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NJPW ‘Power Struggle 2018’ Preview & Predictions

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Power Struggle 2018 features four singles matches, three title matches, a tournament finals and sees the Golden Lovers in action. One of New Japan’s strongest cards of the year is set to take place in Osaka and as such features a heavy dose of Los Ingobernables de Japon. LIJ look to come out of Osaka with both the Super Jr. Tag League trophies as well as the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Tetsuya Naito has declared that if Sabre beats him for a third time he’ll push for Sabre to become the next title challenger. There’s a lot to explore here so let’s get started!

Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger, Tiger Mask IV, Volador Jr. & Soberano Jr. vs Ryusuke Taguchi, ACH, Chris Sabin & Toa Henare
There’s been a lot of talk throughout the tour about Henare being just a win away. Now he finds himself as the lone heavyweight amongst seven juniors. I don’t think that’s by accident. Henare will get the win over Liger and it’ll be the step forward he needs as we enter World Tag League.
Prediction: Taguchi, ACH, Sabin & Henare

Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & KUSHIDA vs Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Robbie Eagles
Through the seven tournament matches, KUSHIDA only took one fall. He was pinned by Taiji Ishimori who will be out for this show due to an injured ankle. Whether Ishimori was in the match or not, I doubt he was scheduled to get another pin over KUSHIDA. Instead, I see Eagles taking the loss to KUSHIDA to establish his dominance in the division.
Prediction: Makabe, Honma & KUSHIDA

Kazuchika Okada & Beretta vs Jay White & Bad Luck Fale
There’s been a lot of talk from White about there being a mole in Chaos. Rumors have spanned from YOSHI-HASHI, Rocky Romero, Hirooki Goto, Beretta and others. No one really knows what to expect. This match only being third on the card makes it feel like we’ll have to wait longer to find out. Fale has been talking smack to Beretta all tour so I’ll guess we get a surprise win from Beretta that sends the BCOG over the edge and causes a post-match beatdown.
Prediction: Okada & Beretta

Hiroshi Tanahashi & David Finlay vs Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi
This is one of those ‘well that’s obvious’ type matches. Everyone knows Finlay is taking the loss here but the story will be about the tensions between the other three.
Prediction: Omega & Ibushi

Super Jr. Tag League Finals
Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado vs BUSHI & Shingo Takagi vs YOH & SHO

I originally picked YOH & SHO to be the winners of the tournament. They’ve been feuding with Kanemaru & Desperado all year so it made sense they’d finally get their win at Wrestle Kingdom. Instead, they got the win during the tournament while BUSHI & Shingo seemed to have started their own feud with the champions. Desperado got his win over them by unmasking BUSHI in their match. Osaka is known as an LIJ territory, BUSHI & Shingo are the new hotness and now have beef with the champions. I’m going to bet that they win by pinning YOH & SHO again and save the pin over Kanemaru & Desperado for the title match at Wrestle Kingdom.
Prediction: BUSHI & Shingo

NEVER Openweight Championship
Taichi (c) vs Hirooki Goto

An injury to Ospreay caused a hole in the card, leaving Taichi without a challenger for his recently won NEVER Openweight title. Previous champion, Hirooki Goto, stepped up in Ospreay’s place and here we are. I’m not sure if the original plan was to have Ospreay beat Taichi but I don’t see any possibility of Goto winning. This match is already a step backwards and the title going back to Goto would be another step in the wrong direction. For all we know, Wrestle Kingdom could have originally been Goto getting his revenge on Taichi. This program stinks whichever way the title goes but at least with Taichi it’s different. Get well soon, Ospreay.
Prediction: Taichi

RPW British Heavyweight Championship
Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs Minoru Suzuki

A title known for its lengthy reigns has flip-flopped between these two a couple of times since Ishii defeated Sabre in April. Suzuki-Gun established at Strong Style Evolved UK that the country is their territory by having Suzuki beat Ishii and Sabre beat Okada. If that’s truly the case, Suzuki should come out of this one with the win.
Prediction: Suzuki

Tetsuya Naito vs Zack Sabre Jr.
Sabre holds a 2-0 record over Naito in singles matches this year. He beat him in both the New Japan Cup and G1 Climax but Naito wants another chance. He’s promised that if Sabre defeats him for a third time he’ll declare Sabre as the next rightful challenger for the title. Naito has had a year filled with failure. He lost in the main event at Wrestle Kingdom, eliminated in the first round of the New Japan Cup, defeated by Chris Jericho at Dominion and eliminated from winning the G1 on the final night by Sabre. The rebound is coming now. They’re in Osaka, where he lost the IC title to Jericho, so he’ll defeat Sabre and make his declaration for a rematch with Jericho to close out the show and send Osaka home buzzing.
Prediction: Naito

IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Chris Jericho (c) vs EVIL

Taking the title from Naito wasn’t enough for Jericho. Instead he wanted to make a point and continued the beatdown after the match. EVIL came in for the save and that set Jericho off. A sneak attack from Jericho at King of Pro-Wrestling proved to EVIL that he’s made an impression on Jericho. Big career milestone for EVIL as he’s expected to carry the pride of the company on his shoulders. This isn’t his fight to win, it’s Naito’s, but this is a cool moment for the fans to get behind EVIL as the man to bring the IC title back. Naito will come out after the match and declare himself as the next challenger for the IC title and look to get his revenge on Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom.
Prediction: Jericho

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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