NJPW The New Beginning In Sapporo (2/2/20) Review

The Holy Emperor cometh. Credit: NJPW

After a beef-fest the night before, New Japan was dishing up a very different meal on night two of The New Beginning in Sapporo. We’ve got a bit of British in there followed by Taichi’s latest attempt to climb the ladder and reach the top of the New Japan rankings. Can he do it? Well, I guess it’s time to find out.

Toa Henare defeated Yota Tsuji

The cub gets slappy. Credit: NJPW

Tsuji is getting better at linking moves together. He’s already a big boy who can go out and trade strikes, and if you put him in the semi-main event spot next to Ishii or EVIL, I bet they could give you a four-star match where they just beat the shit out of each other. However, if he wants to stand out, it’s the little things he needs to perfect, and that’s starting to come together. We saw him twist from a Sunset Flip into a Crab before later using the momentum from a kick out to do the same, so more of that, please.

As for Henare, it’s time for him to stop facing Young Lions. I’m glad he’s picking up wins, but he’s 4-0 against Tsuji and what does that achieve? Thankfully, he seems to be making moves to do exactly that, saying the same thing to the English commentary team post-match before calling out Shingo. Fingers crossed that goes somewhere.

Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars

Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Tiger Mask defeated GBH (Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma) and Yuya Uemura

Tenzan attempts to put that head to good use. Credit: NJPW

Tiger Mask had some harsh words for Uemura after their losing effort the day before, so it was no coincidence that they were on different teams. Before we got there, though, the dads were fired up, perhaps wanting to see Nakanishi shine on his final match in Sapporo. They were nicking each others’ moves and showing an intensity that they only bring on big occasions.

Eventually, the two Juniors tagged in, and we saw Tiger being a very grumpy kitty. He kicked the snot out of the poor rookie, lashing out in frustration. The kid got to show some fire, trying to keep up with his senpai, but he was there to take his beating and take it he did.

Post-match, Nakanishi got a chance to say goodbye and thank the fans. Everything about this was better than you’d expect.

Verdict: Three Stars

El Phantasmo defeated Gabriel Kidd

Probably not one to put on the wall. Credit: NJPW

Gabriel Kidd is a rare example of a Young Lion who had a decent wrestling career before joining the Dojo, doing quite a lot on the British scene and even wrestling ELP. He gave that all up to go and train under Shibata in LA, which (let’s be honest) was probably the right call.

His first challenge was going to be standing out in this match as Phantasmo slowed it right down to work through his (awful) shtick. It’s a task I’m not entirely sure he was successful in. The rookie had his moments, but this felt like an ELP showcase, as Kidd spent most of the match selling. There was a bit of fire towards the end and a nifty counter into a flash pin, but I’m going to need to see more before I get excited about this kid (pun intended).

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto and Robbie Eagles) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, EVIL and BUSHI)

Eagles and his two das. Credit: NJPPW

Weirdly, this same match is happening at Korakuen for the NEVER Six-Man Titles, so I guess this was our preview while also serving as a follow-up to EVIL vs Ishii and Shingo vs Goto.

Not that I’m complaining as this was my serving of beef for the night. I was worried Ishii had been rattled in his early interaction with EVIL, but the way he and Shingo went at each other suggests that wasn’t the case. All four of those men continued where they left off from at New Beginning, charging into each other with violent glee.

It was a glee that would eventually lose LIJ the match. Shingo and EVIL were so obsessed with going after Goto and Ishii that they got distracted from breaking up the Ron Miller Special, leaving BUSHI to be tapped out for the second night in a row. With many expecting him to face Hiromu next, the fact Eagles is getting wins is worthy of attention.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Roppongi 3K (SHO and YOH), Jon Moxley and Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and DOUKI)

Mox got confused. Credit: NJPW

If you thought Moxley and Okada was a weird pairing, get your peepers around this team. What did Mox and Taguchi talk about? Although now I think about it I can imagine those two getting hammered and having a lovely time. We all saw those videos of Moxley doing karaoke.

Once again, this became the Moxley vs Suzuki show as MiSu charged into the crowd to meet Mox and the brawl began. They were tearing at each other, biting and brawling as they aimed for murder. At one point, they even tagged into the match, trading blows in the ring.

Technically, this was also a preview for the Junior Tag Title bout, but they played second fiddle. Plus, we’ve seen that before, so you know what to expect. It was all about Suzuki and Mox going to war, and this was the rare war that I am happy to support.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA and Hiromu Takahashi) defeated The Bullet Club (Jay White, KENTA and Taiji Ishimori)

Cheerio, you prick. Credit: NJPW

I still get excited every time I see Hiromu in the ring, as it feels special after his return from injury. That crazy wee fucker was missed.

Meanwhile, KENTA continues to focus on Naito’s neck, once again hitting a DDT on the floor. There was a moment when he was in there with Hiromu only to spot Naito stirring on the floor at which point he took off, charging out to launch him into the barricade.

We also saw SANADA get a bit of revenge for the previous night, as he caught a twisting and turning Ishimori to lock him in the Cold Skull, surviving The Bullet Club’s antics to get the win. It added up to a match that you don’t need to see, but is worth a watch if you have the time. Honestly, my favourite part was probably Hiromu stealing Naito’s hat and the Heavyweight title in the aftermath, wandering to the back with a cheeky grin on his face.

Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars

Zack Sabre Jr defeated Will Ospreay by referee stoppage to retain the British Heavyweight Title

Cocky prick. Credit: NJPW

Zack Sabre Jr is brilliant. I loved him in this match, as he played the cocky prick who knows he is ten times smarter than Will Ospreay to perfection. It was an attitude perfectly summed up by him grabbing hold of Will as he acrobatically bounced into the ropes to set-up his usual taunt. Sabre wasn’t having that and dragged him to the floor, punishing him for his insolence. He also did a great job of consistently going after Will’s neck, grinding it down to prepare for his victory.

My problems came from Ospreay. More than any style of wrestling, technical and matt-based work requires logic to function. If it doesn’t have that, it’s just two men cuddling in inventive ways, and Will didn’t have it. He went hold for hold with Sabre, but his obsession with the flashy continually won out, and it made no sense. The exchanges looked choreographed and less like painful submission wrestling than an elaborate dance.

Then there was the selling of his neck which, well, didn’t happen. There was a moment towards the end where Ospreay hit a move and started enthusiastically nodding his head in excitement, instantly eradicating everything that Sabre had been doing. It’s something that if he’d been in the ring with Hiromu or Eagles engaging in a spectacular exchange of moves wouldn’t have bothered me for a second, but in a match built around submissions, it took me out of everything they had done.

I suspect that I’m going to be on a small island with this opinion (the quick scroll I had through Twitter suggests that will be the case), and as I said there were aspects of it which I really enjoyed. They are fantastic wrestlers who know each other well, and that shone through, but those niggles wouldn’t go away. Every time Ospreay broke the illusion of the match, the amount I cared dwindled, and by the end, I had nothing left.

Verdict: Three Stars

Kazuchika Okada defeated Taichi

Taichi can dropkick too. Credit: NJPW

Taichi should have won this match. Okada was coming off a crushing defeat at the Tokyo Dome and had been beaten down the night before. If there was a time to push the big button marked Singing Bawbag, this was it.

And, if I’m honest, for large portions of the match I thought they might do it. Taichi was dominant, working over Okada and cutting off every attempt The Rainmaker made to get back into the action. Sure, we got the occasional bit of skullduggery (both the paper mache glove and a steel chair made an appearance), but on the whole, this was Taichi bringing the fight to the Ace and winning.

Except, he couldn’t win. No, because Okada wins, lol. Having taken his beaten, Captain Kazu proved to have that little bit more in the tank than the Holy Emperor, firing up to hit the Spinning Tombstone and a Rainmaker for the three. It was a familiar sight, but one that has rarely annoyed me as much as this did.

Don’t get me wrong. Taichi probably does benefit from being treated as Okada’s equal in defeat, and in the long-run New Japan’s habit of protecting their top guys usually pays off. However, this felt like the perfect moment, the perfect moment to do something shocking and different. Okada could have got his win back in the New Japan Cup or something like that, but Taichi would have been elevated forever. Christ, I can’t believe I’m calling for Taichi to be pushed as a top guy, what has happened to me?

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

Overall Show

I thought this show was fine. A solid undercard followed by two main events which let me down in two very different ways and left me feeling a bit underwhelmed. However, I have to caveat this by saying that everyone else loved Sabre vs Ospreay. So, if you’re nae a grumpy prick like me, you might want to give it a go. Although, if you do agree with my opinon, let me know! It would be nice to have friends.

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

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