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New Japan Pro Wrestling confirms Tanahashi vs. Omega for Wrestle Kingdom 13, partial card for Power Struggle, and lineup for Super Jr. Tag League

New Japan Pro Wrestling

New Japan Pro Wrestling have dumped a whole boatload of news on us in the aftermath of King of Pro-Wrestling 2018 (for match recommendations, click here), from the lineup and format of this year’s Super Jr. Tag League all the way to our first truly official match for Wrestle Kingdom 13, so let’s list it all out and break it down!

Super Jr. Tag League 2018

  • Chris Sabin & KUSHIDA
  • Firing Squad (Robbie Eagles & Taiji Ishimori)
  • Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask IV
  • Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Shingo Takagi)
  • Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
  • Soberano, Jr. & Volador, Jr.
  • Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
  • Taguchi Japan (ACH & Ryusuke Taguchi)

First off, the interesting thing here is that Super Jr. Tag League has a new format— rather than a single elimination tournament as in years past, this year it will be contested under round robin rules like its big brother World Tag League, albeit with only a single block of competition.

There are no huge surprises in the lineup beyond the new partners announced for both the Firing Squad (Australian indie standout Robbie Eagles) and LIJ (former Dragon Gate star Shingo Takagi) teams at King of Pro Wrestling, but it’s a solid lineup, especially with the return of ACH, the introduction of the parallel universe version of Time Splitters that pairs KUSHIDA with Chris Sabin in lieu of his retired Motor City Machine Guns partner Alex Shelley, and the CMLL team of Soberano and Volador.

The tournament will run matches at every show on the Road to Power Struggle tour, starting on Tuesday, October 16 at Korakuen Hall, and culminating with the finals at Power Struggle itself, and much like the annual Best of the Super Jr., only Korakuen shows (on 10/16, 10/17, 10/26, and 10/27) will be broadcast live and in full, with tournament matches from the rest of the tour uploaded on VOD with about a one-day delay.

And speaking of Power Struggle itself...

Power Struggle (Nov. 3, 4AM Eastern / 1AM Pacific)

  • ??? vs. ??? (Super Jr. Tag League 2018 Tournament Finals)
  • Chaos (Beretta & Kazuchika Okada) vs. Firing Squad (Bad Luck Fale & “Switchblade” Jay White)
  • David Finlay & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi)
  • Taichi (c) vs. Will Ospreay (NEVER Openweight Championship)
  • Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.
  • Chris Jericho (c) vs. EVIL (IWGP Intercontinental Championship)

Obviously matches with junior heavyweights can’t be confirmed until after folks start getting mathematically eliminated from the tournament, but in the meantime we’ve got most of the card and there are some interesting moves here.

The big two spill right out of the abortive EVIL vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. match at King of Pro-Wrestling, ended before it even began when Chris Jericho beat the holy hell out of the King of Darkness such that he couldn’t compete. In our presumptive main event (match cards aren’t fixed in order this early out), EVIL will get his shot at revenge by way of an Intercontinental Championship match, and one that I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being made into a no disqualification match sometime before the show, plus we get another match for one of ZSJ’s absolute best pairings in New Japan to date as he and the Stardust Genius follow up on their brawl.

The NEVER Openweight Championship gets its first chance to live up to its billing since Tomohiro Ishii’s first reign way back in 2014 as junior heavyweight Will Ospreay steps up against Taichi. I don’t expect this to be a barnburner or anything, but Taichi’s been doing solid work as a heavyweight and Ospreay is Ospreay, so it’s a welcome enough addition, especially if it means the NEVER will be a true openweight title going forward.

Plus we’ve got two intriguing undercard tags, as the team of Finlay and Tanahashi give us a little preview of Wrestle Kingdom 13 against the Golden Lovers, and the Switchblade tags with one of his new partners for the first time against the Chaos pairing of Okada and Beretta.

Last but certainly not least...

Wrestle Kingdom 13 (Jan. 4, 3AM Eastern, 12AM Pacific)

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kenny Omega (c) (IWGP Heavyweight Championship)

The defenses are over, and there is no chance of changing the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 13 short of injury or acts of god. It’s official, Kenny Omega will put his IWGP Heavyweight Championship on the line against the Once in a Century Ace, Hiroshi Tanahashi.

It’s already being portrayed as an ideological clash of epic proportions both inside and outside of kayfabe, as Tanahashi stands for tradition, for wrestling as pure sport and a means to its own ends, while Omega is the new generation, a man who sees wrestling as a medium in which to tell stories that are bigger than wrestling itself.

At the Wrestle Kingdom 13 press conference this morning, Hiroshi questioned the merit of three good friends beating each other to a pulp and putting each other through tables, but Kenny’s retort was simple— he and his style of wrestling move the needle.

It’s got shades of Tanahashi’s past wars with Katsuyori Shibata and his long crusade to try and make pro wrestling safer, and a fitting story to cap the biggest show of the year off.

There you have it, folks

A junior tag tournament, most of a card for Power Struggle, and our very first official match for Wrestle Kingdom 13. Excited to follow along here, Cagesiders?

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