Metalhead Reviews NJPW’s New Beginning In Sapporo (Okada vs Suzuki, Goto vs Robinson, CHAOS vs G.B.H. vs K.E.S.)

This review will be a little shorter than usual, due to me not having much time to write for the moment. That’s also why I haven’t done my usual previews, sorry about that. This is the first of two New Beginning shows, headlined by a very intriguing Okada vs Suzuki match, so let’s not waste any time and see what happened:

Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado) defeated KUSHIDA and Hirai Kawato in 7:34 via pinfall:

Good opener. KUSHIDA was a great babyface as awlays, fighting through a shoulde injury against the dastardly heels, while the 19 year old Young Lion Kawato (who was replaced the injured David Finlay) showed some good fire and steadily continues to improve. El Desperado hit the Blue Thunder Bomb on Kawato to take the win.

Yuji Nagata, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima defeated Yoshitatsu, Yomoyuki Oka and Henare in 7:48 via submission:

The Angry NJPW Dads are back! Another fun match, Yoshitatsu seemed more motivated than usual and it showed in his work, and it was fun seeing Nagata work with the young oka (Nagata is the one training Oka). Henare also got some spots to shine and showed good timing and confidence. Finish came when Oka surprisingly broke Nagata’s crossface only for the veteran to move it to the other side and score the submission win. That was cool.

CHAOS (Will Ospreay, Gedo and Jado) defeated Katsuyori Shibata, Jushin Liger and Tiger Mask IV in 6:47 via pinfall:

Not much to write about match-wise, this was all about the upcoming Shibata/Ospreay match for the British Heavyweight Championship. In that aspect, it did achieved its purpose as the Shibata/Ospreay exchanges were indeed very heated. A pre-championship match promo with fists as it were, with the other four basically in the role of extra’s.

YOSHI-HASHI defeated Takashi Iizuka in 7:00 via pinfall:

This match basically existed to give both something to do on the mid-card. Iizuka did his crazy guy routine and then proceeded to try and choke YOSHI-HASHI repeatedly, but the CHAOS member fought back and blasted the Suzuki-gun member with Karma for the win. Decent match , nothing more, nothing less.

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin, Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi & Dragon Lee defeated Los Ingobernables (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, EVIL, BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi) in 13:03 via pinfall:

Apparently I’m not the only one finding Tanahashi’s new entrance theme uninteresting, as the crowd showed zero reaction to it. Bring back High Energy now! This was good, which is not surprising as all Tanahashi & Frinds vs Los Ingobernables matches have been heated and highly entertaining. Of course, this was also used to further build up various matches on the second NB show. Indeed, Naito will face challenger Elgin for the IC title, Junior Heavyweight Champion will battle against CMLL World Lightweight Champion Dragon Lee and the other six will go to war over the NEVER 6-man Tag Team belts. Great finish with Elgin Powerbombing Naito over the top rope and onto EVIL and SANADA. This was followed with Tanahashi blasting the Los Ingobernables members with a High Fly Flow to the floor while Dragon Lee Pinned BUSHI in the ring. Great win for the babyfaces here. Post-match Dragon Lee and Takahashi put their respective belts in each-other faces. Those two should have a great match.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match: Roppongi Vice (Romero and Beretta) (c) defeated TAKA Michinoku and Taichi in 13:37 via pinfall:

The Suzuki-gun members, were accompanied by El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and model, media personality and self-proclaimed “Walking Pheromone” Miho Abe who is Taichi’s valet. OK, I like Taichi again. Until he starts wrestling that is. Anyway, Baretta and Romero were great here, TAKA did his thing and all of that just emphasized just how useless Taichi is in a ring nowadays. Well, except for Miho being there of course. Lots of outside interference, Miho also did her best to distract the referee, and I’m getting the feeling she’s really there to distract everybody from Taichi’s underwhelming performances. The faces eventually came back strongly and blasted TAKA with the Strong Zero to retain. Post match El Desperado and Kanemaru attacked the champs and demanded a title match. Rather good overal, thanks to Romero and Baretta.

IWGP NEVER Openweight Title Match: Hirooki Goto (c) defeated Juice Robinson in 14:41 via pinfall:

Very good match with Robinson getting the early advantage but  Goto quickly firing back. Good back and forth after that, with Robinson sometimes overwhelmed by Goto’s ultra-stiff offense but showing great fire and intensity in his come-backs, even scoring some very believable near-falls towards the end. Alas for Robinson, Goto wasn’t about to lose his title so soon after conquering it and finished off his challenger with a couple of GTR’s. Hard-fought match that further establishes Robinson as a viable NJPW mid-card wrestler. Well done, Juice!

IWGP Tag Team Title Match:  Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano (c) defeated G.B.H. (Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma) and The Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr and Lance Archer) in 13:35 via pinfall:

Big brawl to start this one, and KES quickly gained in-ring control but then got run over by first Makabe and then Ishii. This was basically the story of the match, with Honma getting the heat, Makabe and Ishii making the saves and Yano awaiting his moment. And that moment came after Ishii came in to save Yano from a Killer Bomb and a Makabe pin attempt, which provoked a ref distraction, which allowed Yano to hit Makabe with a low blow and roll-up for the win. Very good, very entertaining tag match with KES being protected for a future title match against the CHAOS members.

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Kazuchika Okada (c) defeated Minoru Suzuki in 40:46 via pinfall:

They added some great intrigue to this match by having Suzuki violently attacking Okada’s knee during the press conference. Okada came out with said knee heavily taped and this set the stage for the match with Okada at first trying to keep his knee as far away from Suzuki as possible. Of course this couldn’t last and Suzuki zero-ed in on the weak spot and the arrival of Suzuki-gun reinforcements made it clear that the champ was in very big trouble. But Okada somehow kept surviving and got some help from Gedo, Ishii and Yano for a big ring-side brawl. With CHAOS standing tall, Okada rallied and finally managed to hit his German suplex/Rainmaker combo to put Suzuki away. This was a great and epic match but also very different from the usual NJPW main event matches, thanks to Suzuki coming over as a fresh opponent and taking the fight to Okada in ways not many have been able to. Also, while the outside interference was also inevitable, it was kept to a minimum and delivered a very entertaining ring-side brawl. Definitely worth your time, and what a start of the year for Okada who keeps delivering awesome main events.

 

Conclusion: Good show overall, headlined by a fantastic main event, which was unlike anything you will see on any other show. The CHAOS vs Suzuki-gun war was the theme of this show, but, the fact that Suzuki-gun lost all their title matches confirms this is only a interim-feud. Expect the Bullet Club to come back in force during the upcoming New Japan Cup.

Second New Beginning show will happen this Thursday in Osaka and will feature (among other matches) Naito vs Elgin for the IC title, Takahashi vs Dragon Lee for the Junior Heavyweight title and Shibata vs Ospreay for the British Heavyweight Championship. Should be great.

 

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