728x90 AdSpace

  • Latest Posts

    Tuesday, November 10, 2020

    #CafePuro: NJPW Power Struggle Fallout

    Last weekend's Power Struggle event is another example of how 2020 has been. Jay White cheats to win the G1 Briefcase from Kota Ibushi, while Tetsuya Naito is once again part of a convoluted storyline with the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental belts. Time to go on another ride with New Japan Pro-Wrestling and see how Gedo can get away with it.

    The Convoluted Double Belt Story

    Tetsuya Naito stares into space as Kota Ibushi and Jay White return to the backstage area.

    Can we please stop the double belt situation already? It has become so convoluted that I no longer care about the two belts Naito holds right now. Separating the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental titles allows more wrestlers to have opportunities to become stars.

    As of this writing, we have three wrestlers involved in the situation: Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi, and Jay White.

    The story should have ended after NJPW returned from COVID to give other wrestlers a chance. There has been a gaping hole in the top card with the Intercontinental belt being held by the Heavyweight champion. I miss the days when we had a 1A and 1B situation where we could have top stars in both title pictures with equal recognition instead of having everyone chase Naito. 

    That said, I'm glad that Tetsuya Naito seems to have acknowledged the situation in the first WrestleKingdom 15 press conference. You see, Jay White only wants to challenge Naito for the two belts on January 5th. That means there's no world title match on January 4th. Tetsuya Naito threatened to boycott WrestleKingdom if there was no world title match on the first night so now, he wants to face Kota Ibushi for the titles on January 4th.

    I feel like having Naito defend the belt on both nights is a great opportunity to split the belts up. We can have Naito defend one belt on January 4 and the other on January 5. That means we'll have Naito wrestle for two nights but if that's what it takes to separate the belts, then I think it's worth a shot. 

    As of this writing, Naito has only implied that he wants to face Ibushi on January 4 and will face Jay White on January 5. Even company president Naoki Sugabayashi says that they haven't announced a full card for WrestleKingdom because there are so many changes that could still happen between now and January 4. 

    Regardless of which belt is defended on which night, we need to see Naito lose at least one belt so we can go back to the 1A and 1B championship situation again. 

    Where does Ibushi go from here?

    Jay White stands tall against a shocked Kota Ibushi who is sitting on the ring.
    Jay White is triumphant over a shocked Kota Ibushi.

    Speaking of the convoluted double belt story, did we really just see Ibushi lose the G1 briefcase? The whole world saw that Jay White cheated. Is there any way we'll have another match between the two where Ibushi gets the case back? It's so confusing. What was the point of having Ibushi win the G1 this year if he was just going to lose it? 

    I can compare this whole situation to WWE's Money in The Bank event with Otis winning the briefcase. WWE never actually wanted Otis to win the case but they did it for the shock factor. Similarly, NJPW decided to amplify the shock factor of the G1 briefcase situation by making Jay White win the contract from Ibushi for a perfect parallel description of 2020. Whenever something good comes up (Ibushi winning the briefcase for the second straight year), something will come afterward to ruin it (Jay White cheating to win it from Ibushi).

    Otis wasn't the only victim of a failed Money in The Bank run. We also had Mr. Kennedy losing the briefcase to Edge in 2007. What made Edge's win work was the fact that he was built to be the Ultimate Opportunist in WWE. Looking back, NJPW was alluding to a possible G1 briefcase loss a lot. There was a ton of emphasis on commentary about how there have been 16 successful briefcase defenses and how we'd never seen the briefcase holder lose the right to challenge up to that point. 

    On one hand, I'm glad to see a twist in the G1 briefcase scene and that Gedo can use 2020 as an excuse to shock us all. On the other hand, we're just getting another double gold dash. We already saw it conclude earlier in the year. This needs to stop! 

    Now, Ibushi is left hanging trying to convince Jay White for a rematch. Could we see Ibushi and White do double duty by facing each other on Night 1 of WK15 for the briefcase and then we get the dream Ibushi/Naito match on Night 2?

    Whatever situation I can think of, Ibushi always feels left out without the briefcase. It's as if he isn't wanted there. Come on, Gedo, I really want Ibushi to finally win the Heavyweight belt. He's won almost every title available in the company. All he needs to cap off the grand slam are the NEVER six-man belts and the IWGP Heavyweight belt.

    I'm just disappointed with Ibushi's current situation cause he's beginning to look like a deer in the headlights. Hopefully, things change soon.

    What now Jay?

    Jay White talks to the press in the first Wrestle Kingdom 15 Press Conference.
    Jay White talks to the press in the first WrestleKingdom 15 Press Conference.

    After Tetsuya Naito defeated EVIL, a confident Jay White returned to the ring to declare his intention of facing the double champion on January 5 for both belts.

    The Switchblade is so smug that he attended the post-event press conference to tear apart the Kota Ibushi Right To Challenge contract. We still don't know how White's win will affect the rest of the double belt picture in NJPW. All we know is that the Switchblade will be waiting in the wings to become the double gold champion.

    Let's not forget that Jay also has other things to keep in mind. He nearly attacked EVIL during the double belt main event of Power Struggle and that could have kicked off the second Bullet Club Civil War right then and there. However, Jay decided to attack Naito instead. Jay now has three stories involving himself: his feud with Ibushi, challenging Naito for the double gold, and whether or not he should be feuding with EVIL. Interesting times for King Switch. 

    Brotherly War

    Speaking of other matches for WrestleKingdom 15, we're going to get Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay. The leader of The Empire challenged Okada after the latter defeated The Great-O-Khan in an impressive match for the former Tomoyuki Oka. O-Khan might have lost but he didn't tap out. The referee decided to call the match when O-Khan wasn't responsive anymore.

    The story between Okada and Ospreay is simple. Okada brought Ospreay to CHAOS to become a better wrestler. And then over the years, Ospreay got jealous of Okada's success and now wants to be on top himself so he recruited his girlfriend Bea Priestley along with another wrestler with UK experience (O-Khan) to form The Empire.

    Ospreay wants to end the "Rainmaker" for good at WrestleKingdom and show the world that "The Assassin" is better than Okada. Speaking of the Rainmaker, Okada still has not used the Rainmaker Lariat in full form until now. Will we see a special Rainmaker just for Ospreay or is this the end of one of wrestling's most effective finishing moves?

    The U.S. of eh?

    You have to admit that KENTA's promos for almost every feud since turning heel have been excellent. He's even flexing his slick social media game where he shares old pictures of himself and Tanahashi from the early 2000s. 

    KENTA seems to be in a holding pattern when it comes to his feuds because it's painfully obvious that NJPW is stalling for Moxley to return. I'll admit that KENTA vs. Moxley sounds like a fun match. I just don't know how long you can keep KENTA waiting. For context, we haven't seen the U.S. heavyweight belt since New Beginning. I don't think we can wait and see what happens next. Moxley needs to return to NJPW and defend the belt or we should just have KENTA as the interim champion.

    NEVER again

    Shingo Takagi is victorious against Minoru Suzuki.

    After a brutal fight with Minoru Suzuki, Shingo Takagi stood tall once again as NEVER Openweight Champion. That's right. The NEVER hot potato saga continues. Shingo Takagi is champion again and I don't know who else is available to challenge for the belt. Maybe we'll get Jeff Cobb? There are a few other options for sure. We just need to wait for someone to step up and challenge The Dragon.

    The BOSJ & Super J-Cup Brackets

    During the intermission break, we were shown the matchups for BOSJ and the bracket for the Super J-Cup. As mentioned in last week's column, this year's BOSJ will only have tenparticipants who will all face each other in a round-robin format. The interesting matchups involve intra-faction warfare where the likes of Robbie Eagles will face stablemate SHO, while Hiromu Takahashi will face BUSHI. It's going to be an interesting clash of styles with Eagles' technical style against SHO's hard-hitting powerhouse moves while Hiromu's breakneck speed will go against BUSHI's slower pace. I can't wait to see how the BOSJ will turn out.

    As for the Super J-Cup, we will have a single-elimination format in one night featuring the following first-round matchups:
    • Lion's Break: Crown Winner Clark Connors (NJPW)  vs. Chris Bey (IMPACT)
    • ACH (Freelance) vs. TJP (Freelance)
    • Rey Horus (ROH) vs. Blake Christian (GCW)
    • El Phantasmo (NJPW) vs. Lio Rush (Freelance)
    I'm most excited for Clark Connors vs. Chris Bey as Connors has a slower, ground-based style and I think it's the perfect counter to Chris Bey's smooth, fast-paced wrestling style. The difference in their movesets will provide a unique flavor for new viewers.

    We also have the added bonus of a tag team match featuring LA Dojo Lions Karl Fredericks and Ren Narita against Hikuleo and KENTA. I'm surprised with the inclusion of KENTA but I guess it's a sign that he will be holding on to the U.S. Championship Right to Challenge Contract for a long time.

    It's going to take some adjustment to see the BOSJ conclude the year because it's usually held right before the G1 Climax. I can't wait to see how our favorite junior heavyweights will fare in a smaller tournament format.

    Yano ties up ZSJ

    This was a great opening match to get the crowd warmed up for what turned out to be a fun show. The match was mostly comedic so that the audience could settle down before the intensity picked up with Suzuki vs. Shingo. I love how most KOPW matches involve Yano being as creative as possible. It's as if a certain elevator ride to the ground floor of Korakuen Hall became a reminder for Yano to always be creative and find ways to retain his title as KOPW 2020.

    There really isn't much to say. Yano has excelled as KOPW Champion but I hope his reign does not last long because it can get boring at times.

    Keys to The Kingdom

    Anything between now and the World Tag League is going to shape the rest of the WrestleKingdom 15 card. From the convoluted double belt scenario to a match between brothers to finding the best Jr. Heavyweight wrestler, there's still a lot to be discovered on the road to WrestleKingdom 15.

    What did you think of New Japan's Power Struggle show? What other matches do you think will be added to the WrestleKingdom 15 card? Share your thoughts below!


    Photos & screenshots from NJPW1972.com and the NJPW English YouTube Page

    Steven Tan (@steviesaidyup) works for an e-commerce company by day and operates The Geeky Juans podcast and blog by night. He's a fan of the Anaheim Ducks hockey team, comic books, and the Moomin franchise. You can find more of his geeky thoughts on Twitter.

    • Blogger Comments
    • Facebook Comments
    Item Reviewed: #CafePuro: NJPW Power Struggle Fallout Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Steven Maxwell Tan
    Scroll to Top