One of the last major shows before the Toyko Dome, New Japan's Power Struggle tonight will not only feature big title matches, but will also provide a clearer picture of what will go down on January 4th at WrestleKingdom 11.
Headlining the show will be Intercontinental champion Tetsuya Naito defending his title against Ring of Honor's Jay Lethal, who had a loose affiliation with Los Ingobernables de Japon until they turned on him a few weeks ago.
Other title matches include heavyweight tag team champions Guerillas of Destiny defending against YOSHI-HASHI and Tomohiro Ishii, IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion BUSHI defending against former champion KUSHIDA, Katsyuori Shibata defends his NEVER Openweight championship against EVIL and in the finals of the Super Jr. Tag Tournament, ACH and Taiji Ishimori battle Roppongi Vice.
We'll also see what the "time bomb" is after months of hype on New Japan shows, featuring international flags and locations.
Our live coverage kicks off at 4 a.m. ET.
Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask & Ricochet & David Finlay defeated Ryusuke Taguchi & Angel de Oro & Titan & Fuego
Solid opener. Not too much to it, but lots of good action and everyone looked good in their roles. Fuego has such natural charisma it’s really quite astonishing, though that should be a surprise to no one. Ricochet hit a shooting star press that allowed the legal man (Finlay) to pick up the win for their team. Everyone raised each other’s hands after the match.
Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens & Bone Soldier defeated Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma & Yoshitatsu
Solid match. Obviously the best match Bone Soldier and Yoshitatsu have had all tour, which isn’t saying much at all as they’ve been vying for worst feud of the year thus far. Yujiro had a really long entrance, full of scantily clad women.
A lot of the match was Owens and Yujiro exchanging blows with Honma and Makabe. Yoshitatsu and Bone Soldier were in for a bit and did their best wrestling up to this point in their feud. Yoshitatsu was going for the pedigree but Owens superkicked him, Bone Soldier hit a full nelson slam and Yujiro pinned him with the pimp juice DDT.
Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa defeated YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii to retain the IWGP tag team titles
This was an excellent match ,one of the best GoD has had since becoming a team and probably one of the best heavyweight tag team bouts of the year in New Japan. Terrific heat and psychology throughout, definitely a must watch.
GoD worked on YOSHI-HASHI for heat. Roa looked so out of place at times early in the match. Tama Tonga and Ishii had a great exchange. YOSHI-HASHI hit the senton but Tonga kicked out. Really hot exchanges here as everyone took out one another. GoD hit double headbutts but Ishii broke up the pin. GoD isolated YOSHI-HASHI and hit Guerilla Warfare but YOSHI-HASHI kicked out. Another great series of exchanges between YOSHI-HASHI and Tama Tonga led to YOSHI-HASHI going for Karma but Tonga countered with the gun stun then both members of GoD hit Guerilla Warfare for the win.
They aired a vignette for the Super Junior tag team finals, highlighting ACH and Ishimori's rise to the finals, along with Roppongi Vice. They also highlighted the recent tension between Rocky Romero and Baretta.
Rocky Romero & Baretta defeated ACH & Taiji Ishimori in the finals of New Japan Jr. tag team tournament
Pretty good match. ACH and Ishimori shone a lot in some big spots during this match, but RPG Vice more than held their own. RPG Vice again teased some dissention early, but they set aside their differences and worked together throughout the match. RPG Vice were in control until Ishimori dodged a legdrop from the top rope and made a big comeback. They did some really cool stuff - ACH hit a twisting corkscrew to the floor and Ishimori hit a moonsault while carrying Romero from the top rope. RPG Vice made a brief comeback but ACH and Ishimori came back and hit their stereo 450 splashes...only for both of RPG Vice to get their knees up.Baretta had ACH in the dudebuster. ACH tried to escape but Romero came back and hit their dudebuster/dropkick combo for the win.
RPG Vice cut a promo after the match, with Romero challenging the Young Bucks. They came out and stared RPG Vice down, seemingly accepting their challenge. I was more than halfway expecting two other teams to somehow come down and make their case so we could have another four way.
KUSHIDA defeated BUSHI for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title
Pretty good match. I’m not sure about BUSHI as a championship level competitor, as I find his offense kind of boring at times, but KUSHIDA helped make this a pretty good match.
Started out as a brawl early, with KUSHIDA piledriving BUSHI on the outside. BUSHI came back and used his shirt to choke out KUSHIDA. Standard back and forth from here. KUSHIDA tried for the armbar but BUSHI made it to the ropes. BUSHI hit the MX codebreaker but KUSHIDA kicked out. KUSHIDA dodged a second MX and started ripping on BUSHI’s mask like a true rudo. KUSHIDA hit a codebreaker of his own with a cradle but BUSHI found a way to kick out. KUSHIDA worked for the kimura lock and got it. BUSHI tried to make to the ropes, but KUSHIDA managed to roll back to the center of the ring twice, leading BUSHI to tap out with no other alternative.
The time bomb then started to count down, and when it came for the big reveal...it was none other than Kamaitachi, back to using his real name of Hiromu Takahashi. He cut a promo, licking the IWGP Jr. title. Well that’s new. He called out KUSHIDA for the Tokyo Dome. The new champion seemed to agree, so there is your Jr. title match set.
Young Bucks & Kenny Omega & Adam Cole defeated Kazuchika Okada, Gedo, Hirooki Goto and Will Ospreay
Pretty good eight man tag. Everyone came and looked good. Ospreay is excellent in these matches as he does all sorts of crazy spots whenever he’s in. Came down to Goto and Cole. Goto laid out Cole with the ushigiroshi and both tagged in Okada and Omega. Bucks used the hairspray to distract Okada and Goto. Bullet Club somehow isolated Gedo and hit a quadruple superkick, sending him back to the floor. Okada and Omega were left at it. Omega hit a knee strike then the One Winged Angel and pinned Okada clean in the middle.
EVIL defeated Katsuyori Shibata for NEVER Openweight title
Really good match, about as stiff as you’d expect with some really intense spots near the end. EVIL focused on Shibata’s arm early, wrapping it with a chair and posting it on the outside. They fought a hard back and forth contest. EVIL went for the STO but Shibata countered into one of his own. Some really hard slaps and elbows from Shibata. Shibata puts in the sleeper as EVIL tries to break free but Shibata counters into a sleeper suplex in a really cool spot. EVIL comes back, puts a chair on Shibata and smacks him with another chair. One STO later and that is all for Shibata, as EVIL wins the NEVER championship.
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated SANADA
Great match. Tanahashi really knows how to have a great match and this one was no different. SANADA has star potential written all over him and not only held his own, but came off as a great prospect for the future in this match.
There was one cool spot early where SANADA went to the outside, Tanahashi held the ropes open for him and instead SANADA leaped over the top rope. Pretty good back and forth match. At one point Tanahashi gave him a sling blad on the apron. SANADA floated over a suplex attempt but landed funny on his knee. He locked in the skull end. Tanahashi fought back and went for the high fly flow but Sanada got the knees up. They did some great near falls and counters. Sanada went for the skull end again but Tanahashi fought back. Tanahashi hit the dragon suplex, then two high fly flows and got the win.
Tetsuya Naito defeated Jay Lethal to retain the Intercontinental title
Crowd is super into Naito, so it feels like just on his name alone the building sold out anyway. Goes to show how far Naito and his crew have gone up in popularity over the last year. This was a pretty good match, but for most of it never got to a real high main event esque level - just solid work throughout. Lethal started to gain momentum after an apron spot and hit and elbow. Channeling Elgin, he hit a buckle bomb then the Elgin bomb but Naito kicked out. Lethal Injection attempt but Natio made a comeback. Lethal blocked Destino and went for the Lethal Injection once again but Naito blocked it and hit Destino to retain the title.
After the match, Tanahashi came out to challenge, doing a promo. Naito seemed to agree, so there is your IC title match for WrestleKingdom. Naito closed out the show with his Los Ingobernables catchphrase.
Really good show overall. Not a bad match on the card, with some really great matches in the midcard. Check out the Heavyweight tag team title match as I thought that was the best match on the show, with EVIL/Shibata and Tanahashi/SANADA not too far away from that.