Preview: NJPW Power Struggle (11/3/18)

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New Japan Pro Wrestling has been hosting the Road To Power Struggle events for all of October, heavily featuring the NJPW Super Junior Tag League tournament, leading to NJPW Power Struggle on November 2. The storylines are all coming to a head as we quickly approach Wrestle Kingdom 13 on January 4, the biggest event from NJPW all year. Kenny Omega has a main event with Hiroshi Tanahashi to prepare for at Wrestle Kingdom, a tag team match with his Golden Lovers tag team partner, Kota Ibushi, opposing “The Ace” will be a great taste of what’s to come in the future. Chris Jericho will finally defend the IWGP Intercontinental championship amidst the Chris Jericho Cruise in the biggest match of the evening. Will Ospreay has unfortunately been forced to pull from NJPW Power Struggle due to a rib injury. Ospreay was set to challenge Taichi for the NEVER Openweight Championship but he will be taking a couple weeks off after Rev Pro Global Wars UK against Chris Ridgeway.

Let’s see what NJPW has to offer on New Japan World with a full look at Power Struggle.

CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Trent Baretta) vs Bullet Club (Jay White & Bad Luck Fale)

Credit: NJPW

Kazuchika Okada went from being Hiroshi Tanahashi’s biggest rival to teaming up with “The Ace” to battle the Firing Squad during Road To Power Struggle, the Bullet Club in a faction war that has been going on since Shinsuke Nakamura was the face of CHAOS. “The Rainmaker” is poised for a rematch against “Switchblade” Jay White after the Kiwi pinned Okada during the G1 Climax 28 tournament, but a steel chair to Okada’s head was needed to get the pinfall. Kazuchika Okada and Jay White both failed to defeat Hiroshi Tanahashi for the G1 Climax 28 winners briefcase for a shot at the Wrestle Kingdom 13 main event, so naturally Okada and White will collide in singles action at Wrestle Kingdom 13. Trent has been wrestling in a lot of tag team matches for Ring Of Honor Wrestling (ROH) lately, the singles career of Trent could really skyrocket with singles wins in the future instead of tag team matches. Bad Luck Fale has been the constant “Underboss” to The Firing Squad, the big hired gun to take care of the dirty work but Okada has a history of pinning Fale in big match scenarios. White though will be the deciding factor and it’s yet to be determined if Okada will ever get revenge on White for turning his back on CHAOS or of White keeps climbing up the card by picking up win after win. After all, White has someone “working on the inside” of CHAOS for White on behalf of The Firing Squad and he may show up at Power Struggle to cost Okada the match.

Prediction: Jay White and Bad Luck Fale win.

Tetsuya Naito vs Zack Sabre Jr

Credit: NJPW

Tetsuya Naito has had a rough year, 2018 started with an IWGP heavyweight championship match but Naito has been left without a championship come year’s end. Zack Sabre Jr managed to beat Naito in not one but two big tournament settings this year, effectively taking Naito out of the New Japan Cup and the G1 Climax 28 tournament. Chris Jericho had pinned Naito with nefarious ways before their G1 Climax 28 encounter, it was assumed Naito would rebound by winning that tournament but Destino was turned into The Zack Driver in mid-air instead. Out of all of the matches at this event, Tetsuya Naito has the most to lose after already going in with a losing record against the longest reigning British Heavyweight champion in Rev Pro history. There aren’t many ways that a limb can’t be twisted in the hands of Sabre, luckily Naito has experience against fellow Suzuki-Gun member and submission specialist, Minoru Suzuki this Summer.

Prediction: Tetsuya Naito wins.

Super Junior Tag League Finals: Los Ingobernobles De Japon (Shingo Takagi & BUSHI) vs Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs Roppongi 3K (Sho & Yoh)

Credit: NJPW

Shingo Takagi has been such a great addition to Los Ingobernobles De Japon that Shingo and BUSHI made it to the Finals without much of a struggle, winning match after match. The heavy-hitter formerly from Dragon Gate has been throwing Lariat’s all the way to the Finals, Shingo may be an odd addition to the Juniors division but he does buff up the tag team division as a whole with Hiromu Takahashi on the sidelines with a broken neck. The IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team champions have had some ups and downs throughout the tournament so a challenger has formed after this Three-Way. Sho and Yoh of Roppongi 3K also go to the Finals after matching points at the Road To Power Struggle, could Sho and Yoh become the Junior Heavyweight tag team champions again or are they heading to the singles division instead? El Desperado and BUSHI are the two masked wild cards of the match, Desperado with a guitar as a weapon and BUSHI with mist. Shingo Takagi and BUSHI should become the new champions and this tournament is where their run at the top of the Juniors starts.

Prediction: Shingo Takagi and BUSHI win the 2018 Super Junior Tag League tournament.

NEVER Openweight Championship: Taichi (c) vs Hirooki Goto

Credit: NJPW

Hirooki Goto has replaces fellow CHAOS member, Will Ospreay, in a rematch against Taichi. Suzuki-Gun member, Taichi, has Miho Abe by his side and his first singles title reign in NJPW but it may be a very short one considering Ospreay was poised to become the new champion before the change to this title match. Taichi has such an array of kicks in his move-set and the rule breaking should benefit the champion in the finishing stretch. Goto has some big moves and heavy strikes to take it to the champion but Goto takes too long to set up the GTR sometimes, Taichi will have that scouted and NJPW fans will be that much closer to Will Ospreay challenging to set up a long-awaited Kota Ibushi vs Will Ospreay singles match.

Prediction: Taichi retains the NEVER Openweight Championship.

Rev Pro British Heavyweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs Minoru Suzuki

Credit: NJPW

This is a prestigious moment in the history of Rev Pro to have the British Heavyweight Championship on the line on one of the biggest NJPW events of the year, between modern day legends in Japan no less. Suzuki and Ishii have traded the title this Summer, Suzuki has the shortest run as champion in history and Suzuki is also the oldest at fifty years old. The result should be the same as the last encounter at Rev Pro Global Wars UK, trading of strikes after strike until the final Brainbuster from the champion.

Prediction Tomohiro Ishii retains the British Heavyweight Championship.

Hiroshi Tanahashi & David Finlay Jr vs The Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi)

Credit: NJPW

Hiroshi Tanahashi may be entering the later stage of his career at forty-one years of age, but that experience is exactly what has led to this clash of generational styles between Omega and Tanahashi. The line has been blurred and comments have become personal in the ensuing months since Tanahashi won the G1 Climax 28 tournament. The IWGP heavyweight champion, Omega, feels Tanahashi has become boring in the ring. “The Ace” believes Omega doesn’t have matches with great psychology or that Omega is even a suitable champion for NJPW. This brings us to David Finlay Jr, this is a massive opportunity for Finlay to climb the ladder from his mid-card hump that has made Finlay stagnant, aside from an outstanding IWGP United States Championship match against former fellow Young Lion, Jay White, this summer. Kota Ibushi is an interesting position, having classic matches with Omega one night and teaming the next event. Kenny Omega should pin Finlay to end this tag team encounter, Tanahashi and Ibushi will both be looking at the title over Omega’s shoulder no matter the outcome. Kenny Omega last defended the IWGP heavyweight championship against Tomohiro Ishii so a win here should keep the champion looking very stable without having to defend the title so close to the defense against Tanahashi.

Prediction: The Golden Lovers win.

IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Chris Jericho (c) vs EVIL

Credit: NJPW

“It’s the biggest match in your career EVIL. And it’s just another match for me. I will fear no EVIL” are the brash words from Chris Jericho in an exceptional promo leading to this championship match. The IWGP Intercontinental championship hasn’t been defended since NJPW Dominion in June when Tetsuya Naito lost the title to Chris Jericho. The NJPW expansion to North America has certainly opened the door to more international stars in prominent positions, Jericho gets the wrestling world talking more about what could happen next in NJPW and who Jericho could face in a first time ever bout. This is a chance for EVIL to break out from Los Ingobernobles De Japon a little bit, EVIL is a great brawler that hasn’t captured lightning in a bottle since pinning Kazuchika Okada in the G1 Climax tournament last year. All it would take is for Jericho to make one wrong move and step into an STF, everything would be EVIL and Chris Jericho would never ever forget it, or be the same again. Smart money says Chris Jericho retains with a couple Codebreakers. Jericho is on track for a rematch with Tetsuya Naito or an IWGP Intercontinental championship match with Zack Sabre Jr next after recent Twitter exchanges, the post-match will tell us everything we need to know about Jericho’s immediate future and Wrestle Kingdom 13.

Prediction: Chris Jericho retains the IWGP Intercontinental championship.