Wrestling Review: NJPW Power Struggle (2017)

Four title matches and the finals of the Super Jr. Tag Team Tournament headline New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) Power Struggle event, live from Osaka, Japan. Hiroshi Tanahashi will defend his IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Kota Ibushi, whilst Kenny Omega will defend the IWGP United States Championship agaisnt new heavyweight contender Baretta. The winners of the Super Jr. Tag Team Tournament will be decided between Roppongi 3K, also known as the former Tempura Boyz SHO and YOH, as they face the team of Ryusuke Taguchi and ACH, and Two British stars will go head to head for the IWGP Jur Heavyweight Championship as Marty Scurll faces long time rival and current Will Ospreay. All of this, and a Bullrope Deathmatch between Minoru Suzuki and Toru Yano and many other tag team contests featuring the likes of the Bullet Club, Los Ingobernables de Japon and the IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada. And don’t forget: Switchblade is coming.

Please note: I actually came into this an hour late, because I forgot what time it started, so I only saw from the Super Jr. Tag Tournament final onwards. If I get a chance, I’ll go back and watch the earlier matches and post them here.

+ Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs Kota Ibushi (IWGP Intercontinental Championship): it was hard to pay attention to this match, following the aftermath of the previous Omega/Beretta match, but this was still a god match. The crowd was brought into it late, following a few huge moves from Ibushi before a back and forth strike exchange had me wincing on my couch. An admittedly rather subdued finishing sequence left it as probably the weakest of the main matches, but still a great showing from both men. And then: Switchblade
+ Kenny Omega (c) vs Beretta (IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship): the first half ot his match was just every match you’ve ever seen, but the longer it went the more I found myself getting invested in it. The announcers played up Beretta’s ability to take huge amounts of punishment and it played into this match well. These two had lots of callbacks to their previous run-ins with each other, and hopefully there will be another match in the future. This ended up being really good, with perhaps the most shocking post-match of anything you’ll see all year
+ Will Ospreay (c) vs Marty Scurll (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship): for perhaps the first time on the card, I was not overly looking forward to this match, but unsurprisingly it ended up being pretty damned good. A mid match slap-fight brought the crowd to life, complete with some clear British bantz between the two. Both men pulled out some real old-school moves before a really solid finishing few minutes cemented this as a great showing, with a fantastic and expletive ridden post-match segment
+ Minoru Suzuki (c) vs Toru Yano (Bullrope Deathmatch for the NEVER Openweight Championship): Yano was sporting some of his classic attire, and Suzuki was as hellacious as ever. This was a really good match, with a great build up, without even mentioning their long history, though I am still a bit indifferent on the constant Suzuki-gun interference
+ CHAOS (Gedo, Hirooki Goto, Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito): Ishii and EVIL started this at a blistering pace, and Goto/SANADA matched up perfectly. Takahashi, BUSHI, Gedo and YOSHI-HASHI played interference, before Okada and Naito had some huge spots together. This was another of NJPW’s patented multi man matches which was just as good as you’d expect
+ Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) (w/ Rocky Romero) vs Super 69 (ACH & Ryusuke Taguchi) (Super Jr. Tag Tournament 2017 Finals): damn R3K are good. Since SHO and YOH returned from their excursion they have been on fire, especially since shedding the “Tempura Boyz” name. ACH was “injured” throughout the match, but it never really stopped him from doing his big moves, and Taguchi and his ass were as they always are. This was a good match, with a really good if expected aftermath

Tetsuya Naito (middle) leads the rest of Los Ingobernables de Japon to the ring (from left: Hiromu Takahashi, EVIL, SANADA and BUSHI)

> Okada had not bleached his hair, and he looked so different with the plain black. Sometimes these little things make the biggest differences
> A few more matches have been set for Wrestle Kingdom next year, and holy crap this card is looking stacked

Should you watch this event: As mentioned, I came into this show about an hour late, so I only saw the second half or so of the show, but damn if what I saw wasn’t all fantastic. Four title matches and a tournament final were all well worth watching, with numerous reveals that you absolutely MUST see for yourself. Definitely watch this event.


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