Much to prove for NJPW on their second new beginning card. Were they gonna play it safe, or, on the contrary, move forward to prove they don’t need Nakamura and Styles to put on great wrestling card? In other words, was Pat Metalhead grumpy at the end of the show or did he enjoy it? Well, read and find out:
Bullet Club (The Young Bucks and Cody Hall) defeated Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV and Captain New Japan in 5:55 via pinfall:
Pretty standard opener with the always popular legends and the Bucks and Hall who riled up the crowd with their heel antics. They kept things short which is probably for the best when the good Captain is in there. Amusingly, even Tiger Mask and Liger seemed to realize this as they refused to tag in the Captain for awhile. That proved to be smart since, as soon as the Captain got in there, his team was doomed. Tiger Mask and Liger delayed the inevitable for a few minutes, but, in the end, the Captain did wath he’s paid for and that is eating pinfalls. Three-man Indie-Taker for the pin. Fun while it lasted.
reDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) defeated Gedo and Kazushi Sakuraba in 8:25 via pinfall:
Another rather short match but one that gave us exactly what we wanted to see. Some fun stuff from Gedo and some good interaction between Sakuraba and O’Reilly. The result was, of course, a foregone conclusion, Gedo got pinned after a Chasing The Dragon. Solid little match here.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Matt Sydal and Ricochet defeated David Finlay Jr, Ryusuke Taguchi, Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi in 8:14 via pinfall:
Fun skit pre-match with Nakanishi and Nagata doing their usual warm-up (which involves bumping their shoulders), Taguchi and Finlay did the same, then Taguchi did it with Nagata, Nakanishi told Tagushi to do the warm-up with him too to which Taguchi said: thank you very much before getting the hell out of there. Slow start of the match with Tenzan and Nakanishi in there but things picked up as soon as the others tagged in. Kojima and Nagata once again proved that, they might be veterans but they are indeed not done yet. As for Sydal and Ricochet, they toned down things somewhat, to be a better fit for their teammates and opponents, but still got in some spectacular (and crowd-pleasing) moves. The finish fittingly involved Ricochet and Finlay who took a Shooting Star Press to end things. All in all an enjoyable NJPW tag match.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito and EVIL) defeated Jay White and Michael Elgin in 8:38 via pinfall:
Interesting pairing here between the very promising Young Lion White and the super-over Elgin. Naito once again stalked NJPW commentator Nogami pre-match then did a fist-bump with Milano and even got him to open the ropes for him. When Nogami asked Milano why Naito liked him all of a sudden, the former wrestler answered: “I have no clue”. Naito is awesome in his unpredictable heel role. Match was good with everyone working well together. They teased Elgin vs EVIL and I am fine with that. I’m also fine with Elgin vs Naito for that matter. Hell I’m fine with everything that involves Los Ingobernables nowadays. White got his chance to shine also, but, ultimately went back to his Young Lion duties and took the pin after an EVIL STO. Post-match, EVIL tossed around some Young Lions while Naito killed the referee. Milano has indeed no clue what to make of all this while Nogami and Naito once again got into a “LOS”/”Justice” shout-off. Could it be we’re getting Naito vs Nagata? Guess what, I’m fine with that too. Good, fun stuff.
6-man NEVER Openweight Tag Team Championship Match – Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe and Toru Yano defeated Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Bad Luck Fale and Yujiro Takahashi) (c) in 8:20 via pinfall:
This one was a little better than the Osaka match, mainly because Yano kept things entertaining with his comedy routine while Mark Briscoe worked his ass off to prove he indeed belongs in New Japan. Not that anyone was doubting that, but it must be said that this series of matches against the Bullet Club has been somewhat underwhelming. Furthermore, Takahashi came into the ring without his girlfriend which really pissed me off. I mean what’s the point of booking Takahashi into a match if we’re not gonna get his girlfriend’s entrance? Anyway, decent match, but this all felt a little pointless to be honest. It’s seems like the Bullet Club is out of the picture for those belts now, so let’s see where they go next with this.
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI and Tomohiro Ishii) defeated Katsuyori Shibata, Hirooki Goto and Juice Robinson in 16:32 via pinfall:
Very anticipated match with some intriguing storylines involving CHAOS, Goto and Shibata. Okada was the star here, of course, having the crowd firmly behind him while he looked awesome in everything he did. They continued the Okada/Goto tease with the Champ continuously getting the better of Goto which pissed Shibata off to no end. Shibata even gave his Meiyu Tag partner a wake-up call in the from of a very stiff kick to the back. We also got more Ishii/Shibata interaction which looked awesome as always. Finally Juice Robinson did well here, having some spirited exchanges with Okada and even getting the crowd into buying a near-fall on the Champ, which is quite a feat when you think about it. Okada obviously couldn’t let that slide and one Rainmaker later it was all over for Shibata’s team. Post-match, Okada once more asked Goto to join CHAOS while Shibata looked on with murderous intent in his eyes. Goto walked off while Okada taunted him some more. Also, while CHAOS worked well together during this match it’s worth noticing that, when Okada, Gedo and YOSHI-HASHI celebrated near the entrance, Ishii was nowhere to be seen, so that door is still open. I like this match very much not only because it was great wrestling but alaso it teased all kinds of interesting things. A Goto heel turn, an eventual Okada/Shibata showdown and, possibly, also something involving Ishii. I have a feeling we’re going towards a double turn with Goto turning on Shibata and Ishii turning on CHAOS and joining Shibata. Whatever happens, this should be very interesting to follow. Great stuff on all levels
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match – KUSHIDA defeated BUSHI in 16:32 via pinfall:
In the battle of the caps locks, Naito and EVIL wasted little time before getting involved, thus presenting the Champion with almost insurmountable odds. While said interference did mess a bit with the match’s rhythm at times, if felt it didn’t detract too much from I felt was a good and entertaining match with good performances from both BUSHI and KUSHIDA. The classic story of the beloved champion overcoming the odds to retain his title worked well here, and, while I feared they might put the belt on BUSHI to have KUSHIDA regain it at Invasion Attack, they made the right call by keeping the belt on the one guy who has the best shot of resorting the belt’s prestige. There was a nice skit towards the end also, when, after months of abusing from Naito, the Young Lions, led by Jay White and Taguchi, finally couldn’t take it anymore and stopped Naito and EVIL from interfering. Overall a very entertaining match with a good angle towards the end. Check this one out, it’s worth it.
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match – G. B. H. (Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma) defeated Bullet Club (Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows) in 14:16 via pinfall:
Despite some rumors of Anderson and Gallows swerving WWE, there was never any doubt about who would win this match, and, indeed about this being Anderson’s and Gallows last high-profile match with NJPW (they have one other next week at Honor’s Rising if I’m not mistaken). But, thanks to Anderson and Gallows intent on giving their best possible performance and Honma and Makabe eager to contribute to that, it turned out to be quite a curtain call for the Bullet Club boys. Very good match which followed a classic storyline (Honma being isolated before making the heroic tag to Makabe). I must say it was a bit bittersweet watching this one, knowing this was Anderson’s (almost) last performance. I hope WWE won’t screw this up and keep these two as a team because they have the potential of refreshing their stale tag team scene. Anyway, Doomsday Kokeshi and King Kong Knee Drop on Anderson to finish things, and, afterwards, both Bullet Club members bowed to the crowd who rewarded their dedication with thunderous applause. Also post-match, Tama Tonga got into the ring and challenged the champions. Most thought he was going to introduce Bad Luck Fale as his partner, but Tonga surprised everyone by saying his partner was going to be Bullet’s Club newest recruit. Gonna be fun to speculate about that one. Challenge was accepted so that will happen next month, possibly at the New japan Cup Final. Good stuff and best of luck to Anderson and Gallows.
For the vacant IWGP Intercontinental Title – Kenny Omega defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi in 29:10 via pinfall:
Lots of pressure for this match, not only on the two wrestlers but also on NJPW itself who had to show they had the guts to go all the way with Omega. And I’m happy to report everybody delivered. Big time. Omega started things off by sending Hall and Takahashi to the back, claiming he wanted to do this on his own. Which earned him applause. Of course this wouldn’t last Hall and The Young Bucks (who had been hiding under the ring) eventually interfered anyway, but, in the meantime, Omega and Tanahashi had already put together a masterclass of in-ring work and storytelling. Omega targeted Tanahashi’s injured shoulder while Tanahashi retaliated by taking out Omega’s knee. As the two went back and forth, they would also give winks and nods to Nakamura here and there, both using some of Nak’s trademark moves. Omega would even go one further by using the Styles Clash for an incredibly close near-fall. Bullet Club interference spelled trouble for Tanahashi until Michael Elgin ran in for an highly popular save and then proceeded to carry both Young Bucks backstage, presumably to dump them in some garbage can. Left alone once again, Omega rose to the occasion with a great finishing sequence, involving his version of the BomaYe followed by the One-Winged Angel for the biggest win of his career. What a match this was. Not only did both deliver a great performance, but everything was done to put Omega over in the best way possible. If Okada is the undisputed Ace of the company, Omega is now firmly put into the position of NJPW’s top heel, which is exactly what NJPW needed. It will also be interesting to watch how Tanahashi will rebound from two consecutive high-profile loses. Another interesting story to tell, no doubt about that. Basically one of those matches where I have to tell you to stop wasting your time reading this and GO WATCH THIS. Believe me, it’s worth your time.
Post-match, Omega delivered some comedy, somehow managing to insult the crowd and thank them at the same time. Good stuff. He also did a spot of air-guitar playing, to mock Tanahashi, which ended when he sold his injured knee. Very entertaining stuff.
In my opinion, the Niigata show was better than the Okada show earlier this week, and this had everything to do with the two top single matches being so difficult to predict. And both delivered, not only match-wise but also result-wise, first by confirming that KUSHIDA is on top of things when it come to the Junior division and then by daring to push the relatively unproven Omega (when it comes to the heavyweight ranks at least) to the moon. Add to that a great crowd, intriguing developments involving CHAOS, Goto and Shibata, Los Ingobernables’ increasingly entertaining stuff also involving the Young Lions and the very underrated Tama Tonga being prepped for bigger things and you can only conclude that NJPW is not planning to play it safe after Nakamura and Styles’ departure, but, on the contrary, is intent to move forward, confirming Okada as their new top guy and busily re-shuffling cards up and down the roster. And with two joint ROH shows and the New Japan Cup scheduled to start in early March, NJPW will have plenty of opportunity to continue what they started during those two new beginning shows. This promises to be another great year for NJPW if they keep this up and I’m all for that. No grumpiness here but a definite thumbs up from me!
Tags: bullet club, BUSHI, Cody Hall, dave Finlay Jr, EVIL, GBH, Gedo, Hirooki Goto, hiroshi tanahashi, Jay White, Juice Robinson, Jushin Liger, 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, Tiger Mask, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Yuji Nagata