This Saturday, the 31st of August 2019, three different wrestling companies simultaneously put on shows: WWE NXT UK Takeover: Cardiff, AEW All Out & NJPW’s first independently ran UK show, Royal Quest.
However, the first two mean nothing to this article, we have covered those elsewhere [insert hyperlinks for those two articles], this article is all about NJPW. Emanating from the Copperbox Arena in Stratford, the stars of the biggest Japanese company come over to entertain us Brits with the hard-hitting style we all know and love. I will be previewing each match and what you can expect to see, if you’re there live, like me and some of the other TWM writers, or whether you’re watching it on FITE TV or NJPW World. Eight matches have been announced for this show, mainly multi-man matches with a couple of ridiculously exciting singles matches. Let’s get into it!
Ryusuke Taguchi, Shota Umino & Ren Narita vs Roppongi 3K (Sho, Yoh & Rocky Romero)
A collection of three competitors to go against Roppoingi 3K, including Jon Moxley’s protégé, I believe are up against it. They haven’t teamed together nearly enough compared to their opponents, as well as that Umino and Narita are still relatively new to the industry as they both debuted in 2017. However, they are teaming with an absolute veteran in Taguchi who could teach and mould them to victory. Sho & Yoh are possibly two of the best junior heavyweights they have, and when they’re teamed with Romero makes them an absolutely quality tandem. We can expect an opening match that will be in fifth gear straight away, hyping up the fans and setting up the action for the night.
Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson vs Yujiro Takahashi & Hikuleo (Bullet Club)
The winner of the G1 Climax tagging with the former IWGP US Heavyweight Champion makes an exciting tag team, as well as an extremely strong one. Going against two of the lesser known, and possibly weaker in the kayfabe sense, Yujiro Takahashi and Hikuleo. Yujiro recently turned on the ELITE and realigned with the new BC, and has also been part of a team with Chase Owens. I can believe that this match will be an absolutely brilliant middle of the card match in order to make Kota look as strong as they possibly can. NJPW also want Juice to be shown to be as strong as possible to maybe return to the US Title picture and attempt to dethrone the current holder, Jon Moxley. Using two opponents in Takahashi and Hikuleo to take the L, they are two wrestlers that if they do lose, it really won’t affect them due to their place in the company.
Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles (Chaos) vs Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo (Bullet Club)
The one match that caught my eye, and yes, it’s because it involved Will Ospreay. It does involve some other wrestlers too, as Ospreay teams with the newest Chaos member and former enemy of his, Robbie Eagles, going up against the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. There are two main back stories to this match; Robbie Eagles facing the man he turned on in June, El Phantasmo, and his quest to defeat Opsreay and become the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. You can expect this match to be fast paced, flippy and in my opinion, the match of the night. Eagles has something to prove, that he made the right decision to leave Bullet Club and to show his former teammates that he doesn’t need them. ELP needs to prove he is a viable challenger for Ospreay’s title, and Ospreay just needs to do his thing. There is Taiji Ishimori in there too, but he doesn’t really have a storyline with the other three members of this match, he is just an absolutely brilliant wrestler who will add some incredible offence to this match.
Tetsuya Naito & Sanada (Los Ingobernables de Japon) vs Jay White & Chase Owens (Bullet Club)
Another tag team match with an intertwining story line as LIJ goes head to head to BC and the IWGP Intercontinental Champion is in action against an extremely credible challenger, Jay White. Their respective tag team partners, Sanada & Chase Owens, usually team with their own partners but they have kind of been thrown into this match to set up a future IWGP Intercontinental Title match between Naito and White. I’m not against it, that would be a brilliant title match and this tag match would 100% sew these seeds if Jay White pins Naito. Naito has held the title for a long time and did spend the G1 saying he wanted to be double champ, so I can see this feud being set up to put Naito in the main event scene after Wrestle Kingdom. Another tag team match you can expect to be thrilling, but somewhat slower paced.
Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (G.O.D) vs RPW’s Road to Royal Quest Tournament Winners) – IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
The night before Royal Quest, RevPro are hosting the finals of a tag tournament they ran to determine the challengers to the Guerrillas of Destiny. The teams in the finals are Aussie Open, consisting of Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis, against Sha Samuels and Josh Bodom. Unless RPW and NJPW have some convoluted plan, I think it’s clear that Aussie Open will be going against the GOD. If Aussie Open were to win and face GOD, it would be extremely well deserved and a very hard-fought match. However, we know how good GOD are and they have had the IWGP Tag Titles on lock for a very long time. No matter who comes up against Tama and Tanga, I can’t see them being dethroned.
Tomohiro Ishii vs KENTA – NEVER Openweight Championship
What a hard-hitting match this is going to be! The ‘Stone Pitbull’ vs the newest Bullet Club member will just be full of stiff strikes, loud chops and hard kicks. Ishii has been a constant in the Openweight Title picture, but I think it’s time from him to move on, similarly to Naito. Kenta would excel in this division as he can have an incredible match with anyone, bigger or smaller competitors. Since his return to Japan, his stock has been on the up and up and we knew he was going to get a title shot at some point soon, and he has one! I’m not discounting the ability of Ishii, as he is possibly one of the most underrated superstars on their roster, but the momentum of KENTA will carry him to victory.
Zack Sabre Jr. vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – British Heavyweight Championship
The penultimate match of the show pitting a hometown boy against the ‘Ace of NJPW’ in an interesting clash of styles. I know that both Tanahashi and ZSJ are fantastic competitors and will complement each other’s styles incredibly well. There has been Japanese holders of the RPW British Heavyweight Championship in the past, most notably Ishii and Minoru Suzuki. However, I can’t see Zack dropping the title due to his stature in the company as the only three-time holder and the most combined days as champion, at 933 and counting.
Kazuchika Okada vs Minoru Suzuki – IWGP Heavyweight Championship
And now, we have the main event as the leader of Chaos goes up against the leader of Suzuki-Gun. Okada has been built as one of, if not the, most dominant champion in NJPW history and that reign will continue until at least Wrestle Kingdom. During the G1, he lost to the eventual winner and would make sense to have them two go at it again at WK14. Despite this, you can’t overlook Suzuki as a challenger because he is another member of their roster who seems unbelievably over despite not always being in the most prominent position on the card. It’s another match that has incredible range of styles, Okada has the flashier style against Suzuki with the hard-hitting mat offence. I do believe they will compliment each other perfectly, to create a fantastic main event and a way to send all the fans home happy with an Okada win, continuing his reign until January where I do believe that Kota Ibushi will dethrone ‘The Rainmaker’.
An exciting day of wrestling, whether you’re there in the Copperbox Arena live, or whether you’re watching it on FITE TV or NJPW World, the show will be guaranteed to be a barn burner and a good competitor going against the two other shows on the same day. The first sole NJPW show in the UK, and hopefully the first of many.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @EvanGomes_. Thanks for reading!