Title matches, contract defences and bitter feuds highlight Osaka card
The full card has been revealed for Power Struggle, which comes to NJPW World live and in English November 7 from Osaka’s EDION Arena.
Main event: IWGP Intercontinental & Heavyweight Double Title Match: Tetsuya Naito vs EVIL
Headlining at Power Struggle, Tetsuya Naito defends his IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championships against EVIL. After Naito defeated EVIL at Summer Struggle in Jingu, it seemed as if the double champion finally had a clear mandate to do what he always wanted with the titles; to wrestle as the fightingest champion of all time, and defend both championships separately across the country.
Although he did live his dream of taking the double titles around Japan during the G1 Climax 30 tour, his plans for the remainder of the year may have been scuppered by the King of Darkness, and Dick Togo. After liberal interference from the Spoiler, EVIL countered a Destino into EVIL to pin the double champion.
The BULLET CLUB member may not have made the G1 Climax finals, with Hiromu Takahashi successfully defusing Dick Togo and allowing SANADA to pick up the victory on the last day of B block action, but he did have the next best thing in a win over Naito. After tag team action on the final night saw BUSHI submit to a Darkness Scorpion, EVIL and Togo laid out Naito and sent a clear message that the King of Darkness was coming for double gold once again.
During the Road to Power Struggle tour, Naito and SANADA consistently had the upper hand over EVIL in tag team action, until EVIL decided doing damage was more important than scoring victories. Gladly accepting a disqualification loss on November 1, EVIL struck Naito with his IWGP heavyweight Championship after a Spoilers Choke from Togo. Unable to make it backstage unassisted, Naito clearly wants to take both titles with him to the Tokyo Dome on January 4 & 5, but can he once again triumph in the face of EVIL?
5th Match: Double IWGP Right to Challenge Contract Match: Kota Ibushi vs Jay White
Just over a fortnight ago, Kota Ibushi made history by wrestling in his third consecutive G1 Climax final, and followed up with a hard fought victory over SANADA in the longest G1 match in history. His 35 minute 12 second win granted Ibushi the G1 trophy for the second year in a row, putting him in the rarified air of back to back G1 winners, a group whose only other members are Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Masahiro Chono.
Yet one unarguable fact is that Ibushi made his third straight final and his second straight win despite suffering a loss to Jay White. Indeed, Ibushi’s presence in the final was thanks to the efforts of Tomohiro Ishii, defeating White in the final night of A Block action, almost as much as it was Ibushi’s own efforts in a phenomenal battle against Taichi. White’s challenge to Ibushi in the wake of his G1 win was an inevitability, but the arrogant White couldn’t resist choosing Ibushi’s post match comments to make the challenge, stealing the spotlight in Ibushi’s moment.
Ibushi is hungry for IWGP gold, and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship that has eluded him for so long especially. He currently holds a ticket to that title, but will he be able to face whomever the champion may be in the Tokyo Dome? Or, with EVIL challenging Tetsuya Naito in the main event, and after ringing the right to challenge briefcase off Ibushi’s head on Monday, might Jay White take a longer route to his pre-G1 prediction of an all BULLET CLUB Wrestle Kingdom?
4th Match: IWGP US Heavyweight Championship Right to Challenge Contract Match: KENTA vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
While neither Hiroshi Tanahashi nor KENTA were able to make the G1 Climax 30 finals, they both ended their campaigns with significant wins; KENTA over Tetsuya Naito to prevent him from taking his place in the final, and Hiroshi Tanahashi over Zack Sabre Junior.
With his win over ZSJ, Tanahashi returned himself to a familiar state of confidence. The Ace realised he is more than able to still compete at a championship level, and looking to his record earlier in the tournament, recalled defeating KENTA despite making a significant dent in the BULLET CLUB members US Championship contract briefcase with his head. That damage was worsened on November 2 as another blow to the skull of the Ace left a gaping hole in the case.
Ever trolling, KENTA would declare that Tanahashi should fix the damage to the case; instead Tanahashi has vowed to take the case off him entirely. After his wins in the New Japan Cup USA final, and against Jeff Cobb to retain the case on NJPW STRONG have been mired in controversy, will he look to more shady tactics to stay victorious? Or will Tanahashi be the one to take the case and a subsequent match against champion Jon Moxley?
3rd Match: Kazuchika Okada vs Great-O-Khan
The third match of the evening sees Great-O-Khan wrestle his first singles match in NJPW against Kazuchika Okada. O-Khan shocked the world Friday at the G1 Climax A Block finals, when he and Bea Priestly intervened in Will Ospreay’s match against Okada. As Ospreay declared that he was creating his own unit, now officially named The Empire, he severed his connections to Okada and CHAOS with a Hidden Blade to the back of the Rainmaker’s head.
48 hours after this betrayal, a furious Okada went on the vicious offense against a man he used to regard as his younger brother. Okada seeks answers from the Briton; more at least than Ospreay’s ludicrous assertion that Okada ‘held him back’. Ospreay meanwhile is not going to grant the Rainmaker closure, instead putting his charge O-Khan in the ring against the CHAOS leader. For O-Khan, an immense challenge lies in wait, but after ‘The Dominator’ lived up to his nickname with an undefeated record during his UK excursion, he has an impressive track record, and will look to make a significant mark on NJPW on November 7. The Road to Power Struggle tour has seen O-Khan rack up win over win against Okada’s Young Lion partners, and the Eliminator laid out Okada in Korakuen Hall post match on November 2. Then again, one on one with the Rainmaker is a different story.
2nd Match: NEVER Openweight Championship Match: Minoru Suzuki vs Shingo Takagi
Minoru Suzuki and Shingo Takagi collide in the second match of the evening with the NEVER Openweight Championship at stake. At Summer Struggle in Jingu, The Dragon and The King collided in a match that Takagi had stated would continue until ‘one or both of us go to the hospital’; though Suzuki picked up the win and the title with a Gotch Style Piledriver, Takagi was not hospitalized, and promised to keep fighting.
Fight Suzuki and Takagi did on the final night of A Block in the G1. Then, Suzuki dominated the bulk of the match, but Last of the Dragon from Takagi against the run of the match saw The Dragon victorious. With both constantly brawling through tag team action on the final night of the tournament, clearly there were lingering issues that needed to be addressed in the ring. That happens November 7 in Osaka.
1st Match: Provisional KOPW 2020 No Corner Pads Match: Toru Yano vs Zack Sabre Jr.
The night’s action will kick off with Zack Sabre Jr. facing Toru Yano for Yano’s KOPW 2020 trophy. A unique prize conceived by Kazuchika Okada and first won by Yano at Summer Struggle in Jingu, the KOPW 2020 sees the holder bring their own rules to the table. After ZSJ defeated Yano in Okayama during the G1 despite Yano pulling every conceivable trick out of the book, Yano got increasingly frustrated at Sabre replacing the turnbuckle pads in the ring every time he tried to remove them. We now have a No Corner Pads Match set for Power Struggle, which is sure to kick the night off in unique form.