NJPW Road to Power Struggle 2020 – Night 1

After a wonderful G1 Climax tournament helped make 2020 a bit more tolerable, we return to Korakuen Hall in the shadows of Tokyo Dome for the first of 3 televised events. This is set to be a much bigger Power Struggle than normal. In part due to the short gap between the G1 and Wrestle Kingdom. This means all those major singles matches are crammed into one event due to there being no Destruction tour and no King of Pro Wrestling this year. So, let’s check out Friday’s card shall we!

Yota Tsuji v Yuya Uemura

Back to Young Lions action we go as our unofficial C Block winner; Yota Tsuji takes on perennial Young Lion rival; Yuya Uemura. This seems to be the 500th time they faced each other so it’s hard to get too excited about this but, as always, it is fascinating to see how these 2 do against each other knowing this could be a huge main event for NJPW further down the line.

Kazuchika Okada & Gabriel Kidd v Will Ospreay & Great-O-Khan (The Empire)

The Rainmaker will be looking for some revenge at Power Struggle where he goes one on one with Great-O-Khan. Here tonight though he has to team up with LA Dojo Young Lion, Gabriel Kidd as they battle The Empire. This looks an odd match. It’s not uncommon for big names to team with Young Lions in NJPW. However, given this match already happened on the final night of the G1 but with Chaos member Sho instead of Kidd it seems almost impossible that Okada will win this. There have been rumours abound that when Kidd is no longer a Young Lion he may be an ideal recruit for Will Ospreay’s new stable. Ospreay and his girlfriend, Bea Priestley, both being English of course, like Kidd, and Great-O-Khan spending his excursion in Rev Pro it would make a certain amount of sense. Keep an eye on Gabriel Kidd here.

Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI (Los Ingobernables de Japon) v Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Suzuki-gun)

A couple of matches previewed here, one for sure and the other in probability. Shingo will be trying to regain his NEVER Openweight Championship back from the King of Wrestling; Minoru Suzuki at Power Struggle. The Dragon actually pinned Suzuki in the G1 thus setting up their third encounter with Shingo wanting to distance himself from the bad memories of losing his first NJPW singles title at Summer Struggle.

The other match isn’t actually scheduled yet but Hiromu did make reference to the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships at the G1 finals. These are currently held by El Desperado and Kanemaru who actually beat Hiromu and Bushi for the then vacant titles in a tournament final on the New Japan Road tour just prior to the G1 Climax. Although no match is scheduled for the titles at Power Struggle there are still 2 Korakuen Hall shows scheduled before Power Struggle so expect the match to happen on one of those cards.

Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomoaki Honma v Jay White, KENTA & Gedo (Bullet Club)

2 big matches from the Power Struggle card revolve around briefcases. Ibushi will defend his Wrestle Kingdom 15 main event slot against Bullet Club leader: Jay White. White made the challenge at the press conference after Ibushi won the G1, sealing the match with a beer. King Switch does hold a G1 victory over Kota Ibushi thus setting up the traditional Wrestle Kingdom defense against him. Tana is in a similar position having beaten Kenta in the G1 and stands in line to get a shot at Kenta’s title opportunity against John Moxley for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship.Throw in Honma and Gedo and you have the potential for a fun 6 man encounter. Can Golden Ace recapture that spark that helped them beat Guerrillas of Destiny for the tag titles at the beginning of the year or will Bullet Club shut them down?

Tetsuya Naito & SANADA (Los Ingobernables de Japon) v EVIL & Dick Togo (Bullet Club)

As we build up to Naito and Evil’s fourth singles match since June we get a tag team preview prior to the Double Championship encounter at Power Struggle. To be honest, it is hard to get excited about another Naito v Evil encounter. What I am interested to see is how Sanada bounces back after yet another crushing singles defeat on the big stage. Sanada came as close as is physically possible to winning the G1 (Seriously, watch that O’Conner Roll attempt) without actually winning. Sanada needs some big performances over the next few months in a singles capacity otherwise he will be destined to fall into that Goto roll… just with less singles success.

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships

Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI (Chaos) v Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI (Suzuki-gun)

During the Summer Struggle tour we saw this Chaos team winning the vacant 6-Man titles in a fantastic encounter over Chaos rivals; Toru Yano, Sho and Kazuchika Okada. In one match they made the much derided division feel a bit more relevant. They defended their titles against the same trio just prior to the G1. But it was at the G1 finals that things took a turn when Douki… yes, Douki, pinned Yoshi-Hashi and made the challenge. I think DOuki is criminally underrated so I’m really happy to see Suzuki-gun’s resident pin eater get a shot at the gold. With Best of the Super Juniors around the corner this could really give him some momentum.

Here’s another thought too: Taichi and ZSJ (Dangerous Tekkers) are the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. This match is now fascinating because we’ll probably either get new 6-Man champs or we could have the next challengers to Dangerous Tekkers should one of them lose. ALso, who can build momentum towards the World Tag League?

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