NJPW The New Beginning In Sapporo (3/2/19) Review

Not the angle I’d choose to be suplexed at. Credit: NJPW

Night two of the Japanese New Beginning shows finally saw some gold being placed on the line. Both sets of tag belts and the IC title were up for grabs with Taichi getting another chance to show he can be a big game player. Can he? Well, let me tell you.

Toa Henare defeated Yota Tsuji

While Uemura has spent his time in the Dojo getting ripped (see my previous review), Tsuji has been bulking up. It looks like he’s heading towards beast mode.

That made him the perfect person to get grunty with Henare. These two engaged in a big boy off with Tsuji managing to stand his ground against the Kiwi. At least up until the moment he lost, that is.

It’s another victory for Toa Henare over a Young Lion and, while everyone pins the cubs, there’s a reason that he’s the one being sent out to do it. I hope this is the year his career kicks into gear because the lad has all the potential in the world and deserves more than fun openers.

Verdict: Three Stars

Manabu Nakanishi and Tiger Mask defeated Shota Umino and Ayato Yoshida

I will always enjoy watching the grumpy kitty kick the poor wee cubs. However, Umino and Yoshida are at the stage where my intrigue in this match came not from their learning experience, but in seeing how much they could pull out of their ageing opponents.

The conclusion? A decent amount. While Nakanishi has all the mobility of a grain silo, they created the illusion of movement around him. Tiger’s not quite as bad, but he’s not going all out in this spot. The bairns were providing the effort.

Hopefully, it won’t be long till Umino is sent out on his excursion because at this point I’m not sure what he’s getting out of this. It’s time for him to spread his wings and see what he can do.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Ren Narita defeated Suzuki-gun (Taka Michinoku and Takashi Iizuka) by Disqualification

I’m sure there are people out there who are excited by Tenzan’s struggles to bring back the old Iizuka, but I am not one of them. Iizuka has always been a crazy old cannibal to me, so I have no emotional connection to his past.

Still, I don’t begrudge him getting a final angle, I’m just not interested in watching it. Narita continues to look good, though.

Verdict: Two Stars

Ryusuke Taguchi, Toru Yano, Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe defeated The Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori, Tama Tonga, Tonga Loa and Yujiro Takahashi)

This continued Tama Tonga’s good guy antics with a near-identical match to the previous day with YOSHI-HASHI and Chase Owens removed. That meant we got a lot of bemusement over Tonga’s shtick and a flash of wrestling from Taguchi and Ishimori. If you watched the previous show, you could happily skip it.

Verdict: Two And A Quarter Stars

The Bullet Club (Jay White, Chase Owens and Bad Luck Fale) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada and YOSHI-HASHI

This is where YOSHI and Chase went. In fact, this match might have featured my favourite moment of YOSHI’s career. After the trio pulled off some nice teamwork he did a little, em, roar, I guess? I believe he was hoping they would do the old CHAOS pose. Whatever the intention, the utter bemusement on Tana and Okada’s faces was wonderful. Poor YOSHI.

This continued the story that’s already been established. White has Tanahashi’s number. He might have tapped out YOSHI-HASHI this time, but he still went to work on The Ace’s knee, weakening him for that title match. I won’t bother raving about White’s performance again, you can go read what I wrote previously.

I will say one thing, I mock YOSHI-HASHI, but when he tagged in for the finishing sequence the Sapporo crowd were hot. Something about YOSHI is getting people behind him right now, so if NJPW want to push him, it might be the time.

Anyway, I actually preferred this to the previous day’s match. I’m always behind a bit of Chase and I thought Okada was fantastic. There was also a bit less in the way of shenanigans, so it gets the thumbs up from me.

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi and BUSHI) defeated Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Titles

How great is Shingo Takagi? Truthfully, I never need to see BUSHI face off against these two men again. It’s a combination that we’ve seen two hundred times too many, and even when it’s good, it’s only good in a way we’ve seen before.

Shingo, however, every time he enters the ring, it comes alive. He’s a beast, with those bursts of pace into incredible displays of power never getting boring. I’m fairly convinced I could watch him hit Pumping Bombers on scarecrows and I’d still have a lovely time.

The final sequence of the match came down to the shenanigans that characterised Suzuki-gun’s title reign. This time, though, Shingo and BUSHI were a step ahead. Chairs and whiskey were not enough, but BUSHI’s mist and a Rebellion was.

After the match Despy desperately attacked again, trying to regain some pride, but he was quickly disposed of before BUSHI took his mask, a theme they’ve been going back and forth on lately. I wonder if we’re getting a mask match between the two? That could be fun.

Anyway, this was good without ever being incredible. Shingo is the clear star, and we all know this title run is just keeping him hot until his time to head out by himself begins.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Sanada and EVIL) defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr.) to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Titles

Murder Grandpa is going to be pissed. Not only did they lose, but he took the fall. If there was any doubt New Japan still have big plans for ZSJ, then that should quash it. Protecting him over MiSu is quite the statement.

The first part of this match can do one. I’m fed up of the whole dragging people into the crowd and throwing chairs at them shtick. Unhinged crowd brawling can be an effective tool to get over a hot feud, but New Japan uses it all the time. It’s boring.

Thankfully, the return to the ring brought with it the thing that makes Zack and Suzuki such a great team. They are evil bastards. Watching them go to work dissecting Sanada is all kinds of fun. I adore the way they always find a route into a new hold, twisting and wrenching at limbs. They are both over as killers, and you believe they can make anyone tap at any time.

Yet, they lost, and I have to admit, the finish left me cold. EVIL and Sanada spent all that time in holds, then they just got better? They popped up, hit Magic Killer and Sanada followed up with the Moonsault for the three. Where was the selling lads?

It left me feeling a bit flat about the whole thing. This was a solid match, it just felt like it could have been a lot better.

Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars

Tetsuya Naito defeated Taichi to retain the Intercontinental Title

Taichi, go home.

Right, let’s do this. There were two halves to the match. The first half, which was dull and shitty. Then the second half, where Naito started throwing himself around for Taichi in an attempt to make him look like a star. It almost worked too, except that first half had bored me to tears. Imagine if they’d just gone straight to the throwing each other around part? This would have been one hell of a main event.

Yet, for whatever reason, they can’t let Taichi have a big-time match without him screwing around. I get the argument that he’s something different in a company that doesn’t do that much. Except, they kind of do, don’t they? Crowd brawling and interference is not as rare in New Japan as some like to pretend. The one place we don’t get it, as a general rule, is the main event. So if Taichi’s going to bring it, then I don’t want him there.

Argh, this just frustrated me. Naito is a sublime wrestler, and there have been hints that Taichi can be the same. Yet, we get this. We get something that was alright, but which ultimately left me feeling cold. It was a dud main event and one I never want to see again. Back to the mid-card with you Taichi, it’s where you belong.

Verdict: Three Stars

Overall Show

Well, that was a big old bag of mediocrity. The three title matches were fine, and I’m loving Jay White, but fuck, it’s hard to get enthused about this stuff, you know? I know that business is up, and Gedo wants all the money, but by splitting these cards, New Japan makes them a lot less fun to watch. Combine this with the day before or next weekend’s show, and you’d have something great. On its own? It’s fine.

Watch New Japan: https://njpwworld.com/

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