Following the conclusion of this year’s G1 Climax, New Japan Pro Wrestling announced the full card for the last major stop to Wrestle Kingdom 15, Power Struggle.
This year’s New Japan Pro Wrestling Power Struggle show features six matches that will surely set the pace heading into Best of the Super Juniors, World Tag League and Wrestle Kingdom 15 events. Coming right off the heels of the G1 Climax, nearly every match on the Power Struggle card has championship implications, whether for a championship or challenger rights.
Here are predictions for all the matches set to take place on November 7th in Osaka:
1. Toru Yano vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – KOPW Provisional Championship
Toru Yano’s G1 performance started off hot with three consecutive wins against finalist Sanada, and two ex-IWGP Heavyweight Champions in Hiroshi Tanahashi and Evil respectively. However, Yano’s surprising start tapered off with six straight losses to conclude the tournament, one of them coming at the hands of Zack Sabre Jr.
Sabre Jr.—former New Japan Cup winner and 1/2 of the current IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions—will also have the opportunity to become 1/3 of the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Champions on October 23rd. With Sabre having already bested Yano once, momentum is on the technical wizard’s side.
The x-factor in this particular match however is that the rules are up to the Provisional champion Yano to decide. Considering his reputation for pulling off victories against even the biggest of New Japan names by any means necessary, it’s difficult not to favor Yano in a match where he decides the stipulations.
Winner: Toru Yano
2. Minoru Suzuki vs. Shingo Takagi – NEVER Openweight Championship
The NEVER Openweight Championship has been contested in some of New Japan’s most hard-hitting matches over the last decade. There’s arguably no two men who fit the bill to fight over the title more than Minoru Suzuki and Shingo Takagi.
After defeating then-champion Hirooki Goto to claim his first singles title in New Japan, Takagi reigned as NEVER Openweight Champion for six months until losing it to current champion Minoru Suzuki.
Neither man was able to finish Block A as the points leader to clinch a G1 Finals spot but not before Takagi defeated Suzuki in non-title tournament action. By virtue of Takagi’s victory, he has a shot to become a two-time champion at Power Struggle.
This could go either way but with Takagi having bested Suzuki very recently and needing to continue establishing himself among the heavyweights, it’s his match to lose.
Winner: Shingo Takagi
3. Kazuchika Okada vs. The Great-O-Khan
Assists from Bea Priestly and The Great-O-Khan netted Will Ospreay the biggest win of his New Japan tenure against Kazuchika Okada, while also serving as the genesis of The Empire.
Ospreay’s defection from Chaos foreshadows a rematch between himself and Okada on either night of Wrestle Kingdom 15, but Okada must first face the former Tomoyuki Oka.
The Great-O-Khan is fresh off of excursion in RevPro Wrestling—currently 1/2 of the RevPro Tag Team Champions—which explains the allegiance to Will Ospreay and immediately finds himself with the opportunity to shock everyone by defeating “The Rainmaker”.
Given Okada’s undisputed position as New Japan’s ace against a recent returnee, this is almost certainly going to go the five-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion’s way and give him an edge heading into Wrestle Kingdom against Ospreay.
Winner: Kazuchika Okada
4. KENTA vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Rights Certificate
After setting the record for points in 2018’s G1 Climax and winning that year’s tournament, Hiroshi Tanahashi has finished with four wins and five losses in 2019 and 2020’s edition of the G1. Despite the sizable slip in win-loss percentage, Tanahashi managed to overcome a briefcase shot to the skull and submit KENTA on Night 10.
KENTA finished slightly above Tanahashi in the tournament with five wins and four losses, one major victory coming via roll-up against IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Tetsuya Naito. The aforementioned Tanahashi now stands in KENTA’s way of a guaranteed Wrestle Kingdom match against current US Champion, Jon Moxley.
Both men are tied at one win apiece in singles competition with KENTA getting the first win over Tanahashi in his New Japan singles debut last summer. Tanahashi’s reputation as a New Japan legend is solidified but no Championship Certificate holder has ever lost their title shot en route to Wrestle Kingdom. KENTA and Hiroshi Tanahashi will most likely continue the streak in favor of the reigning certificate holder.
5. Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White – IWGP Heavyweight + Intercontinental Championship Rights Certificate
Kota Ibushi joined Masahiro Chono and Hiroyoshi Tenzan as the only men in New Japan Pro Wrestling history to win consecutive G1 Climax tournaments and potentially punch his ticket to the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 15.
Kota Ibushi was in a similar position the previous year and came up completely empty as a result of a Night One loss to Kazuchika Okada and a Night Two loss against his upcoming Power Struggle opponent, Jay White.
A victory over Kota Ibushi in this year’s G1 per tradition means Jay White has the right to challenge and replace Ibushi for a shot at both the IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championship. Jay White has proven his worth among New Japan’s elite over the last year and a victory would throw a wrench into Kota Ibushi’s redemption story.
Evident from Naito’s journey to double champion, New Japan likes playing the long game more often than not. As mentioned however, every previous Championship Rights holder made it to Wrestle Kingdom as the unquestioned challenger and the story arc of Kota Ibushi winning it all a year after suffering two crushing Wrestle Kingdom defeats is too enticing to pass up.
Winner: Kota Ibushi
6. Tetsuya Naito vs. EVIL – IGWP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championship
EVIL’s shocking betrayal of Tetsuya Naito to join Bullet Club was arguably the most shocking story in New Japan this year until it was usurped by EVIL defeating Naito to win the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championship.
Under the guidance of Dick Togo, EVIL successfully defended both titles against former Los Ingobernables de Japon stablemate Hiromu Takahashi before having his reign cut short at the hands of Naito in a rematch.
In the G1 tournament, EVIL started at 1-2 with losses against Toru Yano and Zack Sabre Jr. He managed to turn his fortunes around later in the tournament winning six straight matches, one being against reigning double champion Naito. A loss to SANADA in the last night of B Block action cost EVIL a spot in the Finals but the Naito win gives him the chance to go to his first Wrestle Kingdom main event as the champion rather than the challenger.
EVIL has a knack for shockers this year but the path to Wrestle Kingdom probably isn’t going to stray away from Naito going in as champion. Factor in that the Intercontinental Championship has never changed hands at Power Struggle and the Heavyweight Title hadn’t even been defended on the show the last seven years, expect Naito to solidify his path to the Wrestle Kingdom main event.
Winner: Tetsuya Naito