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NJPW ‘The New Beginning in Sapporo’ 1.28.18 Preview & Predictions



The second of two nights in Sapporo, only twenty-four hours after the first. I embarrassingly went 4-5 in my predictions of the last night’s show. I’ll try to do better this time. No promises. You can watch it live at NJPWWorld on January 27th/28th starting 10pm PST, 1am EST, 6am GMT. The price is ~$9 or ~£6.50.

Juice Robinson vs Katsuya Kitamura
Like his match against Michael Elgin from the previous show, this serves as a showcase for Kitamura’s progress but in no way will he be winning. This should be decently fun, Juice is consistently good and will guide the young lion into a fine match. I’m not sold on Kitamura quite yet. It’s obvious New Japan has big plans for him so all we can do is hope he progresses at the speed they push him.

Prediction: Juice Robinson

Liger, Tiger, Taguchi & Umino vs Kanemaru, Taichi, Desperado & TAKA
Last time I predicted that team Suzuki-Gun would win and boy was I wrong. This time my decision is foolproof. Anytime you see a young lion sole young lion in a match you know which team will win. Umino is a young lion, Suzuki-Gun get their win back

Prediction: Kanemaru, Taichi, Desperado & TAKA

Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs Yujiro Takahashi & HIKULEO
Formerly known as Leo Tonga and now known as HIKULEO, this name change signifies no longer being under the young lion banner. I predicted that Ishii and Yano would lose yesterday and that didn’t happen. I don’t see them losing this one then although it’s possible.

Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano

Makabe, Tenzan, Nakanishi & Henare vs Fale, Tama, Tanga & Owens
Since Owens is teaming up with the 6-Man champions they could take the fall and be challenged by a new combination of the four opponents. I’ll say that’s what happens.

Prediction: Makabe, Tenzan, Nakanishi & Henare

Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin vs Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka
With Tanahashi sufficently picked to pieces by Suzuki, this can go one of two ways. One is Elgin avenges his friend Tanahashi and challenges Suzuki for his newly won title. The other way is Suzuki continues his onslaught. I’m going with the former.

Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin

Ibushi, KUSHIDA & Finlay vs Cody, Page & Scurll
Will Finlay take the fall to the same team for the second straight day? Probably. I refuse to pick that way though and again will go with Ibushi’s team.
Prediction: Ibushi, KUSHIDA & Finlay

Okada, Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Ospreay & Gedo vs Naito, EVIL, SANADA, Hiromu & BUSHI
One of the juniors will take the loss here, that much is obvious. Targeting which one, that’s the tough part. BUSHI and Ospreay both ate the loss on the last show. Hiromu isn’t going to take a loss so I’m guess tonight is Gedo’s night.

Prediction: Naito, EVIL, SANADA, Hiromu & BUSHI

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
The Young Bucks (c) vs Roppongi 3K

With the NJPW/ROH ‘Honor Rising’ tour happening in February I think this is an easy one to see coming. The Bucks retain and come into those shows as the champions. These two teams had a really good match at Wrestle Kingdom so the expectations for this one are higher than what’s probably reasonable.

Prediction: The Young Bucks

IWGP US Heavyweight Championship
Kenny Omega (c) vs Jay White

Is it too early for Jay White? Possibly. Is he as strong of a champion as Omega? We don’t know yet but it’s not likely. This match depends on New Japan’s plans for Omega in the immediate future. Is he to win the New Japan Cup in March and challenge Okada once more? Their record is 1-1-1 and Okada is quickly running out of challengers for his championship. With Tanahashi likely on his way out for some rest that leaves Ibushi, Sabre, Omega, Juice or Elgin as the remaining somewhat reasonable challengers. Since the winner of New Japan Cup gets the champion at Sakura Genesis, one of the bigger events of the year, only Ibushi or Omega make sense. I’ll stick my neck out and say White wins and that leads to Omega’s quest for the Cup.

Prediction: Jay White

Along with providing show reviews from across Japan, Robert McCauley is also an editor for FightboothPW.

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