New Japan returns Saturday with a splash! Their first major show since the G1 Climax will be headlined by an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match between Kenny Omega and Tomohiro Ishii. This is the first time since 2013 that the title will be defended on the Destruction tour and they’re coming out swinging by putting the title on the line the first of three nights. The rest of the card is littered with returns from Jay White, Zack Sabre Jr., Killer Elite Squad, Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger, KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask IV, Rocky Romero, Chuckie T., YOH & SHO. The combination of the returns mixed with what’s sure to be an outstanding main event makes Destruction in Hiroshima a much anticipated event!
Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger, KUSHIDA & Tiger Mask IV vs Rocky Romero, YOH & SHO
The juniors return from their RevPro tour where all six competed in the British J Cup tournament. Romero eliminated KUSHIDA in the finals which means KUSHIDA is likely getting his win back here. We haven’t seen KUSHIDA, YOH & SHO in an NJPW ring since the G1 and even longer since Liger, Tiger and Romero. It’ll be nice to have the gang back together.
Prediction: KUSHIDA, Liger & Tiger
Bad Luck Fale vs Toa Henare
A rematch from their meeting on the final day of the G1. Fale put Henare down in under two minutes but we’re likely going to get something longer this time around. The result is easy to predict but what’ll be interesting to monitor is how Henare handles the loss. Many believe Henare will be joining The Firing Squad sooner or later so be on the lookout for clues in this match.
Prediction: Bad Luck Fale
Killer Elite Squad vs Michael Elgin & Ayato Yoshida
More returns as K.E.S. make their first appearance since May. They will run through Yoshida with ease but it’ll be a nice test for the K-DOJO product nonetheless. K.E.S. are back and will once again be on the hunt for the tag titles. The Young Bucks versus Killer Elite Squad? Sign me up. All the Bucks have to do is defend the titles against G.O.D. in Long Beach and we’ll be in for a treat.
Prediction: Killer Elite Squad
Kota Ibushi, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens vs Beretta, Chuckie T. & Will Ospreay
Wrestling needed more interactions between Ibushi and Ospreay and we’re being treated with exactly that. Common NJPW law dictates that juniors take the fall and Ospreay is the only junior in the match. This seems like a slam dunk but I wouldn’t be too shocked if Beretta pinned either Yujiro or Owens. Still, I’ll be a law abiding citizen and say Ospreay takes the pin.
Prediction: Ibushi, Yujiro & Owens
NEVER Openweight Championship
Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Taiji Ishimori (c) vs Juice Robinson, David Finlay & Ryusuke Taguchi
Everyone’s favorite, uncle Taguchi, makes his first appearance since the G1. These titles are thought of as meaningless and for the most part I agree. Their biggest benefit is making a crew feel important even when they aren’t. We’ve seen this before with EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI and are seeing the same idea play out here with Tama, Tanga & Ishimori. Since Juice is already the US champion there’s no need to double down on him by having him win another belt. Instead, these titles will help keep The Firing Squad relevant with as little effort as possible.
Prediction: Tama, Tanga & Ishimori
Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano & Gedo vs Taichi, Takashi Iizuka & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Either Gedo is here to take the pin or Taichi will disqualify his team. Taichi doesn’t care about these tags, he wants to take the NEVER Openweight Championship from Goto. He feels slighted by being left out of the G1 and wants to prove a point. Taichi is motivated to make a statement no matter what cost and a motivated Taichi is a dangerous Taichi.
Prediction: Taichi, Iizuka & Kanemaru
Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI vs Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku
The last time we saw Sabre he eliminated Naito from winning the G1 Climax. Instead of freaking out, Naito has been taking out his frustrations by goofing on Suzuki. His laid back attitude frustrates Suzuki to no end and that only fuels Naito to lay back even more. This rivalry has been a lot of fun to watch build but what should also be mentioned here is BUSHI. The following week he takes part in the tournament for the vacant IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Look for him to be the one to score the win for his team.
Prediction: Naito, EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs Kazuchika Okada, Jay White & YOSHI-HASHI
Yet another return as we see Jay White for the first time since the G1. Okada should be focused on his upcoming match for the G1 briefcase against Tanahashi but will White allow that to happen? White has wins over both Okada and Tanahashi so he can challenge the winner no matter what. I expect White to be a distraction for both men here as he plays a vital part to both of their immediate futures. For over a month now, Tanahashi has been saying he wants Y-H to break from Chaos and join his side. Those conversations continued to heat up this week when he requested Okada put Y-H’s alliance with Chaos on the line. I’m not sure how much weight to give of all this but Chaos is fractured at both ends and its future seems to be in question.
Prediction: Okada, White & Y-H
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kenny Omega (c) vs Tomohiro Ishii
Kenny Omega did the impossible by ending the longest IWGP Heavyweight Championship reign of all time but he now goes from underdog to top dog. For me, wrestling is all about those underdog stories and Ishii’s story is as good as anybody’s. Ishii has spent his entire career being underestimated. He’s often overlooked by his peers due to his size which motivates him to wrestle with a chip on his shoulder. The attitude with which Ishii brings to the ring is what’s made him a fan favorite. You can’t help but to get behind the little engine that could. He’s scratched and clawed his way up the mountain and finds himself in his second ever match for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This will be the fifth singles match between Omega and Ishii with the series split two wins a piece. The rivalry is textbook for Ishii. In their first meeting, Omega overlooked Ishii and paid for it with a loss. He then figured Ishii out, beating him two times in a row. This success lead to Omega becoming cocky and once again, Ishii made him pay. I don’t see Omega making that mistake again this time. He recently stated that Ishii has his respect so this will be a very even match. The story of Ishii overcoming expectations is one of the best in wrestling. He once again finds himself at the top but even stone cracks sometimes. This can very well end up being one of the year’s best matches.
Prediction: Kenny Omega