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Kevin’s NJPW The New Beginning in Sapporo Night One Review

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

NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo
February 1st, 2020 | Hokkaido Sports Center in Hokkaido, Sapporo | Attendance: 4,569

For the first time since Wrestle Kingdom and New Year Dash, New Japan is officially back. The cards for these New Beginning shows once again scream the idea of spreading things too thin but hopefully we get some bangers out of it. This first show sounds solid on paper.

El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori vs. Tiger Mask IV and Yuya Uemura
Former IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Champions against a Dad and a Young Lion. Gee, I wonder how this will turn out. Tiger and Uemura have experience, having teamed during the Super Jr. Tag League last year. They’re a nice blend of a veteran who knows what to do and a hungry young guy. The action here was solid and everybody played their roles well. Uemura continued to show flashes and nearly pulled off the upset a few times. However, Ishimori made him tap to the Yes Lock after 8:13. I appreciated the fire from Uemura and the continued solid work from ELP and Ishimori as a duo. I’m assuming we get a Wrestle Kingdom rematch for the titles soon. [**¾]

Great Bash Heel and Toa Henare vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi and Yota Tsuji
So, this is a match. The only notable bit about it is that it’s part of the Nakanishi retirement tour. I don’t feel like going into too much detail here. You all know what to expect here if you’ve seen New Japan before. Makabe put in no effort, Tenzan and Honma did okay, Nakanishi tried but moves slowly, and then there’s Henare and Tsuji putting in the effort. Henare put down Tsuji after a solid little exchange with the Toa Bottom in 9:41. Too long for what it was. [**]

DOUKI, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Roppongi 3K, Ryusuke Taguchi and Will Ospreay
This was here to preview Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Will Ospreay match tomorrow. There’s also Desperado and Kanemaru most likely facing Roppongi 3K again for the titles since Gedo can’t be original to save his life. Suzuki-Gun brought their typical antics to this. They were ready to use underhanded tactics but I still appreciate how Sabre often avoids it. He’s content to just twist you around in awkward ways. SHO was the guy selling a ton in this. That surprised me since he’s so strong but that’s a good part of his game so it worked. The Sabre/Ospreay interactions were high quality. Their G1 match last year was great so that’s no surprise. They have dynamite chemistry. The finish came when Taguchi hit DOUKI with Dodon in 11:45. A quite enjoyable multi-man tag. [***]

I cracked up when Ospreay was shouting about winning the RevPro title after seven years, only for the camera to cut to YOH flexing his titty.

BUSHI and Hiromu Takahashi vs. Robbie Eagles and Ryu Lee
This should be good. Lee and Takahashi renew their rivalry later in the tour. However, Eagles holds the only win over Hiromu since his return. I’m down for an Eagles/Hiromu title match. I could watch Hiromu and Lee fight forever and their exchanges at the start here were tremendous. Their fight went outside even when they weren’t the legal men. I popped for Lee hitting the Naito corner dropkick and doing Naito’s taunt. It’s a small thing to add to the feud. To preserve the big upcoming match, the finish involved Eagles and BUSHI. Eagles used the Ron Miller Special on him and made him tap as Lee took care of Hiromu at the 11:47 mark. A hell of a tag sprint. I’m here for Hiromu/Lee and Hiromu/Eagles down the line. [***½]

Jay White and KENTA vs. SANADA and Tetsuya Naito
A New Year Dash rematch to help promote the upcoming Naito/KENTA and SANADA/White matches. I’m loving heel KENTA right now. He isn’t the chickenshit heel we’re used to. He carries himself with a swagger and confidence that I like. A lot of the early portions saw KENTA stall and then Naito do it right back to bother him. Commentary put over the idea that they’re similar, yet on different sides in terms of crowd response. The SANADA/White interactions were better, though neither matchup is making me rush to watch NJPW. As usual with a Bullet Club match, Gedo got involved and hit SANADA, setting him up to lose to a Jay White rollup in 18:42. Why the hell did this go nearly 20 minutes? Keep these undercard tags, even if they involve big stars, under 15 minutes at the most. Not a match that got me excited for either upcoming bout. [**¾]

Jon Moxley and Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki and Taichi
What a strange world we live in. Try telling me in 2016 that Kazuchika Okada and Dean Ambrose would be teaming up in 2020 and I’d have laughed. Nobody seems interested in Taichi/Okada but most are stoked for Moxley/Suzuki. Here, the latter two got to go at it and it was a ton of fun. They were assholes to each other and slapped the hell out of one another. The Okada/Taichi stuff didn’t work as well and felt super basic. Whenever the other guys were in, this felt like it had that extra level of intensity. Surprisingly, the finish involved Moxley. He got hit with the Gotch Piledriver and Suzuki pinned him after 17:48. Interesting choice for the result. Okada/Taichi was kind of lame but not bad enough to make this suck. Still an enjoyable match. [***¼]

Post-match, Taichi choked out Okada who fought back with a dropkick. Sabre Jr. ran in and choked Okada to stop a Rainmaker, bringing out Ospreay. Unfortunately for him, they were still put down by the CHAOS boys. That included Black Mephisto being hit on the ramp. Taichi promised to beat Okada tomorrow like he did when Okada was a Young Lion. These are the top two matches for tomorrow’s show.

EVIL vs. Tomohiro Ishii
I love how the awesome tag from New Year Dash spawned the top two matches on this show. They’ve met in a NEVER Title match in 2016 (****), the New Japan Cup in 2016 (***¾), and at Wrestling Dontaku last year (****¼). Ishii won all three. Back before he had the EVIL character, he was 0-5 against Ishii. Interestingly, this didn’t start with them going right after each other. It made for a fresh change of pace given their styles. However, EVIL quickly went back to the greatest hits. He brought out the hard hitting stuff, the steel chairs, and everything we know from him. It’s as if he got so frustrated that he opted to double-down on what he already does. On the flip side, you had Ishii would busted out new stuff like a pretty sweet spinning heel kick. He had more that he could dig down for, but EVIL didn’t seem to. The closing minutes were filled with huge lariats, near falls, and big spots. They saved the good stuff for then. Ishii finally kept EVIL down with the Vertical Drop Brainbuster after 21:14. About on par with what I’m used to from these guys. Great hard hitting action, though I preferred their Dontaku match last year. [****]

NEVER Openweight Championship: Hirooki Goto [c] vs. Shingo Takagi
Shingo won their G1 match (***¾) and Goto evened the score at Destruction (***¾). Goto is often at his best in this environment. Put him in there against a hard hitting dude and let them beat the piss out of each other. Right off the bat, that’s what they did. This was brutal and in the same vein as the Ishii/Shingo match from last year’s G1 that I loved so much. Most of this came across as these guys being evenly matched. As it progressed the bigger blows started getting thrown. They were going to hoss it up and we were going to like it. After an avalanche DVD, this picked up for a wild finishing stretch. The GTR counter into Made in Japan was pretty fantastic. Goto kicked out but was then hit with Last of the Dragon, giving us a new champion after 20:10. I loved that. It had all the aspects I want from these two and they had their great match that I wanted. They did it all without going too long or overdoing a lot of the big spots. And we got the right winner. Push Shingo to the top, baby. [****¼]

The final score: review Good
The 411
A mostly strong show. I didn’t care much for the Nakanishi tag or the New Year Dash rematch. Everything else was quite enjoyable, with the Hiromu tag being a ton of fun and the two main events delivering in spades.

article topics :

NJPW New Beginning, Kevin Pantoja