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NJPW ‘The New Beginning in Sapporo’ (2.2.19) Results & Review

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The first of two nights in Sapporo for The New Beginning tour sees two special singles matches between members of LIJ and Suzuki-Gun. New Japan warms up for tomorrow’s big night of title matches that’ll have LIJ and Suzuki-Gun clash on three different occasions. Tonight, the main event is the ‘Dream Team’ of Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada taking on Jay White and Bad Luck Fale. Let’s get started!

Ren Narita def. Yuya Uemura @ 9:45 via Bridging Overhead Suplex – **3/4
The young lions have had a hot start to 2019 and that continued here tonight. Narita controlled the match early but a corner dropkick by Uemura brought the match into his favor. Although the junior of the two young lions, Uemura was the one able to lock in the Boston Crab, not Narita, and he did it twice. Narita wanted to end the match with a belly-to-belly but ate a headbutt from Uemura instead and was thrown over Uemura for a suplex. The match was fully in favor of Uemura when out of nowhere, Narita caught him running in with a bridging overhead suplex to pick up the win. Another strong match from the young lion crop.

Manabu Nakanishi & Toa Henare def. Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida @ 8:54 via Toa Bottom on Umino – **1/2
The rivalry between Henare and Umino continues to heat up. Clearly on top of his class, Umino has his sights set on the guys a step ahead of him, namely Henare. The beginning of the match sees both teams trade double teams to gain the advantage, the highlight being a solo effort by Yoshida deadlifting Nakanishi over for a suplex. The match breaks down and Umino begins teeing off on Henare, hitting a flurry of strikes in the corner, dropping him with a suplex and transitioning into a cross armbreaker as soon as Henare kicks out. Henare gets o the ropes, looks to make his comeback, only for Umino to turn his strike into another cross armbreaker. Nakanishi helps free Henare from Umino’s grasp, giving Henare enough time to regroup for a pop-up Samoan Drop. He eats a few slaps from Umino but fires back with a huge headbutt and finishes the young lion with a spear and Toa Bottom. Great fire from these two in particular. Umino is ready for excursion.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tiger Mask IV def. Takashi Iizuka & TAKA Michinoku @ 9:26 via Disqualification – **1/4
Tenzan takes the mic before the match to call out Iizuka. He says he wants to tag with his former partner before he retires which is scheduled for later this month. The madman responds by attacking Tenzan and choking him with the mic cord. The match goes to the outside where both Tenzan and Tiger are destroyed with chairs before TAKA unmasks Iizuka and all hell breaks loose. The madman chases everyone around, looking to take a bite out of anyone he can. Eventually Tiger’s had enough, dishes out a short flurry of kicks and drivers, but this is Tenzan’s battle. Wanting to send a message to his friend, Tenzan sets up for a Moonsault but Iizuka has other plans. He attacks Tenzan with a chair for the DQ finish and continues the attack with his Iron Fingers from Hell. After Suzuki-Gun clear the ring, Tenzan takes the mic again and says he won’t give up on Iizuka. A wild Iizuka-style brawl but with his career coming to an end there was a new level of sentimental attachment brought by Tenzan.

Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomoaki Honma & Ryusuke Taguchi def. Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi & Taiji Ishimori @ 13:24 via Yano Schoolboy on Yujiro – **1/2
The Bullet Club are growing ever more impatient with ‘Good Guy’ Tama Tonga. Despite Tama, they’re able to isolate Honma and decide they won’t be tagging him back in. Even on the apron, Tama proves to be a hindrance to his team. He doesn’t allow them to give the boots in the corner, even shoving Yujiro’s leg off the top rope to get his point across. Jado takes Tama’s place by getting involved on the outside while Tama stays clear of any shenanigans. Yano uses the disfunction to his advantage by sneaking a shot low to Yujiro and rolling him up for the win. This ‘Good Guy’ Tama stuff has helped keep these matches from being a redundant slog. At least there’s some intentional comedy to come out of these matches. Whether anything comes of it is yet to be seen.

Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado def. Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI @ 13:29 via Taichi Dangerous Suplex on BUSHI – **3/4
Naito requests one more time that Taichi hold the ropes for him on his entry to the ring. Taichi rolls his eyes but obliges. When the juniors of Suzuki-Gun get the jump before the bell, Taichi stays put, leading to a stare off between he and Naito. Taichi offers his hand for a shake but Naito requests a fist bump. Taichi responds with an eye gouge, Naito fakes out a dive and both hit a pose before spitting on one another. We saw a fiery side of Naito, coming out of the corner with a Hurricanrana, but Taichi was quick to put an end to his short bursts with a series of enizguris. Naito ducked the Buzzsaw kick, hit an enziguri of his own and followed with a single-leg dropkick. BUSHI flurries with a double rana on the juniors, looks for MX but takes the whiskey spray. Naito is leveled by the Buzzsaw and Taichi puts BUSHI away with a backdrop suplex. Afterwards, Desperado unmasks BUSHI and Miho Abe prances around the ring in his mask while Taichi poses with Naito’s IC title before throwing it out of the ring. One thing is for sure, Naito versus Taichi will have a lot of attitude.

Minoru Suzuki def. SANADA @ 19:14 via Gotch-Style Piledriver – ****
For the last week there has been a battle between these two over whether or not SANADA could put Suzuki in the Paradise Lock. He caught Suzuki’s boot right off the bat and attempted the lock but Suzuki rolled away. They traded holds, going back and forth with headlocks until SANADA gets control and attempts the lock once again. Suzuki kicks his way free but SANADA is quick to follow up with a low dropkick to the knee and try yet again. Suzuki transitions the hold into a cross armbreaker which SANADA saw coming and transitioned Suzuki’s hold into the Paradise Lock. The crowd comes unglued, Milano Collection AT pops out of his seat and shoots SANADA a thumbs up. SANADA achieved his goal; he’s pissed Suzuki off. Once SANADA dropkicks Suzuki on the rear, it’s on.

Huge flurry of forearms in the corner by Suzuki. SANADA bails to the outside but Suzuki is quick on the follow, landing a PK from the apron. The match takes to the crowd where Suzuki rages, throwing SANADA into chairs and throwing barricades over the top of him. SANADA sprints back to the ring before the referee can count him out but Suzuki isn’t ready to give SANADA anything. He stomps SANADA on the back of the head repeatedly. SANADA powers back to his feet, they trade overhand chops, throws Suzuki into the ropes, Suzuki hangs onto the ropes, looks for the PK but SANADA hangs onto the boot looks Dragon Screw, winds up in a Suzuki cross armbreaker instead.

Once SANADA gets to the ropes, Suzuki tees off with strikes again before SANADA fires a low dropkick to the knee and hits the Dragon Screw. He sends Suzuki to the ropes but Suzuki hangs on and bails. SANADA is quick to follow him out with a plancha, sends Suzuki back in where he’s able to comeback with a boot in the corner and a PK. They trade overhands once more and SANADA comes out on top. He heads to the corner for a springboard dropkick but Suzuki sidesteps it and locks in the Sleeper. Suzuki transitions to the rear-naked choke which SANADA is able to flip through and lock in the Skull End. SANADA takes to the top rope for the finishing Moonsault only to wind up eating Suzuki’s knees.

More strikes are traded and SANADA tells Suzuki to bring it. Both begin tearing into each other with strikes to the face and SANADA officially enters Suzuki’s domain. Suzuki obliterates SANADA with slaps and ducks SANADA’s comeback, applies the Sleeper, goes for the Gotch, but SANADA backdrops out and locks Skull End. Suzuki finds a way to escape and is quick to capitalize with the Gotch-style Piledriver.

This was an excellent match. Suzuki was in rare form and really came out to play. On par with Wrestle Kingdom-level matches.

EVIL def. Zack Sabre Jr. @ 22:01 via EVIL – ***1/2
Out for revenge and to prove he can hang, EVIL went hold for hold with Sabre early. He wanted to also boast his power advantage, droving Sabre down with a shoulder tackle, before reapplying a double wristlock. He repeatedly had the answers to Sabre’s usual counters but ever the innovator, Sabre found a way out he hadn’t shown EVIL yet, taking the leg and arm in the process. Sabre takes EVIL to the corner, gives him a European uppercut and takes him over for a Cobra Twist. EVIL responds with one of his own, drops Sabre with a Sidewalk Slam and follows up ith a discuss lariat and Bulldog out of the corner. He armbars Sabre which of course Sabre has an answer to, floating through into a Cobra Twist and transitions into Hurrah and then into a triangle choke.

EVIL is able to use his power advantage to hoist Sabre up for a powerbomb and launches him off the apron with a forearm. He grabs Sabre and takes him up the ramp with the intention of hitting Darkness Falls. Sabre turns it into a Guillotine choke which EVIL is able to turn into a Fisherman’s Buster, directly on the ramp. EVIL doesn’t allow Sabre time to regroup, instead bringing him back in the ring for Darkness Falls. Sabre gets free of the STO, drills EVIL with a PK, tees off with uppercuts and other PK for a two count.

EVIL fires back with a lariat in the corner and takes Sabre to the top rope. Sabre is able to lock in the Cobra Twist but has to let go when the referee gives the count, allowing EVIL the chance for a headbutt and right into position for a suplex off the top. Sabre sidesteps the STO, traps EVIL in the European Clutch for two and goes quickly into a bridging Jackknife for another two count. EVIL lands a boot, headbutt, lariat, sets up for the STO but Sabre transitions the hold to a bridging victory roll for yet another two. EVIL breaks free, finally gets the STO and picks up the win.

Great back and forth match. EVIL finally proved that he has the answer to Sabre, showing off that he can hang with the submission master.

Jay White & Bad Luck Fale def. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada @ 24:36 via White TTO on Tanahashi – ***1/2
The dream team’s first solo tag match since their alliance has formed. White took to English commentary and took exception with his opponent’s dream team moniker, instead declaring himself and Fale as the real dream team. Tanahashi and White start off. Tanahashi completely dominates, avoiding White’s usual spots and keeping control via a headlock. White only gets free by pulling the hair. Okada comes in and both he and Tanahashi double White with a pair of sentons and elbow drops. Fale puts an end to their flurry but Okada manages to lock in the rear-naked choke which Fale wisely just falls back on to crush Okada under his weight. They take the match outside where White dominates Tanahashi, throwing him into the rails, covering him with the barricade and slamming Uemura on top of him.

Back in the ring, Fale is standing on Okada’s throat until White makes his way back in to driver Okada into the corner with a suplex. Tanahashi comes in for the save, affording Okada the time to catch White with a flapjack and Tanahashi follows with a flurry of strikes that White only puts an end to by dropping Tanahashi with a chop block to the back of the knee. White drops Tanahashi with a Saito suplex but Fale is unable to keep Okada down. Okada nails Fale with a DDT and scoops him up with ease for a slam, but Fale is quickly back up to his feet and catches Okada in a Samoan Drop and a splash.

Dropkicking his way out of the Grenade, Okada’s comeback is ended by a shoulder tackle by Fale. White and Tanahashi begin trading strikes, leading to a Slingblade from Tanahashi followed up by a Dragon Screw. Tanahashi is about to give Fale the same treatment but instead passing the leg to Okada who is the one to Dragon Screw Fale. Out at ringside, Gedo trips Tanahashi to end the flurry and allowing White to regroup for a Flatliner + Deadlift German combo.

The dream team have to dig deep. They help each other avoid disaster by shoving the other out of the way to hit each of their own Slingblade and dropkick. Then comes their tandem Tombstone, Style’s Clash, top rope elbow but Gedo cuts off the High Fly Flow and Fale drops Tanahashi with a Grenade. Tanahashi Twist & Shouts out of a Blade Runner, hits one on Fale as well but Gedo distracts the referee, allowing White to come in with a chair. Tanahashi ducks the chair, turns his attention to Gedo, gives him a slap, affording White the time to hit Tanahashi on the knee with the chair. Inverted Dragon Screw, followed by an inverted figure four by White. Okada comes in to make the save but Fale catches and drops him with a Bad Luck Fale. Tanahashi is forced to tap.

White takes the mic and declares that there should no longer be any doubt that he’s winning. He just forced Tanahashi to tap. White posing with the title upsets Tanahashi who charges back in the ring only to get dropped with the Blade Runner. After spitting on Tanahashi, White walks to the back, title in hands. That’s how we end the show.

Very strong show that arguably peaked early but still managed to end on a high note. The final three matches all delivered. A successful show through and through.

Recommended Matches
Suzuki vs SANADA
EVIL vs Sabre
White & Fale vs Tanahashi & Okada

Along with providing show reviews from across Japan, Robert McCauley is also an editor for FightboothPW.

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