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Photo Credit: New Japan Pro Wrestling

NJPW ‘The New Beginning in Sapporo’ Preview

The New Beginning shows in the USA are already underway, and the Japanese shows are only round the corner. The fallout from Wrestle Kingdom 14 is still being felt across the New Japan roster, and the New Beginning shows will give us a glimpse at the feuds we might be seeing throughout the rest of the year. 

Let’s have a little preview of each match and speculate what might become of them. 

NIGHT ONE

Yuya Uemura & Tiger Mask vs El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori

After losing the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag belts at WK14, this is Bullet Club’s chance to redeem themselves. Competing against the team of Yuya Uemura and Tiger Mask, it would be a wise move to place your money on a BC win here. Yuya Umeura is an impressive specimen, although he’s still in the Young Lion division so it’s unlikely he’s going to rack up a win here. However, teaming up with the legend Tiger Mask will certainly do wonders for him. 

Ryusuke Taguchi, SHO, YOH & Will Ospreay vs DOUKI, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado & Zack Sabre Jr

This one is going to be total Chaos, if you’ll pardon the pun. The team of SHO, YOH and Ospreay alone is the things dreams are made of. Three junior heavyweights with a series of unlimited unique spots in their arsenal should definitely make for exciting viewing. Adding Rysuke Taguchi – a wrestler of a completely different style and not affiliated with CHAOS – to the mix is a little odd, but it should add a little contrast to an otherwise flippy-heavy match.  

One of the interesting things about New Beginning shows is that they often showcase wrestlers on the NJPW undercard who don’t often get a chance to shine. Douki is one such wrestler, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru to an extent. However, I think the real focus of this match will be a showdown between Ospreay and ZSJ, as this is a feud that hasn’t yet been explored within the confines of NJPW. 

Robbie Eagles & Ryu Lee vs BUSHI and Hiromu Takahashi

Fasten your seatbelts for this one, because we’re going to take to the skies. Outside of Will Ospreay, we’ve got the five best junior heavyweights on the entire NJPW roster in a single match here. I’m actually surprised BUSHI isn’t showcased more often since he’s one of the most impressive athletes in the entire company, and teaming him with the crazy Hiromu Takahashi will only lead to greatness. 

Ryu Lee and Takahashi still haven’t finished what they started over 18 months ago. Despite teaming together and facing each other on consecutive nights at WK14, there’s no doubt that a continuation of their program is in the cards in 2020. For reference, Lee is the person responsible for legitimately injuring Takahashi and putting him out of action for over a year. The two put on one of the best junior heavyweight matches ever in July 2018 at the G1 Special, but their program was naturally cut short. Ever since, fans have been clambering for Takahashi’s return, and so far, he hasn’t disappointed. 

SANADA & Tetsuya Naito vs Jay White & KENTA

I’m very surprised that this match isn’t the main event, considering NJPW are planning on pushing KENTA into a main event feud with Naito over the next year. But of course, I know better than to question NJPW’s booking because they rarely disappoint. 

Jay White came out of WK14 looking like the badass heel he is, despite losing on the first night to Naito. But he redeemed himself on night two by scoring a win over Kota Ibushi – much to the surprise of everyone. 

The story here is between Naito and KENTA for sure, and I personally have no idea where SANADA is headed next. After losing out on the British Heavyweight Championship at WK14, I’m not convinced he’s being moved into singles competition like the dirt sheets suggested. Jay White will no doubt still be a main event player, although having two power-hungry heels in Bullet Club could cause some internal conflict, especially if they’re both looking to capture Naito’s belts. 

There’s a big opportunity for some creativity here. KENTA facing Naito for the IC Title while Jay challenges him for Heavyweight Title could lead to some interest repercussions, so I’m very excited to see how this angle is going to play out. 

Jon Moxley & Kazuchika Okada vs Minoru Suzuki & Tachi

It was a year ago this week that Jon Moxley announced he wasn’t re-signing with WWE, leading to a chorus of ‘it’s a work!’ from disgruntled WWE fans. Cut to today, and he’s reinvented himself with a much more intense look and style. He’s feuding with Chris Jericho for the AEW World Championship, he’s put on incredible matches with Kenny Omega and PAC, he’s shown the extent of his wrestling abilities in the G1 Climax tournament, and he’s beaten Lance Archer for the IWGP United States Championship in the Tokyo Dome. Now, he’s teaming alongside Kazuchika Okada as a gateway to a feud with everyone’s favourite psychopath, Minoru Suzuki. I might be biased, but I think Moxley definitely made the right choice leaving WWE. 

Okada’s next steps are another big question. By now, his story with Naito is finished, so I think it would be wise to keep Okada away from the main event picture for a while. Myself, and many other fans, are all Okada’d out. The last time he went one-on-one with Suzuki was at the Royal Quest PPV last August, and they put on an absolute show-stealer. And when we add Lord Tachi to the mix, the chances of Suzuki winning drastically go down, but it would be a foolish move to bet against Mox and Okada here. This one’s going to be the one to watch. 

Tomohiro Ishii vs EVIL

Where the brawlers at? 

They’re right here. There’s not a hell of a lot to say about this match other than the fact there’s going to be some stiff punches thrown about. The Stone Pitbull has been a fan favorite for a number of years now, constantly pulling out impressive performances against heavyweights and high-flyers alike. EVIL is in a similar position, although he’s felt a little lost in recent months. He didn’t do anything of note during WK14 so his future is uncertain. Regardless, this one is going to be a hoss fight.  

NEVER Openweight Championship

Hirooki Goto vs Shingo Takagi

What a main event this is. Hirooki Goto won the NEVER Openweight Title from KENTA at WK14 in a very hard-fought, emotional bout that was certainly one of my highlights. On the flip side, Shingo Takagi didn’t really get a chance to shine during WK14, despite him being poised for greatness from day one. 

This one is really tough to call because I can’t see Goto taking a loss in his first title defense. He did already pick up a win over Takagi back in the summer of last year, and again at New Years Dash 2020, however, Takagi is being built up as a monster and to see him lose clean might derail his momentum. It’s possible there could be some KENTA interference but I think that feud is already over with. 

No matter the outcome, this one is going to be another barn burner laced with brutal suplexes, hard-hitting strikes and some good old-fashioned brawling.

NIGHT TWO

Gabriel Kidd vs El Phantasmo

You might not have heard of Gabriel Kidd before, but I saw him on the UK indies a few years ago and he’s quite impressive. Back when I saw him, he played the cocky heel who beat people down with stiff elbows and forearms, but I don’t know how he’s developed since then. 

He can’t ask for a better opponent in El Phantasmo. According to Cagematch, the two have never faced off before despite them working several UK indies together. Also, Kidd hasn’t won a match during his time in NJPW yet, so if you’re a betting person, don’t bet on him. 

Robbie Eagles, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto vs BUSHI, EVIL & Shingo Takagi

A perfectly balanced match if ever there was one. Two brawlers and one high-flyer per team, and both high-flyers work better with heavyweights than they do with other weight classes, so this one is definitely going to get a little crazy. Strangely, this match isn’t for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships, which BUSHI, EVIL and Takagi won at WK14. 

No doubt that the story here will be between Goto and Takagi again. Depending on the outcome of their match the night before, one or both of these men are going to be looking for redemption over the other. As one of them will be the NEVER Openweight Champion, this match could be a potential gateway to introducing new players into the NEVER Title scene. Ishii, of course, is synonymous with the NEVER belt, and his story with Goto goes back years. 

Ryusuke Taguchi, SHO, YOH and Moxley vs DOUKI, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperad, and Minoru Suzuki

There’s something quite funny about SHO and YOH teaming up with deathmatch legend and former SHIELD member Jon Moxley, but that’s where wrestling is in 2020. 

Once again, Taguchi has been shoe-horned into this match for reasons I’m not familiar with, but aside from that, the story again here is Moxley vs Suzuki. No doubt that Moxley will work his way through the Suzuki-gun faction before finally getting his hands on Minoru further down the line, and I’m sure that story is going to begin here. 

Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito vs Taiji Ishimori, Jay White & KENTA

This match isn’t much of a departure from night one’s tag match. The only additions here are Hiromu Takahashi and Taiji Ishimori. But with Takahashi back in Los Ingernobles de Japon, the faction is whole again, hopefully giving them renewed spirits and energy. It will be interesting to see the development of Double-Gold Naito in this match, especially in regards to who lands and takes the pinfall. Most likely, this match will develop the Naito-KENTA program. 

British Heavyweight Championship

Will Ospreay vs Zack Sabre Jr

Two Brits going at it in what should be night two’s show-stealer. These two stars both wrestle completely opposing styles, but any time they’re in the ring together it’s total magic. Ospreay has always worked best with people who oppose his style, and no doubt there’ll be some incredible reversals of his aerial attacks by the submission machine. Sabre Jr. Call me crazy, but I think we’re going to see a new British Heavyweight Champion here. Give Ospreay a mid-card reign before he inevitably moves up to the top level. 

Kazuchika Okada vs Taichi

On a show with Naito, Ospreay, Jay White, Moxley and Suzuki, the headline match features Taichi. Strange choice. Sapporo is actually Taichi’s hometown so it kind of makes sense, but what doesn’t make sense is why he’d be booked to lose to Okada in his hometown. 

Nonetheless, this match should be an enjoyable bout. Okada could carry a plastic bag to a good match, so I have no doubt Tachi will be absolutely fine.