After a great show in Los Angeles last week, it’s time for King of Pro Wrestling, one of NJPW’s biggest shows, which always takes place on the 2nd Monday of October inside Tokyo’s Ryōgoku Kokugikan to celebrate Health and Sports Day in Japan. And trust me, this has the potential to be something special. With so many implications for the coming months, especially Wrestle Kingdom in January, KOPW is a must-watch for new and old fans.
Why You Should Watch It
- With the future of CHAOS in ruins thanks to Jay White’s shocking attack back on September 23rd, it’ll be interesting to see how the group are recuperating, how Gedo will act when managing Jay White in his match, and if anybody in the faction will join the dark side.
- King of Pro Wrestling’s main event will be a true rarity in New Japan. This will be only the third ever time the IWGP Heavyweight Championship has been defended in anything other than a one-on-one match.
- We will get to see the debut of a new member of LIJ, arguably the most popular faction in all of Japan right now. Just being associated with this group means we are about to see a new major star being born.
- A new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion will be crowned, and perhaps we’ll even find out who the first challenger for that belt will be?
- Expect to see feuds and matches set up for Power Struggle next month.
- In my opinion, when it comes to in-ring action, no promotion in the world can rival New Japan Pro Wrestling right now.
- NJPW has some of the best wrestlers in the world signed to its roster, and with fewer restrictions and more time for matches and builds than WWE, the quality of their matches is the best in the world. If you love professional wrestling, you owe it to yourself to at least attempt to watch this promotion once or twice.
- October 8th – 9am (UK), 1am (Pacific), 4am (Eastern), 5pm (Japan)
How to Watch
- The only way to watch King of Pro Wrestling is through the company’s streaming service – NJPW World. – CLICK HERE FOR MY GUIDE ON USING AND GETTING THE MOST OUT OF NJPW WORLD
- NJPW World can be accessed through an official app on Amazon Fire Sticks, as well as through on PS4 and Xbox One browsers, laptops, phones and tablets with Chromecast support.
- Do not use the iOS/Android app. Just use your browser if watching on your phone or tablet.
- Not only does it work out at slightly cheaper than WWE Network every month, it offers regular live shows, as well as access to previous events from decades past, matches from select indie promotions such as Ring of Honor and RevPro, the full ALL IN show, and exclusive documentaries that follow the lives of both their Japanese and English speaking roster members.
- Please note that there is no free trial period available, so you will need to purchase the service in order to watch.
- Regardless of when you sign up, the billing date for NJPW World is the first day of every month for every user (so you could be charged 2 days in a row if you signed up on the last day of a month) – IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON SIGNING UP, DO IT AS CLOSE TO THE BEGINNING OF THE MONTH AS POSSIBLE.
- Once you cancel your subscription, you immediately cannot use your account, even if you have weeks left until your next billing date – IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON CANCELLING, DO IT AS CLOSE TO THE END OF THE MONTH AS POSSIBLE.
- Live shows are available to watch in full usually within thirty minutes after they’ve been broadcast.
- IF YOU HAVE AXS TV - The channel will be showing a selection of matches from KOPW in the coming weeks following the event, so if you’re unsure of whether you want to subscribe or not, watching on AXS TV first could be a good way of testing the waters first.
- Personally I’d recommend watching on NJPW World in order to enjoy the excitement of the full show without having to wait or watching edited versions of matches (editing is bound to happen with longer matches).
- Also, the NJPW World English commentary team is almost universally considered to be superior to AXS TV’s, and will provide new fans with far more information to explain wrestler and story line backgrounds, so it could be a far better way to introduce yourself to the product.
How to Avoid Streaming Issues
- Although not many users experience these anymore, NJPW World has been known in the past for having some streaming issues
- Streaming issues are very uncommon these days
- BEST WAY TO AVOID ISSUES: NJPW World has two different servers for streaming – one for Fire TV and browsers, and one for mobile and tablet devices. The Fire TV and browser stream is the one that’s known to experience issues, so if you are having troubles, I would recommend switching to watching on a mobile or tablet device
El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Suzuki-Gun) (C) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask – for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships
After picking up a surprising victory over the current champs during the Destruction tour in September, Liger and Tiger Mask, arguably the two most iconic junior heavyweight wrestlers of all time, both of whom are based on popular anime characters, have earned themselves a shot at the junior tag belts. Given how long El Desperado and Kanemaru have held the belts, there’s a chance these two legends may get one last championship run in their careers. Plus, with Super Jr Tag League taking place later this month, this tag title match is more important than most.
Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe (G.B.H) vs. Toa Henare and Juice Robinson (Taguchi Japan)
A pretty standard tag match. Expect Henare and Honma to exchange weird grunts with each other, and a sad Juice to be licking his wounds after losing his US Championship.
Chase Owens, Hangman Page and The Young Bucks (Bullet Club Elite) vs. G.O.D, Bad Luck Fale and Taiji Ishimori (Firing Squad/Bullet Club O.G’s)
The war between Bullet Club Elite and The Firing Squad is still raging on. From this eight-man tag, you can expect shenanigans, bad language, rule-breaking, great tag team moves from both Owens and Page and The Young Bucks, and some insane athleticism from Ishimori. Should be fun.
Will Ospreay, Hirooki Goto and Tomohiro Ishii (CHAOS) vs. Minoru Suzuki, Taichi and Takashi Iizuka (Suzuki-Gun)
CHAOS at the moment is in, well, chaos since Jay White and Gedo turned on the rest of the group. There are many questions surrounding the stability of the faction right now, so how will these three cooperate in this six-man tag team match? And if they can get along, will any of them be able to pin Taichi, the current holder of the NEVER Openweight Championship and earn themselves a title shot?
SHO, YOH, Toru Yanno and Kazuchika Okada (CHAOS) vs. Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI, SANADA and X (Los Ingobernables de Japon)
What may at first appear to be a standard NJPW eight-man tag will actually be a fascinating debut of a brand new star. In this bout, LIJ will be introducing the world to their newest member. Who could it be? Will it be a returning young lion with connections to Mexico much like the currently injured Hiromu Takahashi, or will it be an established veteran coming in with a brand new character, much like we saw with Taiji Ishimori earlier in the year with Bullet Club? Either way, this should be very interesting. Plus, debuting in a match against Okada isn’t bad at all.
EVIL vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
This special singles match will see the King of Halloween (which ZSJ thinks is rubbish by the way) against the top Torie hater and all-around vegan tarantula, Zack Sabre Jr. As of late, Zack has been ridiculing and berating LIJ, mainly EVIL and Naito. After defeating Tetsuya on the final day of this year’s G1, EVIL will look to get some retribution for his stablemate against the cocky master technician.
KUSHIDA vs. Marty Scurll – for the vacant IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Due to Hiromu Takahashi’s devastating injury back in July, we are currently without a IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, so New Japan held a mini tournament to help crown a brand new title holder. KUSHIDA and Scurll have faced off a couple of times in the past, but with a spot on one of NJPW’s biggest shows of the year, expect these two to pull out everything they have to impress the world and capture the gold.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White – for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match at Wrestle Kingdom
In the space of one year, Jay White has achieved a lot since coming back from his young lion excursion. Three of his biggest moments so far have all involved Tanahashi in some way, and he’s about to add a fourth.
White’s return match was against The Ace at Wrestle Kingdom this year, where he challenged him unsuccessfully for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Then, the two clashed again during the G1 Climax, where the young Switchblade handed Tanahashi his only loss of the tournament. And finally, on September 23rd, White blindsided Tanahashi as he betrayed CHAOS, and demanded a third match against this legend.
As he did beat Tanahashi during the G1, White is eligible to face The Ace for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship match opportunity he earned by winning the tournament. Since this prize became a tradition in New Japan, nobody has managed to beat the title match contract holder, meaning that the G1 winner has always gone on to challenge at Wrestle Kingdom.
Will White be the first to win? Will Tanahashi be able to overcome the devious new pairing of White and Gedo? Will Okada get involved and help out his oldest rival in order to get redemption against his newest rival? Whatever the result, it should have very interesting implications for the future.
Kenny Omega (C) vs. Kota Ibushi vs. Cody – for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
At the end of Fighting Spirit Unleashed last week, Kenny Omega challenged his closest friend, Kota Ibushi, to a title match at King of Pro Wrestling due to the fact that Omega was beaten by Ibushi during the G1. However, before the challenge could be officially accepted, fellow Bullet Club Elite member Cody interjected proceedings by adding himself to the match, which both Ibushi and Omega agreed to.
When this match takes place, it will be only the third-ever multi-man match for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship (prior bouts took place in 2006 and 2016), so this is a true rarity in New Japan. It will be interesting to see how these three use this unique opportunity and what innovative ways they will use this format. Plus, given the rocky history that Cody has with both of the other men involved in this bout, all eyes will be on the new IWGP US Champion on whether he will still be on the Golden Lovers’ good side at the end of the match, or if he will revert to his old ways in his hunt for even more gold.
What if I want to Sample Some NJPW Matches First for Free?
- Check out New Japan’s English language YouTube channel. They regularly upload past matches featuring full English commentary, including world title matches. They upload a new free match every Monday that has some sort of connection to an upcoming show.
- Also, they upload press conferences, interviews, promos and sometimes documentaries with English subtitles.
- If you have AXS TV, you can watch their New Japan highlight show every Friday night, however the shows aren’t covered until several weeks after they’ve aired live.
Where do I go From After KOPW?
- We are on the road to Wrestle Kingdom, so you will want to stick around.
- If you haven’t already, catch up on the fantastic G1 Climax tournament, the best matches of which you can find here.
- Following KOPW, the Super Jr Tag Team Tournament will take place throughout the rest of October. The winner of this tourney (unless it is the reigning champs) will face the champions at Wrestle Kingdom.
- Next month will be Power Struggle, the final major show before Wrestle Kingdom, so expect a lot of interesting things to happen there.
- November and December will include the World Tag League tournament, all leading up to the biggest show of the year, Wrestle Kingdom on January 4th.
Recommended Matches with Links and English Commentary
- Kota Ibushi vs. Kenny Omega – G1 Climax 2018
- Kota Ibushi vs. Cody – Wrestle Kingdom 12
- Cody vs. Kenny Omega – G1 Special in San Francisco
- Cody vs. Nick Aldis – All In
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White – G1 Climax 2018
- KUSHIDA vs. Marty Scurll – BOSJ 2018
- Marty Scurll vs. Will Ospreay – Sakura Genesis 2018
- Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tetsuya Naito – G1 Climax 2018
- Minoru Suzuki vs. Tomohiro Ishii – Strong Style Evolved UK
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