Photo Credit: New Japan Pro Wrestling

NJPW ‘The New Beginning in Osaka’ Recap and Review

NPJW had their latest New Beginning show, this time live from Osaka-Jo Hall.

Here is a recap and reactions to the event.

Fast-Count Results

Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan), Yuji Nagata, & Manabu Nakanishi d. Togi Makabe, TomoakiHonma, Toa Henare, & Ryusuke Taguchi @ 7:08 via pinfall

Roppongi 3K d. Suzuki-gun @ 16:25 via pinfall

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Juice Robinson, & David Finlay d. BULLET CLUB @ 11:00 via pinfall

CHAOS d. Suzuki-gun @ 11:55 via pinfall

Jay White d. SANADA @ 21:55 via pin

Hiromu Takahashi d. Ryu Lee @ 24:00 via pinfall

Jon Moxley d. Minoru Suzuki @ 18:05 via pinfall

Tetsuya Naito d. KENTA @ 34:45 via pinfall

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

Dubbed Manabu Nakanishi Final in Osaka-jo Hall, this match was Manabu Nakanishi’s last match inside a large arena. As we’ve seen from the recent multi-man tag matches involving these same competitors, the pace was slow and hard-hitting with heavy chops, brutal shoulder tackles and excessive brawling. Once again, Toa Henare was the stand-out performer, although the crowd continually popped for all of Nakanishi’s offence. To conclude the match, Nakanishi went up to the top rope (‘like a bear climbing a tree’, according to commentary), then hit a chop on Tomoaki Honma, setting up Satoshi Kojima to hit the lariat and pick up the win.

After the match, Nakanishi got on the mic and thanked the crowd for supporting him through his 27-year career. He mentioned that he only has four matches left before he retires and he hopes that NJPW continues to elevate to new heights once he’s gone.

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

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships

SHO and YOH have defended their Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions on a number of occasions already, but their number of defences is pretty low. It’s no secret that NJPW don’t give much credence to the Junior Heavyweight Tag division, but given SHO and YOH’s recent multi-man matches with big guys like Moxley, hopefully this is a sign of change.

This match kicks off fast with SHO and YOH attacking before the bell. SHO is coming into this match with a knee injury due to several attacks by Suzuki-gun throughout the New Beginning shows, which commentary are putting over hard. Despy and Kanemaru focus on the knee throughout the match, isolating SHO from his partner providing an extensive beatdown. However, YOH makes the save halfway through the match and the momentum shifts in favor of Roppongi 3k.

SHO sells the knee injury hard but stabilizes himself just enough to hold Kanemaru while they hit the Strong X for the win. SHO and YOH make their first successful title defence.

After the match, Ryusuke Taguchi comes down and convinces Rocky Romero to team up to challenge Roppongi 3k for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles, despite Romero being their manager. This will be a very strange angle indeed.

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

Over on the New Beginning USA tour, Guerillas of Destiny took back the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles from FinJuice on their first defense. Meanwhile, Kota Ibushi and Hiroshi Tanahashi made their desires to capture the tag belts known too. This is also Ibushi’s first match on the New Beginning tour since contracting influenza.

David Finley opens the match with a series of impressive drop kicks. Tama Tonga interrupts and the Tongans gain the advantage, keeping Finley isolated in their corner while they put the boots to him. The Tongans then move onto Ibushi who gains some momentum, but is quickly halted thanks to a cane shot from Jado on the outside. Tanahashi takes his place, who is then subjected to the same treatment. But Tanahashi, powered by the magnificence of his new bouffant hair, gains the upper hand over both the tag champs at the same time. He hits the slingbade on Tama Tonga, but before he go in for the kill, Jado once again uses the cane. However, Tanahashirecovers and gets a roll up pin on Tonga Loa (as predicted in my last preview).

After the match, Bullet Club attacked Tanahashi but Ibushi, Juice and Finlay came to his aid. Ibushi and Tanahashi then taunted Bullet Club and implied they’d be coming after the IWGP Tag belts.

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

Taichi and Okada start out and the match quickly degenerates into a brawl outside. Commentary put over that Taichi has been reinvigorated since his loss to Okada in Sapporo and is looking to redeem himself. ZSJ comes in and takes on a weakened Okada before Ospreay takes over. ZSJ and Ospreaygo through a crazy sequence involving reversals, submissions and feats of strength before both men tag out.

Okada hits a tombstone on Taichi and goes for the Rainmaker, but Taichi ducks and Okada runs into a waiting ZSJ. All four men get involved and more magic follows between ZSJ and Ospreay. ZSJ gets sent to the outside and Ospreay follows while Okada hits a Rainmaker on Taichi for the three count.

Post-match, Ospreay and ZSJ exchange words to hype up their match at Rev Pro in England next week. Ospreay grabs the British Heavyweight Title and taunts ZSJ.

SANADA vs. Jay White

Jay opened the match by taunting SANADA and trying to get under his skin, but the ice cold SANADA didn’t seem phasedby Jay’s heel tactics. The match quickly adopted a simple story, and that story was that Jay couldn’t best SANADA when the two engaged in fair competition. Jay continually got the upper hand throughout the match, but it was only when he played dirty by pulling the hair and employing the use of Gedo.

SANADA incapacitates Gedo and the momentum shifts in his favour. SANADA hits a moonsault but Jay reverses it into a Skull End. Jay manages to squirm his way out and get to the ropes. SANADA remains in charge, going for another Skull End, which leads to a series of reversals and a very near-fall by SANADA after an impressive roll-up.

A slightly botched move from the top rope lands SANADA on his head but both performers recover instantly. Jay hits a series of unique suplexes, including a Regal-plex (which I’ve never seen him use before) to gain the upper hand. Jay manages to hit a Blade Runner for the win.

The match told a great story. Unlike Jay’s previous few bouts,SANADA pushed him to his limits, but Jay also proved that he can win without Bullet Club interference. Commentary noted that SANADA hasn’t won a singles match for six months.

Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs. Ryu Lee

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship

A video package hyped up the long-standing rivalry between Takahashi and Lee, going back to their match in summer 2018 which saw Lee botch the suplex which injured Taka’s neck. However, commentary were quick to note that Lee and Taka’s history goes back much longer, right up to their days in CMLL.

Within fifteen seconds of the match starting, there are three German suplexes and a brutal exchange which sent both men to the mat, much to the enjoyment of the very vocal audience. They follow up by exchanging knife-edge jobs with Lee picking up the advantage. Lee hits a brutal dropkick to Takahashi’s face in the corner then followed up with a crazy hurricanrana from the apron to the outside.

Not slowing down for a second, Ryu positioned Takahashi on the guard rail then performed the most suicidal dive in the history of professional wrestling, a repeat of the famous spot he performed with Will Ospreay last year. Takahashi eventually climbs back to his feet and hit his patented sunset flip to the outside. More insane segments follow, including Lee’s double stomp off the top rope (to the outside), a belly-to-belly suplex off the apron to the floor, and a Hiromu bomb from the top to the outside.

Back in the ring, things escalate even further. Lee goes for the same suplex which broke Takahashi’s neck, but he managed to reverse it into a brutal looking Canadian Destroyer, quickly followed by a second Canadian Destroyer. Takahashi hits the Time Bomb but Lee kicks out, however, another Time Bomb immediately follows, giving Takahashi the victory. A crazy match from start to finish, as we’ve come to expect from these two

Jon Moxley (c) vs. Minoru Suzuki

IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship

Moxley and Suzuki have their work cut out for them going on after Lee and Takahashi, but if anyone can put on a match of equal entertainment, it’s these two.

Moxley arrives and heads straights to the entrance ramp where he invites Suzuki to meet him. Suzuki obliges, bringing two steel chairs with him and hands one to Mox. As we’ve seen several times already, these two love to brawl on the outside, and this match is no exception. Suzuki goes for the Gotch Piledriver on a table but Mox escapes. Both men are threatened with a count-out so they rush back into the ring.

There’s nothing technical here. Headbutts, stiff knees, harsh punches and even biting is on the menu. Naturally, they fall to the outside again and take the fight into the crowd. Suzuki traps Mox’s arm between a chair and smashes it with another chair, adding another item to Moxley’s growing list of injuries.

Another element is added to the match as Suzuki begins to work on Mox’s now-injured arm. There’s an interesting piece of character work for Suzuki here. He’s creating a newly-injured body part to work on instead of focusing on Moxley’sbad eye. This implies that Suzuki isn’t content with taking the easy path to destroying Moxley and wants to do it in his own way.

Moxley hits a powerbomb on Suzuki through a table, to which Suzuki responds by smiling sadistically. Suzuki picks himself up and wanders around like a man possessed, then smacks himself with a piece of table until he bleeds from the forehead. Moxley brings in two chairs and they duel again, and Mox strikes Suzuki with a no-bullshit chair shot directly to the skull – the kind of chair shot rarely seen in modern wrestling. The chair snaps over Suzuki’s head but he’s still stand. They exchange blows until Mox finishes things with a Deathrider. Mox retains the IWGP United States Championship. Somehow, these two men have outdone RyuLee and Hiroshi Takahashi.

After the match, there’s a surprise attack from Zack Sabre Jr. He chokes out Jon Moxley and poses with the IWGP United States Championship. Earlier in the night, commentary mentioned that ‘everyone wants two belts these days,’ which may have been foreshadowed this attack.

Tetsuya Naito (c) vs. KENTA

IWGP Heavyweight Championship / IWGP Intercontinental Championship

KENTA arrives to the ring with the entire Bullet Club by his side. Every time this happens, something shady always goes down at the end, so my suspicions are already high. Naito two-belts arrives alone, like he always does. Bullet Club upset Red Shoes by pushing him over, so Red Shoes bans them all from ringside. Lesson learned – don’t mess with Red Shoes.

KENTA gets the heat by continually rolling out of the ring. Naito taunts him by doing the same, but the match quickly picks up speed. Their fight moves to the corner where KENTA hits the double stomp, then throws Naito outside of the ring and begins launching him into the barricades. KENTA stays in charge while the fight returns to the ring, but Naito picks things up around the halfway point. KENTA throws Naito in Red Shoes and takes him to the ground, prompting Jay White to run back out to ringside.

Luckily, BUSHI is on hand to make the save, but White hits him with a Blade Runner. However, Hiromu Takahashi runs out to a loud pop and drags White out into back. With Red Shoes still out, KENTA exposes the turnbuckle and sends Naito head-first into it. Naito’s face is dripping with blood (it looks like he did a very rushed blade job with how crazily the blood spurted from his forehead). KENTA tried to capitalize but Naito picked up the face. He hits the Destino and gets the 1-2-3.

To end the show, Naito gets on the mic and calls out Hiromu Takahashi. He challenges him to a match at the 48th anniversary show on March 3rd. Takahashi accepts.