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Kevin’s NJPW The New Beginning in Sapporo 2020 Night Two Review

February 3, 2020 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo (Night Two)
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Kevin’s NJPW The New Beginning in Sapporo 2020 Night Two Review  

NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo
February 2nd, 2020 | Hokkaido Sports Center in Hokkaido, Sapporo | Attendance: 5,690

Night one turned out to be a solid show. Let’s see if night two can keep up the pace. If you want proof at Okada’s popularity, this night drew about 1,000 more to the same arena for a lame main event with him against Taichi.

Toa Henare vs. Yota Tsuji
Henare came in with a 3-0 record over Tsuji. That is to be expected considering Tsuji’s status as a Young Lion. They’re kind of similar in how they hit hard and bring some size and strength to a match. Henare looks great and showed off a nice stalling vertical suplex. Tsuji had a dope counter where he transitioned from a rollup to a Young Lion Crab pretty smoothly. I popped for Tsuji getting two on a Spear. He’s one of the more impressive Lions around. Henare wrecked him with a lariat and won with the Toa Bottom in 8:16. This was a lot of fun and a really good way to start the show. [***]

Post-match, Toa Henare spoke to commentary and said he was done with Young Lions. He wants Shingo Takagi. That sounds like a dope NEVER Title match.

Great Bash Heel and Yuya Uemura vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi and Tiger Mask IV
Uemura has been showing a lot of fire lately. He came right Nakanishi here, even demanding he start the match against him. He got his ass kicked for his troubles. There’s something about watching Tenzan battle with Honma that brings me back to the first G1 I watched live in 2015. Even though they were in different blocks. Most of this was the old guys playing the hits. Makabe doing the corner punches, Honma’s Kokeshi, Nakanishi’s rack, Tenzan’s Mongolian Chops, etc. In the end, Uemura fell to a Tiger Suplex at the 9:48 mark. This was fine for what it was. [**¼]

El Phantasmo vs. Gabriel Kidd
The televised NJPW debut for Gabriel Kidd. I feel like it’s my first time seeing him as well. The story of Kidd is an interesting one. He was an established wrestler in Europe but has gone back to square one to take a Young Lion role at the LA Dojo. He’s faced ELP before. This was a lot of ELP being a dick and Kidd showing some fire in his hope spots. It was standard stuff. ELP won with a frog splash in 8:50. I kind of like ELP winning with something different. People having multiple ways to win matches is great. The match was solid. [**¾]

ELP laid Kidd out with a CR2 after the bell.

BUSHI, EVIL and Shingo Takagi vs. Hirooki Goto, Robbie Eagles and Tomohiro Ishii
The NEVER Openweight Champions in a six man tag that is non-title. And they’re running the same match again on Thursday for the titles. See why New Japan breaking their shows down into multiple events is a problem? Whatever problems I have with the booking concept, these guys are almost guaranteed to deliver something good. Ishii and EVIL went right after each other at the bell. EVIL must be pissed at his 0-9 record against Ishii. Maybe he’ll pin him in the title match or something. Goto and Shingo gave us more from yesterday, highlighted by Shingo taunting him with the title. Goto is such a loser. Eagles trapped BUSHI in the Ron Miller Special again. Help from Shingo and EVIL was cut off, leaving BUSHI to tap out again in 9:42. Not much to analyze here as it was simply entertaining wrestling. Lots of action and good exchanges from everyone, with the right guy going over. [***½]

DOUKI, El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki and Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Jon Moxley, Roppongi 3K and Ryusuke Taguchi
Jon Moxley is teaming with Taguchi. What a time to be alive. Suzuki ran through the stands to greet Moxley during his entrance. They just beat the hell out of each other. I am so ready for that match. Meanwhile, Roppongi 3K and their rivals built towards their next meeting with some interesting work. It’s nothing new from them but it’s not bad. Taguchi and DOUKI were also kind of just there. This was made fun due to some of the personalities involved and the battle between Moxley and Suzuki. Taguchi finished off DOUKI with the Ankle Lock after 12:58. A fun match that built towards the upcoming shows well. It also didn’t overstay its welcome. I can’t ask for much more from these tags. [***]

Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA and Tetsuya Naito vs. Jay White, KENTA and Taiji Ishimori
It’s interesting to note that we’re getting Takahashi/Ishimori in this. Their BOSJ Finals in 2017 remains an all-time classic. I think that the interactions between KENTA and Tetsuya Naito were slightly better here than on night one. They’re still not wowing me though. SANADA and Jay White continues to be solid. Hiromu and Taiji were probably the highlights here, putting together some really good back and forth with lots of energy. Ishimori also had some nice exchanges with SANADA. They gave us the finish, as Ishimori fell to Skull End after 15:34. This was pretty good though it’s still not doing enough to get me excited about these big matches. [***]

RevPro British Heavyweight Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. [c] vs. Will Ospreay
The history between these two usually rules. They met at EVOLVE 58 (****½), the Battle of Los Angeles (***¾), Global Wars UK (****¼), and the G1 last year (****¼). Needless to say, even though I dislike Will, I dig their chemistry. I saw the high ratings given by others for this meeting. So I ultimately ended up hugely disappointed. In terms of crisp wrestling, this was strong. It’s not like they botched or did anything outwardly bad from a technical standpoint. However, it just seemed like there was no purpose to this whole thing. Ospreay targeted the leg but then was applying a crossface and then didn’t go back to submissions later. It was as if they had a bunch of ideas and shoehorned them into one match rather than tell a cohesive story. Those kind of problems are exacerbated when a match goes on for 27:04. You can see all of the flaws. As noted, their wrestling was smooth and impressive on that front. If you watch a YouTube highlight reel of this match, you’d think it was a five-star classic. As a whole, it’s just not that engaging. This was two guys putting on an exhibition in moves and a huge misstep in terms of a story. Sabre Jr. won with the Cobra Twist. I came away very disappointed. [***]

Kazuchika Okada vs. Taichi
Does Gedo know who I am? Like, he has to be specifically trolling me at this point. I’m happy that we get Okada out of the title picture because it can A) freshen him and the company up and B) let him do something different. Have the man work some 15-17 minute matches for a change. Instead, this lasted an absurd 30:53. It’s like Gedo couldn’t help himself after booking a 20 minute main event the night before. On Taichi’s side, I think this was a good performance for him. Nowhere what we did against Ishii in last year’s G1 but he looked pretty good. This didn’t have a ton of shenanigans, either. However, you’re not going to suddenly make me buy into him as a legitimate threat to Okada and this match didn’t do enough to sell me on that narrative. There was some good stuff in here but this felt like they were trying too hard to have an epic. Okada won after mostly following his formula and winning a late exchange with the Rainmaker. This was a match. [**¾]

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
There’s really not anything terrible on this card. It’s just that nothing stood out either and the two top matches were pretty lackluster. I’m especially disappointed in Ospreay/ Sabre Jr. because I know they can be great together. As usual, guys like Shingo, Hiromi, and Ishii delivered while a lot of other guys did nothing of interest.