The first of two back-to-back nights in Sapporo for New Japan Pro-Wrestling as they kick of The New Beginning. Tonight both the Intercontinental and 6-Man championships are on the line. Let’s see how New Japan began The New Beginning.
Michael Elgin def. Katsuya Kitamura @ 8:04 via Elgin Bomb
Stylistically you’ve got to believe this is the best match for Kitamura at this point in his career. These two big manned each other around the ring with power moves. The win was never in question but Kitamura had some impressive feats of strength and all around the match was solid aside from an absolutely blatant spot call from Elgin.
Tenzan, Nakanishi, Liger, Tiger & KUSHIDA def. Iizuka, Kanemaru, Taichi, Desperado & TAKA @ 8:07 via KUSHIDA Hoverboard Lock on TAKA
Standard match you’d expect from these two teams. The faces got their signature spots in, shenanigans from Suzuki-Gun, the usual. Not memorable but fun while it lasted.
Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano def. Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens @ 7:07 via Ishii Brainbuster on Owens
This pretty much ended up being a showcase for Ishii. It’s nice these guys got a standard tag with less people so that they could show more offense, but ultimately there was nothing here except for Ishii being a boss which will never receive a complaint from me.
NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
Fale, Tama & Tanga (c) def. Makabe, Taguchi & Henare @ 9:14 via Tama Dream Catcher on Henare
A surprising defense by the champions here and I’m not a fan. These three as a team do nothing for me and this ultimately felt like a nothing match. Tama and Henare are both super athletic and showcased some good moments but overall the match fell flat and didn’t feel like it was for a championship worth caring about, which it isn’t.
Cody, Page & Scurll def. Ibushi, Juice & Finlay @ 10:46 via Page Rite of Passage on Finlay
Far and away the match of the night at this point in the show. They jammed several really fun sequences into ten minutes. Page had Ibushi on his shoulders, Cody hit a Springboard Dropkick which Ibushi proceeded to flip out of and was the sickest spot of the match. Nothing absolutely must-see but the most entertaining match start to finish so far. This Bullet Club trio would be a better team to hold the 6-Man titles.
Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi def. Will Ospreay & YOSHI-HASHI @ 11:20 via Naito Roll Up on Ospreay
Really fun and energetic match whenever Y-H wasn’t involved. More times than not Y-H will suck all the fun out of a match but today he made up for it by obliterating Naito with chops post-match. Naito won with a dick kick and roll up on Ospreay and even after taking shots from Y-H, celebrated with Hiromu afterwards. The hype for Ospreay/Hiromu remains high and now there is at least a small amount for Naito/Y-H.
Okada, Goto & Gedo def. EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI @ 11:51 via Okada Cobra Clutch on BUSHI
Previews of three upcoming singles matches February 10th ends in a nasty way. Okada lays SANADA out and stuffs his mouth full of Okada dollars. This match now claims match of the night to this point. They did a lot, a lot, to add interest in the upcoming Okada/SANADA championship match which felt lukewarm coming into tonight. On another note, SANADA has dyed the top of his mohawk blonde and is sporting new pants, both of which look awesome. Maybe not a match you have to see but the post-match segment is something to seek out.
Omega & Young Bucks def. White & Roppongi 3K @ 10:53 via Omega Assisted Indytaker on SHO
New contender for match of the night. All six guys were really on point. The fluidity of the Young Bucks matched up against the sheer strength of White and 3K matches for a great dynamic. Although Omega scored the win, White came from behind him and hit the Bladerunner on the US champion. Tomorrow the titles are on the line. Both matches should be really good.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Minoru Suzuki def. Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) @ 32:29 via Heel Hook
High drama main event from these two wrestling legends. For the second time in 2018 Suzuki fought a battle on his own, without Suzuki-Gun by his side. He indeed was the Lonely Warrior. Tanahashi came into the match knowingly banged up, especially the arm. Instead of targeting the injured arm, Suzuki decided to focus on the knee. He even hit his Gotch-style Piledriver but wanted to make Tanahashi tap. The pin wasn’t good enough, Tanahashi would have to audibly give up the championship to Suzuki. Despite having Iron Will, Suzuki managed to cause the iron to rust. For two aged wrestlers (Suzuki, 49. Tanahashi, 41) this style was the correct way to go and their experience really shined. Although they spent nearly the entire second half of the match trading holds, they never lost the crowd. This was an extremely good match that I deem as must-see.
As expected when looking at the card, this was a one match show. There were several good matches but the main event is the one to go out of your way to see. The feud between Okada and SANADA has heated up significantly already and the semi-main was a lot of fun. Kota Ibushi and company were the other standouts of the show along with Kitamura having a solid outing as far as his standards are concerned. Overall the show was good, pretty easy three and a half hours to get through.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Minoru Suzuki (Must-See)
Omega & Young Bucks vs White & Roppongi 3K
Okada, Goto & Gedo vs EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI (Post-Match Must-See)
Cody, Page & Scurll vs Ibushi, Juice & Finlay
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