5 Things I Want To See Happen In NJPW

The Best of the Super Juniors is currently in full swing; Jon Moxley is coming to NJPW to challenge Juice Robinson; Jericho is returning at Dominion in an attempt to conquer the Rainmaker; Tanahashi will soon be back from injury; Ibushi looks great with the IWGP Intercontinental Championship around his waist… I could go on. There’s a lot to love about NJPW right now and honestly I don’t think I’d change a thing. But in the interest of being fussy, after all I am a wrestling fan, here’s a list of 5 things I would love to see happen on the way to Wrestle Kingdom 14.

screenshot_20190528_1545252068295945088442102.jpgShingo Takagi remains unbeaten through to Wrestle Kingdom 14
Shingo could very easily be a full-on heavyweight but instead has been dominating the Junior scene since joining NJPW in October 2018. He has helped elevate the Junior Heavyweight division since becoming part of Los Ingobernables de Japon. The man has never been pinned or submitted in a New Japan ring and is an intense addition to the roster. I would love to see him keep this unbeaten streak all the way to Wrestle Kingdom 14 where he would likely enter as Champion. Building a credible threat against him would ensure fans are not be disappointed if he wins or loses at the Tokyo Dome and guarantee the audience being fully invested. Every match during the Best of the Super Juniors had me on the edge of my seat, wondering if this would be the end of Shingo’s streak. It could be interesting to see Ospreay make the jump to Heavyweight, only to come back down to Junior for WK14 so he can challenge for the title and attempt to dethrone The Dragon. Updated 05/06/19 – Well there goes this idea 

screenshot_20190528_155355146645886252018982.jpgWill Ospreay enters the G1 Climax
Ospreay has been putting on weight and muscle over the last 6 months and has added an arsenal of new weapons to his move-set. Defeating Ibushi at Wrestle Kingdom 13 for the NEVER Openweight Championship helped kick-start his quest to enter the G1 Climax and his showing in the New Japan Cup added fuel to the fire as he defeated 2 behemoths in Bad Luck Fale and Lance Archer. If Ospreay is added to the G1 this year, he will become the first wrestler in history to compete in the New Japan Cup, Best of the Super Juniors and G1 Climax in the same year. Prince Devitt did something similar by competing in the BOSJ & G1 in one year and the New Japan Cup the next year. After only 3 years with NJPW, Ospreay has become essential for the company. He has an innate ability to make whoever he is in the ring against look like a million bucks and as a result has put on uncountable memorable matches against other Juniors and when given the chance, against Heavyweights as well.

screenshot_20190528_1552184768975476300818167.jpgTomohiro Ishii becomes IWGP Intercontinental Champion
Give the Stone Pitbull some prestige! Undoubtedly one of the most consistent high-performing wrestlers in the world, Ishii has been a constant for NJPW over the years. He has put on numerous match of the year contenders and is seemingly incapable of having a bad match. As much as I would relish seeing Ishii with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, I appreciate that may be out of reach for him. But over the years the IWGP Intercontinental Championship has been just as important as the Heavyweight, even being more important on occasion. His wars have helped put importance on the NEVER Openweight Championship in the past, a title that has dipped in and out of the spotlight. Ishii deserves his time in the spotlight and Ishii deserves to be IWGP Intercontinental Champion. The only downside to this is that Ibushi has to lose the title and it suits him perfectly.

img_20190528_1609494024326056745239882.jpgFull time English commentary team
Kevin Kelly has done an incredible job in making NJPW more accessible for English speaking fans. Thanks to his efforts, English commentary has gone from being a rare treat to being expected, with almost every show now covered with him on the call. In the past, I would find that even on the odd occasion English commentary was offered, I would find myself tuning into the Japanese feed; Despite not understanding a word, it gave the matches a better feel than the English commentary team at the time could ever provide. But now that Kelly is on practically every show I can enjoy the in-ring product and have stellar commentary. However his commentary team is a revolving door of different individuals, some great and some that we’d like to forget about. Personally, my favourite commentator is Chris Charlton. Not only is he a human Wikipedia for all things NJPW; not only can he speak both Japanese and English so he can translate; but he is also a good commentator! For a company looking to expand in the West and get new fans, Charlton is the complete package. Perhaps a third person could then be revolving. It’s great when a current member of the roster joins the commentary table; Rocky Romero has done this the most and provides a wealth of in-ring knowledge; Juice Robinson recently joined the table during the Best of the Super Juniors and brought a lot of fun with him; Gino Gambino has been a delight and has a great rapport with Kevin Kelly, being able to call the matches smoothly but also have some fun with his team.

screenshot_20190528_1556187671842470848570074.jpgExcursions
I am longing for the day that Shota Umino and Ren Narita get sent on excursion! Despite both only being Young Lions they have proved they are extremely talented and capable wrestlers. The sooner they go on excursion, the sooner they can come back to NJPW and be put in the spotlight. Although he was defeated in the first round of the New Japan Cup to none other than Hiroshi Tanahashi, it gave Shota a unique chance to be given a big stage to perform and he took full advantage. As for Narita, he has been having killer matches as an entrant in the Best of the Super Juniors tournament, taking every opportunity he gets to prove his worth. If one (or both) of them could be sent over to RevPro in the UK so I can see them compete in person that’d be great.

I am an unrelenting NJPW fan. I have only been invested in the company for around 5 years, but in that time I have flown from the UK to Japan to attend the G1 Climax 25 finals, Wrestle Kingdom 12 and 13 and I’m hoping to head back over for WK14 next year. I’ve got my front row tickets booked for Royal Quest in London and I’m counting down the days. The time difference means I can watch almost every show live at a leisurely late morning/early afternoon time. The best wrestling in the world for around £8 a month on NJPW World. What’s not to love?

 – @CiaranRH

Related:
Eggshells: Pro Wrestling In The Tokyo Dome – Book Review

Chris Charlton Interview (August 2018)

Lance Archer Interview

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