Wrestling Review: NJPW Power Struggle (2019)

The winners of the 2019 Super Jr. Tag League will be crowned, and three other championships will be decided, as New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) presents Power Struggle. The IWGP Intercontinental Championship will be on the line as the Bullet Club’s commander, Jay White, defends his title against Hirooki Goto, following Goto’s shock win over White in the G1 Climax. The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship will also be defended, as Will Ospreay looks to claim yet another scalp in what he feels is his division as he faces BUSHI, of the Los Ingobernables de Japon faction. Two of NJPW’s heaviest hitters will go to war one more time as Tomohiro Ishii challenges for KENTA’s NEVER Openweight Championship. All three of these huge title matches, as well as the aforementioned Super Jr Tag League final, a grudge match and several tag team matches at NJPW Power Struggle.

+ Jay White (c) vs Hirooki Goto (IWGP Intercontinental Championship): for Goto, this was the definition of ‘eat three to give one in return’, and boy howdy was he laying them in stiff. White is such a good jerk that even I can’t bring myself to like him, in the way I do ELP or KENTA (hey, those Bullet Club guys are assholes). I can’t say I expected to be surprised by much in this match itself, but it was so captivating, with a lot of interesting additions that kept me second guessing everything I thought would happen
+ Will Ospreay (c) vs BUSHI (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship): this one did take a little bit to get me into it, but by the time Ospreay and BUSHI locked lips, I was hooked (yes, you read that right). There were a huge number of twists and turns in this match, which continued well after the final bell rang, and it has added a whole new layer of intrigue to the Junior Heavyweight division
+ KENTA (c) vs Tomohiro Ishii (NEVER Openweight Championship): god almighty, this was the match I was waiting for and it delivered in every way possible. The match from the UK show had to be judged according to the concussion KENTA got, but this match had no such problem. I loved every second of this
+ Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL, SANADA, & Shingo Takagi) vs Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer, & Zack Sabre Jr.): every single variation of a one-on-one match inside the larger three on three here was fantastic, particularly EVIL/Suzuki, EVIL/Archer and Takagi/Suzuki. I was literally welling up with tears when Suzuki and Shingo started trading strikes. This was great, and it really woke up the crowd
+ CHAOS (Robbie Eagles & Rocky Romero) vs Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori): this Bullet Club team is one of my favourite duos going at the moment, but all four of the competitors in this match were and are unbelievably good. Its a shame the crowd was so quiet, especially for a bonkers Phantasmo rope walk

Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) (Super Jr. Tag League 2019 Final): I enjoyed this, as I would in almost any match up between these two teams, but I can’t say it was the best match between the two teams. They have good chemistry, and I am always a Despy fan, but something about this never felt like it got into third gear before a relatively lackluster ending. Shenanigans are always intriguing, though, but with Wrestle Kingdom looming, things often head down the standard path
Tetsuya Naito vs Taichi: this was fine, but no matter how hard commentary tried to make this into something special or perhaps something with longstanding consequences, I never felt it. These two have had a couple of great matches of late, but this one never clicked for me. And dammit, Naito, please stop nearly dying on these less-than-special shows, especially against Taichi, and ESPECIALLY when you’re not even going for a title
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI) vs Kota Ibushi and Hiroshi Tanahashi: this was fine, but one of these four is just not like the others, and that made things a bit too predictable. Okada and Ibushi are incredible, and their match at Wrestle Kingdom is going to be something special to see. There were some post match shenanigans which you may or may not have seen coming, and I am interested but not overly hyped, at least at this point
Jyushin Thunder Liger, Rysuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask & Yuya Uemura vs Titan, Volador Jr, TJP & Clark Connors: Uemura looked fantastic in this match, while the CMLL duo were mostly unused. This was a standard, short, predictable preliminary tag match, but Uemura looked great

> after the main event was one of the most WWE_like, but most enjoyable show-closing promos I’ve seen in NJPW in a very long time, if not ever.
> please, NJPW, stop doing this to me with Shibata. I can’t handle it.

Should you watch this event: Overall, this was a very, very good show. All of the matches listed as positives were must-sees (especially KENTA/Ishii, Ospreay/BUSHI and the LIJ/Suzuki-gun 6-man tag) and even Naito/Taichi and the Tag League final are worth watching for one reason or another. The three and a half hours here flew by, especially as I was enthralled by various post-match HAPPENINGs.

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