New Japan The New Beginning in Sapporo 28/1/18 Review

Image result for omega ibushi new beginning
No, you’re crying. Credit: NJPW

Having delivered with a solid undercard and a fantastic main event on the first night of New Beginning, NJPW returned to the same arena for round two. It’s a sign off how hot the company is that they went ahead with that, as neither card was packed with big matches. Let’s dish out some stars.

Juice Robinson defeated Katsuya Kitamura

Not Juice’s smartest idea. Credit: NJPW

A much better opponent for Kitamura. Love a bit of Juice. Love a bit of Young Kit.

This was another fun outing for the scariest Young Lion. I’m going to take a second to talk about Don Callis, though. He was doing a fantastic job of putting over Kitamura but also pointing out the ways he can improve. It felt like someone critiquing an athlete rather than pro-wrestling bullshit.

In the ring, Juice gave Kitamura a lot. You can still sometimes see the cogs in his brain whirring as he tries to figure out what to do next. It’s a problem that can only be solved by time in the ring, which is where his excursion comes in.

Verdict: Three Stars

Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, TAKA Michinoku and El Desperado) defeated Jushin Thunder Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask and Shota Umino

In a totally new twist, Suzuki-gun went after the masks. Credit: NJPW

Taguchi was being a creep at the start of this. I wish he’d cut that out of his act.

I can’t be bothered reviewing it. We’ve seen it a million times and it rarely changes. Umino got a runout at least.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano) defeated The Bullet Club (HIKULEO and Yujiro Takahashi)

The odd couple. Credit: NJPW

Leo Tonga is now HIKULEO. Also, Ishii and Yano are being set up as challengers for the tag titles. Or at least Kelly and Callis talked about them as such.

This was a very similar match to one we had on the previous show. Sadly, swapping Chase for HIKULEO was never going to improve it. While there’s no doubt that he’s getting better, he still has a long way to go.

However, if you want an example of how he could be a big deal, look at the moment where he and Ishii battle it out over a suplex. They’re not doing much; it’s just two guys grappling to see who can lift the other, but listen to the crowd. They get excited because with Leo’s size simple spots like that take on new meaning. If he can get to a decent level (he doesn’t even have to be great), he could go far.

There’s not much else to say. It was fine.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa and Chase Owens) defeated Togi Makabe, Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Tomoyuki Oka

He’s coming for you, Okada. Credit: NJPW

This card had three Bullet Club tags. That is too much Bullet Club.

It’s another occasion where I don’t have much to say. A team containing Makabe, Nakanishi and Tenzan was never going to be thrilling even if it did include a Young Lion.

Chase was the highlight, but that’s because I love him. Jokes aside, he’s been picking up pinfalls, and in New Japan that means something.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Takashi Iizuka) defeated Michael Elgin and Henare

Is Suzuki not feeding them? Credit: NJPW

This was supposed to be the piece of shit and Tanahashi. Of course, Tanahashi met Suzuki and seems to be getting some time off – which is long overdue.

I’d be fascinated to see how Toa Henare took that news.

‘You’re getting a bigger spot on the card, but you have to let Suzuki beat you up for a while.’

‘Em, do I have to?’

Anyway, Iizuka continued his subtle face turn. Yesterday he interrupted Taichi and today he tried to murder Elgin. If he keeps that up, he’ll become one of my favourites. It’s just a shame Suzuki didn’t get more of a go.

The match included Elgin, so I’m not going to rate it. However, I’ll take a second to say that Henare is on the up. I like him a lot, and while I think his new gimmick is a bit lazy, he is good enough in the ring to make up for that.

Verdict: Fuck Michael Elgin

The post-match shenanigans set-up Makabe vs Suzuki. That will be shit.

The Bullet Club (Cody, Marty Scurll and Hangman Page) defeated Kota Ibushi, KUSHIDA and David Finlay

Watch him fly. Credit: NJPW

What an uninventive card, another match that is a slightly remixed version of one we had the day before. A bit of effort would be nice Gedo old chap.

You get Elite six-man tags and you get Cody’s Bullet Club six-man tags. Both are like bubblegum. The first few chews are great, but all the subsequent ones are tasteless.

However, much like the day before, it had Kota Ibushi who is like a magical piece of bubblegum which never loses its taste. Plus it’s really good looking and wonderful and you want to be its best friend. Does that kind of bubblegum exist?

Kota and KUSHIDA were involved, so it’s always going to be worth watching. Yet, it’s also very skippable. An ‘if you have the time’ job.

Verdict: Three Stars

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, Evil, Sanada and Bushi) defeated CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI and Gedo)

Dickhead Okada in his wonderful trousers. Credit: NJPW

Talking about lazy booking, how many times have we seen this? I know it’s always decent but come on. CHAOS and LIJ have done this dance a million times. It’s boring.

The action was good. I like that YOSHI-HASHI has decided to develop a personality. Ospreay and Takahashi are fantastic and yea, I can’t be arsed reviewing this again. I’m going to be as lazy as Gedo.

Verdict: Three Stars

Afterwards, YOSHI-HASHI attacked Naito. The boy has snapped. More interestingly, Sanada got on the mic after refusing to do so the night before. He wound Okada up a bit then stared broodingly into the distance in a way that made me hate him. God, he’s a good-looking man.

Roppongi 3K (SHO and YOH) defeated The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) to win the IWGP Junior Tag Titles

That’s not going to help the back. Credit: NJPW

Finally, we get onto the good stuff.

It was nice to hear Kelly and Callis call out a lot of the Bucks’ detractors. You’re of course welcome to like or dislike whoever you want. However, anyone that is going on about spotfests or shtick is not watching them in New Japan.

Because when Matt and Nick are given the ball on a big stage, they always put it in the top corner. This was the second chapter of their feud with Roppongi 3K and The Bucks went back to the formula that got them the win last time. Eliminate Rocky, isolate a member of Roppongi and destroy their back.

Unfortunately, the same issue that plagued them at Wrestle Kingdom did so here. Matt Jackson’s back gave out on him, and he sold it to the extent that while I’m 90% sure it was part of the story, there’s a part of me that worries he hurt himself. A particular bit of credit has to go to Nick, though. His constant glances in his brother’s direction and the way he’d crack and charge into the ring to come to his aid gave the impression that he was worried. You were suddenly reminded that these men were brothers who care about each other. I believed his brother being hurt was his priority.

I don’t want to give all the credit to The Bucks, though. Roppongi 3K continue to excel. SHO and YOH were on the defensive at Wrestle Kingdom, but here, they got to attack. They zeroed in on Matt working that back and doing what they could to eliminate Nick. Then when the action turned, they sold their asses off. The crowd reaction is getting louder every time they perform. They’re on track to being stars and doing all the right things.

And in the end, they’d steal those titles right out from under the Young Bucks’ noses. Matt’s back injury meant he struggled to apply the Sharpshooter. In turn, this left him vulnerable to a roll-up, and SHO took advantage. It was both a perfectly executed piece of storytelling and a call-back to Rocky’s win at last year’s Wrestle Kingdom.

This was great. I think it might even be better than the Dome match. The most exciting part is that it’s only chapter two. These two teams have at least one more fight in them, and I can’t wait to see it.

Verdict: Four Stars

Jay White defeated Kenny Omega to win the IWGP US Title

The photographer always nails that shot. Credit: NJPW

If Omega loses his US Title to Jay will that be the impetus for The Bullet Club to turn on him? Fuck knows. I’m interested to find out, though.

-Stuart Iversen

Called it.

Bragging aside, there are a lot of things to unpack here.

Let’s start with the one that’s kind of been forgotten. Jay White. After slipping up at Wrestle Kingdom, he’s fired straight back, beating one of the companies biggest stars and getting his hands on a shiny new belt. Anyone who claimed New Japan was dropping him after the Dome looks a bit silly now.

I also thought this was a better performance from him. He was wrestling from a defensive position and did a great job of selling Omega’s offence. The moment where he laughed at Kenny’s V-Triggers was a bit forced, but I loved the minimal raising of the shoulder (although I don’t know how it will have looked for those in attendance). The next step is seeing him dominate a match. How does he act when he’s the one in control? Either way, the more I watch of him, the more faith I have. It’s clear NJPW feels the same way.

As for Omega, well what’s there to say? Much like his match with Juice, he went out there with the intention to create a star. He let White kick out of a lot, and when the time came for him to sell, he made him look incredible. Omega is one of New Japan’s big boys, and he had no qualms about putting over young talent. He continues to be a class act.

Verdict: Four Stars

Unfortunately for Jay, no one is talking about him. People are talking about the Golden Couple.

Kota saved Kenny. After Cody turned on Kenny Omega and seemed to be pulling the Bullet Club along with him, it was Kota Ibushi who hit the ring to save his old friend. He charged to the ring without a second thought. Years may have passed. They may have gone their separate ways. But, when push comes to shove, he couldn’t stand and watch. Just as Kenny couldn’t sit in the back and leave Kota to Cody’s mercy, Kota needed to help Kenny. Then, in a moment of beautiful story-telling, Kenny resisted for a minute. He wasn’t sure if he could do this again. Except, of course, he could. Some things just make sense.

This opens up a million possibilities. We’ve got a Bullet Club fracture that could go any number of ways. Do The Bucks stick by Kenny? Does Scurll? Where do the likes of Fale and GOD go? However, none of that matters. Because Kenny and Kota are back together. Wrestling’s purest couple are together in New Japan, and that is where the excitement is. It’s a love story and I can’t wait to see where it ends.

Overall Show

How can you not love them? Credit: NJPW

Most of this show was an inferior version of the previous night. Then the final two matches (and that angle) came along, and it made it all worth it. The Bucks are on fire right now and Roppongi is right there alongside them. While even if White was overshadowed by what happened afterwards, it was still a huge moment for him. Finally, we saw Romeo run into Juliet’s arms and who can say no to that? Let’s just hope they have a nicer conclusion.

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