• Carlos Astorga

NJPW - Sengoku Lord Preview


Main event: IWGP Intercontinental & Heavyweight Championship: EVIL vs Hiromu Takahashi


Hiromu Takahashi’s long held ambition has been to carry the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship into a main event title match against the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. At Sengoku Lord on July 25, he lives his dream, but in nightmarish circumstances. 

Through the New Japan Cup, Takahashi had targeted victory and an Intercontinental & Heavyweight Championship match with Tetsuya Naito, a bout that fate denied him and fans back on March 3 at the now cancelled Anniversary Event. That plan was derailed when he was defeated by Kazuchika Okada, but a bitter defeat turned into utter despair for the Time Bomb as EVIL defected from LIJ to join BULLET CLUB, before bringing in Dick Togo as the difference maker to take the double IWGP gold from Naito. 


Hiromu Takahashi not only had his dream match taken away from him, but saw the destruction of a long held bond with EVIL; one that stretches long before fans came to know who the Time Bomb and King of Darkness were. EVIL’s betrayal cut Takahashi the deepest, as he reacted with an emotional breakdown at the end of the evening in Osaka Jo Hall Sunday. 


Now Hiromu heads to challenge the new champion, a monumental task and a the biggest match of the Time Bomb’s career, at the shortest of notices. Can Hiromu take the element of wild surprise? Or will his emotions get the better of the Junior Heavyweight Champion in Nagoya? At New Japan Road on Monday in Korakuen, BULLET CLUB scored a victory over LIJ, with a Dick Togo wire assisted choke being the difference maker. Post match, EVIL showed that he could easily put his challenger away before saying he’d save his finishing blow for Nagoya, promising to ‘send (Takahashi) to hell’. The frustrated challenger certainly has the deck stacked against him Saturday.


6th Match: NEVER Openweight Championship: Shingo Takagi vs El Desperado

In the semi-main event, Shingo Takagi defends the NEVER Openweight Championship for the second time in two weeks as he takes on El Desperado.


Desperado has been one of several junior heavyweights wanting to take advantage of the NEVER title’s openweight status of late. After SHO came up just shy of putting The Dragon away in an intense battle at Dominion, it wasn’t altogether shocking to see ‘Despe’ move to make a challenge. Yet the manner in which he did it was a shock, attacking Shingo on his exit from Osaka Jo Hall, and making away with the championship belt itself, as he mocked Shingo with a jeer of ‘you know what this means, don’t you’.


During the New Japan Cup, Desperado reaffirmed what long time followers already knew when he faced Tomohiro Ishii. Despe is a junior heavyweight wrestler with heavyweight knock out power, and his anything goes style could have Shingo Takagi in serious trouble. At Osaka Jo Hall, Desperado did significant damage, not to the champion’s body, but to his pride when he took away the NEVER gold. Desperado’s larceny continued into New Japan Road on Monday; could he push Takagi’s buttons enough to force the Dragon into a fatal mistake?


5th Match: Kazuchika Okada vs Yujiro Takahashi Singles record: 2-0 Okada

Yujiro Takahashi’s interference during the New Japan Cup final in Osaka Jo Hall help set up EVIL to reign atop New Japan Pro-Wrestling and BULLET CLUB. It was a slice of history repeating for the Tokyo Pimp; six years prior at Dontaku 2014, it was Yujiro’s defection from CHAOS to BULLET CLUB that saw AJ Styles take IWGP gold at Okada’s expense.


Then, Yujiro claims with disgust, Okada had bigger fish to fry than Yujiro and his defection. The Rainmaker would go on to treat his G1 Climax bout with Takahashi like any other group match, before winning the tournament and heading to the Tokyo Dome. ‘You never made a fuss about it, and that’s why I hate you’, Yujiro stated backstage in Osaka after a furious Dominion assault aided and abetted by Gedo. Takahashi makes no bones that he doesn’t have the superstar status of his opponent in Nagoya. ‘But if I can’t be at your level, I’ll drag you down to mine’.


Expect that to be the theme of this grudge match at Sengoku Lord. Yujiro will not fight cleanly, but a furious Okada will be hell bent on revenge, and making sure that Takahashi’s time in the spotlight will be brief. Can Takahashi take advantage of a rattled Rainmaker, and score a landmark victory?


4th Match: Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Master Wato, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Yuji Nagata vs Suzuki-Gun (Zack Sabre Junior, Taichi, Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI)

Ten man tag team action will be fourth on the agenda from Nagoya. After a dominant victory in Osaka Jo Hall saw Dangerous Tekkers take the IWGP Tag Team Championships for the first time at Golden☆Ace’s first defense, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi must try to bounce back against Zack Sabre Junior and Taichi; if they are in the physical condition to do so after the assault at Dominion.


Meanwhile Master Wato’s issues with Yoshinobu Kanemaru continue to heat up after Kanemaru ruined Wato’s post debut victory celebration at the New Japan Cup finals. On Monday night, Kanemaru struck Wato with Deep Impact, only to pull the young star up from a pinfall to deliver Touch Out for an emphatic victory. The Heel Master certainly taught a lesson to young Wato last week, and now the Grand Master must think of a way to bounce back.


Yuji Nagata and Minoru Suzuki’s own brands of violence make up yet another narrative in this busy match. At the end of their eight man clash Monday in Korakuen, nobody could separate the King and Blue Justice as they continued to brawl after the bell. Suzuki has since demanded a singles contest, and it’s hard to imagine Nagata backing down. Their interactions here will add another layer to an explosive ten man tag team bout.


3rd Match: CHAOS (SHO, YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto) vs Los Ingobernables De Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI)

What a difference a weekend makes. Before July 11, Los Ingobernables De Japon were the dominant force in NJPW, with Intercontinental and Heavyweight Champion at its helm. On July 13, the world woke up to EVIL now in BULLET CLUB colours, and with both IWGP Championships, as well as NEVER 6-Man gold, with question marks surrounding that championship’s status.


While Shingo Takagi and Hiromu Takahashi are both at the top of the card tonight in Nagoya, the remaining LIJ members have to try and make sense of what has happened in the month of July and how best to move forward. Meanwhile CHAOS will be looking to get a decisive statement win to bring their faction back to the forefront.


2nd Match: Ryusuke Taguchi, Tomoaki Honma, Togi Makabe & Satoshi Kojima vs Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Yota Tsuji & Gabriel Kidd

Second up is eight man tag team action. Yota Tsuji and Gabriel Kidd have been impressing greatly of late, and now have former IWGP Tag Team Champion partners in Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano of CHAOS, but will that be enough of a combination to match their impressive opponents tonight?


1st Match: Taiji Ishimori vs Yuya Uemura

Sengoku Lord will kick off with Yuya Uemura in singles action against Taiji Ishimori. Uemura made the most of NJPW’s time away through the spring, getting much bigger physically and much more skilled in the ring. That led to an impressive New japan Cup first round performance, albeit one that led to defeat at the hands of Yoshinobu Kanemaru. With hype building around the impressive Young Lion however, can he make a mark against one of the most decorated junior heavyweights of all time in Ishimori?

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