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NJPW ‘Power Struggle’ (11.5.17) Results & Review

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This is it, the final major stop before Wrestle Kingdom 12. The major matches for January 4th will be made here tonight with a few surprises sprinkled along the way. Let’s talk about New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Power Struggle!

The Young Bucks def. Dragon Lee & Titan @ 7:18
In 2017 there has been a lot less Young Bucks in New Japan than in years past which makes moments like this feel more special. They worked really well with the CMLL boys, flying and bumping all over the place. Really high energy opener like you’d expect on paper from these four. The Bucks got the win via their new finisher, Cease & Desist, on Titan.

Juice, Kushida, Liger, Tiger & Kawato def. Sabre, Kanemaru, Taka, Desperado & Taichi @ 5:21
Short, fast-paced and to the point 10-man tag where all the faces got their big spots. Kawato was again highlighted with the match saving spot when he drop kicked Sabre, who nearly had Kushida cinched in the Kimura. Kushida picked up the victory with the Hoverboard Lock.

Makabe, Tenzan & Kojima def. Cody, Yujiro & Owens @ 8:12
The Bullet Club B-Team matches against the New Japan legends are what they are. Chase Owens did his best to mock each legend’s signature move and pose which was the highlight but in typical fashion, eats the pin from Kojima. Not very engaging, just there like the you’ve come to expect from these groupings.

Roppongi 3K def. Super 69 @ 15:51
Injuries are never good. In this case they made the most of ACH’s rib injury by integrating it into the story of the match, giving Roppongi 3K a well-needed edge to their character. They were ruthless, wrestled with a purpose and had a strong showing. Taguchi had to step up his game because of the injury and a motivated Taguchi is always a thumbs up in my book. ACH’s injury is extremely unfortunate, he’s truly one of the most exciting wrestlers going today, but all things considered everyone was able to use this as an advantage in storytelling and gave us a good match. Roppongi 3K continued their streak, delivering the 3K to ACH and becoming 4-0 as a tag team since returning to New Japan in October. Post-match The Young Bucks challenge 3K for the junior tag titles at Wrestle Kingdom 12 and the champions accept. All things considered, a strong match.

Okada, Ishii, Goto, Yoshi-Hashi & Gedo def. Naito, Evil, Sanada, Hiromu & Bushi @ 12:07
Typical of Osaka, the fans gave Naito the business throughout the entire match, making sure he heard their displeasure. The match was the typical Chaos/LIJ tag we’ve grown accustomed to throughout the last year and change. Very solid, everyone knew their place and delivered a perfectly acceptable, even if not special, match. Okada got the win via Rainmaker on Bushi.

During intermission New Japan announced that on March 25th, 2018 they will be returning to Long Beach, in a bigger venue than this year, for a show labeled Strong Style Evolved.

NEVER Openweight Championship Match – Bull Rope Match
Minoru Suzuki (c) def. Toru Yano @ 15:21

Since Suzuki’s reign of the NEVER Openweight title, the belt has gone through a transformation. Rather than being the hard-hitting style that the championship had been known for from 2014 til early 2017, now it’s the gimmick title. This has caused a split in opinions of those in the New Japan fandom. Some believe the title has been devalued while others like myself are just along for the ride. The matches have been convoluted with Suzuki-Gun shenanigans but always provide something completely different for the show. For what the match was, I found it to be fun. No, it’s not a technical masterpiece but nonetheless it was entertaining. Although ultimately longer than it truly needed to be, taking it for what it was the match provided something different.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match
Marty Scurll def. Will Ospreay (c) @ 17:27

Neither Ospreay, and especially Scurll, are too big of a deal in New Japan. Ospreay has been highlighted in multiple big matches against Kushida and once against Shibata over the last 18 months but this is Scurll’s most notable match to date for the company. As such, although they worked hard there were several dead spots during the match. The work was extremely fun for those who are more familiar with the two and their history. That’s not to say the crowd was dead, they were into a large portion but no one really seemed to buy into Scurll. In a huge surprise, Scurll rolled up Ospreay and captured the championship. A huge upset in the scope of New Japan. Post-match both Kushida and Hiromu came to challenge for the title while Ospreay pitched a fit about losing on his first defense. Scurll told them he’d face all three at the same time. This was the most exciting match to this point in the show. There were dead spots from the crowd but overall the work was a lot of fun and is recommended viewing.

IWGP US Championship Match
Kenny Omega (c) def. Beretta @ 21:34

Like Scurll in the match previous, Beretta doesn’t have the most experience in this position on the card. He’s been featured in New Japan for a couple of years now but until July was a part of the junior division and only a tag team wrestler. Since moving to the heavyweight division he has beaten Yujiro but Omega is a completely different level. This was a career making match for Beretta. Omega gave him so much and allowed him to show his potentional. During the closing stretch they had the crowd biting at the chance of a title change, what a beautifully worked match. Stealing the spotlight though was the next challenger, Chris Jericho. He made an appearance via a video package where he challenged Omega for the US title at Wrestle Kingdom 12 and was accepted. The crowd erupted in ‘Y2J’ chants in a goosebump-inducing moment. Make no mistake, Beretta and Omega had a great match that should not be forgotten but ultimately was overshadowed by this announcement. Huge news. Incredible moment.

IWGP Intercontintial Championship Match
Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) def. Kota Ibushi @ 29:27

Two masterclass wrestlers, two of the absolute best of this generation, one of the best matches of the year. This is a classic New Japan Pro-Wrestling main event. You cannot get better performances than what these two gave, it can only be matched. Fantastic storytelling all throughout from two of the best storytellers you’ll see anywhere in the world. Matches like this are why New Japan is popular today. Kota Ibushi falls short of winning New Japan heavyweight division gold once again in what’s been an incredible story during his career with the company. The two respect each other so much and it showed as they embraced post-match. If there is one match to seek out from Power Struggle, it’s this one. No words can do this thing justice, it must be seen to be believed. After Tanahashi shreds his signature air guitar, the lights go out. Switchblade has arrived. It’s Jay White! The returning young lion from New Zealand stands face to face with Tanahashi before laying him out and leaving a switchblade necklace on the body of the knocked out ace to end the show.

Power Struggle was a great show from New Japan. On top of a tier one main event a new champion was crowned, a young lion returned, a complete surprise opponent for Wrestle Kingdom 12 was made and five matches are now known for the biggest show of the year. All four championship matches were completely different from one another which kept the show fresh and the payoffs were all satisfying. You’d be greedy to ask anything more from the show.

Recommended Matches:
1. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi
2. Kenny Omega vs Beretta
3. Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll

Robert McCauley is an NJPW enthusiast who has seen every show live since Jan. 4, 2015

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