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NJPW ‘Fighting Spirit Unleashed’ Preview & Predictions

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For the third time this year, New Japan visits the U.S. for one of their self-produced shows. There was a lot of anticipation around what the card would be and when it was finally revealed on Tuesday, most fans, myself included, were underwhelmed. Once I began writing about the show and breaking down what I’m looking for, I found myself becoming more and more excited. Turns out, this is a really solid card on paper. Let me try to get you on board.

Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi & ACH vs Rocky Romero, YOH & SHO
First off, it’s nice to have ACH making an appearance. He’s a guy I wish was signed full time because he’s always a lot of fun to watch. I’d assume his presence here is confirming that he’ll be Taguchi’s partner in the junior tag league. The last time we saw Romero he was manhandled by Jay White while YOH & SHO were nowhere to be seen. I see more uncertainty creeping into Chaos. Romero is usually the fall guy so it wouldn’t be out of place to see that carry over into this match. We’re getting Liger and Taguchi so whatever happens this is sure to be a fun opener.
Prediction: Liger, Taguchi & ACH

Hangman Page & Chase Owens vs Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian
The ‘Good ‘ol Virginia Boys’ featured in a standalone tag match hopefully points towards them being a tag league team later in the year. They were a very entertaining team throughout the G1 tour and being paired against one of the most consistent tag teams of this generation, I see very positive things happening in this match. Owens being the usual fall guy tips the hand a little. The Addiction more than likely will win and find themselves gaining entry into the heavyweight tag league.
Prediction: Daniels & Kazarian

Hirooki Goto, Beretta & Chuckie T. vs Jeff Cobb. Flip Gordon & Chris Sabin
The newest ROH signee and the 2018 BOLA winner, Jeff Cobb, leads team ROH to take on team Chaos. The more Cobb we see in NJPW the better as far as I’m concerned. He’s likely to be featured in tag league again this year but I’m hopeful for more. As far as this match is concerned, it’s three heavyweights taking on one heavyweight and two juniors. The odds point in favor of Chaos but with their future shaky and Cobb’s recent ascension, I wouldn’t be shocked if he lead his team to a win. Team ROH has a great compliment of styles with Cobb as the power, Flip with the agility and Sabin being the technique. I’ll side with the heavyweights but this ROH group would make for great 6-Man challengers.
Prediction: Goto, Beretta & Chuckie

Tetsuya Naito, EVIL & SANADA vs Zack Sabre Jr. & Killer Elite Squad
Recently, we’ve been seeing a feud between Sabre and EVIL boiling over but Sabre has a recent history with all three of these LIJ members. Also, it’s not like K.E.S. and EVIL & SANADA are strangers to each other either. They’ve feuded for the tag titles in the early stages of the year. A lot of history between these guys, a lot of heat, should be a good time. This can go either way but I’d imagine the finish will involve both Sabre and EVIL. Who gets the win feels like a toss up.
Prediction: Sabre & K.E.S.

Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA vs Jay White & Gedo
Coming into this match we’ll be just over a week removed from the betrayal that got everyone talking. White and Gedo have split from Okada and now move their focus onto Tanahashi with the goal of taking his Wrestle Kingdom briefcase. You look at this match and logic dictates Gedo takes the fall but when you factor in the angle it’d make no sense for him to fall right now. They’ll disqualify themselves and beat down Tanahashi afterwards in hopes of softening him up before the singles match.
Prediction: Tanahashi & KUSHIDA

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship Tournament Semifinal
Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll

The sixteenth recorded singles match between these two and everyone remembers their legendary match at Sumo Hall early this year. In their history, Scurll has Ospreay’s number with a 11-4 record but Ospreay has pinned him twice in championship matches this year. The winner takes on KUSHIDA the following week at King of Pro-Wrestling to determine the next junior champion. The rivalry between Ospreay and KUSHIDA is well documented but with the U.S. being Bullet Club territory and Scurll’s history with Ospreay, I’m leaning towards Scurll advancing to the finals.
Prediction: Marty Scurll

IWGP Tag Team Championship
The Young Bucks (c) vs Guerillas of Destiny

In the midst of the recent Chaos drama, it’s easy to forget about the Bullet Club’s but we’ll be reminded here. G.O.D. are out to prove their way of business is better than the Elite’s way. When the Bucks became heavyweights and won the tag titles there was excitement but since winning the titles they haven’t been around to defend them. I don’t think that’s going to factor into a G.O.D. win but it’d be nice to see the Bucks featured more than they have been. The U.S. is Bucks territory so picking against them would be foolish.
Prediction: Bucks

IWGP US Heavyweight Championship
Juice Robinson (c) vs Cody

You know this match is special to both guys. It’s no secret how much Juice loved Dusty Rhodes and with Cody holding the NWA title, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of this one. After a huge win over Jay White at the Cow Palace, Juice stumbled to a 3-6 record in the G1. He comes into this match not feeling as hot as he was after the title win. Meanwhile, Cody is coming off his self-produced show where he won the NWA title. Only the U.S. title is on the line and I’m not sure Cody will carry them both. Juice beating someone as hot as Cody right now would put him back on track, which he desperately needs right now. This is a special match to both men, I see Juice getting a sneaky roll up win and the match ending in a hug.
Prediction: Juice

Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi vs Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii
Okada was betrayed by White and Gedo in Kobe. YOSHI-HASHI and Romero made their allegiance to Okada known but Ishii wasn’t on the show so where he stands remains a question mark. Kenny Omega is the most popular wrestler in the western hemisphere right now and is the IWGP Heavyweight Champion so a win is undoubtedly coming his way. My interest comes in how the win takes place. Ishii taking the loss wouldn’t be unheard of but I’m going to go bold here and say it’s Okada who is pinned. After the match, White and Gedo come out to dish out more damage and instead of helping Okada, Ishii gets in on the beatdown as well. There’s a reason this match is the main event other than it featuring Omega. Maybe this isn’t the reason but something is definitely going down after the match.
Prediction: Omega & Ibushi

Robert McCauley hasn't missed an NJPW show since the launch of NJPW World. Always be on the look out for his reviews where he shares results and gives his honest opinions on the goings-on of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

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