NJPW Strong Style Evolved 2018 Card, Start Time, Live Stream and Predictions

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2018

Credit: New japan Pro-Wrestling

The stars of New Japan Pro-Wrestling will invade Long Beach, California, Sunday for an explosive event featuring the promotion's most recognizable stars.

IWGP heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada and 2018 New Japan Cup winner Zack Sabre Jr. will be on opposite sides of the squared circle just days before a showdown over the company's top prize.

The in-fighting that has consumed Bullet Club will continue in two blockbuster tag team matches, while Juice Robinson will look to make it two straight victories over NEVER openweight champion Hirooki Goto in another major tag team bout.

What else can fans expect out of the United States-based event as NJPW builds toward its Sakura Genesis show on April 1?

        

Card

  • Roppongi 3K and Rocky Romero vs. Scorpio Sky, Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels
  • David Finlay and Juice Robinson vs. Hirooki Goto and Gedo
  • Chuckie T and Toru Yano vs. Killer Elite Squad
  • Tanga Loa and Tama Tonga vs. Marty Scurll and Cody
  • Dragon Lee, Kushida, Ryusuke Taguchi and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hiromu Takahashi, Bushi, Sakada and Tetsuya Naito
  • Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Will Ospreay 
  • Tomohiro Ishii and Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr.
  • IWGP United States Championship Match: Jay White vs. Hangman Page
  • Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi vs. The Young Bucks

        

Start Time

8 p.m. ET

     

Live Stream

Live for non-U.S. territories on New Japan World (available for U.S. territories on VOD later)

Broadcast live on AXS TV

        

Predictions

Juice Robinson Continues March Toward Championship Gold

Robinson was phenomenal in the 2018 New Japan Cup, falling short in the semifinals to eventual runner-up Hiroshi Tanahashi. He rebounded from that defeat by knocking off NEVER openweight champion Hirooki Goto in a tag team match and putting himself in line for a title opportunity.

Sunday, he will team with frequent partner David Finlay to battle Goto and Gedo in another tag team match.

A victory over Goto would almost certainly earn him that coveted title opportunity.

Robinson has been gaining momentum of late and is, Bullet Club notwithstanding, one of the most over and talented gaijin in all of NJPW. He has evolved from forgotten underdog and NXT afterthought to the position he is in through hard work and hellish babyface promos.

A win at Strong Style Evolved should be both a given and the latest chapter in his story of career redemption.

         

Bullet Club Explodes

The personal rivalry between Kenny Omega and Cody has threatened the once-unbreakable bond within Bullet Club. Sunday, that link becomes weaker thanks to two high-profile tag team matches pitting former brothers against each other.

First up, The Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) will battle Cody and "The Villain" Marty Scurll. The main event will pit Omega and his old-turned-new tag team partner Kota Ibushi against The Young Bucks as the trio known as The Elite implodes.

The in-fighting is no longer theoretical. It is now a reality.

Omega recently avenged his ousting as the head of Bullet Club by Cody at Ring of Honor's 16th Anniversary Show, dressing as Bury the Bear in an attempt to both play mind games with his former stablemate and perpetrate a brilliant attack.

It remains to be seen if Cody seeks retribution in any meaningful way, but with so many matches pitting friends against friends in the name of feeding Omega and Cody's egos, it appears inevitable that Bullet Club is worse off than it was entering the show in Long Beach.

        

Zack Sabre Jr. Scores Another Huge Victory

Sabre Jr. systematically picked apart and tapped out some of the most talented and recognizable faces on the NJPW roster. Tetsuya Naito, Ibushi and Tanahashi all fell to the Brit as he earned the right to challenge Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Sakura Genesis on April 1.

Sunday, he will add Okada to that list, defeating The Rainmaker and presenting himself as a very real threat to the championship reign of NJPW's franchise star.

Sabre may not be the star to end Okada's 640-plus-day reign as IWGP heavyweight champion, but he will come out of Strong Style Evolved looking every bit the wrestler able to.

Perception is as important to fans accepting a wrestler in a certain role as anything. After Sunday's show, fans will perceive Sabre to be an elite performer rather than someone who got hot and won one tournament—even if his greatness has already been established across other countries and continents.

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