After a month or so of inactive hype on the Twitter machine/online, New Japan is back to capture fans’ hearts with two stacked Beginning cards, particularly this one, with multiple title matches. After the departures of both AJ Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura; Kenny Omega continues to ascend to the “one of the “guys'” in the company” position, although that’s more about Niigata where he faces Tanahashi than now. That’s what I’m most invested in, in the company. On Osaka, we have familiar foes battling in title matches, but also some multi-mans prior to those matches in which things are slightly shaken up for refreshing booking and enjoyment. Both NEVER Openweight titles are on the line, both rematches from Wrestle Kingdom, we have a three way Jr. Tag Team title tag, and lastly, in the main event; Hirooki Goto looks to not choke in the ‘big one’, where in one of the biggest matches of his career, he challenges New Japan’s newly crowned ace Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. It’s going to be weird to watch the first big show without Shinsuke Nakamura & AJ Styles. None the less, it’s The New Beginning in Osaka, and it starts now.
February 11, 2016
The match played out like it typically would in your head. Finlay growing out his beard makes him look like he’s 5 years older. His style has matured and came into its own as well. White is as good and as charismatic as ever. For a young lions exhibition, this got a solid amount of time and came through with two conflicting styles to boot. White brought out his technical side, trying to lead with Finlay’s arm, trying to submit him; etc. Finlay brought his dad with him essentially, with all the uppercuts, beat downs for near falls, and Finlay rolls you could imagine! The ending saw White get out of Finlay’s Boston Crab, only to later reverse a leaping into the corner Finlay into one himself. They teased a breakup there too, but White dragged David back to the center of the ring to tap him out. Good stuff.
So basically your typical multi-man except it’s Gedo teaming with the C-squad CHAOS and your typical Jr. heavyweight batch going on on the other side. Gedo is an asshole for booking #GrappleFuck between Liger and Sakuraba, then breaking it up because he feels like it. This was your standard undercard match with a few nice touches. Tiger Mask brought the intensity with his contributions (pretty much a roll-up and a Tiger Driver), so no grumpy Mr. Mask was nice. Taguchi has improved his butt accuracy and is more intense with that medium too. YOSHI was as always competent in his role, and the Liger/Saku interactions were still as beautiful as a sunset. Gedo screaming “MOTHERFUCKER!” at Taguchi was also incredible. Nothing much else to it. Taguchi made Gedo tap with an ankle lock after reversing the Gedo Clutch.
This is where the big boys play, huh? Look at the adjective, HOSS DADS. This is going to be a spectacle, and this somehow seems more valuable than any NJPW World Tag League match last year. This is a special bar fight between your Japanese fathers. Tenzan started the match but was eventually held back as Nakanishi & Nagata isolated Kojima with all their offense. Fired up Tenzan, more than ever, came back into the match to deliver all his Mongolian Chops and the like. From there on out, we were back on the balance scale as it turned into more of a struggle for someone to gain the advantage; as it should be with the vets. It’s always cool to see frequent tags in these veteran matches so the boys don’t get fully gassed. I really liked the finishing sequence of the match, touching all kinds of areas. It went from a power struggle, to Nakanishi jumping off the top rope, to dual submissions locked in, to TenKoji overcoming said double punishment; to a lariat being kicked out of 1 by Nakanishi! Another one was delivered however, and Kojima pinned Nakanishi.
Rah rah stuff from Nagata and Kojima, that they're not finished yet and can still show everyone what they can do. #njnbg
— chris charlton (@reasonjp) February 11, 2016
Seems as if the 3rd generation in New Japan aren’t finish gunning for titles just yet. Fine with that.
Naito is the master of pre-match, post-match announcer angles. He was bantering Nogami, who retorted back JUSTICE! in favor of Yuji Nagata when Naito would belt out LOS…and this ended up with Naito putting his hands on Nogami, ripping his shirt, as well as stalking him whilst other entrances occurred. God damn excellence.
A solid tag to round-out the non-title undercard matches of the show. The Ingobernables had full control over KUSHIDA, with all members getting their hands on him at one point, as well as KUSHIDA getting misted by BUSHI — all in all an excellent precursor to their IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship match next show, which also makes me believe that BUSHI is still a credible threat even if KUSHIDA just won the title at the Tokyo Dome. For the small amount of ring time he got, Mike was awesome as usual. The hot tag via KUSHIDA helped the match a lot, not only from my perspective but the crowd’s. Juice was used as the fall guy, and lost after Elgin was held down by Naito and KUSHIDA was blinded. Death by S.T.O.
This is the third time the match has happened in just over a month, but this is what the titles are for. No Mao tonight so every reviewer must deduct at least one snowflake from the equation. The girl with Yujiro (Shiori) was apparently rated R by her nameplate. At least this match carried over continuity yet provided a different dynamic. That dynamic was the fact that Bullet Club now has Briscoes & Yano scouted from their past losses. With that being said, we have new midcard filler NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions. The Bullet Club had the other three beat at their own game. We started off on the right foot with Yano, but as soon as Fale countered the Yano timed duck, things went downhill for the team. The Briscoes managed to stay resilient, but when they went for the Doomsday Device earlier than usual on Tonga, Yujiro chucked Mark off the top and that is where they fell off the cliff. Yano managed to throw Yujiro & Fale into each other, as well as low-blow them, but Tonga’s demons came back to haunt Yano for the deadliest consequence yet. Yano was low-blowed and hit with the Headshrinker. Your new 6-Man title holders: Bullet Club. Expect even more matches between these guys, and definitely at least one rematch. It’s not a big deal. The titles will change boatloads. P.S., Tama Tonga is now a New Japan Champion!!!!
Could be super fun, could be OK, could be horrendous. I don’t enjoy playing Russian roulette with the Jr. guys but you have to take it by year. These titles mean nothing. Buffering was brutal during this match, but maybe it was a sign from the lords. The roulette ball has landed on “I don’t care”. Plus, with the streaming issues, it was even more of an eternity. There was one extremely cool spot that I have to put over. O’Reilly went for the Nigel, but he fell out of the ropes and into Cody’s arms — and Cody sprinted to the back carrying Kyle. Really cool stuff right there. The Bucks hit an IndyTaker on Sydal, but Ricochet came in for the breakup and that led to Stereo Shooting Star Presses. Your winners and new IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Useless Tag Team Champions: Matt Sydal & Ricochet.
I wasn’t nearly as big a fan of their Wrestle Kingdom bout, but hopefully the two can keep their momentum going here whilst still at the same time not ending each others’ careers. This was a really, really, extremely good professional wrestling match. I’ll be the crazy guy on the internet to admit that I only reacted out loud to this once and it was mild. I wasn’t emotionally invested in this bout, and haven’t been regarding this feud; so that is where the fine line is drawn as to my MOTY lists vs. yours. I prefer Big Japan Pro Wrestling’s strong division and their strong style, but this was the essence of the very style. They took each other to the limit, the crowd was there, building atop of the spots every step of the way. The strong style essence was in the building and all around us; as the two beat the everloving hell out of each other to the point where you couldn’t tell what was real and what was slightly worked in order for one to not be murdered in the center of the ring. Shibata has immensely improved as a worker, and was by far the better worker here. There were so many little things that came into play, including Shibata working over Ishii’s arm and applying deadly armbreakers to Ishii in tribute to his best friend Shinsuke Nakamura. You can’t get much harder hitting and larger than life, than this match. Katsuyori Shibata has solidified himself as NEVER Champion because he’s now defended it in comparison to dropping the tag belts right away. After one of the craziest moves I’ve ever seen take place in a wrestling ring, a spinning backfist that was heard around the world, as well as other 90s AJPW level impact moves and a sleeper/PK; Shibata nearly murdered Tomohiro Ishii whilst keeping his title in the process. Great stuff that didn’t resonate with me as much as most likely you because of those aforementioned reasons. But look at how much I just put this over. The near falls are some of the best things you’ll see a strong style crowd connected to. It’s a match where everything is snatch and grab. You ate it up. Although I didn’t, as much, but witnessed the glory in its entirety.
This is very much a filler match, but it still involves fairly important folks to put on the pre-cursor portion of the card as the tag title match competitors are in here, and Omega and Tanahashi who will face off for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. To counter that point, I really don’t care about this match. It’s not like I don’t care for the talent, but after a match like Ishii/Shibata, the time it is in Vancouver, the state of the crowd, the hump we have to get over that is a lame co-main, the guys not doing much…it’s just too bland. I completely understand putting this here though, because no matter what, Goto is pretty much going to look like a geek unless he turns heel and/or wins. I dug the finishing sequence however. Tomoaki Honma and Karl Anderson have such fantastic chemistry. Honma took tons of punishment, including a three man Bullet Club jumping doggy pile as well as a Gun Stun outta nowhere as a counter to the always missed Kokeshi this match. Makabe was taken care of, Tanahashi was hit with a frankensteiner, and Honma was put away with the One Winged Angel.
Kenny Omega and crew continued to dominate Tanahashi post-match, with usage of a chair. The Bucks were in the pack too, and young lions were chucked out of the ring in the process. Omega frog splashed Tanahashi’s arm which was placed on a garbage can for the culmination of the post-match angle. Hiroshi Tanahashi’s chances of winning are higher than ever!
Going into the match, via the video package, interviews, etc, it’s blatant that Goto is jealous and wants to make his mark tonight; otherwise he is going to waste in his eyes. Whether it’s him turning heel, or simply winning, something big has to happen. Also; WAR GOTO just appeared on screen. This is going to be a helluva ride. The best has been saved for last. The biggest takeaway from this match: whether we like it or not, Hirooki Goto will never be IWGP Heavyweight Champion material. This was the last stand, we thought something was going to change; in SOME way, but the ace continued his dominance both in and out of the ring. Okada was an excellent worker in this match, and continues to prove to me why he should be labelled as one of the best to currently do it. The pacing of the match worked in my favor, as I enjoy New Japan elongated main events, but even though Goto painted himself up, and launched himself into another other-worldly character, he was THE EXACT SAME Hirooki Goto that has wrestled in this building before. There was hardly any change, except for tweaks of the moveset that came across better earlier on in the match as he was vying to end Okada as quickly as possible. No matter what, the arena will chant for Kazuchika Okada. No matter what, Kazuchika Okada will put on a show. There’s a reason why he’s the ace, and there’s a reason why he’s going to be the poster child of puroresu for the next 10+ years. Pros: a new Goto + a moveset, Okada being so damn good at what he does, impact spots like a top rope ushigoroshi bundled with said good Okada. Cons: complete lack of emotion, crowd losing interest from time to time, the layout of the match. All in all, still a good solid title defense, but nothing ground breaking; and nothing that will elevate Hirooki Goto to the status some of us have been rooting for for a long time. Back to the top and back to the midcard it is.
Post-match, Okada & Gedo did their usual thing to a massive reaction which is heart warming. Except, there was an interesting storyline development that came out of the celebration. I’ll leave you with this…
Okada on that invite 'he has more room for change. If he really truly wants to change everything, he needs to join us' #njnbg
— chris charlton (@reasonjp) February 11, 2016
New Beginning in Osaka was rough around the edges, but it had some high points that were high, and low points that were low. The young lions killed it as always, the multi-mans were your usual multi-mans, the third generation is here to stay…for now, Los Ingobernables continue to dominate their targets, we have new throwaway belt champions, Shibata and Ishii tore it up yet again, Kenny Omega continues to be positioned to be rocket pushed as the next big foreign heel, and lastly, Kazuchika Okada cemented himself as one of the best workers on the planet giving it his all against Hirooki Goto; who choked in more ways than one. Thanks for partaking in this live coverage and review. Next up is Niigata. Until next time.