NJPW The New Beginning in Osaka
February 11th, 2019 | Osaka Prefectural Gym in Osaka, Japan | Attendance: 5,570
After some less than stellar shows in Sapporo, NJPW ends the New Beginning tour with the big Osaka event. Typically, this is the best of the New Beginning shows. Two years ago, we got three MOTY candidates on one night. This year seems like another big show, with a major IWGP Title match at the top of the card.
Jushin Thunder Liger and TenKoji vs. Minoru Suzuki, TAKA Michinoku and Takashi Iizuka
Tenzan continued his attempts to get Takashi Iizuka to snap out of it. He sported a shirt from their days as a team. Of course, Iizuka was unfazed and it just set up a pre-match attack from Suzuki-Gun. Man, it feels like Minoru is just kind of on the roster. Even with the Tag Title shot he just had, he’s doing a lot of nothing. This was your typical match from everyone involved. Liger was fun, TenKoji worked well together, and Suzuki-Gun cheated throughout. The highlight was watching a rare interaction between Liger and Suzuki, two of the best to ever do it. They teased Iizuka saving Tenzan from a chair shot, only to hit Tenzan with it and get disqualified in 12:56. I’d say this went a bit too long. They got their point across and continued the story, but as a match, it simply happened. Inoffensive.[**]
Non-Title Match: Ayato Yoshida and Shota Umino vs. IWGP Tag Team Champions EVIL and SANADA
Excited for this one. I’ve enjoyed the Umino/Yoshida pairing and love EVIL/SANADA. They met in the World Tag League last year, but I ignore that so I missed it. The champions showed why they’re so far ahead of Umino and Yoshida. They utilized quick tags and tandem offense with the greatest of ease. Hopefully this title reign is great because EVIL and SANADA could end up in contention for best team of 2019. Umino and Yoshida showed a ton of heart, surviving a lot and dishing out a fair amount of punishment. Commentary even noted that SANADA probably took too much damage in this one. Eventually, the champs won after hitting Magic Killer in 10:08. A good match that worked as a showcase for the young guys, while letting us know that the champions are great, yet vulnerable. [***¼]
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions BUSHI and Shingo Takagi and IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito vs. El Desperado, Taichi and Yoshinobu Kanemaru
They ran this match in Sapporo (**¾) and it’s a combination of two title matches from the previous New Beginning event. To the surprise of nobody, Suzuki-Gun attacked before the bell. This is one of my least favorite SG combinations because I only like Desperado. The other two can leave and I wouldn’t miss them. There’s not a lot to say about this one because it’s everything we’ve seen a ton from these guys before. BUSHI and Desperado continued to feud over their masks, Shingo looked awesome, and the Naito/Taichi rivalry is still, you know, there. Naito hit Destino on Kanemaru to win in 11:02. A fine little match but nothing needing to be seen. [**¾]
Post-match, Roppongi 3K attacked BUSHI and Shingo to boos. A surprisingly heelish move by them. They took the titles and indicated that they wanted a title shot.
Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi w/ PIETER vs. Tomoaki Honma and YOSHI-HASHI
YOSHI-HASHI remains the worst. PIETER remains the best. This match was kind of in the middle but ranked closer to YOSHI-HASHI. It dragged at points and no part of it really stood out until the ending. YOSHI looked sluggish, Honma brought energy, and the Bullet Club duo showed solid chemistry again. Chase Owens got a big win by hitting Honma with a Package Piledriver at 9:38. It helped sell the finisher and being done to a guy with neck problems made it even more vicious. [**¼]
Fans were surprised to see the arrival of Kota Ibushi. He had been out since Wrestle Kingdom with a concussion. Many believed he’d go to AEW with Kenny Omega. Instead, Ibushi announced that he signed a two year deal with NJPW! That’s uncharacteristic for Ibushi. He plans to be part of the New Japan Cup.
The Guerrillas of Destiny w/ Jado vs. NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Champions Togi Makabe and Toru Yano
The NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Title match we recently got was split into two matches for this show. The Guerrillas jumped Makabe and Yano during their entrances because there hasn’t been enough of that yet. They proceeded to give us the usual match. I feel bad saying stuff like that so often, but a lot of NJPW undercards just run together. It’s so repetitive. Yano brought out his antics, but Tama Tonga used Jado’s cane to get the win in 9:44. He’s a bad boy again. I don’t care again. [**]
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Taiji Ishimori [c] vs. NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Champion Ryusuke Taguchi
Taguchi came out dressed as a comedy gimmick that Ishimori used to have, just to mess with him. MIND GAMES. This is kind of a spot that Taguchi thrives in. He rises up to a Jr. Title shot every year or so and delivers. This wasn’t as good as his encounter with Hiromu Takahashi, but it was still good. His plan to get in Ishimori’s head didn’t work too well. Since it failed, he had to get more serious and find ways to combat everything Ishimori had. Taguchi fired up and went into a flurry. He kept going for the Ankle Lock, but Ishimori found ways to survive. The crowd bit hard on a Dodon near fall. Ishimori escaped a second and hit Bloody Cross to retain in 16:10. A very good match thanks to a game Taguchi and some really good back and forth. Other than the Dodon close call, there wasn’t much drama. [***½]
After the match, Ishimori challenged Jushin Thunder Liger. He got up from commentary and accepted. Yes! Put the title on Liger, dammit!
Bad Luck Fale w/ The Bullet Club vs. Kazuchika Okada
Talk about a match we’ve seen before. Fale won in the G1 26 (**¾), but lost in the rematch at Destruction (**). Okada retained the title against him at Wrestling Dontaku ’17 (***½), but Fale won again in the G1 28 (**¼). Fale did great against Tanahashi, Nakamura, Ishii, & Shibata, but his stuff against Okada and Naito was hit or miss. Anyway, Okada came out of the gates hot. He was looking to get back on track following the Wrestle Kingdom defeat. Of course, the Bullet Club guys outside got involved because Gedo loves his shenanigans. I liked when Fale and Okada traded shots because it took two or three from him to equal one that Fale would throw. Following a ref bump (and people say Gedo doesn’t book like WWE), YOSHI-HASHI made the save when things broke down. Fale’s Grenade wasn’t enough to keep Okada down and you knew it was over. Okada rallied and used a pair of Rainmakers to take it in 18:10. A solid match from a big man/little man dynamic perspective. The shenanigans took away from it and ultimately, I want more desperation from Okada. The redemption angle is a good idea, but he doesn’t show it enough. I had the same issue with his G1 run. I want to see that struggle and desire to get back on top. It was missing here. [***]
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi [c] vs. Jay White w/ Gedo
Tanahashi beat White in Jay’s return at WK 12 (***¼). White beat Tanahashi in the G1 last year (***¾), while Tanahashi retained the G1 briefcase against him at King of Pro Wrestling (***). Right from the start, White showcased the character work he has made his calling card. He antagonized Tanahashi. It was as if he understood that Tanahashi was a better wrestler, so he opted to outwit him. Unlike Okada, who wanted to prove himself as the best, White is fine taking shortcuts and winning at all costs. I liked the little things like White avoiding a Tanahashi dropkick and simply slapping him in the head disrespectfully, rather than going into a new move. That’s who White is. He went after Tanahashi’s leg since he’s done it during the tour and made him tap last week. Tanahashi is a master, who returned the favor with dragon screws and the Cloverleaf. One of my favorite spots saw a pissed off Tana not break the Cloverleaf when White reached the ropes. Instead, he transitioned to a Styles Clash for a great near fall. From there, Tanahashi seemed on the verge of victory. However, White caught High Fly Flow and hit the Blade Runner to win the title in 30:28. A great match built around both characters. White was a vicious antagonist, while Tanahashi was the resilient babyface. It played off the rivalry and gave us some great drama down the stretch. White is a made man if that wasn’t already clear. [****¼]
Gedo made two decisions about the IWGP Heavyweight Title in 2019 that I agree completely with. Has hell frozen over? White has come so far in just a handful of years. Even with the bad Bullet Club affiliation, he’s been the most interesting character in NJPW over the past year. Fantastic.