Historic X-Over
November 20, 2022
Ariake Arena
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World (PPV)

Chris Samsa and Scott Edwards came together for a special preview of the first-ever NJPW x STARDOM Historic X-Over show. Each of them previewed and predicted their usual brand with Chris divining into the NJPW and side and Scott explaining the STARDOM side. They both provided their thoughts on the mixed tag matches of the night also.

Oskar Leube, Yuto Nakashima, Ryohei Oiwa & Kosei Fujita vs. LA Dojo (Clark Connors, Alex Coughlin, Gabriel Kidd & Kevin Knight)

The historic night begins with a landmark debut! German prospect Oskar Leube will make his NJPW debut on the Noge Dojo side of the night’s first match. Leube is not your average Young Lion. While most Young Lions take some time to bulk up during their formative years, Leube already stands over six and a half feet tall and weighs over 240 pounds. The new prospect has only been in training since May, but with the company’s priorities to move wrestlers through the Young Lion system faster, it makes sense that we see Oskar make his debut on a show of this magnitude.

Oskar Leube will be joined by more tenured Young Lions, Yuto Nakashima, Ryohei Oiwa, and Kosei Fujita to take on LA Dojo representatives Clark Connors, Alex Coughlin, Gabriel Kidd, and Kevin Knight. The interaction to watch for will be Oskar Leube and Alex Coughlin. The prospect of two giants facing off in the ring for the first time is mouthwatering, especially as Coughlin begins his trip back up through the ranks of LA Dojo graduates after a series of injuries. The LA Dojo quartet features three graduates in Connors, Coughlin, and Kidd, while the Noge Dojo side will all don the Young Lion black boots and trunks. This gives the LA Dojo side a decided advantage. Prediction: LA Dojo


STARDOM gets the opportunity to take on a NJPW staple as 15 wrestlers will enter a Ranbo on the preshow! None of the wrestlers have been announced for the match as of this writing but expect a surprise or two as this Royal Rumble-esque match often creates. STARDOM could bring in YouTuber and celebrity Fuwa-chan, who made her in-ring debut at the Goddess of Stardom Tag League Opening Round in October. Possibly a wrestler from STARDOM’s past as well. In terms of who wins this, Natsuko Tora has earned herself a good amount of momentum since returning and Hazuki is one of the bigger names in STARDOM with no clear match on the show. They’d be the best bets. Prediction: Hazuki

CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI, YOH & Lio Rush) vs. House of Torture (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, SHO & Dick Togo)

In a preview of both upcoming tag leagues, the main card will kick off with the high-speed Lio Rush teaming with CHAOS for the first time since creating an allegiance with YOH to take on the House of Torture. CHAOS and House of Torture have been at each other’s throats all year long, with neither unit ever gaining a definitive upper hand, but CHAOS has enlisted the help of Lio Rush to push them over the edge. Prior to their participation in the upcoming Super Junior Tag League, Rush and YOH will work on their tag team chemistry while teaming with heavyweight representatives YOSHI-HASHI and Tomohiro Ishii.  On the other side of the ring, the classic House Of Torture foursome will certainly have some tricks up their sleeve. I’ll be keeping an eye on Lio Rush’s ring awareness, as he is the only member of the CHAOS squad who doesn’t have much history with House of Torture’s debaucherous ways. Prediction: House of Torture

Queen’s Quest (Saya Kamitani, AZM & Lady C) vs. Donna Del Mondo (Thekla, Himeka & Mai Sakurai)

Saya Kamitani has been a staple in the STARDOM showcase matches on NJPW shows over the last couple of years so it is only fitting that “The Golden Phoenix” leads her team into battle against Donna del Mondo’s Thekla, Himeka, and Mai Sakurai. While this is just an undercard tag on the show, each wrestler should get a chance to highlight their abilities. AZM and Thekla should be pairing off in this match with the goal of showing the world what the high-speed division is all about. Himeka will have plenty of opportunities to show off her power. Lady C and Mai Sakurai should use this massive opportunity to show the world what STARDOM is all about, even lower down the card. 

There’s not much mystery here though as a Phoenix Splash or Firebird Splash should be ending this with Saya Kamitani and her team standing tall. The real question is if she will be Wonder of Stardom Champion when this match goes down. That’s where we will have to wait and see. Prediction: Queen’s Quest (Saya Kamitani, AZM & Lady C)

Tom Lawlor & Syuri vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Giulia

CS: Bryan Alvarez said on Wrestling Observer Radio that he has never seen Tom Lawlor more excited for a match in his life, and that’s sure to show through here as Lawlor teams with Syuri to face off against Zack Sabre Jr. and Giulia. For the casual American audience, this is the match that is circled on the card, as all four of these wrestlers have significant followings in the US.

On the NJPW side of things, Tom Lawlor and Zack Sabre Jr. have had limited interactions, but both enter the ring with equally evergreen styles of wrestling and grappling that will certainly cause havoc on one another. While the NJPW duo of Zack Sabre Jr. and Tom Lawlor makes for some fresh interactions, Giulia and Syuri are familiar foes. The dichotomy of male and interactions will be fun to see as we kick off the mixed-tag portion of the card. “Zack Sabre Giulia” may be the best mixed-tag team name of all time, which clearly gives them the edge here. Prediction: Zack Sabre Giulia

SE: Mixed tag team action could be serving as a Stardom Dream Queendom preview as well as “Filthy” Tom Lawlor teams up with the World of Stardom Champion Syuri to face Zack Sabre Jr. and the 2022 5STAR Grand Prix winner, Giulia. Exciting times for STARDOM fans as by the time this match happens, they’ll know for sure if Syuri and Giulia are on the collision course for the main event of STARDOM’s signature show. Add in two men fighting over who is better between Boy George and George Michael and you’re in for one heck of a time.

In all seriousness, this is a match that really has a chance to be great and it will be our first glimpse into how separated the women and men will be. After all, Giulia has promised to give Lawlor a few wacks so it’s not like he shouldn’t see it coming! Keep an eye out for the interactions between Syuri and Giulia in this match. While they’ve already opposed each other in tag team matches following the 5STAR Grand Prix win, this will be the first time they match up head-to-head since the main event (likely) became official. There’s a former friendship that will be explored with a war brewing between the two. Giulia is a different, more confident competitor now than she was in March when they faced off the first time for the World of Stardom Championship. She’s going to show why she can beat Syuri come December 29. It should be a joy to watch. The UFC duo should be exciting to watch but they’re dropping this one. Prediction: Zack Sabre Jr. & Giulia

Suzuki-gun (Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) & meltear (Tam Nakano & Natsupoi) vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & DOUKI) & Black Desire (Momo Watanabe & Starlight Kid)

CS: You would think that it would be unusual to see unit-mates from Suzuki-Gun booked on separate sides of a tag match, but Suzuki-Gun (most specifically, DOUKI) has been battling each other all year long. To the layman, it would stand to reason that there are some internal struggles within the unit, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Like their leader, Minoru Suzuki, Suzuki-Gun is willing to take any fight that is presented to them, even if their unit brothers are on the other side of the ring. Taichi and Yoshinobu Kanemaru represent the elders of the unit, but El Desperado is, without a doubt, the biggest star of the group right now. I’m picking tenure over star power here and giving Taichi, Kanemaru, Nakano, and Natsupoi the edge. Prediction: Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Tam Nakano & Natsupoi

SE: The time has come for El Desperado and Starlight Kid to finally team up in a match! While it would have been nice for them to be paired off with another team and call it a day, it’s cool to see Momo Watanabe and DOUKI team up with them as well. Regarding how this match should play out, it feels like we may be on our way to some comedic spots coming from the Taichi-Kanemaru-meltear squad based on their interactions over the past few weeks. Tam Nakano and Natsupoi are determined to have Taichi and Kanemaru do their signature dive with them as they hold hands. Hilarious. The interest will be seeing if they can achieve such a goal.

The tag team action should be top tier throughout with the hope that Desperado and Starlight Kid can work together on a few moves even if it is mixed tag team rules rather than an intergender match. These two teaming up are the draw of this match and will be where I lean when it comes to choosing a winner. Prediction: Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & DOUKI) & Black Desire (Momo Watanabe & Starlight Kid)

Hiroshi Tanahashi & Utami Hayashishita vs. Hirooki Goto & Maika

CS: Hiroshi Tanahashi and Utami Hayashishita is a duo that nobody ever expected to see teaming on one side of the ring, but here we are, in the last of three mixed-tag matches on the card. All eyes will be on the interactions between the legend, Tanahashi, and the presence of Hayashishita as their familiar foes of Hirooki Goto and Maika step into the other corner of the ring. Tanahashi has long had Goto’s number, winning 12 of 16 singles matches throughout their career, but Goto defeated Tanahashi in their G1 Climax match this year which surely left a sour taste in Tanahashi’s mouth that he’s looking to wash away. By pure star power alone, Tanahashi and Hayashishita are the favorites here and I can’t imagine the final bell ringing with them on the losing side of the match. Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi and Utami Hayashishita

SE: The final mixed tag team match of the night is an exciting one as the ace of NJPW, Hiroshi Tanahashi, teams with “The Red Queen” of STARDOM, Utami Hayashishita, to take on the team of Hirooki Goto and Maika. Seeing two competitors who have the unique aura that both Tanahashi and Hayashishita do will make them feel like one of the most special teams we’ve seen. In the build up to this match, we’ve seen them awkwardly do a fun TikTok together where Tanahashi was having the time of his life and Hayashishita was shy as can be. Good news for the fans watching is that once it comes to the wrestling part of all this, there’s nothing shy about Hayashishita and her presence. Over the last two years, she’s managed to establish herself as one of the best in the world, something Tanahashi knows a thing or two about. When Historic X-Over was initially announced, I thought a team of Tanahashi and Mayu Iwatani facing Hayashishita and Kazuchika Okada would have been more fitting but hey, this is going to be pretty cool too.

This isn’t just the Tanahashi and Hayashishita show, however, as the team of Maika and Goto are as formidable as any team you could have put together to take on the ace and the queen. Maika has become a true rival to Hayashishita over the past few years as Maika has noted that it was due to Hayashishita’s success that she got into pro wrestling in the first place. They’ll deliver here as will Tanahashi and Goto, who have their storied history to play off of as well. 

It’ll be a complete shock if Hayashishita and Tanahashi don’t walk away with the victory in this match. Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Utami Hayashishita

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) vs. United Empire (Kyle Fletcher, Mark Davis, TJP, Francesco Akira & Gideon Grey)

In what may turn out to be a preview of the World Tag League Finals, a massive ten-person tag match launches us into the final three NJPW-focused matches on the card as Los Ingobernables de Japon faces off against five members of the newest unit in NJPW. This match is stacked. The United Empire side of the card features the current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions in TJP and Francesco Akira, and the inaugural NJPW Strong Tag Team Champions and the Los Ingobernables de Japon side of the ring sees two former top champions in Tetsuya Naito and Shingo Takagi and perennial IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion or challenger, Hiromu Takahashi.

The United Empire is really gelling as a unit to be reckoned with, and Aussie Open needs the momentum as they enter their first World Tag League. This motivation gives them an edge, as LIJ will likely stay in the “L” column while they strategize how to come together as a cohesive team. Prediction: United Empire

CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano) & The Great Muta vs. United Empire (Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb & Aaron Henare)

On paper, there’s plenty to like about this match, but the budding rivalry between The Great Muta and Great-O-Khan is the thing to watch for in what is being billed as The Great Muta’s last New Japan Pro Wrestling match.

Muta appeared at his first NJPW event in eight years recently when he showed up to ruin Great-O-Khan’s chances of winning the NJPW World TV Title Tournament, and now he returns in a sanctioned match against O-Khan and his United Empire brothers. Muta has misted O-Khan twice now, and they are finally primed to interact on different sides of the ring for the first time. Will this be another stepping stone towards a bigger match between Muta and O-Khan or will their United Empire and CHAOS tag-mates play a larger role than anticipated?

It’s tough to give anyone but a team featuring The Great Muta and Kazuchika Okada the edge, even if Toru Yano is the third man in the red corner. Prediction: Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano, & The Great Muta

IWGP United States Championship
Will Ospreay (c) vs. Shota Umino

Shota Umino hasn’t wrestled in a singles match in Japan in over three years, and he returns to immediately challenge for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship against the man who may be the best professional wrestler in the world, Will Ospreay.

While brief, Ospreay and Umino have plenty of history to draw from. Umino’s time in RevPro was littered with issues with Gideon Grey, who we now know is associated with Ospreay’s United Empire, and exactly one year ago, Umino unsuccessfully challenged Will Ospreay for the RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Title at York Hall in London. More recently, just over one month ago, Ospreay defeated Umino again at NJPW Royal Quest II.

It is that Royal Quest II match that likely brought us here. At about the 15-minute mark of the match, Ospreay was unloading a barrage of forearms to the back of Umino’s head, and the referee (maybe prematurely) called for the bell. Ospreay called shenanigans, pointing out that the referee was Red Shoes Unno, the father of Shota Umino. Shota lived to wrestle another day while Ospreay continued to recognize all of the times that NJPW referees had done him wrong this year. While Umino showed no signs of returning back to Japan immediately, it didn’t take long for him to find a reason to return to his home.

On November 5th, after Ospreay defended his IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship against Tetsuya Naito, he claimed there were no more challengers for the red belt and, just as he was leaving the ring, a video package played for Roughneck, Shota Umino, who has returned from his Excursion, and he has his sights set on the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship. Umino successfully laid out The United Empire before leaving through the crowd in triumph, claiming he’s ready to fight Ospreay for the US Title any time.

Many are expecting Ospreay to be victorious again, but there are two supplemental players to keep an eye on. The first is the referee. This match is in NJPW’s main event slot on this card, and that means Red Shoes, Shota Umino’s father, would traditionally be the referee. If that is the case, that may be a key component of the match. The other man to keep an eye out for is Jon Moxley. Shota Umino came up as Moxley’s protege, to the point that he’s still carrying Moxley’s “Death Rider” jacket around, and if Umino can’t vanquish Ospreay, it is possible that Moxley would be the next man up, defending the honor of his pupil. Given his already busy weekend, I wouldn’t expect Jon Moxley to show up at the Ariake Arena, but in the event of a successful defense from Ospreay, a message of some sort shouldn’t be out of the question.

Ultimately, this match is primed to deliver at a main event level from the semi-main event slot, and we can’t completely write off the chances of Umino walking out of Ariake the winner. But, it is very rare for a wrestler to return from excursion and immediately carry an IWGP championship, so the likely scenario is that Ospreay retains and carries the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship into the Tokyo Dome on January 4th. Prediction: Will Ospreay

IWGP Women’s Championship
Mayu Iwatani vs. KAIRI

Special. That’s the best way to describe this match.

After years of hard work, Mayu Iwatani will get the ultimate honor as she represents STARDOM in the biggest match in the promotion’s history. And doing so against KAIRI — it’s perfect. Two-thirds of Threedom come to blows with the chance to be the inaugural IWGP Women’s Championship. It’s a game changer not only for STARDOM but it only helps grow the greatness of women’s wrestling worldwide as the main event of Historic X-Over.

Mayu Iwatani has been the ace, “The Icon,” the franchise, and everything STARDOM has ever needed throughout her career. When STARDOM began, her career did too. There’s no one who represents STARDOM and what the promotion stands for than Iwatani. She has done everything in STARDOM. Two-time World of Stardom Champion, two-time Wonder of Stardom Champion, the first and only woman to ever hold both championships at the same time, holding every title STARDOM has had, winning all of their signature tournaments… you get the point. But, despite all these accomplishments, Iwatani still believes she is the underdog of the match and that is when she is her most dangerous.

On the other side is KAIRI, who is the most well-known talent in STARDOM and has the superstar aura few do. Many know her from the time she spent in WWE as Kairi Sane but her time as Kairi Hojo in her first run in STARDOM put her in the conversation as one of the greats. She accomplished a lot in her six years as part of the company that rivals the accomplishments of Mayu Iwatani. A one-time World of Stardom Champion, one-time Wonder of Stardom Champion, three-time Goddess of Stardom Champion, and four-time Artist of Stardom Champion. She’s undefeated in STARDOM since making her return and very well could be walking into the match as the Wonder of Stardom Champion with her match against Saya Kamitani for the championship coming the day prior at GOLD RUSH. There’s no doubt KAIRI is the favorite on paper.

Now to the match and what these two can do. Putting STARDOM more on the map goes without saying but they can deliver a match-of-the-year contender on STARDOM’s most important stage. Remember what we kicked this off with — Special.

Mayu Iwatani is 3-2 against KAIRI in her career and they’ve followed different roads to get to this spot. Iwatani has been honest that she isn’t happy to see her Threedom partner back but is rather annoyed she’s walked right back in while she’s led the way. Bad blood is here. Love is her as well. But this match is going to be physical, going to be meaningful, and it’s going to arrive to the level they need it to.

Plain and simple — Mayu Iwatani is the woman who should walk away as the first-ever IWGP Women’s Champion. The right choice. The best choice. And the only choice as far as I’m concerned. Prediction: Mayu Iwatani

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