One of the most exciting things about FanFyte being FanFyte is that we can now finally cover my favorite major wrestling promotion in the world: New Japan Pro Wrestling. New Japan boasts excellent matches, great crowds, and performers who combine ability, hotness, distinct aesthetics and unique character work. Since this is my very first New Japan article for FanFyte, I decided to throw in some info on who all of these people are as well as my usual match context and predictions. This is a newbie friendly post, is what I’m saying.
Match One: Ryusuke Taguchi, SHO & YOH vs El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Douki
SHO and YOH are basically a two man boy band tag team. They have a sexy photobook of pictures where they undress together and an interview that explains that one of them (SHO) is a sadist and the other (YOH) is a masochist. This is branding. This is character work. This is how to appeal to an audience I want to be a part of. Taguchi was the 69th ever IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and he has an incredibly powerful butt. He is also a coach. Again, excellent character work. They aren’t usually a team, but they will be on Monday.
The team of bad guys are all from a stable called Suzuki-Gun, where they are into violence and being bad! El Desperado is kind of like if a mariachi died and became a goth skeleton, but is Japanese. Kanemaru is a sleazy drunk who spits whiskey in people’s eyes. Douki is their cool friend who has a pipe and one very spooky eye.
Prediction: Everyone in this match has a lot to prove, with El Desperado coming back from injury and SHO and YOH in the middle of transitioning into the heavyweight division. But I think the use of shenanigans will come in handy here and give team Suzuki-Gun the victory.
Match Two: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomoaki Honma vs Togi Makabe & Toru Yano
Hiroshi Tanahashi is often called the John Cena of New Japan, but that really fails to capture anything about his vibe. Imagine if All Might was a MILF. That’s kind of Hiroshi Tanahashi’s vibe. Tanahashi’s body may be falling apart due to overuse (just like All Might), but he doesn’t let that stop him from being incredibly charming, entertaining and just… sparkly. Looking at him boosts your serotonin. I don’t make the rules. His partner, Tomoaki Honma, is kind of an overcooked sweet potato of a man, if an overcooked sweet potato had a weird gravel voice and was pretty bad at wrestling.
On the other side, we have Togi Makabe, the “unchained gorilla,” a pretty boring wrestler these days who is very popular with the fans. His partner, Toru Yano, is one of the great comedy wrestlers of the 21st century. Yano always has at least five hustles going, is cowardly, loves to cheat, and is an all-around S-tier scamp. Some people cheat and that makes them bad. Yano cheats and it makes him beloved by all. We stan a mischievous king.
Prediction: This is the last match of Hiroshi Tanahashi’s week-long 20 years of wrestling anniversary celebration. Tana’s got this one on lock.
Match Three: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI) vs Suzuki-Gun (Zack Sabre Jr, Lance Archer & Taichi)
Los Ingobernables de Japon (LIJ) and Suzuki-Gun are both factions made up of dudes you might meet in high school detention. The main difference is LIJ are in detention for smoking weed and writing “school sucks” in sharpie on a wall, while Suzuki-Gun are in detention for committing arson.
Tetsuya Naito and Shingo Takagi both have had a pretty rough time of things over the last few months, but are clearly hoping to bounce back here. Zack Sabre Jr, a socialist vegan who advocates cruelty to human beings as a viable replacement for harming animals, will surely be looking to tap out his old rival Naito. Similarly, Lance Archer, who arguably had the most hot girl summer of any competitor in this year’s G1, will be looking to maintain his rise.
Prediction: Sorry to the LIJ faithful, but look at that team of stallions!! Suzuki-Gun all the way.
Match Four: CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) vs Bullet Club (Jay White, KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi)
CHAOS is the faction founded by Shinsuke Nakamura that now consists (mostly) of stylish good guys. They’re the hot, popular jocks (and also YOSHI-HASHI). Hirooki Goto is a lawful DILF with his eye on the Intercontinental Championship. Tomohiro Ishii, the Stone Pitbull, is a compact, neckless badass looking to regain his NEVER Openweight Championship. And again, there’s YOSHI-HASHI, a dude who has never won anything in his life. He’s just trying his hardest!
The other side is made up of Bullet Club guys. Yup, that Bullet Club. The faction whose t-shirts once ruled the world of unwashed smarks is now being led by this welcome to the black parade looking clown Jay White. He’s the IWGP Intercontinental Champion, he’s from New Zealand, he loves cheating, and he’s just an all-around shithead. His friend KENTA, the current NEVER Openweight Champion, is also an all-around shithead. First he betrayed Pro Wrestling NOAH and then he betrayed his old friend Shibata. Wow! Yujiro Takahashi? Also a shithead. As the leader and sole member of the Tokyo Pimps, he has maybe the worst gimmick in the whole company.
Prediction: Hirooki Goto pins Yujiro Takahashi in spite of attempted interference from Jay White’s manager and former CHAOS member Gedo.
Match Five: Jushin Thunder Liger vs Minoru Suzuki
This one is lore heavy, so bear with me. Way back in 2002, the trailblazing junior heavyweight Jushin Thunder Liger lost his one and only MMA match against the trailblazing badass Minoru Suzuki in Suzuki’s MMA-wrestling hybrid company Pancrase. At the time, Liger promised he would return for a rematch. That rematch never happened. This year, after Liger announced his retirement was scheduled for January 2020, Suzuki’s rage was awakened, and he’s pretty much been hounding his fellow legend for a fight ever since. Finally in September, after months of harassment, Liger removed his mask to reveal the ghoulish painted face of his shadow self. Then he tried to stab Suzuki. Oops! Now, Suzuki has to face off with the murderous Kishin Liger himself. Be careful what you wish for, Suzuki-senshu!
tl;dr: Two men in their 50s are going to go hog wild on each other, one of them wearing spooky facepaint.
Prediction: Either this ends in a Double DQ because they get too rowdy or Liger wins. Really hoping for that DQ though.
Match Six: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay (c) vs El Phantasmo
Will Ospreay has had quite a 2019. Between competing in both the junior and heavyweight divisions in New Japan, announcing that he is now a “sex pig,” and having a fun nude bathtime with his CHAOS brethren, he’s been a busy boy! El Phantasmo, literally a piece of sad boiled chicken meat sculpted into the shape of an unappealing man, has also had a big year. He debuted in New Japan, joined the Bullet Club, won the Super J Cup, and then decided the coolest way to get heel heat was to make an autism joke. What a guy!
Honestly, I don’t care about these dudes at all. New Japan’s Junior Heavyweight Division has been on a steady decline since Hiromu Takahashi’s injury back in July 2018. I don’t understand why New Japan grabbed El P from Rev Pro instead of one of the many excellent juniors currently working for their US partner Ring of Honor (Bandido, Hot Sauce Tracy Williams, and Jonathan Gresham, to name a few). But if you like unappealing white guys, this is the match for you.
Prediction: El Phantasmo continues his winning streak against Ospreay, I continue to not care about the division.
Match Seven: IWGP US Championship: Jon Moxley (c) vs Juice Robinson
Now we’re talking! Jon Moxley is fun in AEW and all, but he really glows in a New Japan ring. He beat Juice Robinson for the United States Championship in a killer match back in June, but Juice has had his eye on getting it back ever since. If you’re unfamiliar with Juice Robinson, his character is usually something like a really hot construction worker who goes to music festivals on the weekends. When it comes to Jon Moxley and the US Championship, though, Robinson is focused enough to put his usual fun vibes aside. He beat Moxley over the summer in the G1 Climax tournament, earning him this match, which Moxley only agreed to under one condition: no disqualifications.
Prediction: As much as I love Juice Robinson, this match stipulation was made for Jon Moxley. I think Mox wins.
Match Eight: Tokyo Dome Contract: Kota Ibushi (c) vs EVIL
As discussed in-depth when I made an appearance on Late Lunch, Kota Ibushi, hypebeast dumbass angel, won this years G1 Climax and will main event Wrestle Kingdom in January. The G1 is a round robin tournament, which means someone can win it even after losing matches. This summer, Kota Ibushi lost two tournament matches: one against KENTA, and one against EVIL. Traditionally whoever manages victories over the eventual tournament winner gets to challenge that winner for their Tokyo Dome match contract. KENTA tried and failed to vanquish the Golden Star in September, so now it’s EVIL’s turn.
EVIL, for the uninitiated, is a member of Los Ingobernables de Japon and looks like a Halloween store that got upgrades from the classic MTV series Pimp My Ride. EVIL dresses like the grim reaper, has a sick scythe, cool laser hands, a sexy undercut, and is, most importantly, more or less always a good guy. EVIL’s catchphrases, “THIS is EVIL. EVERYTHING is EVIL,” and “WELCOME TO THE DARKNESS WORLD” are perhaps the catchiest of anyone in the company. He is beloved by all.
Prediction: No one has ever beaten the G1 Climax winner for their contract. As much as it pains me to say it, I don’t think even the spooky month of October will be enough to give EVIL the power he needs to overcome those odds. Kota Ibushi wins.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs SANADA
Finally, our main event. Kazuchika Okada (CHAOS) is arguably the best wrestler in the world. Okada is the definitive champion of late 2010s New Japan. He’s fast, athletic, charismatic, incredibly versatile, married to one of the Love Lives, tall, drives a fancy car, excellent at fishing, funny, likes boats, and a guy we all want to be friends with. He’s not very cute in this picture, but he’s very cute actually. This picture is messed up. Anyways, he’s the champion.
The challenger, SANADA (Los Ingobernables de Japon), defeated Okada in the G1 Climax tournament and earned an opportunity to challenge for the championship. SANADA is a cool quiet type. He’s more interested in seeing how outlandishly he can dress while still looking insanely hot than he is in things like renting boats or speaking. He is also tremendously athletic, fast, smooth, and beautiful at wrestling. Some people say he’s “boring,” but those people are wrong, and they’re also dead to me.
This will be SANADA’s third time challenging Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. New Japan is in something of a pickle here. They have three heavyweight singles championships, none of which change hands with very much regularity, not much going on in the way of tag team storylines, and a suddenly very competitive world of wrestling companies looking to sign talent. SANADA is a tremendous performer, and New Japan doesn’t seem to have much to give him to do.
Prediction: I’m hoping we get to see SANADA put Okada in the Paradise Lock, but I don’t think his chances are very good for defeating the Rainmaker on Monday. I see Okada retaining, but does that mean we’re looking at yet another Wrestle Kingdom of SANADA and EVIL beating GoD for the tag titles no one cares about? Woof.