LIVE from a sold out EDION Arena in Osaka, Japan, NJPW gives us The New Beginning in Osaka. Featuring three championship matches and six singles matches, New Japan ends their New Beginning tour with each member of LIJ in singles competition against a member of Chaos. How will each of them fair? Let’s find out.
Yuji Nagata def. Katsuya Kitamura @ 10:59 via Backdrop Hold
Nagata got the best match out of Kitamura that we’ve seen so far in his young career. They kept it basic, sticking to power moves and fighting spirit. The action got intense when Kitamura applied the Argentine backbreaker rack, Nagata’s partner, Nakanishi’s, finisher. Once that happened, he and Nagata exchanged strikes and slaps across the face. This was awesome. Nagata really stepped up the intensity to make this one feel special. Kitamura did relatively well considering his experience. He had several power moves, including a great gutwrech suplex. All in all this was as good as you could expect and likely over most people’s expectations.
Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado def. Roppongi 3K @ 10:22 via Kanemaru Boston Crab on SHO
Team Suzuki-Gun targeted SHO’s injured back early and often, like they had continuously been doing this entire week. Although they could have won via cunt out, they decided to inflict more damage and prove themselves as the next challengers for the junior tag titles. Despite his best efforts, SHO could not overcome the damage he had taken to his back. He wasn’t without help, Rocky Romero attempted to distract the referee but Desperado and Kanemaru used it to their advantage and walloped SHO’s back with a chair. YOH was unable to provide much help, being held back by Desperado. Post-match, Kanemaru poured his whiskey on the titles before he and Desperado headed to the back. This was a lot of fun. Desperado and Kanemaru are my favorite SZKG combination. I’m looking forward to the rematch.
Makabe, Elgin, KUSHIDA & Taguchi def. Suzuki, Iizuka, Taichi & TAKA @ 11:53 via Makabe King Kong Knee Drop on TAKA
This was exactly what we thought it would be. Makabe got another win over Suzuki-Gun and is looking to avenge Tanahashi and take back the IC title from Suzuki. Not the most inspired match but it got the job done. The match started off hot with Makabe attacking Suzuki before the bell but when they had their exchange in the ring at about the seven minute mark, they couldn’t manage to do much to get a reaction. Hopefully their singles match gives much more inspired work than what we saw here today and I’m sure it will be.
White, Ishii & Yano def. Juice, Finlay & Henare @ 7:34 via Referee Stoppage on Henare from White
Another one of the same matches we’ve been seeing on the tour. It ended the exact way the last one did where White delivered multiple elbows to the side of Henare’s head, resulting in a stoppage. Fine match, continuing the feud between White and his dojo classmates. Ishii continues having nice little moments with Henare.
Between these two matches airs a video package of Rey Mysterio challenging Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger March 25th at New Japan’s ‘Strong Style Evolved’ show in Long Beach.
BUSHI def. Gedo @ 10:07 via MX
By removing BUSHI’s masks on back to back shows, Gedo has made this feud personal. In response, BUSHI came to the ring with hedge clippers and threated to cut Gedo’s beard. Gedo entered carrying with him both masks he took from BUSHI. Heated battle between the two, Gedo was a complete dick, tying BUSHI’s mask to the ropes. Young lion, Umino, assisted BUSHI by cutting him free with the hedge clippers. Gedo attempted to win via a dick kick but BUSHI escaped, attempted to use his mist but Gedo countered by slapping his face away while he spit. BUSHI kicked out of the Gedo Clutch and quickly connected with MX. Neither a bad or great match, some good moments and nice storytelling between these two.
Tetsuya Naito def. YOSHI-HASHI @ 16:46 via Destino
Y-H attacked Naito from behind during the latter’s entrance, immediately receiving boos. He followed up by using Naito’s signature fake-out dive, into the tranquillo pose. Naito rebounded quickly and aggressively, targetting Y-H’s neck and stood over him confidently while the referee checked on Y-H. Battling through, Y-H denies Naito of his signature slingshot corner dropkick and dives onto him to the outside before giving a neckbreaker on the stage. Naito proceeded to battle out of Y-H’s butterfly lock attempts and they get into a slapping exchange. Y-H comes out in favor, lands a huge lariat, follows up with a sitout powerbomb and locks in the butterfly lock. Naito nearly passes out but manages to reach the ropes just before the referee stops the match. They fire up in the closing stretch, Y-H refuses to stay down, popping up after a rolling Liger kick and Dragon suplex. One Destino lead directly into another Destino finally keeps Y-H down for the three count. Awesome match. I say this after every match between these two, Naito is Y-H’s best opponent. Every time they meet up they knock it out of the park. Well done. Post-match, Taichi attacks Naito from behind.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Will Ospreay (c) def. Hiromu Takahashi @ 20:05 via OsCutter
Starting off by sharing forearm strikes to the neck, both then do a pair of fake out dives before Ospreay attempts a Sasake Special. He is caught and given a German suplex to the floor for his troubles and Hiromu follows up with a release over the head suplex into the guard rails. He gets Ospreay back into the ring and attempts to keep him grounded. Fighting back with a headkick and a springboard forearm, Ospreay takes control until Hiromu uses Ospreay’s speed to his advantage, grabbing Ospreay out of the air for a powerbomb and release German suplex. The advantage prompts Hiromu to attempt and land a Sunset flip powerbomb to the outside. Quickly, he climbs to the top rope and hits a diving senton from the top to the floor. He gets only a nearfall and Ospreay, with the advantage, hits an Essex Destroyer and Imploding 450 for a nearfall. Hiromu counters the OsCutter with a neckbreaker and the two start another strike exchange. Hiromu caves in Opreay’s chest but is caught with a Cheeky Nandos and Poison Rana from the second rope. Kicking out at one, and countering Ospreay into a Candian Destroyer, Hiromu counters another OsCutter attempt into a release German suplex but eats a standing Spanish Fly from Ospreay. Getting a little cheeky, Ospreay decides to hit Hiromu with his own finish, the Time Bomb, before finally landing the OsCutter for the win. Awesome, awesome match. Exactly what you’d expect and even more. Two of the best at their particular style giving us everything they have and producing at an extremely high level. This will be one to remember when making your match of the year lists.
NEVER Openweight Championship
Hirooki Goto (c) def. EVIL via GTR @ 20:19
They begin by testing each other’s strength with shoulder tackles before EVIL manages to lay Goto out with a lariat and they spill to the outside. EVIL wraps a chair around Goto’s head and rams him into the ring post, leaving him for dead. The referee decides not to count, instead letting Goto take time to recover. Not standing for this, EVIL brings Goto back into the ring, landing a sidewalk slam and a running senton. Goto fires back with a huge desperation lariat, finally evening the odds. Countering a Darkness Falls, Goto applies a sleeper but EVIL fights out and hits another big lariat to Goto on the apron. Once again he takes the match to the outside, this time piling some chairs on top of each other. He’s unable to hit Darkness Falls onto said chairs, instead Goto drops him with a suplex onto them. Back in the ring, another huge lariat fired off by Goto into the corner. He takes EVIL onto the second rope and the two exchange forearms. EVIL pushes Goto off the ropes, onto the referee, who is then knocked out and EVIL uses that time to his advantage and chokes Goto with his necklace. Goto powers out and lands an Ushigoroshi and the two run at each other exchanging lariats back and forth. EVIL wins the exchange and follows with Darkness Falls for a two count. They counter back and forth before EVIL is finally caught with the GTR and takes the fall. Completely different style from the previous match. They worked hard but the crowd wasn’t nearly as into this match. By no means bad, they worked their way up and managed to give a solid match but nothing that I personally would call must-see.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kazuchika Okada (c) def. SANADA via Rainmaker @ 32:13
SANADA took control early, applying a headlock which Okada eventually countered into a wristlock and pin attempt to get them back on equal footing. Once back up, they trade wrist locks until SANADA handsprings out and once more, a standoff. Okada hit a couple hip tosses but got aggressive too early and SANADA made him pay by driving him into the turnbuckles and dropping him face first onto the guard rails from the apron. He continues the attack by delivering a piledriver onto the ramp and walks back into the ring, making Okada come to him. As soon as Okada returns, SANADA lands a standing moonsault, then a fake-out moonsailt into a low dropkick to Okada’s face. The crowd begins to rally around Okada but SANADA drops him with another piledriver, this time in the ring, for a nearfall. SANADA goes in for the kill too soon, giving Okada too much space, and eats a flapjack because of his overconfident nature. Okada begins teeing off on him with strikes and lands a ddt for a nearfall. They go back to the outside, Okada tosses SANADA over the railing and gives a drapping DDT to the floor. Back in the ring, SANADA tries to power back but is unable to amount for much. The crowd begins rallying behind SANADA. Rainmaker pose from Okada but SANADA ducks and hits a backdrop suplex. Okada charges in at SANADA with a boot but is caught, he runs the ropes but SANADA jumps over him and Okada spills to the outside. SANADA hits a plancha, followed up by another plancha and brings Okada back into the ring for a springboard dropkick. They have a fast paced suplex counter exchange before SANADA eventually attempts the Skull End but Okada reaches the ropes quickly. Strikes begin landing on them both and Okada crumples. SANADA lands a huge uppercut and Okada again falls. He charges SANADA but eats a TKO. They counter each other’s signature submissions until SANADA is able to lock in Skull End, dropping Okada to the mat. Huge reaction from the crowd. After struggling for a couple minutes, Okada manages to get to the ropes. SANADA climbs to the top for a moonsault but lands on his feet when he sees Okada move out of the way. In desperation, Okada attempts a Rainmaker but SANADA ducks and hits a Rainmaker of his own! Responding to this insult, Okada locks in Skull End, lets go and nails his signature dropkick. SANADA is able to rebound quickly, lock in another Skull End and nearly cause Okada to pass out. He climbs the ropes, hits a moonsault for a nearfall. Weakened, Okada manages only an extremely weak Rainmaker that doesn’t lay SANADA out. He goes for another one but SANADA ducks, floats over but is caught for a spinning Tombstone Piledriver. Okada yells, picks SANADA back up and hits the Rainmaker for the win. Awesome, Awesome match. Their best singles match to date. Strong performance from SANADA, one of the best matches in Okada’s current reign. Post-match Okada gives his speech. He says that LIJ are great but he is better. He follows up by saying that it doesn’t matter who wins New Japan Cup, he will beat them. Finally, he challenges Will Ospreay to a champion versus champion match at the anniversary show next month.
Great show from New Japan. They started off really strong and ended up delivering two absolutely must-see matches. Both the heavyweight and junior title matches met and exceeded expectations. Naito and Y-H had another great match, as they are now cemented to be known for and the two openers were also a lot of fun. A month and ten days in, this is definitely one of the best shows of the year so far.
Will Ospreay vs Hiromu Takahashi (Must-See)
Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA (Must-See)
Tetsuya Naito vs YOSHI-HASHI (Highly Recommended)
Yuji Nagata vs Katsuya Kitamura
Roppongi 3K vs Kanemaru & Desperado
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