Step right up YOSHI-HASHI, this spot is for you! Oh, and Chris Jericho will probably show up like the drunk uncle he is and get after the aimless Tanahashi. Prediction: Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship
Will Ospreay © vs. BUSHI

John: BUSHI was a last-minute injury replacement for this tour after EVIL got hurt, but it seems obvious now he was still going to end up playing a role either way. He challenged Will Ospreay backstage at Korakuen Hall to a junior title match and sort of got laughed off by Ospreay, who told him basically that he and Eagles were busy because they were going to win the Super Junior Tag League, but then agreed to give him a shot once that was over. He should have checked the subtitled version on Youtube or New Japan World afterward because BUSHI grinned after he was told that and said (in Japanese) that he had a plan. Maybe if Ospreay had known that he would have been a little more prepared for what happened on the final night of league action, as BUSHI’s plan turned out to be spraying the mist right in his face, helping eliminate the Birds of Prey! So now Ospreay is obviously free to defend his junior title against him here at Power Struggle. Fun fact: BUSHI was in an IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship match at Power Struggle once before, exactly three years ago, where he lost the title to KUSHIDA. I think someone may have made their NJPW debut (well, re-debut after returning from excursion) after that match. Not sure. Prediction: Will Ospreay

Suit: This is likely Ospreay’s last chance to add to his Wrestler of the Year catalog. While I don’t think Bushi is bad per se, let’s just say Will has hit work cut out for him. And I swear to god, if Hiromu doesn’t show up after this match I will break something. Prediction: Will Ospreay

Super Junior Tag League Final
El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Roppongi 3K

John: Here’s where I have to admit that I can occasionally be wrong- when the Super Junior Tag League lineup was first announced, I wasn’t that into it. Whether it was no Dragon Lee, no LIJ team, two teams featuring a young lion or all of the above I couldn’t tell you, but it just didn’t look like a sexy lineup. Well, having watched nearly every match of this league (I haven’t seen the matches from Friday 11/1 yet as I write this), that was indeed a bad take on my part. This year’s SJTL blew away last year by a wide margin. The CMLL team of Volador/Titan was a huge improvement over last year’s Volador/Soberano team in both effort and ring work, those teams featuring a young lion both brought it every night (especially TMIV/Uemura, as every Uemura Boston Crab tease got over gigantic every time and Yuya just looked great all tour), the Rocky Romero/Ryusuke Taguchi TEAM COACH were maybe the overall MVPs putting on an incredible tournament, and the matches were just far more exciting on average overall. In particular, I would recommend checking out the Korakuen league matches at least if you haven’t seen anything. But anyway, that brings us to this final, and I have to say it seems pretty likely R3K is going to get the win. My heart will be rooting for the wonderful sleazeball team of Desperado and Kanemaru, who have also been fantastic on this tour (and it’s so great finally having Despy back!), but my brain says it’s gonna be Roppongi 3K heading to the Tokyo Dome to finally try and get their belts back from Ishimori & ELP. These two teams also have a lot of history from last year  Prediction: Roppongi 3K

Suit: Hey, Super Junior tag league! I heard it’s been good, so I’ll throw some of those matches on the pile of matches I need to watch when I get time. This is a pretty simple story here. Despy and Kanemaru beat R3K in their return match at King of Pro Wrestling, and they beat them again in the tournament. Now, 3K has to go through them to get to the Jr. Tag Titles at Wrestle Kingdom. These two teams have worked together a lot, so a match with some stakes should be damn good. As much as I wanna see ELP take a faceful of whiskey, I’ll take Roppongi 3K to win because duh. Prediction: Roppongi 3K

Tetsuya Naito vs. Taichi

John: Where I’m currently a little down on the Okada-Ibushi 1/4 build, I like the more subtle build to the assumed White-Naito IC Title match. You could argue that the match feels even less fresh than Okada-Ibushi, since they had another meeting since the G1 already, but at least there feels like there’s a real story here: can Tetsuya Naito pick himself back up after Jay White beat him handily, first in the G1 and then again at Destruction in Kobe? Naito has done a great job playing into the whole “I’ve hit rock bottom and have to climb all the way back up” storyline: whereas during the White feud in September he had an almost permanent smirk on his face, he’s been far quieter and more subdued since, basically signaling that he’s gone back to the drawing board and taken things seriously. Taichi is a perfect roadblock here, as sort of the yin to Naito’s yang. They’re almost two sides of the same kind of “slacker” coin, so it makes perfect sense for Taichi to step in and be like, look, I beat you in the G1 this year, so let ME go to Wrestle Kingdom and fight Jay White (even though he lost to White in the G1 too!). Taichi almost comes across like he’s trying to put Naito out of his misery, in a self-serving way of course since he wants the 1/4 Intercontinental Title match for himself. Naito will obviously win here, finally taking care of a man who has been an on-again, off-again thorn in his side for the better part of two years now, and then make his big challenge to the winner of the main event. I understand if that scenario doesn’t appeal to you I guess, but as an avowed Naito fan who greatly enjoyed the previous Taichi & White matches (especially the New Beginning in Sapporo match for Taichi and the Destruction in Kobe match for White), I’m very into all of this and extremely hyped both for this one and the Naito-White rematch on 1/4. Are we on our way to Tetsuya Two Belts? Time will have to tell there, but I’ll sure as hell take at least having the possibility over Naito feuding with Chris Jericho’s Skype calls last year. Prediction: Tetsuya Naito

Tyler: I have become a massive Taichi fan in 2019. This entire year, he has started to rely more on his in-ring ability than I have ever seen from him during his New Japan run. Yes, he is still a member of Suzukigun and utilizes underhanded tactics, but his upward trajectory as a wrestler has allowed me to become more invested in Taichi. Even with that said, this match feels like overkill. Even though this is only their 3rd singles match against each other, they have been positioned against each other all year. While John likes the more subtle build of a potential White/Naito IC Title match on January 4th, I am not a big fan of using Taichi to build Naito back up. The story does make sense, since Taichi defeated Naito on night 4 of G1 Climax 29. However, nothing Taichi has done since the end of the G1 has warranted him being in this spot. Since his final G1 match (a win over Tomohiro Ishii), Taichi is a combined 1-15 with a total of zero singles matches. With this being considered a “play in” match for the WK mini-tournament, I haven’t been able to buy in to the inclusion of Taichi.

As far as Naito is concerned, this has been quite the up and down road. Riding a huge winning streak going into the G1 final, he lost his last two singles matches, both to current IC champion Jay White. I have enjoyed the humbling of Naito after Destruction in Kobe and his belief that he has hit rock bottom and has to work his way back up. Just like John, I also believe Naito wins here easily setting up a rematch for his “beloved” IC title and step one in culminating the WK12 redemption. Prediction: Tetsuya Naito

Suit: Naito’s road to Wrestle Kingdom seems pretty clear. In order to win both the heavyweight and Intercontinental titles, he has to win one of them. In order to win one of them, he has to stake some type of claim to a title match. In order to do that, he’s gotta beat somebody. Taichi, come on down! You’re the next contestant on Japan’s favorite game show, EAT THAT PIN! Naito is one of the guys that can get the best out of Taichi, so I’m hoping we get that on this night. Prediction: Tetsuya Naito

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NEVER Openweight Championship
KENTA © vs. Tomohiro Ishii

John: I have to admit to being a little surprised by this match’s placement here; when they first started teasing a KENTA-Ishii NEVER title rematch I thought for sure that would be for the Showdown in San Jose show taking place just six days after Power Struggle (and still with no matches announced as I write this!), since both men are extremely over in the US and they first teased it in Philly at the end of the Fighting Spirit Unleashed tour, but instead here it is in the semi-main of Power Struggle. Perhaps they just thought that White-Goto wasn’t quite strong enough as a main event (and tickets haven’t exactly been moving at a breakneck pace so far, as far as I can tell) and needed this kind of strong semi-main, which is fair enough. So now your next big question is: will KENTA beat Ishii a second time in a row? I don’t see any real reason to have KENTA lose here, especially if he has a big match planned for the Dome (if Shibata doesn’t happen I think pretty much everyone is expecting Goto with Shibata in his corner at least), but sometimes NJPW surprises you in a bad way with these undercard titles. There’s definitely an element of 50/50 booking and people getting the strap right back when it comes to this belt especially- can you believe that KENTA’s beating YOSHI-HASHI in NYC was the first successful NEVER title defense since February?!- so an Ishii win wouldn’t surprise me. I think it would be the wrong move though, and ultimately I’m gonna predict KENTA pulls out the victory here. They were well on their way to having a really great match back at Royal Quest before KENTA got his bell rung and the match completely fell apart, so hopefully, they make up for that with a flat-out awesome match this time around. Prediction: KENTA

Tyler: There are so many layers to how this match can go. After KENTA turned on Ishii at the G1 Final in August, he, unfortunately, got concussed halfway through their match at Royal Quest, leaving all of us just a bit disappointed. We also saw at the G1 Final the presumptive return of The Wrestler Katsuyori Shibata. With Shibata and KENTA likely slated for Wrestle Kingdom, the big question is still unanswered: will Shibata be cleared and will New Japan brass trust him to wrestle more than one match? The answer to that will be key to determining how this match plays out. If we get Shibata somewhat close to full time then I think KENTA wins this match and they strap up Shibata at the dome. If they don’t believe he can go more than once in a while (if at all), then Ishii has to win this match because once we get to Wrestle Kingdom, there is no way that KENTA beats Shibata. No matter what happens, we will get a fantastic NEVER title match, because these two men will beat the piss out of each other in my most anticipated match of the night. My guess though? KENTA wins and we see Shibata return in triumphant fashion. Prediction: KENTA

Suit: This is my most anticipated match of the night. These two were on their way to an incredible match at Royal Quest before KENTA got his bell rung, and I have no doubt they are both chomping at the bit to redeem that match here. Now the big cloud hanging over this match is the potential medical clearance of Katsuyori Shibata. If Shibata is cleared, that makes the work simple. KENTA takes on Shibata at the Dome. Whether or not KENTA is NEVER Champion is largely irrelevant to me. I think Shibata taking HIS belt back from the traitor is a nice subtext, but I can admit that the match would be fine without it. If Shibata is not cleared, that makes this whole thing much harder to predict. KENTA defending against like, Goto would feel like a letdown. But do you want to beat KENTA here and have him in the Trios Gauntlet? Let’s all hope that Shibata is cleared, because like I said at the G1 Final, I WILL CRAWL to Tokyo to see this match. I WILL CRAWL TO TOKYO, ON MY HANDS AND KNEES! Prediction: KENTA

IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Jay White © vs. Hirooki Goto

John: Much like with Naito-Taichi, I totally understand why some folks are not really into this match. However, I’ve really turned a corner with Jay White in the past few months. While some of his G1 matches still annoyed me (as much for his more cringe-worthy “reversal dances” to end matches as for any kind of antics), he ended it on a super high note with an outstanding final against Kota Ibushi. He followed that up with a match with Naito in Kobe that I know some people weren’t as high on but I absolutely loved, and now he enters Power Struggle at his absolute peak as a complete piece of shit. Jay isn’t cool. The crowd doesn’t cheer him ironically. They just want to see someone beat the shit out of him and take that white belt, and while it almost certainly won’t be Hirooki Goto who does it, our poor beleaguered hero works about as well as anyone as a stone-faced straight man. Goto is the kind of guy you kind of just can’t help but get behind even though, on an intellectual level, you know he has no chance, which again makes him great for this role. Could they have gone with someone slightly more exciting or someone who White hasn’t already faced twice in big singles matches this year? Sure. But just because they’ve wrestled already doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of pulling out a great match here, especially with the roll White has been on. Goto will fight like he always does, giving it his all with his usual samurai warrior spirit, and White will slither away with another victory. Naito will walk out to challenge, and then baby, it’ll almost be Wrestle Kingdom season. Pretend the World Tag League doesn’t exist and let’s get to it. Prediction: Jay White

Tyler: I absolutely love Jay White. His promos, in-ring mannerisms, and ability to work with any type of style are remarkable for a guy who is only 26 years of age. John is right in that his reversal dances can be long and cringeworthy, but his counter-based style gives him instant credibility versus any challenger and his protected finisher, the blade runner, gives him even more. As John implied earlier, White is the best heel in the business today. Why you ask? The crowd wants to see his opponent beat the living shit out of him.Goto, however, is a wrestler in flux right now. He is positioned in a title match that he has no chance of winning. He seemingly has no direction, but, ever since his “mini excursion” to the LA Dojo to train with Shibata, he has had some fantastic matches with the likes of Shingo, Ishii and White as well. Where does he go from here? His direction will be interesting to watch after the match because I have no clue right now. One thing we do know is that Goto is going to deliver a great match against the Switchblade including some very hard strikes. The crowd, however, is going to be left unsatisfied because there is no way Jay White is losing this match going into the dome. As John also said, I believe Naito comes out, either by himself or White calls him out, and they finalize the mini-tournament at the Dome, because as they said, World Tag League doesn’t exist. Prediction: Jay White

Suit: I have such mixed feelings on Goto. While I recognize his talent, his gatekeeper to the top status really keeps me from investing in him. I know he’s never winning the IWGP Title, so him challenging for it never interests me. And I know he’s not winning the Intercontinental Title because the title has elevated past his level. However, he has had some really good matches in the past, including his matches this year against Shingo Takagi. It makes me think that he could really benefit from a change in scenery. Could you imagine Goto giving Kento Miyahara the fight of his life over in All Japan? I’m getting excited just thinking about it! I bring all that up to get to the point that Jay White is winning this match, and I don’t have strong thoughts about this match in particular. Prediction: Jay White