New Japan returns tonight in Hiroshima to kick off their two part New Beginnings PPV event. Tonight will be the first part, with the second on Tuesday. Interesting lineup tonight including a defense of the IWGP Intercontinental championship, so let’s kick things off!
Jushin Thunder Liger & El Desperado vs. BUSHI and Kota Ibushi
Kota Ibushi and Desperado, who are due to face off soon for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight championship, start things off. Some back and forth, but both tag in their partners. Liger hits a liger bomb on Bushi for a nearfall. Bushi counters with some good looking lucha and follows up with a suicide dive to Liger on the outside. Tag to Ibushi who follows up for a bit but is taken out by a clothesline by Liger, and Deserado follows with a crossbody. Desperado goes for a German suplex but hits what I can only describe as a snap dragon suplex.
Kota tags in Bushi who starts to isolate Desperado. Bushi with an octopus roll, then when that fails hits a codebreaker on Desperado. Desperado manages to counter with a safe-looking vertebreaker. Bushi tags in Kota but he’s taken out with a powerbomb counter. Liger takes out Ibushi with a senton off the apron as as Desperado hits a spinning modified powerbomb for the pinfall. Decent opener with some solid action and nice booking- Desperado looks strong against his opponent for Tuesday. **1/2
Tama Tonga vs. Minoru Suzuki
This is a odd match, but ok! Tonga takes him to the corner and unleashes some offense, but Suzuki seems largely unphased. Suzuki grabs Tonga’s arm and locks in in against the ropes, then as he tumbles out of the ring gets thrown into the barricade. Taichi comes in and whacks Tonga with a steel chair as Suzuki gains control. Tonga counters back with a spear, but it is of little use as Suzuki regains control. He locks in a sleeper but Tonga counters and flies off with a crossbody. Suzuki cuts him off, hits the Gotch piledriver and pins him quickly. Taichi and Suzuki finish him off with some chair shots after the match. Nothing of note. *1/2
Takashi Iizuka and Toru Yano vs. Kazushi Sakuraba and Yuji Nagata
Iizuka, as usual, attacks Shimpei Nogami at ringside. Shouldn’t the dude know to just run away when this guy comes out? He’s only been doing the same thing to him for I don’t know how many years. He painted him up as…something. Yuji Nagata arrives wearing the GHC Heavyweight championship as he won that title yesterday, defeating Takeshi Morishima. Yano and Iizuka immediately jump Nagata and Sakuraba before the bell starts but Nagata disposes of them quickly.
Sakuraba jumps off the top rope with a plancha of all things. Nagata with the armlock followed by a SPINNING TOE HOLD by Sakuraba but Iizuka unfortunately breaks it up. Iizuka takes Sakuraba and throws him into some chairs deep into the crowd as he heads back to the ring, but Sakuraba follows him only to be choked out by some wiring.
Iizuka throws Sakuraba into the guardrail as Yano takes care of Nagata. Nagata cuts off Yano with an enzuigiri for a close nearfall. Nagata locks in the armbar, but Iizuka cuts him off. Yano and Iizuka gain control of the match briefly but Sakuraba trips Iizuka and is tagged in. Sakuraba unloads with some punches and goes for a submission, but Yano breaks it up, leading Iizuka to grab a chair and lay out both the faces.
Iizuka goes for the iron fingers of doom, but Sakuraba blocks it and hits a sleeper…only for Iizuka to choke Sakuraba out. Nagata takes care of Iizuka while Sakuraba grabs the iron finger and lays out Yano for the DQ. I think this played into last month’s Tokyo Dome match where the Gracies were DQ’d, but who cares. Wasn’t much of a match and the finish sucked. 3/4*
Michael Tarver vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan: Oh dear, this is actually a match. They lock up. They go to the corner, but Tarver lets him free. Headlock by Tarver. Tarver blocks some body shots, but Tenzan counters with the famed Mongolian chops. Tarver grabs him and drags him to the outside and throws him into the barricade where Tarver bites Tenzan, splitting him open. Tenzan counters with some shots to the abdomen, but Tarver takes him down and works on him with a crossface. Nasty looking cut on Tenzan’s eye.
More headlocks by Tarver. A replay shows that Tenzan actually got jabbed in the eye by Tarver’s elbow, so that’s what busted him open. Anaconda vice by Tenzan, but Tarver escapes. Some spinning elbows by Tarver, but he goes to the well one too many times as Tenzan counters with a samoan drop, then goes to the top for a sad looking headbutt that Tarver counters. Tenzan charges to the corner but Tarver hits a superman punch and covers him for the pinfall. Pretty boring for the most part. *1/2
NWA Championship: Satoshi Kojima (c) vs. Big Daddy Yum Yum: Yes, that is his name, in Japan at least. He’s Byron Wilcott, former WWE developmental guy. NWA President and gajin heel Bruce Tharpe introduces him and holds the NWA title before the match starts. Some chain wrestling early. Yum Yum with an elbow but Kojima ducks it and hits an RKO. Kojima clotheslines Yum Yum to the outside. Kojima is distracted by Tharpe long enough for Yum Yum to attack Kojima and throws him to the barricade where he climbs on top and starts to hit the mounted punches. Yum Yum’s offense is…i don’t know if it’s bad, but it’s not necessarily good. He seems to have potential, and he’s a tall dude but that’s about it.
Suplex by Yum Yum, then follows it with a waist lock. Chops to the corner but a splash goes nowhere. Kojima hits his many chops, connects with the elbow, but Yum Yum gets his foot on the ropes. Some more punches followed by a roaring elbow and DDT by Kojima. A suplex attempt, but Yum Yum blocks it and throws him to the corner. Pumphandle slam into a gutbuster by Yum Yum for the nearfall. Yum Yum for what I guess was a lariat attempt, Kojima blocks it but Yum Yum hits the pumphandle slam move again anyway.
Yum Yum with a moonsault attempt but no dice. Lariat to the back of the neck as he goes for the lairat to the front, but Yum Yum counters with a powerbomb attempt, only for Kojima to block and hits the lariat on Yum Yum for the pinfall. Yum Yum was not impressive here, and Kojima didn’t do much either. *
Tharpe gets in Kojima’s face after the bell sounds and all of a sudden Tarver comes back and lays out Kojima with a punch. Tenzan arrives and makes the save, so Michael Tarver is the next challenger for the NWA championship. Try and contain yourselves, guys.
Intermission. Aside from the opener, pretty shitty undercard all things considered.
Tomoaki Honma and Tetsuya Naito vs. Yujiro Takahashi and Tomohiro Ishii: Naito and Ishii start things off with some great offense, with Naito getting the better. Tag to both outsiders as Honma and Yujiro go back and forth. Homna misses with the headbutt and Yujiro takes advantage. Ishii is in and takes down Homna. Both Yujiro and Ishii work over Homna until Homna unleashes a clothesline taking down Yujiro. Tag to Naito and Ishii who have some great exchanges. Running senton by Naito. Tornado DDT attempt but Ishii blocks and hits a suplex. Fight fight breaks out between the two. Yujiro is tagged in, throws Naito over the ropes then brings him back in for the Tokyo Pimps but Naito blocks it. Tag to Homna who chops Yujiro but blocks a flying forearm smash, and Yujiro counters with a powerbomb into the steel post.
Tag to Ishii who hits a big splash and follows it with a stalling suplex off the top rope. Naito flies off the top rope and dropkicks Ishii in the back to break momentum. Homna and Naito with a cool double team headbutt. Homna goes for the headbutt again but Ishii rolls over. Clothesline attempts by both until Homna gets a cool looking rollup. Ishii with a clothesline but Naito breaks it up. Ishii with a powerbomb but Homna kicks out. A brainbuster, and that does it for Homna. Good match as all four guys were pretty great here. Some good build up between Ishii and Naito as well. ***1/2
Prince Devitt, Bad Luck Fale and the Young Bucks vs. Timesplitters, Ryusuke Taguchi and Togi Makabe: Fale and Taguchi start things off. Taguchi tries some offense, but it’s no match for Fale’s strength, which takes him down quickly. Tag to Devit, then to the Young Bucks who work over him. Dropkick then tag to Shelley who works over the Young Bucks. Timesplitters with some excellent double team maneuvers. Young Bucks cut off KUSHIDA and tags in Devitt who uses a bag to choke KUSHIDA. Tag to Fale who throws KUSHIDA high in the air and watches him splat to the ground. Young Bucks tag back in and there’s some weird miscommunication at one point, but Young Bucks continue quickly with some double team moves.
KUSHIDA with a DDT to Nick Jackson as Makabe in tagged in and he and Fale go at it. Fale tries for a big splash and the rest of Bullet Club tries to help out but Makabe overpowers them and misses. Makabe gets Fale to the corner and hits some punches and follows up with a lariat to only a 1 count. Samoan drop by Fale. Diving foot stomp by Devitt who is tagged in. Taguchi finally gets in the ring and he and Devitt go at it. Taguchi gets DDT crazy, laying everyone but Fale out with one. Fale grabs Taguchi but Taguchi fights back only to get clocked with a lariat. Fale with a powerbomb attempt but Makabe blocks it. Young Bucks attack Fale but are quickly disposed by clotheslines, followed by a double plancha by the Timesplitters. Taguchi and Devitt are back in the ring. Taguchi goes for a move but Devitt blocks it and hits the bloody Sunday DDT for the pinfall. Lots of great action here; NJPW multi man matches are always good. ***1/2
Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata vs. YOSHI-HASHI and Kazuchika Okada: Shibata and HASHI start things off as Goto and Shibata defend themselves easily against HASHI. HASHI tags in Okada as he and Goto go at it. Goto and Okada exchange offense as HASHI takes out Shibata with his pole. Okada tags in HASHI who puts Goto in the tree of woe position and follows with a dropkick.
Okada tags back in and continues to be in control, taking care of Goto with a springboard senton. Goto finally gets some offense in after clocking HASHI with a lariat and tags back in Shibata who locks in the Boston crab, only for Okada to break it up. Shibata takes out Okada as Okada quickly gets back up as they goad one another. HASHI tries to fight Shibata but it’s to no use as he tags back in Okada. He and Shibata go at, with stiff looking punches, kicks and slaps galore.
Goto is tagged in and takes Okada out with a uranage. Okada is littered with kicks to the chest as Goto hits a spinning heel kick and Shibata hits the kick to the corner. Both Shibata and Goto pepper Okada with kicks, but Okada is able to bear it, singles out Goto as they exchange forearm shots. Big dropkick by Okada. HASHI tagged in as he hits a blockbuster on Goto and takes him out with a clothesline.
Okada grabs Shibata on the outside as HASHI goes for a senton, but it’s blocked as it turns into a fourway. Shibata and Goto double team HASHI then Goto hits the shouten kai on HASHI to pin him. This was pretty good, but not really good. It was fine, in other words. ***1/4
IWGP Tag Team Championship: Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer: The four men immediately get confrontational as the titles are shows and the bell rings. Anderson and Smith start things off as Anderson unleashes some chops and punches, but to no avail as Smith takes him down quickly. Snap suplex by Smith. Archer tagged in as he and Gallows, who is also tagged in, go at it in a big guy contest. Gallows gets the better of him and tags in Anderson and soon Archer is isolated as both Bullet Club members work him over. Archer finally cuts him off as Smith is tagged in and hits a leg drop on Anderson for a nearfall. Smith with the delayed vertical suplex as he tags in Archer who does a big splash.
Archer and Gallows both try to do a chokeslam, but Archer wins out and plants him with one. Gallows tries to fight back but Archer takes him out with a full nelson seated powerbomb. Smith tries to continue the momentum but is taken out with a spinebuster. Smith cuts him off and hits a double arm suplex but to no avail. KES then hit their finish but Gallows breaks it up, but he gets hit with their finish as well.
Suddenly Tama Tonga arrives with a chair, but KES grabs him and, yep, hits their finish. They go for their finish again on Anderson, but he blocks it and hits the stun gun on Archer. Smith blocks it, but soon it becomes a double team and one double team finish later Anderson and Gallows retain the tag team championships. Another pretty good match. ***
IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: Starts off with some slick mat wrestling back and forth between the two. Tanahashi works on Nakamura for a while, but soon Nakamura cuts him off and begins working on the arm. Nakamura takes him outside and posts him on the guardrail, smashing his hand against it. Tanahashi starts to fight back and even lands a senton. Back and forth brawl erupts. Nakamura erupts with kicks to the corner, including the shaky leg choke, then posts Tanahashi as he continues to knee him in the gut. Tanahashi cuts him off and locks in a Texas cloverleaf.
Nakamura fights back, but they soon land on the outside and Tanahashi dragon screws him then follows with the high fly flow off the top rope onto Nakamura. Waistjacket suplex by Tanahashi for a nearfall. Tanahashi goes for the Styles Clash and connects as he goes for another high fly flow but Nakamura rolls out of the way and hits the boma ye but doesn’t follow up. Nakamura with a knee to the back of the head followed by the backstabber for the nearfall. Tanahashi counters Nakamura but Nakamura follows with an avalanche suplex. Nakamura goes for the boma ye but Tanahashi counters with a pinfall attempt for two.
Nakamura grabs Tanahashi and puts him in an armlock but he powers out. Nakamura strikes with the boma ye, but Tanahashi kicks out. Nakamura goes to the top rope for another one, and connects! He looks to go for a third one, but Tanahashi rolls him over and hits a sling blade. Stiff kick to the head by Nakamura but Tanahashi counters with another sling blade followed by a high fly flow, then another for a KICKOUT! Back and forth punches and Nakamura tries for something but fails, and Tanahashi counters with a dragon suplex to retain the Intercontinental championship. Hot finish to a pretty damn good match. Miles better than the Tokyo Dome main event. ****1/2
SUMMARY: The first half of this show was pretty bad, actually, save for the opener which was fine. After intermission, it picked up with all the matches being pretty good and the main event was pretty damn awesome, especially the last few minutes. So for $25 this was perfectly fine, although for the first time in quite some while I was wondering if $25 was starting to become a little too expensive for these events.
And I still am thinking about that, because on Tuesday we have another $25 show. I keep thinking this question to myself: Is NJPW going the UFC route in terms of over saturation? More events, more iPPVs, more money, and less star power on each of these cards. It’s starting to become very apparent this might be the case, and if New Japan continues to split their big monthly shows into two cards it could end up biting them on the butt. This was an alright card with a great second half, but I still have some questions as we roll along into 2014.
As always, special thanks to @SenorLARIATO for the gifs!