Since 2011, the New Beginning shows have heralded NJPW’s start of the new year. While Wrestle Kingdom often hosts the conclusion of major storylines, the NB shows are often used to start new feuds or new challenges for NJPW’s top stars. But this year, it really feels like a new beginning for NJPW, as we have just witnessed Shinsuke Nakamura’s emotional farewell during the Road To New Beginning. So, the big question is, how will NJPW cope with the departure of arguably their biggest star? Let’s look at the card and try to find out:
David Finlay Jr vs Jay White:
With Tanaka and Komatsu out of the picture for he time being it’s up to wrestlers like Finlay and White to carry the Young Lions banner and help introduce the new generation of young NJPW Dojo graduates. It is therefore a bit surprsing that NJPW opted for a singles match between those two. Not that I’ complaining, on the contrary, but, a singles match between Young Lions is always something special, for the simple reason it doesn’t happen very often and it gives the wrestlers involved a chance to really shine. Now I have no doubts this match will be very good, given the amazing talents involved, but, the real question here is if NJPW might have some plans for the eventual winner. Whoever comes on top will have some momentum and NJPW might use that to push said wrestler towards, for example, the Junior Heavyweight title at some point. Time will tell whether that is the case or not, but, regardless, I have the feeling that NJPW is starting to groom White for bigger things so I’m going with him as the winner.
Winner: Jay White
CHAOS (Gedo, Kazushi Sakuraba and YOSHI-HASHI) vs Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask IV and Ryusuke Taguchi
It’s understandable that many observers will keep an eye on the CHAOS faction, to see how they deal with the departure of Nakamura, but IF something happens, and something probably will but more on this in my New Beginning in Niigata preview later this week, it won’t be in this match. Indeed this is one of those typical NJPW multi-wrestler tag matches whose main purpose is to give the wrestlers involved something to do. That being said CHAOS (more specifically Gedo and Sakuraba) does have a tag match against reDragon coming up on Sunday’s show, so I do expect them to win here, possibly by having Sakuraba pin Taguchi. As for Liger and Tiger Mask, something might happen here, but, they’ve been partners/rivals for so long now that I honestly have no idea what their relation is supposed to be right now. The match will, perhaps, shed some light on that situation too.
Manabu Nakanishi and Yuji Nagata vs Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima)
This could easily be dubbed The Battle Of The Veterans, but one with an additional purpose as I have the feeling the winning team might very well become current Tag Champions GBH’s next challengers. So, Tencozy is the obvious favorite, even more so when you know that tensions have been teased between Nagata and Nakanishi. Besides, as often said before, Nakanishi, and I say this with all due respect, is barely mobile these days so I don’t see him in a Championship match of any kind. That being said, Tenzan has also been plagued by injuries in recent years so its also sometimes painful to watch him these days. Too bad Nagata and Kojima aren’t the ones forming a team, that would not only be an awesome team, they would also form a very viable threat to the champions.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Evil and BUSHI) vs Michael Elgin, KUSHIDA and Juice Robinson:
Naito’s Los Ingobernables are in a somewhat strange place right now. They seem poised to become a major faction in 2016, with Naito leading the charge, but, the time isn’t quite right yet, so we find them in this match whose sole purpose seems to be the build-up of the match between BUSHI and KUSHIDA at the second NB show. Nothing wrong with that, but the presence of Elgin seems a bit strange because he is another one from whom big NJPW things are expected in 2016. So, perhaps the first stage of a Elgin/Los Ingobernables war? Could be, especially since Naito and EVIL will battle Elgin and Jay White on the second show. But for this match, BUSHI needs the win the most so I go for…
Winner: Los Ingobernables de Japon (love that name)
NEVER Openweight 6-man Tag Team Championship Match: Toru Yano, Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe (c) vs Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Bad Luck Fale and Yujiro Takahashi):
A rematch from Wrestle Kingdom 10 but one that does make sense given Yano and Co were the inaugural champions. Should be pretty much the same as before with the Briscoes and Tonga as the MVP’s and Yano as the entertainer. The real question is, what happens after? The Briscoes have made it clear they like it in NJPW and wouldn’t mind further bookings so that seems set. As for Yano, even a mid-card belt as this one is great for his character so that picture fits as well. But does it then mean The Briscoes will join CHAOS? They wouldn’t be a bad fit, on the contrary, but with the future of CHAOS in question one has to wonder what their role will be. For the Bullet Club boys, having the belts won’t make a damn difference so I don’t see them going over. Their future is with Tonga forming a team with either Fale or Hall and after GBH’s belts in my opinion. Regardless of what happens, this should be fun.
Winner: Yano and the Briscoes
Three Way match for the Junior heavyweight Tag Team Championship: The Youngs Bucks (Nick and Matt Jackson) (c) vs Matt Sydal and Ricochet vs reDragon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly):
They are clearly going for an elimination process in this particular scene. At WK 10 there were 4 teams, RPG Vice got pinned so they’re out which leads us to this match. Given the way The Young Bucks have hot-potatoed the belts between them in recent months, many expect reDragon to win here, but the question is, who gets pinned? This will all lead to a two team match at, likely, Invasion Attack, so, The Young Bucks or Sydal and Ricochet. From the wrestling fans point of view, this is simple. Young Bucks have been there before, Sydal and Ricochet is a new team composed of two of the most exiting performers in the world right now, so Young Bucks get pinned which leaves Sydal and Ricochet against reDragon, right? Wrong, if the Champions get pinned they have the right to an automatic re-match so nothing changes, which is, perhaps, exactly what NJPW booker Gedo wants. Of course, Sydal and Ricochet have a good chance of getting pinned, which would leave something we have all seen before and that is reDragon vs Young Bucks. Finally, what if Sydal and Ricochet take the title? Well I was for that solution from the start, but I don’t know what contractual obligations Ricochet/Prince Puma has with Lucha Underground, so there might be some difficulties there. Word of warning, for my prediction, I’ve let the wrestling fan in me talk…
Winner: Ricochet and Matt Sydal
NEVER Openweight Championship match: Katsuyori Shibata (c) vs Tomohiro Ishii
Another mandatory WK 10 re-match, this time Ishii is on a quest to regain “his” title from Shibata. But actually the situation hasn’t really changed, Ishii has done everything he could do with the title and has likely a big role to play on the Sunday show (but more on this later) while Shibata could really benefit from a long title reign, so I don’t see a title change here. What will be interesting if to see if those two can equal or surpass their WK 10 tour-de-force. Should be great.
Winner: Katsuyori Shibata
Bullet Club (Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows and Kenny Omega) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi and GBH (Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma):
The match that serves as build-up for two of the Championship matches on the next show. Tanahashi was revealed as Omega’s “Mystery opponent” for the vacant IC belt, which was a no-brainer to me since they needed to steer Tanahashi from Okada AND they needed a big name to replace Nakamura as Omega’s opponent so there was not really any other choice than Tanahashi. I think it’s the correct call as Omega needs that defining match to confirm his transition from junior Heavyweight to Heavyweight and Tanahashi can definitely give him that. As for the tag team titles, well, you all know the story. Anderson and Gallows are on their way to WWE, so the match on Sunday will likely be their last for NJPW. No doubt they will receive a fitting send-off, after years of loyal services to NJPW, but, that send-off won’t include the tag team belts, because Gedo isn’t crazy, he just looks like it. I’m mentioning this because, since there is no suspense on Sunday when it come to the tag belts, it actually makes little sense to have the Bullet Club win here. So basically, Tanahashi will win just to further piss Omega off. Again, should be fun.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Hirooki Goto:
Let me start by saying this should be a very good match. Okada is, of course, one of the best out there while Goto is one of NJPW’s most dependable performers. So if there is a reason for this match to happen, that’s it. Because, unfortunately for Goto, there isn’t really any doubt that Okada will win here. Sure it’s always possible they pull the same trick as last year, with Goto beating Nakamura for the IC title to kick-start a lengthy feud, but having him do that again on this occasion would achieve little. Goto, as good as he is, is not really “Ace” material so his place is the upper-mid-card, as the guy who can give any champion the fight of their live. Okada, on the other hand, is the future of the promotion, so, having him lose here, right after he vanquished his biggest demon (Tanahashi) would make little sense. Besides, as hinted several times already, I have the feeling I already know the name of Okada’s next opponent and that his name will be revealed this Sunday. So, what we will be getting here is a great match and nothing else. And, you know what? Sometimes it’s all we need.
NJPW The New Beginning in Okada will take place this Thursday at the Edion Arena in Okada. As always, you can watch the event by subscribing to New Japan World for just 999 yen. Full review of the show on Thursday and, of course, full preview of NB in Niigata on Friday, don’t miss it if you wanna know more about the CHAOS situation.
Tags: bullet club, BUSHI, GBH, Hirooki Goto, hiroshi tanahashi, Katsuyori Shibata, kazuchika okada, Kenny Omega, Kushida, Los Ingobernables, Matt Sydal, Michael Elgin, New beginning In Osaka, njpw, redragon, Ricochet, Tencozy, Tetsuya Naito, The Briscoes, The Young Bucks, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano