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Pantoja’s NJPW The New Beginning In Sapporo Night 2 Review 2.5.23

February 7, 2023 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo Night Two Image Credit: NJPW
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Pantoja’s NJPW The New Beginning In Sapporo Night 2 Review 2.5.23  

NJPW The New Beginning in Sapporo

February 5th, 2023 | Hokkaido Sports Center in Hokkaido, Sapporo | Attendance: 3,316

We’ve got a slightly bigger crowd on hand for night two.

DOUKI, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku and Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Francesco Akira, The Great-O-Khan, TJP and Will Ospreay

Ospreay and Taichi were in each other’s faces right from the start. This was a fast paced opener that picked up where yesterday’s matches left off. Ospreay and Taichi continued to be violent while DOUKI and Kanemaru did battle with the Jr. Tag Champs, with TJP still nursing his bad knee. I did get a kick out of the United Empire being serious throughout the whole match only for GOK to just sit on Kanemaru in the corner and taunt. It was goofy as hell in the best way. Of course, Just 4 Guys had to get in their stuff too and keep this relatively evenly matched. TAKA was clearly here to take the fall and rude ass Ospreay almost beat him with a Michinoku Driver. The pin was broken up but then Willy won with Hidden Blade in 10:11. A good way to start the show. [***]

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

Why must I get my Suzuki/Despy/Narita trio and the House of Torture at the same time? I was also impressed by Nakashima on the previous show. Hey, this started with a jump attack and brawl outside. Go figure. This was similar to all HOT matches and the one from yesterday as we got them doing shenanigans, their opponents being fun, and the continued story of Narita’s unease around Suzuki. I did like that they built to a hot tag from Suzuki to Narita as the crowd popped well for it. He came close to besting EVIL with his bridging Northern Lights Suplex and I would’ve loved that. We got House of Torture antics but Narita, Suzuki, and Desperado kicked his ass before Narita made him tap to an Octopus Hold in 10:19. That did what it needed to and moved Narita closer to his new buddies. [**½]

Post-match, Narita officially shook hands with Desperado and Suzuki to a pop. Minoru challenged the NEVER Champions to a title match but they said the belts are retired. Suzuki still wants a match in Osaka.

Hiroshi Tanahashi and Master Wato vs. KENTA and Taiji Ishimori

For an undercard tag, this is rather notable. For the most part, I liked this and it was again a case of simply continuing feuds. However, the fact that there were fewer guys involved allowed the main two interactions to get more shine. Plus, KENTA vs. Wato was fine and Ishimori vs. Tanahashi was really good. Tanahashi took the heat for his guys before making the hot tag to Wato as this neared the 10 minute mark. He came in and basically had the advantage over Ishimori once again. While KENTA and Tanahashi did battle outside though, Ishimori sent Wato into the exposed turnbuckle and used a school boy for the cheap win after 10:41. 50/50 BOOKING! [***]

Tanahashi escaped a 2-on-1 beating and the heels bailed.

El Phantasmo, Gedo and Jay White vs. HIKULEO, Jado and Tama Tonga

If Jay White isn’t already going to WWE, this feud might be what drives him away. Jay wore a Jay Briscoe shirt and told commentary he wouldn’t be where he is without him. Tama opened against ELP, giving us our preview of their upcoming NEVER Openweight Title match. Jado ended up taking the expected heat after we got a fun little tease of HIKUELO doing a move off the top that was cut off. It didn’t last long though and we got Tama battling ELP again and some Jay White interactions that were fun. Down the stretch, Jay baited HIKULEO to follow him outside but Gedo’s brass knuckles attempt failed and he ate a Gun Stun. Jado then made him tap to a crossface at the 12:58 mark. A standard tag. [**½]

Post-match, ELP laid out Tama with the NEVER Title.

BUSHI, SANADA, Shingo Takagi and Tetsuya Naito vs. Kazuchika Okada, Ryusuke Taguchi, Shota Umino and Toru Yano

Umino came out aggressively here, shoving the referee aside and attacking Naito. Maybe he’s upset that the match was so bad. This was another straightforward multi-man tag with the main focus being on building Shingo/Okada. The Naito/Umino interactions were better here because there weren’t 32 minutes of them. The other guys were kind of just there to so some signature stuff and that’s okay for this kind of match. The finish saw Okada beat SANADA (for like the millionth time, SANADA really is the new Goto) with two Rainmakers in 11:03. Again, quality stuff and nothing more. [**¾]

IWGP Tag Team Championship: Bishamon [c] vs. TMDK

Their World Tag League match wasn’t great (***) but this should be better. Here we had the good, hard hitting tag you’d expect from those involved. They traded stuff early before HASHI became the face in peril of sorts. I love that TMDK has a move called the Olivia Newton Bomb. That’s just great. Goto came in hot and was on the verge of a win before TMDK teamed up against him and planted him with an assisted DDT. HASHI was held back from interrupting but Goto managed to kick out on his own. That was TMDK’s last true shot and the champs got going afterward. Goto survived a Blue Thunder Bomb before the team retained the straps with Shoto at the 15:13 mark. This never really reached a level of being great but had a lot of good moments. I think a rematch could see them take it to the next level. [***¼]

NJPW Television Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. [c] vs. Tomohiro Ishii

These guys have a long history including meetings in the US Title Tournament (****½), G1 27 (***¾), RevPro WrestleCon (****¼), G1 28 (****), WK 13 (****¼), and the G1 31 (****). I think that’s all of them. We have a 15 minute time limit here. Ishii took things to the mat right off the bat, showing that he can hang tough with ZSJ there. ZSJ laughed at it in surprise and took him up on the offer for technical wrestling. Of course, they progressed into the stiff shots and that’s where Ishii always owns Sabre. Sabre takes a beating but remains cocky, knowing he can catch Ishii at any moment and just trap him in a submission. Sabre stomped on Ishii’s arm but it didn’t look anywhere near as brutal as when Shayna Baszler does it. At one point, they just sat on the floor trading kicks only to stand up and trade uppercuts instead. The closing stretch saw this go up a notch in quality and you could sense the crowd picking up as they know that the time limit was coming. Ishii had to be desperate and ZSJ just had to play defense, making for an interesting dynamic. Zack won with the Zack Driver in the end, capping this after 14:38. This is so going to be my division because sub-15 minute matches are my favorite. Though I do think the next defense should go around 10 minutes. Don’t make them all get close to the limit. [****¼]

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi [c] vs. YOH

They met in the BOSJ 2021 (***), in the finals that year (****¼), Wrestling Dontaku 2022 (***½), and BOSJ 2022 (****). YOH came out with his strategy guide again that is supposed to give him the upper hand. He sent Hiromu packing early with a  low dropkick as his focus has been on the knee leading up to this. Hiromu took it to the next level though with a suplex on the aisle and that led to him being pretty arrogant and talking smack afterward. I liked YOH busting out the Figure Four and Dragon Screws, showing that he’s learned from some of the guys he’s teamed up with. Hiromu sold the shit out of the leg though I still never bought the submission as an actual finish. 20 minutes into this, I realized this was going over 30. Thankfully, they managed to keep things interesting as YOH relentlessly went after that knee. I did pop for YOH’s near fall on the Dragon Suplex just because it looked so damn good. I didn’t like the setup for the Time Bomb near fall late. Hiromu was able to power up and deadlift YOH for it and while I get that adrenaline is a thing, he showed little to no effects of the knee on it which was a bad move. I also bit on YOH’s Five Star Clutch near fall and they really picked up the intensity late. YOH gave it his all but fell to Time Bomb II after 29:42. A great main event though I’d put it a bit below their BOSJ Finals outing. [****]

The final score: review Good
The 411
The lackluster main event yesterday means this one is slightly above that show. It still struggles a bit due to the undercard and one show instead of two would’ve been better. Alas, there are two great matches late that make this morethan worth checking out.