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NJPW The New Beginning in Osaka (February 10) Results & Review

NJPW The New Beginning in Osaka (February 10) Results & Review

NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
THE NEW BEGINNING IN OSAKA
FEBRUARY 10th, 2018

OSAKA PREFECTURAL GYMNASIUM
OSAKA, JAPAN

Watch: New Japan World

KATSUYA KITAMURA TRIAL SERIES –  MATCH 6
YUJI NAGATA DEF. KATSUYA KITAMURA

The show started off with the generic Young Lion theme to introduce a truly unique Young Lion. For the sixth match of his trial series, Katsuya Kitamura faces the leader of the NJPW dojo and current AJPW All Asia Tag Champion, Yuji Nagata.

As usual, Kitamura had the crowd buzzing. He has a great look, a unique charisma, and already has a strong connection with the crowd (unexpectedly, often through selling). Once he figures out how to work on offense and starts moving with more confidence…look out! Nonetheless, this was among his best singles matches to date; maybe even his best.

Nagata was awesomely grumpy against the monstrous rookie. Nagata also used some sneaky arm work throughout the match. The finishing elbow/abisegeri combo was brutal and set up Nagata to win with the backdrop hold at 10:58. ***

YOSHINOBU KANEMARU & EL DESPERADO DEF. ROPPONGI 3K

This match was all about Suzuki-gun’s tour-long attack on SHO’s back. Up until this point, YOH has been on defense in most of the big RPG 3K matches. This program has flipped the script and given SHO a chance to try out the role. SHO rose to the occasion here with excellent, vocal selling and great facial expressions. YOH had great flurry of offense after getting the hot tag.

For their part, Suzuki-gun had a tight, focused attack which built to the finish. The match did a great job of establishing the idea that the party boys need to get it together or they will quickly lose their belts to Minoru’s thugs.

SHO finally tapped to a high-angle Boston crab from Kanemaru; dropping his first post-excursion fall at 10:22. This didn’t match up to the Young Bucks matches, but is another feather in the cap of the current tag team of the year. ***1/2

TOGI MAKABE, MICHAEL ELGIN, KUSHIDA, & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI DEF. MINORU SUZUKI, TAKASHI IIZUKA, TAICHI, & TAKA MICHINOKU

As expected this was your typical, solid Suzuki-gun brawl with some traditional Taguchi ass humor sprinkled on top. Makabe beat TAKA with the King Kong kneedrop at 11:52. The main purpose here was to establish Makabe as Minoru’s next challenger. **1/2

JAY WHITE, TOMOHIRO ISHII, & TORU YANO DEF. JUICE ROBINSON, DAVID FINLAY, & TOA HENARE

Pairing White and Finlay on this tour has been a great way to continue White’s acclimation to his new role. This was pretty short, but it was a fun sprint. Henare looked particularly explosive here and is progressing quickly. After a beautiful Blade Runner, White beat Henare by referee stop with the Sharp Sensation at 7:33. ***

Rey Mysterio appeared via video message to challenge Jushin Thunder Liger to a match in Long Beach. Liger, on commentary, accepted.

SPECIAL SINGLES MATCH
BUSHI DEF. GEDO

This was a unique match for multiple reasons. First of all, it’s a very rare Gedo singles match on “big show.” Secondly, it was worked in a very sports-entertainment style that you do not often see on New Japan shows. This was fun and creative, but I can see it being very polarizing for some fans. BUSHI won with the MX at 10:07. ***

SPECIAL SINGLES MATCH
TETSUYA NAITO DEF. YOSHI-HASHI

YOSHI-HASHI has some of the least interesting offense in the company (I’ll admit he is improving in this regard), but he executed it well and brought a lot of fire. On defense, he is great at garnering sympathy with his utterly mild persona.

It was very odd to see Naito come out for a singles match in the midcard. It’s old news at this point, but Naito is so good at building up his opponents with his combinating of cocky irreverence and crazy bumping/great selling. Naito won with the Destino at 16:46. ***1/4

After the match, Taichi attacked Naito, likely heading towards a second singles match between the two.

IWGP JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
WILL OSPREAY (C) DEF. HIROMU TAKAHASHI

A year after his car-crash title match with Dragon Lee, Hiromu Takahashi follows up with an equally ridiculous battle with current champion, Will Ospreay. Hiromu showed great aggression as he relentlessly attacked Ospreay’s neck in and out of the ring.

As we’ve come to expect, Ospreay did some amazing things athletically. As we’ve also come to expect, his selling was strong, but it would have liked to see more sustained offense from Hiromu later in the match. Hiromu’s attack remained focused on Ospreay’s neck throughout which was a nice, unexpected touch in a match as frantic as this.

It seemed like Hiromu had a chance to win until the end, which is all you can ask for. Ospreay won with the Os Cutter at 20:05; his first defense. Go watch this, it was excellent. ****1/4

 NEVER OPENWEIGHT TITLE
HIROOKI GOTO (C) DEF. EVIL

Our semi-main event pits EVIL against his former senpai, Hirooki Goto, for Goto’s NEVER title. Commentary reinforces EVIL’s past success in this building. He won his first NEVER title from Goto’s “sworn friend,” Katsuyori Shibata in 2016. More recently, in the biggest win of his career, he defeated Kazuchika Okada in the main event on last year’s G1 stop.

Goto and EVIL are cut from the same cloth, but one are on opposite sides of the character spectrum. EVIL, clad in nightmarish entrance gear, touting a new Party City-plus version of his scythe. Goto, the samurai spirit embodied, draped in juzu, Buddhist prayer beads, to fight off the darkness.

This was full of impactful offensive transitions, usually brutal lariats…tons of lariats. Although Red Shoes Unno continues to detract from big matches for me, I liked how EVIL’s reliance on using chairs backfired on him. EVIL is really becoming a well rounded worker; his bumping and selling is catching up to his offense.

EVIL used Goto’s juzu against him. However, the beads ended up around Goto’s neck in the attack and ended up giving him a boost. After a finishing stretch of reversals, Goto sealed his first defense of the title with his GTR at 20:19. ***1/2

 IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
KAZUCHIKA OKADA (C) DEF. SANADA

They took a slow approach to start, with SANADA eventually taking advantage by sending Okada face-first into the guardrail. He followed it up with a piledriver on the apron and another in the ring. Okada took control and returned the favor with a guardrail-propped DDT to the floor. Okada arrogantly kicked and stomped SANADA while he laughed to a chorus of boos.

The match really kicked into another gear when SANADA fought back and hit his leapfrog dropkick spot and a pair of planchas. SANADA found himself in the position to return the kicks and stomps from earlier, but SANADA’s attack was met with cheers. Okada was able to wiggle out of various Skull Ends, but a moonsault setup variation got a huge reaction.

Thanks to Okada’s great selling, the crowd definitely believed SANADA could win. SANADA jammed his knee on a rounding body press miss. After a series of traded stolen finishers and reverses, SANADA hit a rounding bodypress, but was unable to get a good cover because of the previous damage to his knee.

Okada blocked another rounding bodypress attempt and nailed a Rainmaker. Okada was finally able to put SANADA away with a final Rainmaker at 32:12 for his 10th successful defense of the title.

Ultimately, this was full of great closing near falls, but took too long to get going. Nonetheless, It was an excellent match on par with SANADA’s previous top performances in New Japan. ****1/4 

Looking forward to the New Japan Cup and Anniversary shows in March, Okada set the stage for a champion versus champion match against stablemate Ospreay in Ota.


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