With less than a week to go before New Japan Pro Wrestling presents us King of Pro-Wrestling 2018, we’ve finally got a full card so as always, we’ll list it out and break it down.
King of Pro-Wrestling 2018 (Oct. 8, 4AM Eastern / 1AM Pacific)
- Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask IV vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship)
- Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) vs. Juice Robinson & Toa Henare
- Bullet Club (Chase Owens, Hangman Page, Matt Jackson, & Nick Jackson) vs. Firing Squad (Bad Luck Fale, Taiji Ishimori, Tama Tonga, & Tanga Loa)
- Chaos (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, & Will Ospreay) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, & Takashi Iizuka)
- Chaos (Kazuchika Okada, SHO, Toru Yano, & YOH) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, SANADA, Tetsuya Naito, & ???)
- EVIL vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.
- KUSHIDA vs. Marty Scurll (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Tournament Finals)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. “Switchblade” Jay White (G1 Climax 28 Winner’s Contract)
- Cody Rhodes vs. Kenny Omega (c) vs. Kota Ibushi (IWGP Heavyweight Championship)
So joining our previously confirmed IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship tournament finals and triple threat for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, we’ve got a lot of stuff to break down, some of it expected, and some of it very intriguing.
Let’s start with the expected stuff— EVIL and Zack Sabre, Jr. have been going after each other viciously in tag team matches all month, so their singles showdown is very welcome even before you get to the idea that it may have implications as to who gets to be Chris Jericho’s first challenger for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
Tanahashi/White III has been a long time coming, and while I wouldn’t bet on a change because Okada/White seems like the match for Wrestle Kingdom 13, Switchblade has grown into himself over the last year and this should be quite good, especially with all this storyline weight hanging on it and Gedo at his side.
Last but not least on this trip, the junior dads get a crack at the tag team titles, and let me tell you I am shockingly excited at the idea of giving Liger and Tiger the titles to safeguard for a few months. The match itself will likely largely be carried by Tiger Dad’s grumpy streak and Desperado’s corner-cutting, but that’s not a bad thing by any means.
Now onto the intriguing side of things... a new member of Los Ingobernables?! Let’s roll the video before we speculate, folks—
“X?!,” I hear you say, “That’s the name Neville’s return to Dragon Gate was billed under!”
Well... no. X is just Japanese for “???” or “luchador sorpresa” or “mystery partner”, and since whoever it is will also be teaming with BUSHI in the annual Super Jr. Tag League tournament and the Man That Gravity Forgot doesn’t seem likely to jump right from one promotion’s junior weight class into another, it’s almost certainly not him.
In case you need convincing, here’s a further argument from occasional NJPW English commentator Chris Charlton (who you should absolutely be following on Twitter for New Japan translation and analysis)—
In all seriousness, a reason I don’t buy PAC is LIJ is the closest knit group in NJPW. Every member has a link to Naito and the group going way back, be it the Hamaguchi Gym or in Hiromu’s case, Naito prepping him for his debut. I think the answer is in one of these guys’ pasts.— chris charlton (@reasonjp) October 2, 2018
So, who might it be? My money’s on Dragon Gate star Shingo Takagi, who just went freelance and was also trained by Naito’s trainer Animal Hamaguchi, thus providing the seemingly-necessary connection. And further, an excellent wrestler who would fit right into LIJ, so I am very here for it if he turns out to be the new pareja.
Other than that, we’ve got a Chaos/SZKG tag that seems very likely to tell us who Taichi’s first challenger for the NEVER Openweight Championship will be (and I continue to pine for the title to be treated like a true openweight title, so I’m pulling for Will Ospreay here), eight man action pitting two Bullet Club teams against each other in the smoldering ash of their civil war, and mean dads Great Bash Heel looking to put a pair of plucky westerners in their place. Not bad, overall!
There you have it, folks
Excited to wake up at butt o’clock to see who’s joining Naito and friends, Cagesiders?