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Welcome to the first New Japan Pro Wrestling Prediction column on Social Suplex! We’ve rounded up a panel of New Japan experts and asked for their predictions for the Power Struggle 2018 event. Our Power Struggle 2018 Prediction panel features Amy Oyler (@phoenixnjpw), The “Young Boy” Josh Smith (@kistrongstyle), Wilfred Cintron (@NJPWUS), and Mike Grindle (@MikeGrindle).

Kazuchika Okada and Beretta vs. Jay White and Bad Luck Fale

Amy: I fully expect a lot of subterfuge in this match, and I would not be the least bit surprised if some of the other members of the Bullet Club Cutthroats come out to lay a beatdown on The Rainmaker. This may result in a DQ of the match, or Jay White will end up pummelling Okada at ringside while Fale claims Beretta for the pin. Winner: Jay White and Bad Luck Fale

Young Boy: They’ve been teasing a mole in Chaos for a bit now. I think that plays out here. Whether its Beretta or someone else I’m expecting a Bullet Club victory after shenanigans. Winner: Jay White and Bad Luck Fale

Wilfred: Fale pins Trent as Jay and Okada are messing about outside the ring. Trent is aided by Rocky as we all start to well up and then Rocky clotheslines Trent. Rocky joins the dark side. Winner: Jay White and Bad Luck Fale

Mike: Jay White recently mentioned in an interview that he believes at least one more member of Chaos is going to be turning on Okada and defecting to Bullet Club. It’s hard to say who exactly he is referring to (if it’s not just a bluff that is) but we may well find out here. As for the match itself, I see Okada and Beretta getting the win via DQ after a chaotic ending and another Bullet Club beat down. Winner: Kazuchika Okada and Beretta

Hiroshi Tanahashi and David Finlay vs. Golden Lovers

Amy: Tanahashi and Finlay will have a blast amping up the crowd and playing to the love of The Ace. Tana will continue his approach of trying to convince Ibushi to join Tana’s growing faction of light and glory. Kenny and Kota, however, will cement their unification in the face of torment, and will pull a glorious win out of this match, celebrating their strength in partnership after Finlay takes the fall. Winners: Golden Lovers

Young Boy: This match is about the build to Ace vs Omega, and the philosophical disagreements between the 3 big stars in this match. Any other reason for Finlay to be here other than to eat a Golden Trigger? Winners: Golden Lovers

Wilfred: Golden Lovers win by Kota Ibushi pinning David Finlay. Slight tease during the Road to Power Struggle shows showed Ibushi wanting to challenge Tanahashi. I foresee Tanahashi versus Ibushi at New Beginning. Winners: Golden Lovers

Mike: We’ll see plenty of multi-tag wins traded over the next couple of months between Omega and Tanahashi, but when it comes to 2 on 2 against the Golden Lovers, Tanahashi is going to be constantly outgunned without a big name partner by his side. The Golden Lovers will likely pick up the win here, with Finlay (who sticks out like a sore thumb in this match) destined to do the honors. Winners: Golden Lovers

Super Junior Tag League Finals:
Desperado and Kanemaru vs BUSHI and Shingo vs Roppongi 3K

Amy: With the Super Junior Tag finals under a no time limit setup and a three-way tag match, there is going to be a lot of action packed within this match! Roppongi 3K has been on fire during the Super Jr Tag tournament, and with Shingo making his debut this year amidst a fire packed tournament, everyone has a lot to prove for themselves as they battle their way to a glorious victory! Ultimately, I believe this is going to be the year of BUSHI and Shingo, solidifying the intensity of LIJ as they add yet another trophy to their mantle of class and destruction. Winners: BUSHI and Shingo

Young Boy: I’m not feeling excited for another Jr triangle tag between these 3 groups. Hopefully a tourney final & the introduction of Takagi can up the ante here. RPG 3K won last year and has a tournament victory over the champs. LIJ would benefit more from the win at this point. All 3 teams will be involved in another multi-man tag down the road.
Winners: BUSHI and Shingo

Wilfred: After a 3-way tie from the 11/1 show, the 3 teams will battle to contend at Power Struggle! I foresee Roppongi 3K winning. I did originally have Eagles/Taiji being in this match but I have no issues whatsoever with this finale. Roppongi 3K will reclaim the tag titles and welcome some new challenges in 2019. Winners: Roppongi 3K

Mike: This will probably decide who challenges for the Junior Tag belts at Wrestle Kingdom, so a victory for the champions is unlikely (but not inconceivable). Personally, I think the win goes to Bushi and Shingo in this one, with Roppongi 3k taking the pinfall to save the champs from taking the visual loss. Winners: BUSHI and Shingo

Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

Amy: This match will be the deciding factor in Naito and ZSJs LIJ vs Suzuki-Gun rivalry. Zack will deftly maneuver himself with expertise to counter every move that Naito throws at him. Natio, however, knows Zack so well, that he will anticipate these counters and position himself accordingly. This match will see Naito proving once and for all that he is the master of this domain, with the Destino setting the exclamation point of his final victory over ZSJ. Winner: Naito

Young Boy: This will be the 3rd time Naito & Sabre meet this year. Sabre’s had Naito’s number in both previous meetings. Naito’s redemption starts with finally getting over the Sabre hump. Winner: Naito

Wilfred: Queue the ZSJ full Suzuki mode here. I see Naito winning and going to WK13 to challenge (and defend LIJ) Jericho. ZSJ heads into the WTL ANGRY and he and Suzuki eat the tag division and spit them up. Winner: Naito

Mike: Sabre may have had Naito’s number in their previous encounters, but a Naito victory is a very safe bet here. Naito will have to go through a lot of cruel submissions to get to that victory of course, but this will more than likely end with a pair of Destino’s as Naito picks up momentum on route to the Tokyo Dome. Winner: Naito

RPW British Heavyweight Championship:
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Minoru Suzuki

Amy: Both men trade with a currency of pain, with razor-sharp chops, brutal headbutts, and nasty submissions. With Suzuki and Ishii putting each other through a merciless slugfest, they will be reaching deep within to find the final reserves of perseverance to come out on top. Ishii will be the one to finally outlast them all, but it will surely be a very close call. Winner: Ishii

Young Boy: My pick for the match of the night, and possible Strong Style Fight of the Year. This ones gonna be brutal. But Ishii just lifted this belt, and already has advertised defenses. Winner: Ishii

Wilfred: I think Ishii takes it. Ishii has been a good title holder in RPW before. I see Suzuki pairing with ZSJ for the World Tag League coming up very soon. They are my picks to win the whole WTL. Winner: Ishii

Mike: These two have had a decent series of matches over in Rev pro this year, trading the Rev pro title a couple of times in the process, but they may well save the best for last as they look to end their feud back in Japan. At its very worst, this will be a hard-hitting affair that will appeal to those who love their matches full of stiff forearms and lariats. If these two go all out though, this could very well steal the show. This could go either way, but I’ve got Ishii retaining. Winner: Ishii

Never Openweight Championship:
Taichi Vs Hirooki Goto

Amy: When Taichi won the Never Title, it took almost every member of Suzuki-Gun running out to save the day for our moody gothic crooner. This time, the ref is going to be prepared for it, and Taichi is going to have to fight for this himself. On his own, he will find it won’t be enough, and Goto will walk away as the rightful bearer of the Never Openweight Belt. Winner: Goto

Young Boy: With this being an impromptu defense, due to Ospreay’s injury, this ones hard to call. Goto has been Mr. NEVER title for a few years now. I’m not sure there’s a lot of traction left keeping the belt on him. I think New Japan has someone else in mind to lift the belt off Taichi. Winner: Taichi

Wilfred: Taichi wins as this is just a handwave much to get back to the Ospreay challenge later. Goto will give a brilliant showing and a real fight but Taichi will win. He will continue to not care and Miho will probably carry the belt out. Winner: Taichi

Mike: There’s a very good chance that Taichi was originally only meant to be a transitional champion to get the belt off Goto and on to Ospreay. With Ospreay out injured still though, we find ourselves one step closer to the possibility of Taichi entering the Dome as a singles champion. However, I think Taichi’s run as Openweight champ is going to go the same way Elgin’s did, and the belt is going back to Goto once again. Winner: Goto

IWGP Intercontinental Championship:
Chris Jericho vs. EVIL

Power Struggle 2018

Amy: Jericho is going to pull out all the stops here. With tables, chairs, and his instruments of doom, Jericho will use every trick up his sleeve to bring down the King of Darkness. Unfortunately for Jericho, EVIL is no stranger to ultimate destruction and will prove that in his ring, with his rules, darkness will reign supreme. Winner: EVIL

Young Boy: There’s a lot of different ways this could go. And I think the popular pick is for Evil to win the belt, defend against SZJ next, and Y2J can move onto the dome free of the belt. Something tells me Jericho isn’t coming to Japan to do no job. Expect Jericho to win and set up a Naito IC defense in January. Winner: Jericho

Wilfred: Heart says EVIL, mind says Jericho. It’s that simple. I’ve been hanging onto the hope that we get an IC title feud with LIJ stablemates. While it’s still a possibility, it seems unlikely. Jericho is a draw and he’ll be at WK13 to fight Naito. Winner: Jericho

Mike: There’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Y2J retains here, but this should be a lot of fun to watch nonetheless. If you’re hoping for a technical classic from these two though, you will be very disappointed. Instead expect an old school wild brawl, complete with lots of broken furniture and probably a fair bit of color too. Look out for Naito to make an appearance post-match and lay down his challenge for the IC title at Wrestle Kingdom. Winner: Jericho

For more Power Struggle preview and predictions check out this week’s episode of Keepin’ It Strong Style.

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