On November 20th, New Japan Pro Wrestling and Stardom will produce their first ever joint card, "Historic X-Over". This show has been one of my most anticipated events all year, and if you ask me, the card is filled with intriguing match ups. Now that we getting closer to Sunday, I thought that it would be fun to give my predictions for what is sure to be a show to remember.
There are going to be a lot of matches on this historic card, 11 to be precise, but some of them are definitely more important than others. So in the interest of not diluting this preview with my thoughts on some of the early matches, I'm only going to focus on the ones that matter the most. Down below, I will have my thoughts on six of the matches including all of the NJPW X Stardom mashups, The Great Muta's 6-man tag, and the two title bouts.
With all that being said, thank you so much for reading and be sure to watch out for more content coming down the pike. I have at least one more "Stardom 101" post coming this year, as well as my usual best of the month post coming in early December. Then, we'll turn our attention to my favorite things of the entire year!
Special Mixed Tag
Tom Lawlor & Syuri vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Giulia
I can't think of a better match to start this preview than with this star-studded mixed tag pitting two former UFC fighters in "Filthy" Tom Lawlor and Syuri against two terrific performers, Zack Sabre Jr., and Giulia. While there's not a whole lot to extrapolate on about the men in this match, beyond the fact that Lawlor has been geeking out about tagging with the reigning World of Stardom Champion, Syuri, ever since the match was announced, I'm confident that he and ZSJ will bring their collective A-games here.
Obviously, the matchup to watch out for here is between Syuri and her former best friend and tag team partner, Giulia. Ever since Syuri decided to leave Donna Del Mondo to start her own faction back in March, every interaction between the former Goddesses of Stardom tag champs have been meticulously discussed at length. And as we quickly approach their potential clash for the World of Stardom strap on December 29th, that is if Syuri is able to beat Utami Hayashishita on November 19th, then this match could give us a sneak peak into what could happen at "Dream Queendom".
In the end, I think that Giulia could definitely use the momentum boost right now, which is odd to say considering how just a month ago she won the 5STAR. Stardom has cooled her down a little bit since her crowning moment on October 1st, no doubt because they've had to focus on the Tag League, but a big win here on this massive show could do her wonders. So because of that, give me "Zack Sabre Giulia" for the win.
Prediction: Zack Sabre Giulia (Zack Sabre Jr. & Giulia)
Was I Right? YES (1-0)
Special 8-person Mixed Tag
Suzuki-gun (Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) & meltear (Natsupoi & Tam Nakano) vs. Suzuki-gun (DOUKI & El Desperado) & Black Desire (Momo Watanabe & Starlight Kid) Eight-person mixed tag team match
Suzuki-gun EXPLODES for one night only at Historic X-over as Taichi and Yoshinobu Yamamoto have decided to team up with two Cosmic Angels, Natsupoi and Tam Nakano, while their friends DOUKI and El Desperado will tag with Momo Watanabe and Starlight Kid of "Black Desire", a tag team under the Oedo Tai faction.
Of all the mixed tag matches on this card, this is probably the one I'm most excited about. First of all, I love Suzuki-gun. All four of these guys are so entertaining, but for totally different reasons. DOUKI is a genuinely unhinged about 95 percent of the time, and he carries a bent pipe. El Desperado oozes charisma and cool. Taichi is as magnetic a personality as anyone on the roster. And Kanemaru is the best grumpy uncle in all of wrestling. YOU HEARD ME.
The same can be said about the women in this match. Stardom is filled with incredible talent, of course, with these four all being toward the top of that list. Natsupoi and Tam Nakano, collectively working under the "meltear" tag team name, are currently the Goddesses of Stardom tag team champions. They have been the champs since August 21st, when they beat FWC (Hazuki and Koguma), who themselves beat Black Desire back in May. Suffice to say, if you need a Joshi duo for your mixed tag team match, these two would be great choices.
This match is a bit of a toss up. I could go with the experience and pick Kanemaru and company, or I could pick the masked squadron (with Momo) as they have the incredibly marketable duo of Despy and Starlight Kid. It's a close call, but I'm going to pick Suzuki-gun's juniors and Black Desire in a fun, slightly comedic, bout.
Prediction: Suzuki-gun (DOUKI & El Desperado) & Black Desire (Momo Watanabe & Starlight Kid)
Was I Right? NO (1-1)
Special Mixed Tag
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Utami Hayashishita vs. Hirooki Goto & Maika
Concluding our trilogy of New Japan x Stardom mixed tag matches, we have this potentially awesome matchup pitting Hiroshi Tanahashi and Utami Hayashishita against Hirooki Goto and Maika. The wrestlers in this match have quite a bit of history with each other, as Tanahashi and Goto have competed against each other for more than a decade to this point and Hayashishita and Maika have been linked ever since they debuted a few years ago.
Maika and Hirooki Goto are going into this match as the distinct underdogs, but that is nothing new to either competitor. In 16 singles clashes against the "Ace", Goto sports a 3-12-1 record, however, he did win their most recent match back in August. As for Maika, she currently stands 2-3-1 against the "Red Queen". It should also be mentioned that she also won their last match, also back in August.
As for Tanahashi and Hayashishita, collectively known as "Itsuzai", which means "outstanding talent" in Japanese, are just that. They're pretty much the golden child of each respective company. Tanahashi is perhaps the greatest IWGP Heavyweight Champion, as he's held the gold a record eight times, and by the time she turned 23 last year, she had already won every major title in Stardom, except for the Wonder of Stardom and High Speed belts.
While I love Goto and Maika, I think they'll once again fall to their career rivals after a highly contested match.
Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Utami Hayashishita
Was I Right? YES (2-1)
Chaos (Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano) & The Great Muta vs. United Empire (Aaron Henare, Great-O-Khan, & Jeff Cobb)
As if this massive event wasn't already big enough, Historic X-over will also be the host of The Great Muta's final match with New Japan Pro Wrestling. The 59-year-old began his legendary career way back in 1984 after he graduated from the New Japan Dojo, and has since become one of the greatest wrestlers in Japanese history. To briefly express how important this man has been to wrestling, he's going to have two retirement matches in 2023; one to retire The Great Muta character, and the other to retire himself, Keiji Mutoh.
The reason for this match is pretty simple. A few months ago at Pro Wrestling NOAH's "N-1 Victory Grand Final" event, Great-O-Khan, one of the men who's set to challenge The Great Muta in this match, actually teamed up with Muta and NOSAWA Rongai in a trios contest. Unfortunately, the match would break down at one point leading to Muta to hit Great-O-Khan with his patented mist, seemingly blinding his teammate.
A little over a month later, Great-O-Khan was competing against Toru Yano, who's one of the two men set to team with Muta, in a first round matchup during the IWGP Television Championship tournament. During the contest, the lights in Korakuen Hall turned off, and when they were turned on again, The Great Muta magically appeared and sprayed mist in Great-O-Khan's eyes again, allowing Yano to pick up the victory.
All of this is to say that Great-O-Khan is out for revenge, and he intends to get it by dealing Muta a loss in his last match in a New Japan ring. The only unfortunate thing for he and his two partners, Jeff Cobb and Aaron Henare, is that Muta didn't just pick Yano as one of his teammates, but he also brought in IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, the legendary Kazuchika Okada.
Not only is there no doubt that this will be a really entertaining match, but I see no way that The Great Muta doesn't win this match. And Great-O-Khan will get hit with the mist again.
Prediction: CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano) & The Great Muta
Was I Right? YES (3-1)
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship
Will Ospreay (c) vs. Shota Umino
The prodigal son of New Japan Pro Wrestling, Shota Umino, recently returned to the promotion after spending over three years on his post-Young Lion sabbatical. And just like his fellow returnee, Ren Narita, he's out to jump as far up the card as soon as possible. While Narita has a date with Zack Sabre Jr. at Wrestle Kingdom 17 for the IWGP Television Championship to look forward to, Umino has aspirations to take the United States belt from the great Will Ospreay.
I'm not a massive fan of the English wrestling scene, but I have heard that one of Umino's main rivalries while he was wrestling over there was against the United Empire, which just so happens to be led by Will Ospreay. So I'm positive that "Shooter" is looking at this match not only as his homecoming, but as the moment he can strike a massive blow to the faction that caused him so much grief while he was on sabbatical.
Conversely, Will Ospreay is going to attempt to defeat Umino in a more definitive way this time around. Last month, during New Japan's "Royal Quest 2" event in England, Ospreay thoroughly dominated Umino in singles action until the referee of the match, the great "Red Shoes", called for match stoppage. Ospreay felt that the match should've continued, and blamed the call on Red Shoes, who just so happens to be Shota Umino's actual father.
I think that if any match steals the show from the main event, it could be this one. Will Ospreay is currently my wrestler of the year, regardless of gender, and Shota Umino has a ton to prove as he wrestles in a singles match for the first time in Japan since his excursion. While there's a part of me that the "Shooter" could shock the world a la Kazuchika Okada in 2012 and win the belt, I'm going to go the more conservative route and pick Ospreay to win in the end.
Prediction: Will Ospreay
Was I Right? YES (4-1)
IWGP Women's Championship
Mayu Iwatani vs. KAIRI
Ever since she returned to Stardom after spending five years away in WWE, I've been waiting patiently for the moment KAIRI would finally have her first singles match against the "Icon of Stardom" and my favorite wrestler in the world, Mayu Iwatani. I might have had to wait a little longer than I expected, but I think that it's been worth it. Because not only will these two certifiable Joshi legends be having their first singles contest since May 14th, 2017 this weekend, but they will be main eventing the first ever joint New Japan X Stardom card for the newly minted IWGP Women's Championship.
It is impossible to write the story of Stardom's first decade without constantly mentioning either of these women. KAIRI, once known as Kairi Hojo in her early career, is kind of like the "prodigal daughter" of Stardom. Of the once famed "Threedom" faction, she's the only one to have left but then come back. And when she returned, she did so with the full support and appreciation of the Stardom fan base, not only because her return brought a metric ton of media with it, but also because she's one of the most decorated wrestlers in Stardom history.
On the other side we have Mayu Iwatani, a woman who was always destined to be in this match. While KAIRI has a strong bond with Stardom, Mayu Iwatani IS Stardom. She has been linked with Stardom for as long as it's existed, in fact she was in the semi-main event match of the first show Stardom ever had back on January 23rd, 2011. As she has grown and gotten stronger, Stardom has as well. While KAIRI is the only member of Threedom to have left and then come back, Mayu has never left.
I'm definitely biased when it comes to this match as Mayu Iwatani is my favorite wrestler in the world, and one of my favorite wrestlers of all time. She is absolutely perfect in the ring and she has a magnetism that only a few other people have ever had. While KAIRI has way more name recognition, especially for international fans, I believe picking her as the first IWGP Women's Champion would be the wrong decision. To me, Mayu Iwatani is the perfect person to be this new belt's first winner.
Prediction: Mayu Iwatani
Was I Right? NO (4-2)
All images come from New Japan Pro Wrestling
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