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NJPW Invasion Attack 2016: The Official (and Partial) Smark Henry Preview



                       

Welcome, marks and smarks to the official (and partial) preview of the second of New Japan’s Big Four shows, Invasion Attack 2016!

Three months after the biggest show of the Japanese wrestling calendar, Wrestle Kingdom 10, we move on to what is now an April tradition, where big matches take place and huge moments happen as the next quarter of New Japan programming begins. And for the fourth installment, the main event will feature a battle between a champion (Kazuchika Okada) and the winner of this year’s New Japan Cup (Tetsuya Naito). You can watch this event live on April 10, and as always, you can check this out (while supporting NJPW at the same time) via New Japan World for just 999 yen! While yes, the WWE Network is now available in the Philippines, surely there’s room to show some love for New Japan, right?

Take note that because not all matches have been announced at this time, we are only focusing on the bouts that were already made official by the company.

So, without any further delay!


IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Aerial Dogfight © vs. Roppongi Vice


In a match that is expected to start to show (which has become a recurring theme for years now), the Jr. Tag Team Championships will be defended as the holders, Matt Sydal and Ricochet will put them on the line against CHAOS’ resident junior duo, Rocky Romero and Baretta. In The New Beginning in Osaka, Aerial Dogfight managed to win the titles from The Young Bucks and reDRagon to become two-time champs. But the champs will have no time to rest as the tandem will take on former champions, Roppongi Vice, at New Japan’s big April extravaganza, immediately putting them to the test.

The match promises to be an exciting opener that is sure to bring fans to their feet and warm them up for the rest of the night. And while the two teams will bring everything to the table, Aerial Dogfight has a ton of momentum behind them right now, becoming the new face of the junior tag scene. Expect the new champs to defend their titles successfully against the Vice in what is sure to be an amazing start to the event.

Prediction: Aerial Dogfight wins!





IWGP Tag Team Championship: Great Bash Heel © vs. Guerillas of Destiny


In what could be both a brutal war and a sort of passing of the torch from one dominant tag team to a another, Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma will defend their tag team championships against the new Bullet Club tandem of Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa, the latter you might know more as WWE’s Camacho/TNA's Micah, and Tonga’s real-life brother.

At The New Beginning in Niigata, GBH defended their titles successfully against the now-WWE bound duo of Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows in the latter’s final tag title match. But after the match, Tama Tonga, who’s been with Bullet Club since the very beginning, challenged GBH for the tag titles, and his partner will be the newest member of the foreign faction. Tonga then secured important wins against Makabe (in a New Japan Cup first round match, no less) and Honma (in a tag team bout), and later revealed that his partner will be none other than his own flesh and blood, the brother of Tonga and the son of the legendary Haku, the newly named Tanga Roa. They proceeded to call themselves the Guerillas of Destiny, and the duo will attempt to win the tag titles on their first outing together.

The battle promises to bring the brutality, with the veterans bringing the fight against the new kids on the block. But with the departures of Anderson and Gallows, New Japan should put the priority on building up a new tag team division.

Ordinarily, the match can go either way, with either GBH retaining or GoD winning the titles on their first match. Consider this, though: this is a make-or-break match for Tonga, who has been considered the fourth wheel of the original founders of Bullet Club, so he has more to prove than anyone in the match. And if there was a perfect time to make the push happen, Invasion Attack is the event to do so. For a man as loyal as Tonga, now is the moment for him to become a key player. So we expect GoD to go over, and for Honma to move to the next phase of his career.

Prediction: Guerillas of Destiny become new tag champs!




IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: KUSHIDA © vs. Will Ospreay


If there is one match that has the potential to steal the show this year, it is the bout between KUSHIDA and the debuting Will Ospreay for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

Ever since Wrestle Kingdom 10, KUSHIDA is on a roll as a defending champion and a complete Jr. Heavyweight wrestler as a whole. And for a man that is considered the new face of his division, there are competitors who want to prove that they can beat the Time Splitter for the championship.

We got an answer on March 3, when after a tag match, Kazuchika Okada informed KUSHIDA that there was a new member of CHAOS, and he intends to beat him for the championship: the newest NJPW signee, Will Ospreay. The Revolution Pro Wrestling standout then said in a video message that he wants to become the first British wrestler to win the championship, and defend his title all over the world.

For those who are not familiar with Will Ospreay, do yourself a favor and type his name on YouTube. Seriously, do it, and be amazed on what he will bring to the table as far as the Jr. Division goes. For a man known as the British Assassin, his style will perfectly mix with KUSHIDA’s hybrid wrestling style, and you can be rest assured that this will be a star making match for both of these individuals. And with the big-time departures recently, they need to establish the two into the big picture, which is why the match was made.

To be honest, choosing a winner is such a difficult endeavor in this case. You got KUSHIDA, who’s at his prime right now as an overall performer. And then you got Ospreay, who is considered one of the greatest wrestlers in the world today and a man who can become a face of any junior division in any company. While there is no doubt that their match will have the chance to be the best match of the night, calling for a winner is simply a toss-up at this point. What do you think guys? Is your money on the Time Splitter or on the newest CHAOS member? Sound off in the comments!

Prediction: The match will be awesome, but hard to pick a winner





IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada © vs. Tetsuya Naito


And for the main event, it will be The Rainmaker defending the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against the winner of the 2016 New Japan Cup, El Ingobernable himself, Tetsuya Naito, who got his title shot via winning said tournament and deciding to go after the belt he was close on winning two years ago.

To understand this match, you must go back to more than 3 years ago. Naito had all the momentum in the world and it was a matter of time until the then-red hot babyface became a champion. That was, until an injury stopped his run for almost a year and effectively lost all momentum he built up. This was also the same year when Okada came back from his American excursion as the Rainmaker, becoming a red hot commodity in the process.

When Naito returned from injury, a combination of bad performances as a result of the injury bug as well as the change in focus from the fans that resulted to fans booing Naito while now supporting Okada. This also led to their Wrestle Kingdom 8 IWGP Heavyweight Championship match being bumped to the semi-final and resulted to a Naito loss.

And the irony? Many years ago, it was Naito, the senpai, that beat Okada when he was the kouhai. My, how times have changed.

Naito, fed up by the John Cena-esque treatment Okada's been getting, changed his attitude entirely when he joined Los Ingobernables (and in effect, made his own version of the group known as Los Ingobernables de Japon). Suddenly, his fortunes improved and his newfound uncontrollable attitude led to various victories, including the ever-so-important New Japan Cup win a few weeks back. He decided to challenge the title he was so close to winning more than two years ago, and this time, it will main event Invasion Attack 2016.

Okada may be the current flagbearer of New Japan, but again, now is the time to think long term for everyone in the company. Five amazing talents (Nakamura, Ibushi, Styles, Anderson, Gallows) left for different reasons, which meant NJPW is in the middle of a new renaissance of building talent. You can only go so far with having so much Okada wins that some may forget that it takes more than one to make the company.

This is where Naito comes in: if there was any time to build New Japan again after the talent losses and give Naito the starmaking run he deserves, now is the time. Okada is great, but a loss won’t hurt him or the company. If anything, a win that would result to making stars will be more preferred than going the John Cena approach once again. If not now, when?

Prediction: Naito finally avenges his Wrestle Kingdom 8 loss and becomes the new champ

What do you think of the predictions? What other matches do you think will be added in the event? Sound off in the comments!


Images from NJPW
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Lance Tan Ong has been a banking guy for the past few years but a wrestling guy for most of his life. And after checking out matches of Mitsuharu Misawa and Shinya Hashimoto at an early age, he's also pretty much a puro guy as well. Currently checking out WWE (mostly NXT), NJPW, DDT, and other promotions that catch and demand attention. He currently handles NJPW news and coverage for Smark Henry.

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