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By Matthew Macklin on 2015-10-09 11:59:37

NJPW return on Monday October 12th with King of Pro Wrestling.  This is traditionally one of New Japan’s biggest shows of the year and usually sets things up for Wrestle Kingdom on January 4th.  The show takes place at Sumo Hall in Tokyo and will be live on NJPW World at 3AM Est/8AM UK.  Kevin Kelly & Matt Striker will be providing live English commentary.  However if you prefer the Japanese coverage there will be two streams. 

Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV, KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi & Mascara Dorada vs. Juice Robinson, Yohei Komatsu, Sho Tanaka, David Finlay & Jay White
With all five young lions on one team, this should be one hell of a fiery, fast paced opener.  With KUSHIDA, Dorada, Liger, Tiger & Taguchi on the other side, there is no telling how awesome this could be if it is given some time.  KUSHIDA is fresh off of losing the IWGP Jr title, so I’d expect him to get a win back here.  Tiger Mask is the new NWA Jr champion and he wants to defend the gold against Liger, so maybe we will see that one set in motion for Power Struggle.  

Tomoaki Honma vs. YOSHI-HASHI
This is a rare big show singles match for YOSHI-HASHI with the story being that he was jealous that Honma got a spot in the G1 and he didn’t.  YOSHI impressed NJPW officials with his performances on the G1 tour and took notice of how the crowd reacted to him.  Both of these guys have said they want an opportunity at the NEVER championship, so the next challenger for that belt may come from this.  Both YOSHI & Honma are two of the biggest underdogs in NJPW, so this should be a whole lot of fun and maybe a breakout moment for whoever wins it.  Personally I would love to see Honma challenge for the NEVER championship at Wrestle Kingdom.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Hirooki Goto, Katsuyori Shibata, Kota Ibushi & Captain New Japan
It’s hard to know what exactly to expect from this with a lot of guys in this coming out of feuds and waiting to head in a new direction.  I can see Shibata & Goto challenging for the tag titles again very soon.  Ibushi has “lost his smile” after losing another title match, which could be to set him up to challenge Nakamura again for IC gold.  Nagata also holds a win over the IC champion from the G1.  It should be a fun match with a lot of talented names involved.  I want to see what Kojima & Ibushi can do together.

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly (ReDRagon) vs. Rocky Romero & Beretta (RPG Vice)

After successfully defending their gold against Time Splitters in an thrilling match, RPG Vice hit the ring and laid out the champions with a Strong Zero on the tag belts.  These teams have met in multiple multi team matches in NJPW this year, but this is their first straight up tag match, although they did meet in ROH in one of RPG Vice’s first matches together.  I’m really glad to see the Jr tag belts being defended in straight tag matches and being treated as more than an opening match spot fest.  RPG Vice seem to get better and better all the time, particularly the underrated Beretta.  ReDRagon are untouchable as a tag team, so this should be another outstanding match.  I’d like to see ReDRagon retain, but anything can happen when the Jr tag belts are involved. 

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship
Kenny Omega vs Matt Sydal
KUSHIDA earned a title opportunity when he beat then champion KUSHIDA at ROH in August.  Sydal made his debut at Destruction and in his second match he beat new champion Kenny Omega clean with a Shooting Star Press.  I was surprised and disappointed to see KUSHIDA’s title reign end so soon, however this has all the makings to be something special.  These two had an awesome match in the 2014 Battle of Los Angeles, but since then Omega has excelled as The Cleaner and Sydal has been having a sensational comeback year.  The brief exchanges they had at Destruction were memorable, so this is something that I am really looking forward to.  I can’t see Sydal winning.  Kyle O’Reilly got a big win over former champion KUSHIDA at the Rev Pro/NJPW show in London last week, so maybe he will be in line for a title opportunity soon.

Shinsuke Nakamura, Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows & Bad Luck Fale
Karl Anderson is the next challenger for Nakamura’s IWGP Intercontinental championship, so this match will serve as a preview of that.  It should be a fun match and it will be interesting to see what Sakuraba can do against Fale & Gallows.  I can’t imagine it being pretty.  Anderson vs Nakamura will most likely take place at Power Struggle in November.

NEVER Openweight Championship
Togi Makabe vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Makabe & Ishii have been trading the NEVER title back and forth ever since they first met for it at Wrestle Kingdom 9.  Makabe won the title that night, but had to relinquish it soon after due to a brief illness.  Ishii won the vacant title, but lost it back to Makabe again in April.  Ishii unsuccessfully challenged Makabe for the gold in July at Dominion in what looked to be their last encounter.  But here we are again.  Ishii seems destined to be involved with the NEVER title from now until the end of time.  I’d like to see Ishii win the title back as it allows him to have more blow away singles matches.  In an ideal world he’s take the title to Wrestle Kingdom and drop it to Honma.  Imagine that moment.  Either way this will be the usual war between these two with chops, lariats, headbutts and head drops.  

Tokyo Dome IWGP Heavyweight Championship Opportunity
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito
“El Ingobernable” Tetsuya Naito scored a win over Tanahashi in the G1 to put himself in contention for this match.  This may be the last defence Tanahashi has of his briefcase as the last defence last year came at King of Pro Wrestling.  Naito has been a sensation this year and has become one of the most interesting characters anywhere in pro wrestling after aligning with CMLL faction, Los Ingobernables.  There’s no way Naito wins, but this should be an outstanding match with a great traditional babyface vs heel dynamic.  We’ll see what the future holds for Naito, but I’d imagine it will involve him and the newly unmasked La Sombra in the tag league.

IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kazuchika Okada vs. AJ Styles
Okada & Styles have developed an incredible rivalry together and they get to write another chapter at King of Pro Wrestling.  Okada regained the title from Styles at Dominion in July after chasing it for over a year, in a match that featured one of the most breathtaking finishing sequences you will ever see. Styles earned this rematch when he pinned Okada cleanly with the Styles Clash in a tag match on G1 Final day.  Styles & Okada have developed an amazing chemistry together and always find ways to put a new spin on things, even when they meet in seemingly nothing tag matches.  Hopefully Bullet Club & CHAOS interference will be kept to a minimum in what might be the last meeting between these two for a while.  Okada will win this and march on to defend the gold at Wrestle Kingdom, if he doesn’t have another defence before then, which is unlikely.  I expect this to be the show stealer and one of the very best matches of the year.

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