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Kevin’s NJPW The New Beginning Osaka 2020 Review

February 9, 2020 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Tetsuya Naito NJPW
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Kevin’s NJPW The New Beginning Osaka 2020 Review  

NJPW The New Beginning in Osaka
February 9th, 2020 | Osaka-Jo Hall in Osaka, Japan | Attendance: 11,411

After a 2019 that left me feeling hollow, I think some of what New Japan is doing so far in 2020 is good. There are some intriguing matchups set for this show and I’m legitimately looking forward to this. Let’s see how it goes.

Great Bash Heel, Ryusuke Taguchi and Toa Henare vs. Manabu Nakanishi, TenKoji and Yuji Nagata
The final match for Manabu Nakanishi in Osaka. For the most part, this was standard multi-man stuff. The New Japan Dads brought some fire and even Togi Makabe was willing to take a bump or two. I got a kick out of the dads targeting Ryusuke Taguchi’s ass with their offense. It makes sense and is a fun concept. The veterans played the hits and that’s fine for the end of Nakanishi’s run. It’s not like we came here to see these guys put on a classic. Tomoaki Honma, who I always forget is still around, was the guy to eat the pin following a Satoshi Kojima lariat in 7:09. A fine way to start the show and about what you’d expect from them. [**½]

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Roppongi 3K [c] vs. El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru
These guys have wrestled a ton. At New Beginning in Osaka 2018 (***¼), Dominion 2018 (***), Super Jr. Tag League Struggle 2018 (**½), New Japan Road 2019 (***), King of Pro Wrestling 2019 (***), Super Jr. Tag League 2019 (***), and Power Struggle 2019 (***½). That’s not counting multi-man tags or three-way tags. Rocky Romero was back with the champions. It’s hilarious to hear Kevin Kelly say Suzuki-Gun “dominated” as champs in 2018 just because they held the titles for 304 days. Like most of their matches, this was good. RPG 3K (like most teams in this horrendously booked division) have just one successful defense despite this being their fourth reign. The idea was that they might choke again here, especially against sneaky Suzuki-Gun. Lots of really good back and forth action in this one. They have some strong chemistry. Roppongi 3K did a good job showing their desperation when it looked like they might lose. However, SHO hit the Shock Arrow and YOH added Strong X to retain after 16:22. Probably their best outing together so far. I just don’t need to see this ever again. [***½]

After the match, Ryusuke Taguchi came out with a basketball. He said that Rocky Romero is a great manager but he’s also a great wrestler. They should challenge for the titles. Rocky accepted, which upset his 3K boys. However, they understand that they need to surpass Rocky. That should be a good match and it’ll be fresh.

Chase Owens, The Guerrillas of Destiny & Yujiro Takahashi vs. David Finlay, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson & Kota Ibushi
Oh, Hiroshi Tanahashi. I’ve missed you. PIETER too. The Guerrillas of Destiny? Not so much. Chase Owens is the best member of his team and he’s the fifth best wrestler in the match. That should tell you something about team Bullet Club. Anyway, guys like Juice Robinson, Tanahashi, and Kota Ibushi are more than good enough to make up for their shortcomings. They clearly carried things here to an entertaining multi-man tag. Near the end, it had some of Jado trying to interfere. Tanahashi managed to counter Ape Shit into a cradle to win in 10:50. I like the idea that old man Tanahashi keeps winning via cradles and flash pins. This was solid. [***]

Post-match, they teased the Golden Aces vs. The Guerrillas of Destiny. That sounds way worse than Golden Aces vs. Fin/Juice.

Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay vs. Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr.
I wasn’t all that happy about this one coming in. The Ospreay/ZSJ feud had potential but their match at New Beginning disappointed me. Meanwhile, Taichi/Okada is boring as hell. They continued those feuds here even though they should’ve wrapped up already. Also, Ospreay is getting another shot at High Stakes coming up and that doesn’t make much sense. This had more energy than either singles match involving these guys. Taichi seemed desperate, as if his trash talking leading to a loss was really affecting him. The exchanges between Ospreay and Sabre Jr. were crisp as always. I prefer it more in this setting than when trying to extend out a 30 minute match. Taichi failed again, falling to the Rainmaker in 11:50. A good tag match that did its job. [***]

Jay White vs. SANADA
While this is a fresh match, it hasn’t excited me yet. Jay White’s methodical pace lends itself to great character work, while SANADA is at his best when working a crisp battle against someone superior. It still felt like White was leading this match, which is fine. It was built around him being smarter and always having a plan. Gedo and their shenanigans kept preventing SANADA from fully applying Skull End or hitting his moonsault. He finally got his hands on Gedo before locking in Skull End successfully. As always, he let the hold go and went for the moonsault, which missed. You’d think he would learn from his mistakes. They wrapped this up with a nice late exchange that White won with the Blade Runner in 21:52. They didn’t go too long and didn’t overdo the bullshit. It still wasn’t great, but I enjoyed it and found it to be some quality wrestling. SANADA now hasn’t had a singles win in six months. I believe that was the one over Okada in the G1. [***¼]

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi [c] vs. Ryu Lee
Their history is incredible. From what I’ve seen, their matches go like this. FantasticaMania 2016 (****½), New Beginning in Osaka 2017 (****¾), BOSJ 2017 (****¼), BOSJ 2018 (****¼), and G1 Special in San Francisco (****). That last one was where Hiromu got hurt and missed over a year. Lee leads their all-time series 10-8, though they’re 2-2 since Hiromu returned to NJPW. They came out trading Germans, setting their usual tone of doing insane stuff. The difference here was that it was more intense than usual. Not that their stuff usually isn’t, but you could tell that the injury in 2018 was playing a part. It’s not a stretch to say that they spent the first three to five minutes just chopping each other. Once they got into the bigger offense, it became scary at times. Think Ibushi/Naito levels. What made this extra special were the Dragon Driver teases. People were legitimately frightened that it would be the end of Hiromu if that move connected. Some of the dives hit outside were them playing the hits but it worked well because we haven’t seen them in a while. After throwing big offense at each other late, including an absurd Canadian Destroyer counter, Hiromu won by hitting two Time Bombs in 23:54. Hiromu returned after over 500 days and in two months has put on two stellar singles matches. Dude hasn’t missed a beat. This was another spectacular installment into what is arguably the best rivalry in all of wrestling. They gave us moments from their past but added new twists to keep things fresh. [****½]

IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship: Jon Moxley [c] vs. Minoru Suzuki
A highly-anticipated battle. Moxley called Suzuki to fight him on the ramp, so Suzuki got two chairs and brought them over for a duel. They spent about a minute of the first third or so of this match in the ring. The rest was just a wild brawl outside. I dug that because it was different from the rest of the show and fit their personalities. Some of the spots came off really well. Suzuki smashing Moxley’s arm in between two chairs was great, as was Suzuki smiling after getting put through a table. They moved into the bigger stuff late, as usual, with Suzuki coming close after locking in his sleeper hold. Moxley survived and responded with the Death Rider. That wasn’t enough because finishers mean nothing, but a second one wrapped things up in 17:16. That was about what I wanted. A wild brawl filled with some big spots that played right into their personalities. [****]

Post-match, Zack Sabre Jr. attacked Jon Moxley, laying him out with the Rev Pro Title. This sets up Moxley’s next feud. Their promos after the show were hilarious.

IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships: Tetsuya Naito [c] vs. KENTA
The Bullet Club came out with KENTA. They threw down Red Shoes, so he ejected them before the bell. Probably a bad idea on their part. Anyway, I’m going to get the obvious out of the way. Just because it’s a championship match doesn’t mean it has to go over half an hour. It’s okay to have some 20 minute top title matches. Admittedly, though, I appreciated the opening. It was kind of dull but it made sense for their characters. KENTA stalled and Naito was content to let him do that. Maybe my issue isn’t “Okada” formula but is just “NJPW” formula. While I feel a lot of the early stuff mattered more than it usually did here, it was still kind of lackluster and boring. Of course, this picked up in the back half. Naito got busted open badly, which added to the drama and intensity. It also worked for the bastard that KENTA has been in recent months. There were run-ins from the likes of Jay White and BUSHI (why is he seemingly the only LIJ member to consistently help?) before the finish saw Naito retain after hitting Destino at the 35:50 mark. Ultimately, this was a very good match that failed to be something great. A lot to like about it but it also felt like it dragged at times. [***½]

Post-match, they set up Naito vs. Hiromu in the Anniversary Show Heavyweight vs. Junior Champion match. Sounds way more interesting than what we’ve had in recent years, although this would’ve sounded 100x better in 2017.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
This was a very entertaining show from start to finish. The only thing to get under *** from me was the opener, which was fine since that was just a goodbye of sorts to Nakanishi. You had a classic in Lee/Hiromu, a fun as hell Suzuki/Moxley match, some very good stuff from the junior tags and the main event, as well as a handful of good matches the rest of the way.

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NJPW New Beginning, Kevin Pantoja