Impact Wrestling/New Japan Pro Wrestling
Multiverse United 2 – For Whom The Bell Tolls
August 20, 2023
2300 Arena
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Watch: FITE

Impact Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling are running their second co-promotional show of the year, Multiverse United 2, this coming Sunday (August 20th) at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia.

Although there aren’t any major ‘dream’ matches on the show, it’s a decent, quirky-looking card that should be pretty entertaining at a bare minimum. 

Countdown to Multiverse United 2
Joe Hendry, Yuya Uemura & Heath vs. Rocky Romero, Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato

This won’t be the only time I say this in my preview of a match on this card but what a strange collection of guys. 

Joe Hendry and Yuya Uemura have been developing a rapport on Impact television in recent weeks and seem positioned for a potential tag team title match at some point before the wonder boy Uemura heads back to Japan. 

With Uemura’s excursion seemingly drawing to a close, it would make sense for him to get a win over some New Japan names here, particularly as the other team is solely comprised of juniors. Prediction: Joe Hendry, Yuya Uemura & Heath

Countdown to Multiverse United 2
Impact Wrestling Digital Media Championship
Kenny King (C) (w/Sheldon Jean) vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru

I would absolutely love it if Scott D’Amore pulled the trigger and put the Digitial Media title on the ageless Yoshinobu Kanemaru. He won’t, and he probably shouldn’t given that my main man Johnny Swinger is challenging for the belt the following week in Toronto, but a man can dream.

I sort of assumed these two had faced off on some sort of Global Wars or Honor Rising show before given King’s work in Ring of Honor but this is, as I’m sure Tom Hannifan will point out, a first-time ever match-up.

Kanemaru is always fun, particularly in an undercard spot like this, and I can see these two having a decent little match that probably has to end with King winning thanks to an assist from Sheldon Jean on the outside. Prediction: Kenny King

BUSHI vs. Chris Sabin vs. El Desperado vs. Frankie Kazarian vs. Kevin Knight vs. MAO vs. Rich Swann v Yoh

What’s better than a six-man scramble, I hear you ask? An eight-man scramble!

When I saw DDT wrestler MAO on the graphic for this match I was surprised but also quite intrigued as he’s definitely one of their best assets and someone I’d like to see get a few more opportunities over in America. 

I have no real feel for who wins this one. New Japan is probably going to stack up a few wins on the back half of the card so it could be that Chris Sabin, Frankie Kazarian or Rich Swann comes out on top here. Alternatively, you could go with El Desperado, or even someone like a Kevin Knight as he’s been an Impact regular this year. Whoever they pick, we all know big Bushi will be the one looking up at the lights. Prediction: El Desperado, probably

Catch 2/2 (TJP & Francesco Akira) vs. TMDK (Robbie Eagles & Kosei Fujita)

I’m working on the basis that TJP, as a former two-time X-Division Champion, and Robbie Eagles, who wrestled on Impact’s tour of Australia in June, are the Impact representatives in this match.

That aside, I’m excited for this. I consider TJP to be one of the very best wrestlers in the world because of his smoothness and moment-to-moment brilliance and I think that alongside Francesco Akira as Catch 2/2, he’s formed a tag team that deserve to be given serious consideration when we get around to awards season.

Fujita has come on massively in recent months and I think he’ll impress again but he’s definitely the one eating the pin ahead of his excursion to Australia. Prediction: Catch 2/2

TMDK (Zack Sabre Jnr & Shane Haste) vs. Moose & Eddie Edwards

Shane Haste made a couple of impressive Impact appearances earlier this year but rather excitingly this is the first time that Zack Sabre Jnr will be stepping in an Impact ring.

Although they could have the TMDK pairing lose, potentially setting up a NJPW World TV title defence for Sabre at the following weekend’s Emergence show in Canada, this match seems prime for New Japan to pick up a win.

Eddie Edwards is still feuding with Frankie Kazarian, with a cinematic match seemingly imminent, and Moose already has a booking for Emergence, so this one likely ends with Sabre tapping Edwards. Prediction: TMDK

DOUKI vs. Sami Callihan

Again, I say to you: what a strange match. I guess they thought it worked because they both carry a bat to the ring, or maybe DOUKI was the only person Rocky could spare for Callihan to beat.

I’ll admit that I, like most other people, was not remotely impressed when DOUKI made his first appearances in New Japan all those years ago as a late replacement in Best of the Super Juniors. He has, however, found his feet over time and earlier this year was involved in one of the best tag team matches anywhere in 2023 when he and Yoshinobu Kanemaru challenged Catch 2/2 for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Titles. 

Although we all deserve to see DOUKI submit Callihan with the Dokey-Chokey, Ohio’s ‘Death Machine’ is likely taking home the win as an established heavyweight. Prediction: Sami Callihan

Lio Rush & Trey Miguel vs. Hiromu Takahashi & Mike Bailey

Assuming that Lio Rush’s recent elbow injury isn’t as bad as it initially seemed, this is, without doubt, the best match on paper of the entire show. 

All four guys are terrific and all of them work at a tremendous pace, and there’s established chemistry between both Bailey and Miguel, and Takahashi and Rush. The exchanges should be brilliant and you would expect this to just be go-go-go from bell to bell. 

It’s also exciting because the booking is intriguing. Rush is the current X-Division Champion and Miguel is challenging for the Impact tag titles the next week, so they’re likely to be protected. Takahashi is the current IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion though and is in the midst of a stellar, defining reign. Mike Bailey, meanwhile, beat Takahashi on night one of this year’s Best of the Super Juniors and is presumably due a title match at some point, with Emergence the following week seeming like the most natural landing spot. 

You could get to Takahashi v Bailey II with either result here but let’s be honest, the Time Bomb isn’t losing. Prediction: Hiromu Takahashi & Mike Bailey

Bullet Club (Ace Austin, Alex Coughlin, Chris Bey, Clark Connors, David Finlay & Kenta) vs. The World (El Phantasmo, Josh Alexander, PCO, The DKC, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)

The World team in this match really should just be ‘Team Initials.’ Well, everybody in the team could work with that other than Josh Alexander, who is wrestling for the first time in five months after a tricep tear. 

A couple of booked matches for NJPW’s Destruction tour point towards the key interactions in this one, notably El Phantasmo with Alex Coughlin and Tama Tonga with David Finlay. 

Although there’s the chance they could do something funky, The DKC is right there, so he seems prime for David Finlay to hit with Into Oblivion and pin. Prediction: The Bullet Club

NJPW Strong Women’s Championship
Giulia (C) vs. Deonna Purrazzo vs. Gisele Shaw vs. Momo Kohgo

Let the long tradition of Impact Wrestling four-way women’s matches continue

While it was amusing that the first Joshi wrestler Impact used on one of these co-promotional shows was from TJPW and not Stardom, it is exciting to have Giulia on this show because she is one of the very best female wrestlers in the world and unsurprisingly featured very highly in the recent VOW 30 Under 30 series. 

Although I’d prefer her just to face Deonna Purrazzo in a one-on-one match as I feel those two have the potential to do something special, I also get that Purrazzo couldn’t take a clean loss here heading into her title rematch with Trinity the following week. As such Gisele Shaw and Momo Kohgo have been added to pad the match out and in Kohgo’s case offer a clean pin eater. Prediction: Giulia

Impact Wrestling World Championship
Alex Shelley (C) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

Although Hiroshi Tanahashi is definitely on a physical downswing, hence his more frequent stateside trips and increased volume of losses, he’s still got the tools to navigate his way to a decent match.

Key to achieving one of those decent matches is a dance partner that can work around his limitations and in Alex Shelley I think you have an almost perfect fit. Shelley is a consummate pro and his more grappling-focused style puts less of a physical strain on Tanahashi’s body and allows the match to perfectly build to Tana having a hot comeback before getting cut off.

Shelley said in the promo video for this match that Tanahashi is one of his idols and inspirations and you know that he’ll want to continue what’s been an excellent year for him, and an excellent Impact title run so far, with another good match. Prediction: Alex Shelley