New Japan Pro Wrestling
“The New Beginning in Osaka”
February 11, 2015
Bodymaker Colosseum
Osaka, Japan

The first major show since NJPW’s blow away Wrestle Kingdom 9, The New Beginning in Osaka, is headlined by an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match between Bullet Club leader A.J. Styles and current champion/NJPW legend Hiroshi Tanahashi. There has been a lot of discussion about a possible title switch here as Styles looks to redeem himself after a lackluster title reign in 2014. We also have a number of intriguing singles and tag matches, most notably the first ever singles match between Kota Ibushi and perhaps the best jobber in history Tomoaki Honma. The IWGP Junior Heavyweight and IWGP Tag Team titles will be defended in WK9 rematches as Kenny Omega puts his title on the line against Ryusuke Taguchi while Katsuyori Shibata and Hirooki Goto defend their tag straps against the Bullet Club team of Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson. Okada looks to get back to his winning ways as he teams with fellow CHAOS oddballs Sakuraba and Toru Yano.

You can watch The New Beginning in Osaka for free on New Japan World as apart of their free February promotion or of course with your NJPWWorld.com subscription. However, due to prior television contracts, this show will not be shown live and instead air as a video on-demand sometime Wednesday morning. The turnaround has been pretty good for these shows showing up, so expect it an hour or so after the show airs Wednesday morning. We will have coverage throughout the morning as well as a review once the VOD is available.

Sho Tanaka vs. Yohei Komatsu

Joe Lanza: Komatsu has jumped ahead in the head to head series 8-6-23, winning three of the last four, so it feels like it’s time for a Tanaka win.

Prediction: Sho Tanaka

Rich Kraetsch: Komatsu has gotten the better of Tanaka as of late, so the safe assumption is that Tanaka gets his win back here but NOPE. NJPW sees what we do, Komatsu is a future star and he needs the rocket ship. Komatsu dominates for another victory. (Full disclosure: Tanaka is probably going to win but let’s have some fun)

Prediction: Yohei Komatsu

Rob Barry: If you don’t love these two young lions, you have no soul. I’m sure that there will be plenty of fire, dropkicks and single leg crabs. Fun little opener between these two who I can see plenty of great things from in the near future (three-five years). Can someone talk to NJPW about starting a Young Lions/Rookies tournament? I mean if DDT can do DNA shows, why not the biggest wrestling company in Japan?

Prediction: Sho Tanaka

Damon McDonald: Sho Tanaka and Yohei Komatsu have a personal bet between each other and the wrestler with the most losses owes the other a delicious ice cream cone. While I may not know this to be 100% true, after wrestling each other 30 times, you’d wanna keep the spark of working with each other going, right? Thus, Tanaka’s fighting spirit for yummy treats will help him on the road to victory.

Prediction: Sho Tanaka

Captain New Japan, Jay White and Manabu Nakanishi vs. Máscara Dorada, Satoshi Kojima and Tiger Mask

Joe Lanza: Nobody knew what to expect of Kiwi newcomer Jay White on his first New Japan tour, coming out of the severely undercovered New Zealand wrestling scene. He appears to be a bit more advanced than the usual New Japan rookie, and it almost seems as if he’s holding back a bit by sticking to traditional young lion moves like missile dropkicks and crab holds. For the hardcore New Japan fan, he’s the guy to watch in this one, in a bout with four directionless veterans, plus Mascara Dorada. Dorada, who aside from calling out Kenny Omega by suggesting a unification match (Dorada is the CMLL Welterweight champion) between the two, is still getting his feet wet on his first tour as a full-time NJPW roster member. White is getting pinned, it’s just a matter of who scores the fall.

Prediction: Máscara Dorada, Satoshi Kojima and Tiger Mask

Rich Kraetsch: The story of this match won’t be who wins (it’ll obviously be Dorada, Kojima and Tiger Mask) but rather how they win, more specifically who gets the pinfall. Now that Dorada is a contracted NJPW employee does he finally get the semi-push we’ve all been calling for or do they go to old reliable here with Kojima? It won’t mean a whole lot in the macro sense but it’ll be interesting to see how New Japan treats Dorada now that he’s a full-fledged member of the team.

Prediction: Máscara Dorada, Satoshi Kojima and Tiger Mask

Rob Barry: Jay White, go ahead kid and be the sacrificial lamb to Kojima and his machine gun chops. This is a match that is totally random but I’m sure Dorada and Kojima will look good, CNJ will be goofy and Nakanishi will be slow as molasses. Tiger Mask can go away forever, he has no more left to offer but then again what do I know? This will be another short match so certain people don’t get exposed, either Jay White is taking the loss or CNJ — they seem to be on level playing fields.

Prediction: Dorada, Kojima & Tiger Mask

Damon McDonald: On the traditional 1-10 interest scale, I am checking in with a solid “three” and that is to see how young lion Jay White holds up against the mix-match team of Tiger Mask, Dorada, and Kojima. I would also be shocked if anyone else takes the fall here. I’m sure I’ll be reaching for the second cup of coffee on this one as the team of CNJ, Jay White and Nakanishi ain’t quite the Freebirds.

Prediction: Máscara Dorada, Satoshi Kojima and Tiger Mask

Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Chase Owens and Rob Conway

Joe Lanza: One of the challengers should beat one of the champions here to set up one of the two title matches in Sendai. TenKoji already beat Conway & Jax Dane twice on the World Tag League tour, including Tenzan scoring a fall on Conway at the WTL Finals PPV to set up his NWA World title challenge, so Tenzan doesn’t really need the added rub. I’ll go with Owens taking the fall on Liger. The more intriguing aspect of this match, plus the two NWA title bouts in Sendai, is watching how the booking plays out. The New Japan/NWA relationship is shaky these days at best, and there is a 50/50 chance that this could be it for Bruce Tharpe and his invaders.

Prediction: Chase Owens and Rob Conway

Rich Kraetsch: Could this be the end of Tharpe-des?! God, I hope not. If you’ve been listening to our podcasts or following us on Twitter, the NWA/NJPW relationship is on a very wobbly chair and the future isn’t looking promising. I’m not sure I can live in a world where I don’t see Bruce Tharpe on a monthly basis. Anyway, this match could be a lot of fun or be a complete bore. A lot of it depends on how Tenzan is feeling that day, whether Liger gets most of the match and if Owens is on his game. Conway is Conway, you know what you’re getting from him but Owens we’ve seen both hot and cold. Either way, I think the NWA team is winning with Owens pinning Liger.

Prediction: Chase Owens and Rob Conway

Rob Barry: BRUCE THARPE SIGHTING!!! BRUCE THARPE SIGHTING!!! Tenzan can still go when he wants to, Liger is slowly but surely riding off into the sunset and both NWA guys are solid – they have been improving each time I see them. Conway picks up the victory here so the NWA guys get some momentum heading into Sendai.

Prediction: BRUCE THARPE & His Minions

Damon McDonald: I think the biggest buzz on this match are the politics and the role the NWA will play on future NJPW shows. Liger is coming in for his annual American vacation / PWS shot in late February but will he be holding or defending NWA gold? Will we see the last run of Bruce Tharpe? Will this match plant the seeds for shenanigans in Sendai? I think so…as it should. Chase Owens could use the pinfall here but something tells me the match is going to go in a different direction as Liger gets the fall on Owens.

Prediction: Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Jushin Thunder Liger

Kota Ibushi vs. Tomoaki Honma

Joe Lanza: I’m looking forward to this match more than anything else on either New Beginning show with the exception of Tanahashi/Styles. The announcement of this bout gave this card, filled with Wrestle Kingdom rematches and mundane tags, a much-needed extra bolt of juice. The outcome obviously isn’t in doubt, but there is no reason to think it won’t be a great match because both of these guys always deliver in the big spot. I think Ibushi’s best work has been as a plucky underdog heavyweight, and i’m looking forward to seeing him work here as a favorite. I’d like to see the vicious he displayed in the closing moments of the Nakamura match. Fun fact. Ibushi has not defeated a New Japan heavyweight since besting Karl Anderson on 8/3/2013 on Night 3 of that year’s G1 tournament.

Prediction: Kota Ibushi

Rich Kraetsch: There is no way this match doesn’t rule. Seriously, no way. Look at these two guys, what they did last year and what Ibushi has done so far in 2015. This match is going to rule and we’re all going to be better for having watched it. We know who’s winning (as we do in every Honma match) but that doesn’t stop us from being on the edge of our seat JUST IN CASE this is the time where Honma finally gets that big singles win. Fun fact: Honma’s last non-young boy/televised singles win was September 23, 2009 versus Taichi at the Hiroshi Tanahashi 10th anniversary show. Let that sink in for a moment.

Prediction: Kota Ibushi

Rob Barry: This was a match that should have happened in the 2014 G1 Climax. I hope this one determines who is next to challenge Nakamura for his IC Title. Both guys are heavy fan favorites and I’m not going to lie-I’m torn on this match as I love both guys. Honma will miss multiple Kokeshi’s, Ibushi will be notoriously crisp and the fans will be hot. I have a feeling this could steal the show and I’m still holding out hope that Honma will hold a singles title in NJPW or get that big career defining victory.

Prediction: Tomoaki Honma

Damon McDonald: For me, crowd reactions help take a great match and make them excellent. For this alone, I am expecting a lot from not only Honma and Ibushi but the rabid Osaka crowd. Ibushi, coming off Wrestle Kingdom, is white-hot and the spotlight is going to be bright in Osaka. Honma plays his role of the ultimate, unaware underdog so well that this could be MOTN. The only battle this match has right out of the gate is that no one truly believes Honma is getting the win. Those early near falls might not get the same reaction, but if they build and build and build and let the steam out at just the right moment, this could be a great match that is discussed as one of the better matches in February.

Prediction: Kota Ibushi

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
reDRagon (c) vs. Time Splitters vs. The Young Bucks

Joe Lanza: The Forever Hooligans act had gotten stale, and I think this will be a more cohesive match than the Wrestle Kingdom four-way, if for no other reason than the elimination of the worst team. The positioning of the match will help too, as they should get plenty of time. reDRagon are 6-0 on the tour coming into this match, and 18-1 overall in New Japan, running off 18 straight wins since dropping their debut. In a coin flip situation (well, you’d need a three-sided coin, but you get the point), I’ll stick with the hot hand, even though my nose smells a title change.

Prediction: reDRagon

Rich Kraetsch: reDRagon has absolutely dominated New Japan since coming over but their booking on the rest of the tour (including Sendai) seems to hint towards a title change. Even then, I’m going to stick with them as I’m sure New Japan seems the benefit of using them more regularly and the two both seem at home in the Land of the Rising Sun. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a title switch here, especially to the Young Bucks but I’ll keep my fingers crossed reDRagon retains only so I can see more of them in Japan.

Prediction: reDRagon

Rob Barry: Just take out the Forever Hooligans and we still have the same foundation for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Division. This one if given the proper amount of time could steal the show too. reDRagon looks immensely comfortable in NJPW and both the Time Splitters as well as The Young Bucks are no slouches in this division. Double teams galore and a Meltzer Driver for all watching. Don’t blink as there is still hope for this division. I still want Happy Motel to show up in the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Division. This should be a fun time with a brisk pace from 3 of the best tag teams in the world.

Prediction: reDRagon

Damon McDonald: You know what I would love? An actual, old-school feud between reDRagon and Young Bucks. I mean a true feud where it isn’t just a series of matches where they swap the IWGP Jr titles between each other. A feud where they respect each other but truly get over the fact that the HATE each other. You know what else I would love? KUSHIDA vs Kenny Omega for the Junior Heavyweight Championship. So in the pipe dream section of my predictions I am going with a Young Bucks victory and the Time Splitters put on hold so that KUSHIDA can make a real run at singles gold.

Prediction: The Young Bucks

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Kenny Omega (c) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi

Joe Lanza: These two put together a very divisive match at Wrestle Kingdom. Some thought it was great, others thought it was terrible, and I fell somewhere in between. I don’t have a problem with seeing a rematch, provided that this is it and Omega moves on to the Mascara Dorada match that Dorada is pushing for with the media.

Prediction: Kenny Omega. Stone cold lock.

Rich Kraetsch: Meh. These two had the best match they could possibly have at Wrestle Kingdom 9, they should’ve went out on top. The result is not in question and this is the type of repetitive/boring booking that so many of us criticize with New Japan. Omega got the big win at Dome, it’s over, it’s done. I guess you need the rematch so whatever, let’s do this again but PLEASE let this be it for these two. Neither are bad but Omega came in to add life to this division, let it be more life than just a new opponent for Taguchi.

Prediction: Kenny Omega

Rob Barry: Why did this need a rematch? Seriously? I just want Omega to move on from Taguchi to KUSHIDA, Shelley, Dorada and whoever else is in the Junior Heavyweight Division that is not Taguchi. Don’t get me wrong, Taguchi is solid but he does absolutely nothing for me. Hopefully this is just a one on one singles match without the Bullet Club shenanigans. Can this be quick and painless? It’s not too much to ask is it?

Prediction: Kenny Omega cleans up yet again

Damon McDonald: I think it is time for the Funky Weapon to swim among the pool of junior tag teams once again. This rematch is fine but everyone wants Omega/ Taguchi to end and to latch onto what is next for Kenny Omega. It is almost as if we feel obligated to push through, give Taguchi his rematch for the purpose of storyline and lets move on. I am sure we will see a good match but I struggle with Taguchi and my sights are set on the next chapter for Omega. Kenny hasn’t really found his groove yet with this Cleaner gimmick and hopefully we will see it take another level after we all get past Taguchi

Prediction: Kenny Omega

Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga and Yujiro Takahashi) vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Kazushi Sakuraba and Toru Yano)

Joe Lanza: This looks like a good spot for Okada to get some of his mojo back, because there is no way a Bullet Club team with both Tonga & Yujiro is beating the CHAOS side. Oddly, if BC does win, it’ll likely be Okada taking the fall, advancing the Fale story. I think Okada is hitting a Rainmaker on Tonga, as they save the Fale loss for a bigger (singles) match.

Prediction: CHAOS

Rich Kraetsch: Can Okada finally break his losing streak and get back on the winning side? You’d hope so given his opponents and teammates but who knows. I’m going with a big Okada win here but keeping him separated from Fale for now.

Prediction: CHAOS

Rob Barry: At least Yano is away from Minoru Suzuki but this is going to be difficult to watch. My compatriot Rich wrote a great article about Okada being stuck with Fale which all of you should read immediately and then come back to this preview. Okada needs to get his groove back to even enter back into the IWGP Heavyweight title scene and I think he does it here. Sakuraba will work submissions, Yano will work his usual gimmick and Tonga will take the loss (or maybe Yujiro) as it seems NJPW does not have much faith in either man.

Prediction: Team Laughter CHAOS

Damon McDonald: Part of me wants to believe that this Okada/Fale feud is a nightmare and I’ll wake up and it’ll be over. But there is a part of me that REALLY wants to see this play out. I want to see if Okada can pull this off and have a Nakamura experience with Fale.  I want to see if Fale can find a way to up his game and try to keep up with Okada. With that said, the only thing I am hoping for in this match is that it is kinda quick and it helps advance the story between Okada and Fale. I can’t believe I am typing this but I’d be OK with Okada taking the pinfall to Fale. Really. I would. Maybe.

Prediction: Bullet Club

IWGP Tag Team Championship
Meiyu Tag (Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata) (c) vs. Bullet Club (Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson)

Joe Lanza: Another rematch I have much less of a problem with, now that they added Ibushi/Honma to the card. It’s way too soon for Shibata & Goto to lose, so the question becomes who ends up being set up as the next challengers? Lots of chatter about Golden Stardust (Tetsuya Naito & Kota Ibushi), which makes way too much sense, and could potentially produce some killer matches.

Prediction: Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata

Rich Kraetsch: Another match I kinda hoped was over at Wrestle Kingdom and again, not because these guys aren’t good or don’t have good matches (I like them more than most) but because I’ve seen it already… many, many times. Shibata and Goto are obviously winning here so we’re just spinning our wheels.

Prediction: Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata

Rob Barry: Not even going to lie to you people, Meiyu Tag vs. Bullet Club for the IWGP Tag straps was one of my favorite matches from Wrestle Kingdom 9 as it was the best Doc Gallows has looked in NJPW ever and Goto and Shibata working as underdog faces was a great change of pace. I don’t see a title change happening here especially on the 1st defense but who knows? Meiyu Tag will go through Bullet Club like a buzzsaw and then move onto their next victims, but who exactly?

Prediction: Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata

Damon McDonald: This is the second “lets push through to the future” return title matches. Doc and Karl do very little for me and there is no shot in a title change happening here. None. So, where does Gallows and Anderson go from here? That’s the bigger challenge for NJPW. Not who Shibata and Goto move onto to but what to do with a disappointing Anderson / Gallows team. Maybe some time in NOAH to freshen things? I don’t know but the team needs a little sparkle or it is time to split them up.

Prediction: Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata

IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. A.J. Styles

Joe Lanza: Crazy thought. A.J. Styles isn’t booked for Sendai. Maybe he comes up short, and this spells the end of his days as a member of the Bullet Club?

Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi

Rich Kraetsch: I see Joe is calling for the A.J. Styles face turn. Look people, when it eventually happens, you’re going to remember we said it first. Granted, we’ve been saying it for six months now but when we’re right boy are you going to hear about how we called it. Dave Meltzer has sparked a lot of curosity for his continued references to a title change here but I just don’t see it, not yet. Styles will win the title back sometime in the next few months but I can’t see it happening here. Seems to transitional for Tanahashi. Let him have the title a bit longer, defend it more than once and have Styles get a definitive victory after trying a few times. One way or another this match will be great and should cap off a fun show.

Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi

Rob Barry: The Ace vs. The Phenomenal One, 1 in 100 Talent vs. Air Styles, either way I’m looking forward to their 3rd encounter as they seem to improve with each match. Let’s just stay away from the Bullet Club antics as they take me entirely out of the match, I can only suspend my disbelief so much that NJPW referees are as easily distracted as Dragon Gate referees. Maybe Styles will win as they could still set up Okada redeeming himself against Styles and Tanahashi. I say give Tanahashi this last final run and he can leave the future of NJPW to Okada, Ibushi and Nakamura, but then again Tanahashi is loved by the front offices and the fans so as long as they are happy and deliver that fantastic match quality that NJPW is known for I will be content too. Tanahashi even hits his own Styles Clash to just to show his superiority.

Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi

Damon McDonald: I am going to say this knowing full well what professional wrestling is …but does anyone else get really sad reading Yoshi Tatsu’s tweets from the hospital — he is STILL IN THE HOSPITAL — and the build around this match as a battle of the Styles Clash? Am I just being an over-sensitive twat? Anyway, why do I have this feeling A.J. gets the title back here and they build for Okada / A.J. with Okada finally getting his revenge? Why not? Lets go with my gut and say that we’ll have a new IWGP Heavyweight champion.

Prediction: A.J. Styles