New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) closes out the New Years Golden Series tour with two big-time cards this weekend. First up is Saturday night, which will see three championships defended including the IWGP United States Championship in the main event. Here’s a look at the second to last day of the New Years Golden Series tour, featuring match previews for all three title bouts.
NJPW New Years Golden Series Card:
– Kosei Fujita, Togi Makabe, Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato vs. DOUKI, TAKA Michinoku, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado
– Ryohei Oiwa & Toru Yano vs. Taichi & Minoru Suzuki
– YOH & Tomohiro Ishii vs. SHO & Dick Togo
– Tomoaki Honma vs. Great-O-Khan
– Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima & Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiromu Takahashi, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito
– IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Tiger Mask & Robbie Eagles (c) vs. El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori
– IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto (c) vs. Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL
– IWGP United States Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. SANADA
NJPW New Years Golden Series Match Previews
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Tiger Mask & Robbie Eagles (c) vs. El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori
The Flying Tigers will defend their titles against El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori. This match comes after Phantasmo was banned from the three-way tag at Wrestle Kingdom 16 after the referee learned of his loaded boot. Phantasmo and Ishimori will now get a fair shake to win the tag belts once again, which should worry both Tiger Mask and Robbie Eagles. If Bullet Club’s Cutest Tag Team is unable to win the titles, there could be some dissension between the duo seeing that it was Phantasmo who destroyed their chances of winning the last time. No matter who wins this will hopefully be the end of these two teams facing off for the time being.
Prediction: El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto (c) vs. Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL
YOSHI-HASHI and Hirooki Goto will defend their IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the first time against the House of Torture team of Yujiro Takahashi and NEVER Openweight Champion, EVIL. House of Torture are already champions as a team as they hold the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Championship, which will be defended on Sunday. A win here would give EVIL his third championship. That would be a sight to see in itself. YOSHI-HASHI and Goto worked too hard, however, to get these belts and will not be losing them in their very first defense. Expect this to be a messy one as many House of Torture matches often are.
Prediction: YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto
IWGP United States Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. SANADA
One of the greatest of all time continues to be a workhorse and will look to make his second IWGP United States Championship reign a longer one than the first. Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated KENTA in a crazy match at Wrestle Kingdom 16 to win the championship back. Now he defends the title against SANADA, who has been one of the most interesting stories to follow over the last number of years. He has watched all of his former Los Ingobernables de Japon stablemates see success in the heavyweight division as EVIL, Tetsuya Naito, and Shingo Takagi have all won the top prize in the last two years. SANADA, on the other hand, has come up short in all of his opportunities during that time. It’s likely that hasn’t sat well with him at all.
SANADA has what many would say the tallest of mountains to climb to get back on the road to singles success, but it would be a jolt that he desperately needs. Tanahashi is the “Ace” of New Japan for a reason and will do everything in his power to make sure he is not a stepping stone for “The Cold Skull.” It will be interesting to see if Tanahashi can bring the best out of SANADA for their title match. If he does, the question will be if he can beat him or not. One thing is for certain, this match has all the makings to be a special one worthy of the main event. It should be Tanahashi’s night to shine as it has been so many times before.
Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi
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