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Photo Credit: New Japan Pro Wrestling

NJPW ‘The New Beginning in Osaka’ Preview

New Japan Pro Wrestling’s next PPV event The New Beginning in Osaka is this Sunday, live from Osaka-Jo Hall.

Here is a preview of the event.

Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan), Yuji Nagata, & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Toa Henare, & Ryusuke Taguchi

This is Manabu Nakanishi’s last match in Osaka-jo Hall, a venue that has become an important part of NJPW lore. He’ll probably be involved in the outcome of the match in some way, but as Liger’s retirement bouts recently showed us, don’t expect him to be picking up the win. Aside from Taguchi and Henare, all of the other guys in this match are experienced veterans, so expect Henare to get some heat by providing a few beat downs on the older guys. In addition to giving Nakanishi a good send off, hopefully it will give Henare a few chances to shine because he’s looked great the past few New Beginning shows.

Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) (c) vs. Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships

This will be SHO and YOH’s first title defence since picking up the belts at Wrestle Kingdom 14. The Junior Tag division has been really thin on the ground since The Young Bucks’ departure last year. It’s basically been four tag teams hot-potatoing the belts between them, with the only stand out team being SHO and YOH.

From an in-ring approach, this match should be fast-paced and hard-hitting, as it’s difficult for SHO and YOH to have a bad match with anybody. However, since Kanemaru and Desperado are part of Suzuki-gun, there might be some dusty finishes going on here. It’s unlikely that SHO and YOH will lose their first defence, but NJPW don’t really seem to care too much about what happens in this division. A loss could also be a gateway for SHO and YOH to head towards the NEVER Openweight and Junior Heavyweight titles respectively, as has been rumored recently.

Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, & FinJuice (Juice Robinson & David Finlay) vs. BULLET CLUB (Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Chase Owens, & Yujiro Takahashi)

Kota Ibushi has been noticeably absent from the New Beginning shows in Sapporo due to an injury. It’s actually still unconfirmed whether or not he’ll be showing up in Osaka, but as of 02/08 he’s still advertised.

Guerrillas of Destiny recently won the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team championships for a sixth time at the New Beginning USA shows after defeating FinJuice. Usually, NJPW don’t really do immediate rematches, but since there was Bullet Club interference at the New Beginning USA show, it makes sense that a rematch would take place pretty soon.

Like the Junior Heavyweight Tag division, the Heavyweight Tag scene has also been pretty hollow in recent months too. Ibushi and Tanahashi have been outspoken about their desire to capture the tag belts, and on paper, this sounds like an absolute dream team. It would add a little variety to the Heavyweight Tag division too. Hopefully we’ll see either Tonga or Loa take the pin by either Ibushi or Tanahashi to set up their feud, however, that might be a long shot considering Chase Owens is in the match.

CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay) vs. Suzuki-Gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi)

Separately, these four put on the two best matches of the New Beginning in Sapporo shows. ZSJ pulled off an upset victory against Ospreay while Okada and Taichi put on a 30-minute main event that surprised even the most hardened Taichi skeptics.

While the Okada and Taichi mini-feud might have already concluded, there’s still a lot more gas in the tank for ZSJ and Ospreay. The two are already set to face-off again at Rev Pro Wrestling’s High Stakes event in England next Friday for the British Heavyweight Championship and the match could easily go either way. I think Ospreay will take the win there, allowing the two to bring their rivalry back to NJPW.

Regardless, this tag bout should be highly entertaining from start to finish. ZSJ and Taichi (otherwise known as Dangerous Tekkers) were a formidable team in the World Tag League, and the team of Ospreay and Okada has greatness written all over it. I think Suzuki-gun will take the win here to give ZSJ the edge going into his match with Ospreay next week.

SANADA vs. Jay White

Other than pitting two of the best heavyweights in the company against each other, I’m not exactly sure what the point of this match is. While SANADA got the pin over Jay at New Years Dash, thus earning himself a Bullet Club beatdown, there hasn’t been much story developed between them.

It’s possible that this could finally lead to SANADA’s entrance into a singles title scene, most likely the IWGP Intercontinental Championship as he’s not yet at the IWGP Heavyweight level. SANADA had an incredible 2019, topped off with winning the Best Bout Award of the Year in Tokyo Sports against Okada. However, he was the only member of Los Ingernobles de Japon to leave Wrestle Kingdom 14 without any gold. Jay has been on a similar path, having an incredible early 2019 but losing to Naito at Wrestle Kingdom. However, he then redeemed himself with a victory over Kota Ibushi the next night.

We haven’t really seen much one-on-one interaction between Jay and SANADA so it’s difficult to guess exactly how good this match will be. SANADA always works well with people on a similar level to him, and although he’s a more technically skilled wrestler than Jay, there’s no doubt that Jay can keep up with the best of them. Personally, I think Jay will take the win here and keep two feet firmly planted in the IWGP Heavyweight Title scene. The fact that SANADA is the only LIJ member to not hold a championship could also lead to some interesting developments.

Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs. Ryu Lee

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship

I’m surprised that NJPW have pulled the trigger on this match so quickly since it’s one of the hottest feuds in the company.

Back in the summer of 2018, Ryu Lee botched a phoenix-plex and legitimately injured Hiromu Takahashi’s neck, leaving him on the shelf for 18 months. Before his injury, Takahashi was putting on some of the best Junior Heavyweight matches in the world alongside Ospreay, Kushida and of course, Ryu Lee. His absence was a huge loss for NJPW, and many fans were eagerly anticipating his return in December 2019.

Since he’s come back, Takahashi hasn’t missed a step. He’s picked up exactly where he left off with his incredible sequences and effortless aerial attacks. The rivalry between Lee and Takahashi is quite unique in that it seeps into personal territory, not to mention that their history goes back to 2017 in both CMLL and NJPW.

There’s no doubt that this match is going to be an off-the-charts, 5-star spectacular. We’ve already seen several interactions between them at Wrestle Kingdom and New Beginning in Sapporo and they haven’t disappointed in the slightest. The fact that this is Takahashi’s first defense as the new Junior Heavyweight Champion leads me to think that he’s holding on to the gold for a little bit longer. But as Ryu Lee is also ROH’s current Television Champion, it will be interesting how this match plays out.

I’m calling it now that this will be the best match on the card, so keep an eye out for it.

Jon Moxley (c) vs. Minoru Suzuki

IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship

This match isn’t going to be pretty. Moxley has put on some show-stopping matches with Lance Archer, Tomohiro Ishii and Juice Robinson since his first arrival in NJPW, proving that the sterile Dean Ambrose character is long gone and in its place is a brutal, unforgiving death match brawler.

Since he first bumped heads with Minoru Suzuki at Night Two of Wrestle Kingdom, the two haven’t stopped punching, headbutting, and throwing each other into guardrails ever since. Unlike the elaborate storylines NJPW is known for at the main event level, Moxley and Suzuki’s story is very simple. Moxley came into NJPW as the new bad ass in town, but the veteran bad ass had a problem with it. New vs old – it’s a tale as old as time. The only addition here is that the United States belt is on the line too.

Although Moxley lost the United States Championship once already (due to forfeit), he hasn’t ever been pinned for it. Last week at New Beginning Sapporo, Suzuki shocked us all by getting the clean pin over Moxley in the middle of the ring in a tag match. Throughout 2019 and 2020, Suzuki hasn’t won any gold whatsoever. But that’s one of the unique things about Suzuki, he’s so over with the Japanese and US fans that he doesn’t need a belt to be a draw. He’s just a sadistic, no-nonsense brutalizer.

But with this said, Moxley’s AEW contract means that he’s unable to wrestle for NJPW in the US. Throughout 2020, NJPW will be running a number of shows in the US and it seems unlikely that they won’t have a few United States title matches. For this reason, I think Suzuki is taking the belt this time.

Tetsuya Naito (c) vs. KENTA

Two-Falls

First Fall: IWGP Heavyweight Championship

Second Fall: `IWGP Intercontinental Championship

While it might have taken a million years, Tetsuya Naito is finally back at the top of the NJPW ladder. And this time, he’s surpassed Okada by taking both the IWGP Heavyweight and IC belts at the same time – something Okada has never done.

But in true Naito style, he never stays at the top for long. Immediately after winning the belts he was ambushed by the hottest new heel in the company, KENTA. So far, it’s a role KENTA has played very well. He’s even better at it than Jay White was.

The strangest thing about this feud is that KENTA has been projected into the IWGP Heavyweight Title picture so suddenly, despite doing very little to earn it. Personally, I think this is only a short-term thing to give the fans a break from seeing the same people in the main event scene (Okada, Naito, White, Tanahashi). It also adds a little more variety to the upcoming New Japan Cup in March.

Regardless, there’s still that seed of belief that KENTA could win this match. Every interaction he and Naito have had thus far, KENTA has come out on top, not to mention that KENTA has the slimy antics of Bullet Club on his side too. I don’t for a second think that this is the last time we’ll see KENTA and Naito one-on-one, so for that reason I can see Naito staying at the top of the mountain for a little while longer.