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NJPW ‘Super Jr. Tag League 2018’ Preview & Predictions

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This year’s edition of the Super Jr. Tag League is being given the most attention in the tournament’s history. Up until this year, the tournament has been decided in an eight team, single elimination format. There will still be eight teams this year but the format will now be single block, round robin. Every team will wind up facing one another and the two teams with the most points at the end will meet in a rematch for the finals. The winning team receives a shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.

What’s most important when making tournament predictions is creating a narrative so that’s what I’ll be doing here. To me, the story is quite simple. Roppongi 3K have been chasing the titles ever since losing them in March at the New Japan 46th Anniversary Show to current champions, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado. They will have to go through an eight match series, which includes said champions, in order to prove that they are once again worthy challengers for the titles.

They aren’t the only team with a shot at winning but when creating a narrative for them, it became clear to me that this tournament will be their defining moment. I make a case for both Chaos’ Roppongi 3K and LIJ’s Shingo Takagi & BUSHI to meet in the finals of the Super Jr. Tag League 2018.

Roppongi 3K

October 16 vs Shingo Takagi & BUSHI
Last year’s tournaments winners face off in the main event of opening night against the new team of Shingo and BUSHI. Faces are at their best when they must overcome obstacles and heels are at their best when they feel credible. There’s no reason for LIJ to take a loss on their first night out. They should establish dominance by beating the team who won the tournament last.
Prediction: Shingo & BUSHI

October 17 vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado
Again, faces are best when they need to find ways to overcome. 3K have been trying to find a way to defeat Suzuki-Gun all year and them losing two main events in a row will put doubt into fans heads. This is textbook New Japan booking.
Prediction: Kanemaru & Desperado

October 20 vs Taiji Ishimori & Robbie Eagles
At this point 3K will be desperate for a win and lucky for them they’ll be up against the unproven Robbie Eagles. There’s no doubts about Eagles being good but he’s an unknown in New Japan so him taking a loss does absolutely zero damage to him and helps 3K out of their rut.
Prediction: Roppongi 3K

October 22 vs Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger & Tiger Mask IV
If 3K are unable to get past a team nearly twice their age there’d be issues. They should be able to begin a winning streak by pushing past the aged legends with relative ease. No harm to anyone.
Prediction: Roppongi 3K

October 26 vs ACH & Ryusuke Taguchi
A rematch of last year’s finals. This will be the big test of the tournament for 3K. For the first time since their loss to Suzuki-Gun on night two they’ll be back in a main event at Korakuen Hall. A loss here, in another main event, to a team they beat last year, would be a sign of them moving backwards. If they want to stand any chance of success, they must win here.
Prediction: Roppongi 3K

October 27 vs Volador Jr. & Soberano Jr.
For the first and only time during the tournament, 3K won’t be in the tournament’s main event match of the night. The spotlight will be off of them for the night but the pressure will remain on. They will face a high-powered team looking to spoil everyone’s tournament. The test will be for them to remain motivated even in situations where the spotlight isn’t on them.
Prediction: Roppongi 3K

November 1 vs KUSHIDA & Chris Sabin
This is the last tournament match before the finals. Last year 3K defeated KUSHIDA’s team but got the fall on young lion, Hirai Kawato. This time KUSHIDA’s partner is Chris Sabin. A more difficult task than last year in which a win would put them over the hump and into the finals. If 3K are to be for real, they must prove it by pulling out this win.
Prediction: Roppongi 3K

As you can see, this is the typical New Japan model. The faces drop the first two and run the table into the finals. This seems like a cut and dry case to me.

Shingo Takagi & BUSHI

October 16 vs Roppongi 3K
I made the point above; the new team should come out of the gates strong and the story makes sense for both teams. Shingo needs to establish himself as the monster addition to the junior division that he truly is.
Prediction: Shingo & BUSHI

October 17 vs KUSHIDA & Chris Sabin
With the night one win established, BUSHI faces his Achilles heel in KUSHIDA. We saw KUSHIDA dominate BUSHI in Kobe. His mist did nothing to slow KUSHIDA down and I expect that trend to continue. A leopard can’t change his spots and even with Shingo, I see BUSHI being unable to get past KUSHIDA.
Prediction: KUSHIDA & Sabin

October 19 vs Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger & Tiger Mask IV
My excitement for this match aside, this should be an easy one for LIJ to win. The legends are great but Shingo’s power should go unmatched against the aging veterans.
Prediction: Shingo & BUSHI

October 22 vs Volador Jr. & Soberano Jr.
What’s important is for LIJ to show dominance against the New Japan roster. Team CMLL need some wins in order to look credible and neither of them are likely to be present again until January so no harm in LIJ taking the loss. While I don’t see team CMLL picking up many wins, this is a big enough win to justify them being in the tournament.
Prediction: Volador Jr. & Soberano Jr.

October 26 vs Taiji Ishimori & Robbie Eagles
LIJ swept the BCOG during the G1 but BUSHI did lose to Ishimori in the BOSJ. This could be a huge win for the BCOG but since this is in Korakuen and I’m predicting BUSHI to have lost against KUSHIDA on night two, I think that LIJ have to look strong here. Eagles in the perfect fall guy for this situation.
Prediction: Shingo & BUSHI

October 27 vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado
This will be the defining match for both team’s tournaments. Both will have opened up with a Korakuen main event win over Roppongi 3K and will be colliding in the same venue in a main event match of their own. Whoever wins this match will be my pick to make it to the finals and right now I’m going with the hot new team.
Prediction: Shingo & BUSHI

October 29 vs ACH & Ryusuke Taguchi
It seems only fitting that in order to make the finals LIJ have to defeat last year’s finalists. ACH has made the tournament finals the last two years so he must be seen as a legitimate obstacle for Shingo and BUSHI. An LIJ win over these two would be a poetic way for them to advance to the finals.
Prediction: Shingo & BUSHI

The narrative seems too easy because it makes complete sense. LIJ are the hottest faction and Shingo wasn’t brought in to not be featured heavily.

Finals Prediction (November 3): Roppongi 3K vs Shingo & BUSHI
The finals will present 3K with their next big challenge; defeating the team who upset them on opening night. Shingo and BUSHI, on the other hand, will have to prove their win wasn’t a fluke. This is textbook New Japan booking because it makes sense. Everything here lines up perfectly for this story. I see 3K winning the tournament and heading into Wrestle Kingdom to face Suzuki-Gun, the last remaining team to defeat them.
Prediction: Roppongi 3K

Full Predictions

Shingo Takagi & BUSHI – 10 Points
Wins: Roppongi 3K, Liger/Tiger, Ishimori/Eagles, Kanemaru/Desperado, ACH/Taguchi
Losses: KUSHIDA/Sabin, Volador/Soberano

Roppongi 3K – 10 Points
Wins: Ishimori/Eagles, Liger/Tiger, ACH/Taguchi, Volador/Soberano, KUSHIDA/Sabin
Losses: Shingo/BUSHI, Kanemaru/Desperado

Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado – 8 Points
Wins: KUSHIDA/Sabin, Roppongi 3K, Ishimori/Eagles, Liger/Tiger
Losses: ACH/Taguchi, Volador/Soberano, Shingo/BUSHI

ACH & Ryusuke Taguchi – 6 Points
Wins: Kanemaru/Desperado, KUSHIDA/Sabin, Liger/Tiger
Losses: Volador/Soberano, Ishimori/Eagles, Roppongi 3K, Shingo/BUSHI

Taiji Ishimori & Robbie Eagles – 6 Points
Wins: Liger/Tiger, ACH/Taguchi, Volador/Soberano
Losses: Roppongi 3K, Kanemaru/Desperado, Shingo/BUSHI, KUSHIDA/Sabin

KUSHIDA & Chris Sabin – 6 Points
Wins: Shingo/BUSHI, Volador/Soberano, Ishimori/Eagles
Losses: Kanemaru/Desperado, ACH/Taguchi, Liger/Tiger, Roppongi 3K

Volador Jr. & Soberano Jr. – 6 Points
Wins: ACH/Taguchi, Shingo/BUSHI, Kanemaru/Desperado
Losses: Liger/Tiger, KUSHIDA/Sabin, Roppongi 3K, Ishimori/Eagles

Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger & Tiger Mask IV – 4 Points
Wins: Volador/Soberano, KUSHIDA/Sabin
Losses: Ishimori/Eagles, Shingo/BUSHI, Roppongi 3K, ACH/Taguchi, Kanemaru/Desperado

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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