Saturday, November 14, 2020

NJPW: Power Struggle 2020 Review

NJPW Power Struggle 
November 7th, 2020 

The fall out from the G1 Climax 30 and the final big stop before NJPW's biggest event of the year that happens every January - Wrestle Kingdom.

1) Toru Yano (c) vs. Zack Sabre Jr - No Corner Pads Match for the KOPW Trophy 

Yano/Sabre is always fun. This stip is dumb and the KOPW thing is pretty much worthless aside from giving Yano something to do. Sabre has said if he wins this he will just throw the trophy in the trash. Some shenanigans early, but this is serious for the most part, Sabre works on the legs and keeps Yano grounded forcing him to wrestle. Yano hits a belly to belly for some separation but finds himself back in a hold moments later in the center of the ring. They roll to the floor and Zack has Yano in a leg lock across the railing and unbeknownst to Zack, Yano ties Zack’s laces to the railing and wins via countout. 

Match rating - **

2) Minoru Suzuki (c) vs. Shingo Takagi - NEVER Openweight Title Match 
LETS GOOOO. Suzuki has said he sees Shingo as a high schooler compared to him and the reason he enjoys fighting him so much is because he needs to be exposed to the real world and real men fighting to survive and not to pander to the fans. On the Road To shows, Suzuki applied the crab on Shingo as a mocking tactic considering it’s a hold the Young Lions use, showing the lack of respect for Shingo. This is the third meeting between the two this year. They are 1-1. Suzuki defeated Shingo for the title. Shingo got his win back in a non title match in the G1. Now here we are, Shingo trying to regain his title and prove himself. Strikes to begin with a rowdy crowd. They trade momentum beating on one another in the corner before Suzuki takes control with a hold/choke on Shingo in the center of the ring. Shingo counters with a suplex then things go to the floor where Suzuki is able to hit a chair shot to the back of Shingo behind the ref’s back. The target of this entire thing is the back of Shingo. Suzuki does a great job assaulting it. This match had a slower pace than their prior two meetings, but it made sense although it is probably my least favorite of their meetings, it’s still good. Shingo hits last of the dragon for a victory. Awesome selling of the back from Shingo here, he deserves this second title reign. 

Match rating - ***1/2

3) Kazuchika Okada vs. Great O Khan 

This stems from O Khan’s attack on Okada in the G1 in the process of Will Ospreay turning heel, leaving CHAOS, and forming his own new stable - THE EMPIRE. This is Khan’s first big singles match. He used his power to toss Okada around a bit but the rainmaker soon fired back and took control. Ospreay is ringside looking concerned every time Okada mounts offense. He’s got on some glasses and a suit looking like Stuart Little. I almost didn’t recognize him. But yeah anyway. This match happened and it’s pretty rudimentary. Just routine stuff. Finishing run is fun. Okada wins. 

Match rating - **1/4

Ospreay enters the ring post match. He admits he used Okada to get where he is. But now, he’s beloved and he needs to beat Okada to prove he is the best wrestler in the world. Ospreay says he wants war and wants to be the man to end the rainmaker in the Tokyo Dome. Okada accepts his challenge for the match at Wrestle Kingdom. Pretty stoked for that one and I really enjoyed this verbal exchange. 

The Best of the Super Juniors tournament participants and match cards are announced here. Mainly only care about the SHO and Takahashi matches. Robbie Eagles should have some bangers too though. 

4) Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. KENTA - Winner gets the IWGP US Title Shot Briefcase 

Tana is trying to fight his way into a title match at Wrestle Kingdom after falling short in the G1. Winner of this gets Moxley in the dome, one can only assume, which is a huge match. These two are 1-1 against each other. KENTA won in 2019 and Tana won just a month or so ago in this years G1 Climax. KENTA gets cocky early and Tana capitalizes and hits a spring board cross body to the floor. KENTA then leuer’s Tana in and smacks him with the briefcase to gain control. This ends up picking up near the end but the middle portion and the finish were flat. Which as sad as it is to say, is probably expected given both men’s performances recently which sucks because this is a dream match. Anyway, KENTA forces Tana to submit to the game over to keep his briefcase. Solid match though despite not reaching the heights you’d hope or expect. 

Match rating - ***1/4

5) Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White (w/ Gedo) - Winner Gets the IWGP Title Shot Briefcase 

Ibushi won two G1’s back to back and Jay White continues to be the thorn in his side as he’s trying to take Ibushi’s hard earned Wrestle Kingdom title match contract. White does his usual and hits the floor at the bell saying he’s not ready to fight yet. This entire match was about what you'd expect and honestly didn't really do much for me. The finishing run of MOVES is fine. I just had already seen the spoiler and was just waiting on the inevitable of poor Ibushi losing his case. They do a good finishing run like I said before Jay uses the ropes to get a three count and pin Ibushi to win the Wrestle Kingdom briefcase and seal himself a spot in the main event of this year's event. It is a sad day. Solid match, good character work from Jay, bad day for the Ibushi fandom which I am a part of.

Match rating - ***1/4

6) Tetsuya Naito (c) vs. EVIL - IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Title Match

Alright y'all. You know I have hated this damn feud as much or more than anyone, but I gotta be honest.. this may have been my favorite match of the night aside from Shingo/Suzuki and to be honest, I may have enjoyed it more than that. This is the last chapter in probably the most disappointing feud/story of 2020 and it starts off as dull as one would expect however once we delve into the second half it picks up and there's a lot of interference but I KINDA LOVED IT SO FUCK OFF. I don't mind WWF style overbooking when it works and here it worked. EVIL & Naito don't need to be in there 30 minutes just wrestling, we need some drama god dammit and we got it. Dick Togo and Yujiro Takahashi came in to fuck with Naito. Out runs SANADA for a huge pop from the crowd and from me because SHIT, I may not care for him, but his G1 run was kinda fun and LIJ <333333 so yeah, that happened. We get an awesome finishing run of moves from Naito & EVIL before JAY WHITE HITS THE RING. Jay teases turning on EVIL only to try to set Naito up for him to win so we could get an all Bullet Club main event and then out comes KOTA FUCKING IBUSHI. Ibushi saves us from that fate and Naito is able to retain his championship after a very fun match.

Match rating - ***1/2

Post-match, Jay White comes down and even though I didn't particularly enjoy the match with Ibushi, after the run-in and this promo, I'm loving where this story is going. Awesome promo from Jay verbally running down an exhausted Naito. Kota Ibushi comes down to another nice pop and chases Jay from ringside looking like he wants to destroy him. Naito cuts a promo to close the show and says this is the last time they will see him wrestle in 2020 as he isn't a part of World Tag League or BOSJ and announces the next Osaka show.

And as we now know, Naito decided after this event that he will defend both of his titles on both nights of Wrestle Kingdom on January 4th and 5th. Night One against Ibushi and Night Two against Jay White. I CANNOT WAIT. The stage is now set for Wrestle Kingdom!

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