NJPW: Preview of the upcoming Power Struggle 2021 show

TOKYO, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 14: Shingo Takagi looks on during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling 'Road to Castle Attack' at Korakuen Hall on February 14, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 14: Shingo Takagi looks on during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling 'Road to Castle Attack' at Korakuen Hall on February 14, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images) /

This year’s Power Struggle event comes to us from Osaka’s Edion Arena on Saturday, Nov. 6. It’s a big step in a positive direction for NJPW as well, as with Covid-19 restrictions being slowly relaxed, this means New Japan have been able to extend finishing times.

As such, Saturday’s big show will have nine matches. With a more traditional NJPW-looking card and some huge title matches with Wrestle Kingdom implications, Power Struggle is looking like a can’t-miss show!

Complete card for NJPW Power Struggle 2021.

*Kosei Fujita & Ryohei Oiwa v [Suzuki-gun] DOUKI & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

*Tiger Mask, Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe v [Bullet Club] Jado, Gedo & Tanga Loa

*Master Wato, Ryusuke Taguchi & Yuji Nagata v [LIJ] BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi & SANADA

*[CHAOS] YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto (c) v [Bullet Club] SHO, Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL (NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Championship)

*[CHAOS] Toru Yano (c) v [United Empire] Great-O-Khan (Amateur Wrestling match/Provisional KOPW2021)

*[CHAOS] Robbie Eagles (c) v [Suzuki-gun] El Desperado (IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship)

*Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) v [Bullet Club] KENTA (IWGP US Heavyweight Championship)

*[CHAOS] Kazuchika Okada v [Bullet Club] Tama Tonga (Tokyo Dome Right to Challenge Contract)

*[LIJ] Shingo Takagi (c) v [Suzuki-gun] Zack Sabre Jr. (IWGP World Heavyweight Championship)

NJPW, SHO (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto (c) v SHO, Yujiro Takahashi & Evil (NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Championship)

At the G1 Climax Final, these two teams battled it out in a non-title match. Unsurprisingly, Yujiro Takahashi’s cane and Dick Togo found themselves mixed in the action, allowing EVIL to hit Everything is Evil for the pinfall and, thus, the title shot at Power Struggle.

This is a big match for the Bullet Club trio. At Wrestle Grand Slam in MetLife Dome, we saw the birth of the House of Torture sub-stable within Bullet Club as EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi and Dick Togo would come to the assistance of SHO during his battle with former Roppongi 3K partner; YOH.

Since then, though, success hasn’t been that forthcoming. Despite plenty of outside help, EVIL was still defeated in the main event at MetLife Dome against Shingo Takagi and both Yujiro and EVIL wouldn’t progress to the G1 final.

For the CHAOS trio, this match could be a significant milestone. They won the titles over a year ago, having won a tournament for the vacant titles (after EVIL vacated them, having turned his back on LIJ at Dominion in 2020). A successful title defence on Saturday will take the CHAOS team to 10 successful title defences and yet another record for the greatest NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Champions of all time.

Toru Yano (c) v Great-O-Khan (Amateur Wrestling match/Provisional KOPW2021)

The “Sublime Master Thief’s” most prized possession is under huge threat, as the enforcer of the United Empire is gunning, not only for Yano’s KOPW trophy, but Yano’s head, too. The two met in the New Japan Cup way back in the spring where Yano would tie Khan’s hair to the railings forcing Khan to cut his own hair. He would remind Yano of this as he beat the hell the KOPW2021 holder during the G1 Climax.

The two were decorated amateur wrestlers during their college years, but Khan is so determined to humiliate Yano by having him kiss his feet that these were the two options fans had to vote on for the match stipulations. Yano’s choice, an amateur wrestling match, won out. But this is Yano, so expect shenanigans and probably a few pairs of handcuffs.

This is probably the penultimate Provisional KOPW2021 match of the year. I expect one more match, probably during one of Korakuen Hall’s Road to Tokyo Dome shows in December.  Can Toru Yano survive two more matches and become the KOPW2021 champion to go with his KOPW2020 title?

Robbie Eagles (c) v El Desperado (IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship)

What a second half to 2021 Robbie Eagles has had! Due to Covid-19, he hadn’t been seen since prior to New Japan’s spring shutdown in 2020 before returning to challenge El Desperado at July 2021’s Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo Dome show.

Eagles shocked the world by tapping out Despe in a great match. Eagles would carry on that momentum with an even bigger upset; defeating the biggest star in the division, Hiromu Takahashi, also by submission at Wrestle Grand Slam in MetLife Dome.

El Desperado would come out and challenge Robbie Eagles to a rematch for the title, however, Eagles has his own proposal. He would give Despe a shot at the title provided Desperado and Kanemaru would put their IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship on the line again Robbie Eagles and his Flying Tiger partner; Tiger Mask. The match went down at the final Korakuen Hall show on the Road to Power Struggle with Flying Tiger winning the titles in an emotional main event.

So, El Desperado made the big gamble. He’s now without a title while Eagles is now a double champion. Whatever the result on Saturday the winner will not only be crowned champion but have the honour of holding the title going into the Best of the Super Juniors tournament.

NJPW, Hiroshi Tanahashi
NJPW, Hiroshi Tanahashi (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) v KENTA (IWGP US Heavyweight Championship)

During the G1 Climax, Hiroshi Tanahashi would suffer one of the great tournament upsets when Chase Owens beat him clean with a Package Piledriver. Immediately, Bullet Club’s “Crown Jewel” grabbed the US title and made his intentions to challenge Tanahashi known.

At the Nippon Budokan on G1 finals night, Owens would pick up the win for Bullet Club by pinning Tanahashi’s partner, Tomoaki Honma, in a multi-man tag team match. KENTA, however, would grab the US title belt and goad Tanahashi with it, resulting in a brief tug of war between the two Bullet Club stablemates. Owens agreed to let KENTA have the first shot as long as he got the next match.

So, the match was made for Power Struggle. Although a bit thrown together, Tana and KENTA have some previous history, with KENTA beating Tanahashi upon his arrival in NJPW during the 2019 G1 Climax. KENTA also spent most of 2020 and 2021 chasing John Moxley for the US title, even attacking “Death Rider” on an episode of AEW Dynamite. KENTA would lose the eventual title match against Mox on an episode of NJPW Strong.

With Chase Owens, John Moxley and the man Tanahashi beat for the title, Lance Archer, all waiting in the wings, the winner at Power Struggle has a hard task over the next few months.

Kazuchika Okada v Tama Tonga (Tokyo Dome Right to Challenge Contract)

The “Rainmaker” almost ran the table during the G1 Climax this year. He went 9-1 including beating reigning two-time defending champion Kota Ibushi in the aborted final. His one loss was on the penultimate night of block action when Tama Tonga hit the Gun Stun and got the biggest singles win of his career.

As such, the “Good Bad Guy” of Bullet Club is the man who stands between Okada and a main event spot at Wrestle Kingdom. Beating Okada during the G1 was a massive achievement, but can Tonga actually take away Okada’s IWGP World Heavyweight Championship shot at Tokyo Dome or is it a step too far?

Well, last year at Power Struggle, Jay White became the first man to challenge the G1 Climax winner for the Right to Challenge Contract and actually get the win. For Tama Tonga, though, this would be a huge step up for the predominant tag team wrestler. A win on Saturday for Tonga would rank up there with the Rainmaker Shock, when Kazuchika Okada returned from excursion back in 2012 and defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, as far as massive upsets go.

In the build-up to the match, Okada brought back the IWGP Heavyweight Championship belt out of retirement to symbolise the Right to Challenge Contract, reminding people how synonymous the “Rainmaker” is with that legendary belt. Okada is expected to successfully defend the contract and go to Tokyo Dome, but you never know.

NJPW, Shingo Takagi (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
NJPW, Shingo Takagi (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

Shingo Takagi (c) v Zack Sabre Jr. (IWGP World Heavyweight Championship)

As the last major one night show before Wrestle Kingdom in January, we fully expect to know the main event for at least one of the three nights of the biggest show of the year (Jan. 4 and 5 coming from Tokyo Dome and Jan. 8 being the first Wrestle Kingdom show outside Tokyo Dome, coming from the Yokohama Arena). Shingo Takagi’s final defence of the year comes against the man who tapped him out during the G1 Climax: Zack Sabre Jr.

ZSJ went on a tear during the tournament, only missing out on the final night after a shock defeat to Tanga Loa. He also put LIJ leader Tetsuya Naito out of action with a knee injury for months by injuring his knee at the Edion Arena on opening night in Osaka. As such, this match is personal, with Takagi not only defending the title and trying to get his win back but also trying to gain a bit of revenge for injuring his partner.

This is a tough call. Takagi deserves the opportunity to go to Tokyo Dome with the title, as he’s been so consistent since NJPW came back from its self-imposed Spring 2020 shutdown, eventually beating Okada for the then-vacant IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at Dominion.

By the same token, ZSJ was the one gaijin who stayed behind in Japan during the shutdown and NJPW obviously see big things in the talented British grappler who might well be the best technical wrestler in the world right now.

Next. New Japan: Kota Ibushi’s disastrous 2021. dark

Will “The Dragon” get revenge on “The Submission Master” or will ZSJ take Shingo’s title and head to Wrestle Kingdom and become the first Englishman to main event NJPW’s biggest show of the year?