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Pantoja’s NJPW The New Beginning In Nagoya Review 1.22.23

January 22, 2023 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW New Beginning in Nagoya Image Credit: NJPW
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Pantoja’s NJPW The New Beginning In Nagoya Review 1.22.23  

NJPW The New Beginning in Nagoya

January 22nd, 2023 | Dolphin’s Arena in Nagoya, Aichi | Attendance: 1,650

I had no idea this was a show today and happened to check NJPW World on a whim. Here we are. This card is pretty weak on paper and the more interesting matches of the tour are on later events.

Oskar Leube and Yuto Nakashima vs. Togi Makabe and Toru Yano

For those unaware, Yano and Makabe are former IWGP Tag Champions as the Most Violent Players, a group that mostly went on become CHAOS. Here, they reunited to work over some Young Lions. I like Makabe in this role of ass kicker to the young guys and it’s where he should be if he’s going to be around. Leube really took a beating and Yano even seemed to take pleasure in beating him up, The Lions did their thing, rallying a bit, bringing fire to their actions, and even trapping Makabe in a Young Lion Crab. Commentary noted that Makabe has been wrestling longer than either opponent has been alive, which is wild. Makabe fought out and won with the King Kong Knee Drop in 9:25. This was exactly what it was supposed to be and that was fine. [**¼]

Dick Togo, EVIL, SHO and Yujiro Takahashi vs. El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki, Ren Narita and Tomoaki Honma

What if Honma was down with Suzuki-Gun? I do like Narita being down with Desperado and Suzuki though. We got a big brawl to start this because it’s the House of Torture. Once this calmed down, Honma spent some time working over SHO and giving him some heavyweight offense. I appreciate commentary just tuning out a match as soon as the House of Torture gets on offense. They’re just like me for real. The highlight here was Suzuki becoming legal and giving the House of Torture members the ass kicking they’ve needed since forming. Suzuki went to tag Narita who didn’t want in so Suzuki chopped him in for a tag. I’m digging the story between them so far. Suzuki cut off some underhanded tactics and Narita beat Togo with a Cobra Twist in 10:40. Better than the average HOT match due to Suzuki and Desperado. [**]

Post-match, Suzuki threw out a challenge for the Six Man Tag Titles. Give them the titles, it’ll make those belts interesting for once.

Hirooki Goto, Ryohei Oiwa, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Kosei Fujita, TMDK and Zack Sabre Jr.

I really don’t pay attention to New Japan announcements because I had no idea we were getting another ZSJ/Ishii match. I love them together and that 15 minute time limit should work wonders for them. They played into their history of Zack baiting Ishii into hitting him hard and trying to turn that against him. It has mixed results for the TV Champion. This also worked as a preview for the TMDK/Bishamon stuff that is also set for the 2/5 show. Those teams had some good exchanges and that’s a title match I’m looking forward to because those teams are good and relatively fresh against each other. Oiwa brought the expected energy, as did Fujita and I had fun watching them compete. Haste got the win for his guys with a sitout powerbomb on Oiwa in 11:12. I didn’t write much about that but it’s because this was so straightforward. It gave us a preview of two upcoming title matches and some Young Lions fighting. I dig it. [***¼]

El Phantasmo, KENTA and Taiji Ishimori vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jado and Master Wato

I’m mostly here for Tanahashi and the Ishimori/Wato interactions after Wato’s performance in the Tokyo Dome. Commentary getting into a discussion about wrestlers being dreamboats is the kind of content I want to hear. They said Wato has an “awkward charm.” Meanwhile, he got jumped outside by the Bullet Club, with ELP throwing in goofy small kicks and getting leveled for it. That led to Wato playing the face in peril for a while and KENTA knocking Tanahashi and Jado off the apron to keep him isolated. Things picked up when Tanahashi became legal, including goofy antics like twisting ELP’s nipples, which commentary sold like death. Jado snuck in behind ELP after he dumped Tanahashi over the top but his rollup failed and ELP bested him with Sudden Death in 11:27. He is in line for a NEVER Title shot. This was a good multi-man tag and nothing more. [***]

Aaron Henare, Francesco Akira, and Will Ospreay vs. DOUKI, Taichi, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru

Just Four Guys is such an odd stable name. But I’m all for more TAKA. This was mostly a standard tag that didn’t have much behind it. With no TJP in there, we couldn’t get much of a Jr. Tag Title preview, which meant Henare was kind of just beating up the juniors. The other tease was for the Ospreay/Taichi match set for early March. Henare finally ran into trouble when he had to deal with Taichi as he was on a level playing field in terms of being a heavyweight. In the end, DOUKI was getting something going against Akira only to not see Hidden Blade coming and losing to that at the 9:24 mark. Another fine match that was unspectacular. I don’t really like the idea of Will being so cocky and trash talking already. I liked how the Kenny lose affected him at New Year Dash and I would like to see that continue. He should be down at times and pissed at others. He was cocky heading into the Dome and took a devastating loss. He should be more down. It’s like 2018 Okada who dropped the title and just dicked around with balloons. [**¾]

BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA and Tetsuya Naito vs. Kazuchika Okada, Ryusuke Taguchi, Shota Umino and YOH

I’m pretty stoked for Umino vs. Naito, especially since it has a main event slot. They opened this but quickly tagged out to Hiromu vs. YOH, which is another match coming up. They always work well together and this was more of that. I’m still just uninterested in junior heavyweight Hiromu though. I love him but he’s done everything you can in that division. The BUSHI/Taguchi interactions were relatively fine but we’ve seen them have lower mid-card junior stuff for years. Meanwhile, we also got more SANADA/Okada and again, that pairing has never really worked for me. It’s always lacking compared to Okada’s work with other guys. There was also some Naito/Okada battles and again, it isn’t my favorite pairing. I will say, the Okada/Kiyomiya stuff is the most interested I’ve been in Okada since the Shibata match. Making Okada do something different than his comfort zone is ALWAYS a good move. Anyway, this had a pretty fun closing stretch that saw Shota put down BUSHI with a Death Rider in 11:20. Quality stuff here. [***]

KOPW Championship: Shingo Takagi [c] vs. The Great-O-Khan

So, there were weird rules here. All of the offense had to take place in the ring and they both wore karate-style attire. The mild-MMA rules made this a strange match and I feel like people are going to be pretty mixed on this. I didn’t really like it. About five minutes in, nothing of note had happened and the crowd basically sat on their hands even though this was a cheering event. The MMA concept could’ve worked but this was slow, plodding, and filled with interference while giving us minimal MMA stuff. Like, just let Shingo and O-Khan fight. It was a case of these guys not being the right fit for this idea, which likely would’ve worked better with other wrestlers. That interference aspect was also a misfire, causing for a mess of a match. Shingo laid in some elbows and won with a sleeper in 22:37. I’m relatively generous with this score but I will say that I appreciate New Japan trying something new. They DESPERATELY need it but sometimes it doesn’t work, which was the case here. [**]

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
Let’s not lie. This was a Road to the New Beginning show disguised as an actual New Beginning event. The main event didn’t work and while the previews for everything coming up was fine, that’s not enough to make this a recommendable night of wrestling.