My New Japan Pro Wrestling education swung into Osaka on Saturday as they finished off The New Beginning Tour with one hell of a card. While you could argue that a lot of the star power was on the first show, this second card looked like the workers time to shine and the sold out building is a credit to those involved. Now, let’s see what we learnt.
I was pretty harsh on YoshiTatsu last week, and his performance on this show was an improvement from that one. Of course, improving on shit isn’t difficult, but credit where it’s due. Interestingly, Tatsu is set to go over to CMLL for a bit, suggesting that NJPW are aware of his current charisma sucking abilities. We saw a bit of fire from him at the end of this match, so maybe he’ll head over there and turn heel. Whatever happens, some time away is the best thing for him.
You Can Skip The First Half
The first half of this show was a waste of time. The only match that came close to being worth watching was the NEVER Six Man Tag, and even that was only alright. The encounter between Suzuki-gun and CHAOS was more of what we’ve had already and felt like an excuse to have the big names on the show rather than something that needed to happen. It’s getting to the point where you could start New Japan shows in the middle, and it wouldn’t hurt you, which has to be a worry for the company.
But Don’t Miss The Second
While that is a problem, it’s not a major one. For every issue in the first half of the show disappears come the second. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, New Japan knows how to do main events and this show was no exception. The tag match aside, the second half of this show was near perfect.
Mist Is Stupid
As a kid, I loved/hated Tajiri’s mist depending on his alignment. It was this cool foreign idea that added a sense of mystery to the wrestling I watched. What was it? What did it do? As a twenty-five year old that mystery is gone. Now it’s just fucking stupid. I realise that wrestling refs are meant to be a bit oblivious, but how the hell does Tiger Hattori not notice that Nakanishi’s face is coated in that horrible stuff as Kushida forces him to tap out? Christ, half the ring is covered in it. I’m pretty good at suspending my disbelief, but the mist is a step too far.
So Much More Than Flippy Shit
Will Ospreay has been attacked by a few places online for being all about the ‘flippy shit’. Now, don’t get me wrong, Ospreay’s flippy shit is incredible. That reverse 450 Splash is a thing of beauty, and the guy moves through the air like no one I have seen. However, if you watch his match with Shibata and still think that’s all he can do, there is no helping you. Ospreay went out there and chain-wrestled and exchanged strikes with one of the toughest guys in the game. Ospreay is a high flyer, and he always will be, but he’s also a great wrestler, and he deserves respect for that.
Takahashi is incredibly good fun to watch. His match with Dragon Lee was a candidate for match of the night, and there won’t be many that are better this year. That doesn’t stop watching him wrestle be an occasionally terrifying experience. Some of the stuff he pulls off is mental, and I worry the guy is going to injure himself or someone else. The perfect example in this fight was the sunset flip bomb off the apron. That thing looked vicious, and I can’t help thinking that’s because it was. If Takahashi wants to entertain his style works, if he wants a long career, he might have to make a few changes.
Taguchi Going For Gold
I have to be honest, Taguchi intrigues me but hasn’t won me, if that makes sense. I have heard tales of him being a great wrestler when he gets his game face on, but so far I have seen a comedy wrestler who is a reliable worker. A great talent to have in the multi-man tags because he provides something different, but never the top guy. And yet, he has been set up as Takahashi’s next challenger. This will be a very different feud to the one with Dragon Lee, and while I am intrigued, I need to see serious Taguchi before I’m excited.
Juice Juice Juice
I really like Juice Robinson. Not only is he a good wrestler who is stepping up to whatever plate is placed in front of him, but he also comes across like a decent guy. Therefore, I’m delighted that NJPW has found a way to continue his feud with Goto. The NEVER Openweight Title was originally set up to be a belt for the young talent. If Juice wins the belt from Goto, he might be the guy to take it back to that goal.
The Tag Division Needs A Helping Hand
I can’t pretend I was excited for the IWGP Tag Title match, especially since we saw it last week. Somehow, the news that Iizuka was replacing Vance Archer made it even worse. This was another garbage match with no rhyme or reason to what was going on. NJPW has a lot of good tag teams, but they have been spread thinly over two divisions, and in their current state, it isn’t worth it. It might be time to make the tag title openweight and get some good matches out of them rather than garbage like this.
Naito vs. Elgin
Naito and Elgin are very different wrestlers. Yet, the two of them have incredible chemistry. This match was great. From start to finish the two of them beat the crap out of each other, and there were spots in there that will stick in your mind for years to come. Elgin’s powerbomb into the railing hurt me, and I’m on a different continent. You could make a good case for this being one of Elgin’s best matches so far. I’ve always liked Big Mike, but I’ve never quite been sold on him as a top guy. This, however, made it very clear that at least with Naito as a dance partner, he is one of those. I don’t know where these guys go from here but if NJPW has any sense, they’ll be sticking at the top of the card.