Road to Power Struggle night 9 full preview

Four Super Junior Tag League matches and a Halloween flavour to proceedings at Korakuen Hall. 

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Watch Road to Power Struggle night 9 LIVE and in English on NJPW World!


Main event: The Mega Coaches (Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi) (3-1) vs Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) (2-1)

Our main event should be a thriller with a lot at stake in the Super Junior Tag League, and a lot at stake when it comes to personal pride; Rocky Romero and Ryusuke Taguchi take on SHO and YOH, Roppongi 3K. 

The Mega Coaches got off to a stronger start in the tag league than perhaps even they expected, roaring to success in their first three bouts and briefly sitting alone at the top of the table. Now they’re part of a club at six points, however, a spot they have no desire to share with RPG3K. Roppongi 3K’s success in the annual autumn tag tournament is well documented, but crucial is that their victories the last two years have come under the tutelage and leadership of Rocky Romero. Now Romero and his sneaky stylings are on the other side of the ring. 

Romero and Taguchi will doubtless try to play the tactical game against SHO and YOH, but teams don’t make it to three IWGP Junior Tag Team Championships without independent tactical thought, and it’s safe to assume Rocky hasn’t quite taught everything that RPG3K know. YOH, for his part proved as much when he was able to defeat Romero during Best of the Super Juniors one on one, though he would fall to fellow ‘Sendai Sailor Boy’ Taguchi in the tournament as well. It’s a pick ’em in this main event, and the winner will have more than just bragging rights as we approach the league’s conclusion next week in Osaka. 

6th Match: Volador Jr. & Titan (3-1) vs BULLET CLUB (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori) (3-1)

Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo are also part of the league leading club at six points, and were at 3-1 by Volador Junior and Titan after they beat Kanemaru and Desperado on Saturday night. With the current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions being a relatively fresh partnership not yet six months old, the CMLL combination is one of many teams they have yet to face, but the record Ishimori has with Volador Junior led teams is not a good one. Last year during the tag league, he and Robbie Eagles were defeated by Volador and Soberano Junior, a tag loss being perhaps more relevant to the discussion of win/loss records than Ishimori’s singles defeat of Titan during Best of the Super Juniors. 

Titan and Volador Junior are known to be highly athletic luchadors who aren’t ashamed to showboat here and there on their way to victory. That sounds like Ishimori, and especially El Phantasmo, to a T. This could well be a game of one-upmanship where egos are just as dangerous as in-ring skill. 

5th Match: Clark Connors & TJP (0-4) vs El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2-2)

With still no points to their name TJP and Clark Connors will not be one of the two teams standing in the ring in Osaka November 3. The top two points scorers at the end of league play on November 1 will go onto the final at Power Struggle, but even second place is out of reach for these two now; no longer about keeping their foot in the door however, this match is more about the chance to make statements against an established team. 

Deperado and Kanemaru are established indeed, and have already defeated both the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions and last year’s Super Junior Tag League winners. With two blots on their record so far, the Suzuki-Gun duo cant to be shown up by a team that hasn’t managed to scrape two points together at time of writing. Can Connors and TJP deliver the ultimate upset though?

4th Match: Yuya Uemura & Tiger Mask (0-3) vs Birds of Prey (Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles) (2-2)

As each stop on the Road to Power Struggle has seen one Super Junior Tag League match, Yuya Uemura and Tiger Mask have only wrestled three matches to most other teams’ four. Having one match in hand could be a tactical advantage at the top of the table, burt Uemura and Tiger sit at the bottom, playing mainly for pride with the slimmest of hopes for a second place finish with the aid of a minor miracle. 

Could that miracle come Sunday night? It would have to come at the expense of the Birds of Prey, who got off to a surprisingly slow start to their campaign and are now in the process of recovering and stringing wins together. B.O.P can ill afford another loss in their league run, and can ill afford to look past the veteran Tiger Mask and the spirited Uemura.

3rd Match: Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Tomoaki Honma & Karl fredericks vs BULLET CLUB (Jay White, KENTA, Yujiro Takahashi & Gedo)

With the Road to Power Struggle tour past its halfway point, Hirooki Goto and Tomohiro Ishii must be feeling their share of frustration. It falls on a challenger to build as much momentum as possible heading into a title match, yet the combination of the NEVER Openweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championship number one contenders have been routinely beaten by BULLET CLUB teams this tour; one Vertical Drop Brainbuster delivered by Ishii to Yujiro this week doesn’t make up for an otherwise difficult tour. 

Karl Fredericks certainly knows the pain of defeat at BULLET CLUB hands in Korakuen; the tour kicked off with an overhand right and G2S from KENTA. Can his motivation for revenge be enough to help his team turn the corner?  


2nd Match: Los Ingobernables De Japon (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI, SANADA & Shingo Takagi) vs Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI)

Suzuki-Gun and Los Ingobernables De Japon have continued their long standing issues through the Road to Power Struggle tour amid difficult times for LIJ. While LIJ quartets have stayed on the right end of the win:loss ledger throughout the tour, Taichi has been relentless in his physical and mental attacks on Tetsuya Naito. Naito’s dim hopes of his dream double gold glory at the Tokyo Dome have only provided faint light on his usually confident visage as Taichi has continued to berate him and suggest that he can do what Naito couldn’t in winning the IWGP Intercontinental Championship (and possibly the heavyweight title beyond).

Then there’s the matter of EVIL, who suffered a left ankle injury last week and will miss the remainder of the tour. Replaced by BUSHI for the time being, EVIL has to be concerned about losing ground going into the World Tag League and Wrestle Kingdom, and LIJ now have to change up a combination that was proving very effective in matches so far.

1st Match: Toa Henare vs Yota Tsuji

Singles record: 1-0 Henare

Toa Henare graduated from NJPW Dojo life some two years ago, but has been bumping his head against a glass ceiling ever since. He’s spoken at length about wanting to break through into a new class of competition, but, still wanting for a key signature win, hasn’t been able to put together the required resume just yet. 

Henare recently bade fare well to two close friends within the Noge Dojo in Ren narita and Shota Umino as they head on excursions to LA and the UK respectively. Unlike those two, Henare forewent excursion to stay fighting in NJPW rings, and the result could be a crucial test for the Maori Warrior. Starting with this singles bout against Tsuji- who has expectations put upon himself as new leading member of the dojo- Henare has to make a huge impact so as not to be lapped by his juniors upon their return to Japan down the line.