NJPW New Beginning in Osaka 10/2/18 Review

Image result for new beginning osaka 2018
There aren’t any pictures up yet, I’ll try to remember to add them when there is. Credit: NJPW

While there were three New Beginning shows (and a few more if you include the Road To… events), it was clear right from the start that one reigned supreme over the others. The Osaka card was the chosen one. Christ, it has six singles matches on it, find me another New Japan show that has that? It was the show NJPW was building to, and it had the potential to be special. Let’s dish out some stars.

Yuji Nagata defeated Katsuya Kitamura

Damn, Nagata, you aren’t holding back, are you? Make no mistake about it, this was a test for Kitamura. Grumpy Nagata was out there to kick and slap him around, and it was all about surviving for Young Kit.

And survive he did. It was a rare example of Kitamura having to rely on more than just his brute strength. He had to take those kicks and slaps and then pick his moments to fire up and come back. There was no chance for him to be on the front foot and bully his opponents. The only person doing the bullying was Yuji Nagata.

It also worked as a lovely reminder that Yuji Nagata is fantastic. The man is turning fifty in a couple of months. Yet, he can still go at a level that none of the other dad’s can hit. Long may it continue.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) defeated Roppongi 3K (SHO and YOH)

SHO has been selling his back all tour. It has played into every match Roppongi 3K have had and has given them a chance to switch up their roles. He now takes the heat section while YOH gets the hot tag. It also gave New Japan a fantastic reason to introduce a pair of vicious little buggers like El Desperado and Kanemaru.

Because when presented with a target, they did what the boss would do. Destroy it. It was about them doing as much damage to that back as possible in their attempt to earn a shot at those titles. From Boston Crabs to chair shots, they wanted to leave SHO writhing in pain.

A goal they achieved. It wasn’t the best wrestling on the card, but it was a great piece of storytelling. While YOH did all he could to get his partner through the torture, it was a step too far for that back. Suzuki-gun got the win and will presumably have the chance to destroy it all over again. This time for the titles.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Taguchi Japan (Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA, Togi Makabe and a piece of shit) defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku and Takashi Iizuka)

There were a lot of things I don’t like in this. The piece of shit is the most obvious one. However, we also got the singing ballbag, Iizuka biting Taguchi’s arse and Kevin Kelly desperately scrambling to try and come up for the reason that Taguchi is the good guy when he gets all creepy with Miho Abe. It was never going to be enjoyable.

Makabe and Suzuki continue to beat the crap out of each other.  It looked like Minoru finally accepted Togi’s challenge, so they’ll have a chance to do it for a bit longer.

Verdict: Fuck Michael Elgin

CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Jay White and Toru Yano) defeated Juice Robinson, David Finlay and Toa Henare

There’s not much to say about this one that I haven’t said before. It was very similar to the match these six men had a few days ago. It even had the same finish as White elbowed Henare into oblivion in front of Finlay.

Despite that, there were still some things to enjoy. Mainly Henare and Ishii hitting each other as hard as they could. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s one of my favourite feuds in wrestling right now. Let them fight!

I imagine if you didn’t see the Road To… show you’ll enjoy this a lot more. If you did, it’s basically a repeat.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

I am 100% up for Mysterio vs Liger. It’s a shame they’re not twenty years younger, but Rey is on fire right now, and Liger will deliver in a big spot.

Bushi defeated Gedo

A fun little match. Look, if you’re building everything around Gedo’s beard and Bushi’s mask, you are limiting yourself. There are only so many ways Bushi can yank on the beard. However, I couldn’t help enjoying it. If nothing else, it’s nice to have a mid-card Junior’s singles feud that isn’t for the belt. You won’t remember it in a month, but it did what it had to do.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Tetsuya Naito defeated YOSHI-HASHI

YOSHI-HASHI wants Naito to notice him. Although I’m not sure if continually trying to beat him up is the best way to do it.

Naito does bring the best out of YOSHI, though. They had a great outing in the G1 and another good showing here. Naito’s character played perfectly into this angle too. He’s the guy who says he doesn’t care but actually cares too much. It didn’t matter how much he dismissed YOSHI-HASHI in the build-up, he was always going to give a shit when that bell went.

Especially when YOSHI gave him a scare or two. I’ve joked about Naito dragging a personality out of him during this feud. However, it’s kind of true. This more aggressive side to him is a hell of a lot better than the guy who is just there the rest of the time. He took it to Naito and forced him to step up a gear.

I hope New Japan looks at this and does something with YOSHI-HASHI. He’s in danger of becoming a perpetual mid-carder. Give him a run at the NEVER Title or something like that. What’s the worst that can happen?

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Naito can make me care about YOSHI-HASHI, he can’t make me care about Taichi.

Will Ospreay defeated Hiromu Takahashi to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title

God, I love pro-wrestling.

Will Ospreay should join Dragon Lee in feuding with Hiromu Takahashi forever. These two bring the best out of each other. It’s a game of suicidal chicken as they both continually raise the bar. Whether it’s the best move in wrestling (the Sunset Flip Powerbomb to the outside) or that insane Wheelbarrow German Suplex onto the turnbuckle, they take nuts, bash through it and hit insane.

They also bring the best out of each other in a character sense. We got to see the vicious Hiromu here. The guy who went after Ospreay’s neck injury again and again. Dropping him on his head at every chance he gets. It was very different from the man who has been playing with Daryl for months. Ospreay also got violent. Those strikes get stiffer with every New Japan match. He is on top of the world right now, and New Japan was right to keep the belt on him.

And I know some of you are sad because you wanted Hiromu to get it back. I am too, at least a little bit. I understand that a lot of people dislike Ospreay because he’s a twat on Twitter. However, he’s also one of the best wrestlers on the planet right now, and he only gets better with each passing year. New Japan would be crazy not to push him as hard as they can and Takahashi’s day will come again.

Verdict: Four And A Half Stars

Hirooki Goto defeated Evil to retain the NEVER Openweight Title

I wanted Goto and Evil to beat the living hell out of each other. Two big boys throwing sledgehammers. Which we got to a certain extent, so why did it never take off? Why was I left disappointed?

Something about this never clicked. They were trying, but there were too many shortcuts. Too many periods where the foot was taken off the gas, and they were both lying around. It also didn’t help that the big necklace Evil was choking Goto with looked stupid as hell. I apologise if it is symbolically significant in some way and I’ve no issue with Goto wearing it to the ring, I just don’t want it as part of the match.

It wasn’t a total stinker. The final few minutes were excellent, and few wrestlers put a finishing stretch together better than Evil. It failed in the face of expectation. I wanted two big boys trying to kill each other, and I got two big boys never quite reaching that level.

Verdict: Three Stars

Kazuchika Okada defeated Sanada to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Title

The pivotal moment in the main event wasn’t particularly spectacular. It saw Sanada leapfrog over Okada twice in a row, hit a dropkick and follow up with a brace of topes. It was a standard sequence, but in it, we saw Sanada show an urgency we’ve rarely seen from him. And the crowd responded with roars. It was the moment where it became clear that like we all hoped, Sanada could step up a gear and go to that next level.

From there on, this was a fantastic match. Sanada became a star in front of our eyes. Taking the fight to Okada, he began to lock in the Cold Skull at every chance he got. He even slipped out of an Okada Rainmaker attempt and responded with one of his own to the screams of the crowd. At one point, it looked like he might win, following up the Cold Skull with a near-perfect moonsault. Unfortunately, the fact it wasn’t perfect was his downfall. He came down on the knee he’d tweaked with an earlier moonsault attempt and couldn’t make the pin quickly enough. It was the tiniest of mistakes, unfortunately for Sanada, it was enough, and the Ace struck.

Which leads nicely to Okada himself. It shouldn’t need to be said at this point, but the man is the best. While Sanada deserves all the credit in the world for stepping up, he owes a lot to Kazuchika Okada. He gave him a shitload and sold his ass off to make him look as good as he did. Every time you think he’s raised the bar, he does so again, and it’s almost getting silly how wonderful he is.

Not that it was perfect. The opening was slow, and I was worried we were going to get the classic Sanada 75% effort. I also really wish he’d tighten up that Cold Skull. Too often his arm is just wrapped around the opponent’s forehead, looking ineffectual and weak. However, neither of those were catastrophic issues. For the most part, this will be remembered for proving what we all hoped was the case. That Sanada is capable of going up the gears and being the main event star he should be.

Verdict: Four And A Half Stars

Overall Show

Wonderful wrestling. Even with the disappointment of Goto vs Evil, this was a fantastic card. There was very little in the way of filler and that final run was a lot of fun. The Junior and Heavyweight Title matches were the definite highlights, but special mention has to go to Roppongi 3K for continuing to deliver at every chance they get. The entire roster is doing great things, and it looks like 2018 might just live up to the greatness of 2017.

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