New Japan Pro Wrestling
The New Beginning in Osaka 2016
February 11, 2016
Edion Arena – Osaka, Japan

Meet our preview team:

  • Rich Kraetsch (@voiceswrestling): Voices of Wrestling flagship podcast co-host, website editor and one of the principle owners of VOW.
  • Rob McCarron (@ShakeThemRopes): Shake Them Ropes co-host, VOW Live host, WWE & NJPW reviewer/preview and a member of VOW’s leadership group.
  • John Carroll (@toshanshuinLA): VOW’s resident Dragon Gate history expert and co-host of our Dragon Gate specific Open the Voice Gate podcast.
  • Bryan Rose (@br26): One of VOW’s longest running staff members and WWE & NJPW reviewer/preview.

CHAOS (Gedo, Kazushi Sakuraba & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi & Tiger Mask

Rich Kraetsch: Look, you get Gedo and grumpy pants Tiger Mask. Quit complaining. Prediction: Jushin Thunder Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi & Tiger Mask

Rob McCarron: Tiger Mask pinning Gedo – The match’s quality will depend on interactions between Taguchi and Gedo, and how motivated Tiger Mask is. Prediction: Jushin Thunder Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi & Tiger Mask

John Carroll: This is my first time doing one of these and I legitimately have no idea what to say about a random, show-opening six-man tag. It will be a Thing That Happens and I guess not much more than that? Taguchi and two old dudes isn’t the most exciting of teams, but I still get a kick out of Sakuraba and YOSHI-HASHI is better than he usually gets credit for. Anyway, no idea what to predict here since any one of Gedo, YOSHI, or Taguchi is all capable of taking the fall. Let’s just say the team with two loss posts loses, because that seems to be logical. Prediction: Jushin Thunder Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi & Tiger Mask

Bryan Rose: Well, this is a match that’s taking place! I think it’ll be good, but I won’t remember a single thing about the match the next day. I guess this also confirms that Sakuraba is part of Chaos. I mean, it’s been a bit more established in the last month or so, but that’s the only real observation I have about the match. I say since Tiger Mask holds a title, he gets the win. Prediction: Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi, Jushin Thunder Liger

Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata vs. TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima)

Rich Kraetsch: This match may appear to be nothing more than lower card filler but the ramifications are much larger. You don’t often get a match between frequent tag partners thrown in just for shits and giggles — that’s why you need to watch this match knowing the winner is likely bound for an IWGP Heavyweight Tag Title shot down the line. With Guns & Gallows out of the picture after this week, the tag titles need some new contenders and fresh blood. Or, old blood, really, really old blood… but you know what I mean. Anyway, while the easy money is on TenKoji re-inserting themselves back into the top of the tag division but I’m going to go with the underdog and say Nakanishi & Nagata get the big win here. I think a one-off title shot with two of NJPW’s former legends would be a really cool moment even if there’s 0% chance they ever win the titles.  Prediction: Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata

Rob McCarron: While this match seemingly feels like it is a contender match to the IWGP Heavyweight tag team titles, it really isn’t that intriguing. Tenzan and Kojima are destined for a rise in importance in NJPW again this year, in my belief, and I’ll go as far as to say that they may even win the tag titles at some point. Hell, I’d say Kojima getting a solo IC or Heavyweight title shot isn’t far fetched, either. Prediction: TenKoji

John Carroll: As Rich & Joe discussed on the flagship podcast, this is a really interesting match just because New Japan typically protects “regular tag team vs. regular tag team” matches unless they’re setting one of the teams up for something. It thus follows that the winner of this match may very well be in line for a shot at the IWGP Tag Team Titles, and based on that I think TenKoji is clearly winning this. TenKoji vs. GBH should be a lot of fun, but this match on the other hand will probably just be OK. Prediction: TenKoji

Bryan Rose: They’ve had some minor buildup for this match, with TenKoji taking out Nakanishi on a constant basis in their usual six man skirmishes. Does that make me any more interested in this match? Nope. Nakanishi’s just done as a wrestler, but the Japan mentality is protect older wrestlers. Fair enough. I don’t see how TenKoji doesn’t win this unless they want to push Nagata & Nakanishi as a new tag team, which I don’t think is happening. Prediction: TenKoji

Los Ingobernables (BUSHI, EVIL & Tetsuya Naito) vs. Juice Robinson, KUSHIDA & Michael Elgin

Rich Kraetsch: The overlooked aspect of Los Ingobernables entertaining run in New Japan over the past few months is their less-than-stellar match quality. Sure, I’m as entertained as anyone by their antics, Naito’s don’t-give-a-shit attitude and the startling re-emergence of BUSHI. I’ve enjoy it all… until the bell rings. Whether it’s the interference, the approach to match structure they’ve taken or my expectations, nothing has clicked. This match, while on paper a lot of fun, could be similarly boring and disappointing. However, this match exists more as a vehicle to build Naito vs. Elgin for down the road and BUSHI vs. KUSHIDA for later this weekend. Prediction: Los Ingobernables

Rob McCarron: Tetsuya Naito vs Michael Elgin is the end game, it appears. Whether that happens at ROH Honor Rising, or is saved as a match at the end of the New Japan Cup, the match is a pretty cool singles bout to look forward to. Juice Robinson will bite the bullet here, probably to EVIL. Prediction: Los Ingobernables

John Carroll: Ingobernables have not lost a single trios match yet in New Japan. Looking at who their opposition is, I can’t say I’m expecting that to start now. Don’t sleep on this match though, because it has potential to be really fun! Juice has really improved and I think he’ll get time to shine here, even if he ultimately eats the fall in the end (though there’s a chance BUSHI pins KUSHIDA to heat up the Junior Title match as well). Prediction: Los Ingobernables

Bryan Rose: This seems to be the usual New Japan six man tag special where you know who is probably winning this and how they’re going to win. I think originally this was supposed to be involving Elgin and Tanahashi against Los Ingobernables, but plans changed with Nakamura heading to the US. As for who is winning this, I think it’s easy to say that Los Ingobernables win, pinning Robinson. I’m really interested in seeing how Bushi and Kushida interact with one another since their match is coming soon. Prediction: Los Ingobernables

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe & Toru Yano © vs. Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi)

Rich Kraetsch: I loved the idea of these titles when they were first announced, but New Japan needs to be careful to not let these fall down some of the same traps their other titles do — too many of the same matchups. These titles are, for lack of a better term, completely meaningless. As such, it shouldn’t REALLY matter who’s earned a title shot, who’s next in line… just do whatever. Having Yano and The Briscoes defend them against the same team they did at Wrestle Kingdom 10 is a bit of a let-down, only amplified by the fact that this same match happens again on Sunday’s Niigata show… but in a non-title scenario. What? Prediction: Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe & Toru Yano

Rob McCarron: It’s very odd that the same match, only non-title, is booked for Sunday’s Niigata PPV. Sure, they can do the rematch in a non-title scenario, let the Bullet Club get a win, then do another title match down the line. But doesn’t it strike you odd? I feel the Bullet Club wins the titles here, then at Niigata, the non-title match turns into a title re-match. However, with Honor Rising in the future and the NEVER 6-man titles surely to be defended on one of those shows, anything can happen. Prediction: Bullet Club

John Carroll: Six-man tag titles (or trios titles, whatever you prefer) are freaking awesome and every promotion should have them! Long live the WCW six-man tag titles! Anyway, let’s go with the most random championship team in history (yes, beating out even the trio of Big Josh, Dustin Rhodes and my main man, my Z-Man, Tom Zenk) to retain their titles here. The Briscoes & Yano work better together than I would have guessed, and there’s still time for them to drop the titles at one of the two Ring of Honor shows at Korakuen Hall later in the month if they want to get them onto main roster members. It seems weird to have the BULLET CLUB just randomly win it on the their third try, right? I think these belts are ultimately destined for the Ingobernables team we just talked about in the last match, but we’ll see. Prediction: Yano & Briscoes

Bryan Rose: I’m sensing a title change here. While the Briscoes and Yano seem like a fun undercard team, I just think that it’s something not very long term and is going to end sooner than later. I always thought Bullet Club would be the ones to take the tag team titles since they have so many members, and it makes the most sense. It gives Fale, Yujiro and Tama Tonga, who are full time New Japan stars, something to do. I don’t see this being an interesting match by any means, but I think everyone will do just decently to have a good enough match. Prediction: Bullet Club

NJPW Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
The Young Bucks (c) vs. reDRagon vs. Matt Sydal & Ricochet

(Ed. Note: This match was mistakenly left off our original preview and thus will not feature our full preview staff)

Rich Kraetsch: I’ve been beating the “Please let’s have the Junior Tag Titles defended in one team vs. one team matches” drum for awhile (what a weird drum that would be). It’s not that I don’t enjoy these multi-man flippy scrambles, I do. I just feel the teams don’t get much of a chance to shine because they are always restricted in the amount of time they can work as well as the level of thought they can put into the match. This one is later in the card, so there’s hope that they get more than 10 minutes but still with six guys, there’s only so much time to build and develop a match narrative. With that said, there will be flips, Ricochet will do something that makes you say wow and the title will continue to hot potato in perpetuity. Prediction: reDRagon

John Carroll: Wow you can tell how hyped we are for this one huh? We literally forgot it existed. Anyway, this match will probably be really fun despite the fact that none of us could remember it’s happening! The four-way match at Wrestle Kingdom was pretty great and I somehow doubt just taking out RPG Vice is going to hurt it that much (no offense to them, of course). Anyway, there will be flips and stuff. Predicting who wins a Junior Tag Title match is always a tricky proposition but let’s say the Young Bucks get to retain for a change, maybe finally setting up another straight tag title match with either team for the ROH shows? An all-gaijin junior tag title match seems like an appropriate thing to have there, right? Prediction: The Young Bucks

NEVER Openweight Championship
Katsuyori Shibata © vs. Tomohiro Ishii

Rich Kraetsch: HATE HATE HATE! There’s little to add to a preview when you read the names and the title at stake, it’ll be hard-hitting, there will be grunts, there will be lots of headbutts that will be particularly notable given the week’s big news and more than anything, there will be pure hate as these men do anything and everything they can to prove they are tougher than their opponent… and hey, maybe they win a title too. I’d be gutted if Ishii won the title back, let’s hope Shibata wins and begins to establish himself as a player in New Japan for 2016. Prediction: Katsuyori Shibata

Rob McCarron: FUN! Back and forth brawl after the Yano hijinx, you just have to love it. If Shibata retains the title, I don’t think he goes into the New Japan Cup as a likely candidate for victory. So my yearly tradition of picking Shibata as the New Japan Cup winner would be silly… er. Won’t stop me, though. Shibata for New Japan Cup victor! Prediction: Katsuyori Shibata

John Carroll: Honestly, after just watching Daniel Bryan’s emotional concussion-based retirement I’m not sure I’m really ready to watch these two headbutt each other as hard as they possibly can. If they could please just take that spot out I would really appreciate it. But this match will be fantastic if you can get past the extra ick factor on the hyper-violence, as I think it’s basically impossible for these two to have a bad match together. Not sure why you would take the belt off Shibata already unless you immediately want to push him to the moon, which is possible, but let’s say he retains. Prediction: Katsuyori Shibata

Bryan Rose: I’ll just echo everyone else’s sentiments about this match – it’ll be stiff, unpleasant to watch at times, and will probably result in careers being shortened. But I think it will still be one hell of a match. It seems like a match that’s been done, but when it’s been done well so many times, can one really complain? Seems too soon for Shibata to drop the title, so I say he retains. Besides, he’s been due for a singles title run for a while now. Prediction: Katsuyori Shibata

Bullet Club (Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson & Kenny Omega) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma

Rich Kraetsch: This match serves simply as a preview for Sunday’s show which will see Omega battle Tanahashi for the vacant IC Title and Guns & Gallows try to win the tag titles back from Great Bash Heel. Given its semi main event spot, expect it to be worked at a higher pace than anticipated… with that said, Tanahashi is working with a badly injured shoulder and could be a non-factor. Who wins here? I honestly don’t know. At Niigata, I anticipate Omega defeating Tanahashi and Great Bash Heel retaining over Guns & Gallows so you can go either way in building the matches or using the classic WWE “lose before you win” mentality. I say Bullet Club wins just to set up the babyfaces for redemption on Sunday but, really, this is a coin toss. Prediction: Bullet Club

Rob McCarron: Bullet Club wins to give Doc and Karl the edge going into their Niigata title match. The buzz around Doc and Karl going to WWE has subdued a bit, and the fact they’re even on these shows puts doubts as to whether they’re truly even going to WWE. Could this be one big negotiation tactic with NJPW? We’ll find out in Niigata most likely. Here, Karl pins Honma. Prediction: Bullet Club

John Carroll: Your standard “let’s set up the second night” six-man tag, but this one should have a little more juice than usual (no, not Robinson) just because it’s in the semi-main event spot. I would bet this gets as high as ***¾ or something, maybe even better than that, as long as Tanahashi’s arm doesn’t fall out of its socket of course. Bullet Club pinning Honma here, probably with the Magic Killer, is as close to a lock as you can get on this show. Prediction: Bullet Club

Bryan Rose: This is all about setting up the tag team title match on the 2/14 show. It’s your atypical New Japan six man. Bullet Club wins to get the edge over the champs heading into the next show. They could so even do Omega pinning Tanahashi or vice versa, but I really doubt that. It’ll probably be a very decent match. Prediction: Bullet Club

IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kazuchika Okada © vs. Hirooki Goto

Rich Kraetsch: HYPE. If you haven’t been following the Okada/Goto feud to this point, you’ve been missing out on legitimately the most compelling angle/story/feud Goto has been involved with in quite some time. People criticized this seemingly random matchup at first but trusty old Gedo had one up his sleeve — Goto defeated Okada during the G1 but never received a title match against The Rainmaker. After Okada’s successful WK10 defense over Tanahashi, Goto gently reminded Okada he was due a title shot. Okada, still a dickhead at heart, essentially told Goto to get lost and remarked that his multiple unsuccessful attempts at winning the Heavyweight Championship were embarrassing. As you can assume, Goto didn’t take this too well and has since made it a mission to attack Okada… constantly, backstage, at press conferences, in the ring, after the match, before the match… it doesn’t matter. This new Goto has drawn the ire of the crowd and given him a much-needed edge. Goto will take Okada to his absolute limit and there will be multiple 2.9999 nearfalls to make your heart stop throughout the match. In the end, Okada will reign supreme but hopefully we all gain a much stronger appreciation for Goto and he parlays this spotlight into more opportunities throughout the year. Prediction: Kazuchika Okada

Rob McCarron: As much fun as Shibata and Ishii should be, the main event between Goto and Okada is the match I’m most looking forward to. Goto has been coming off stronger as kind of a prick, which is a nice touch. It has worked for Naito. Goto just screams the guy who believes he belongs in the top tier, but his failed Intercontinental title series with Nakamura last year is eating away at his soul. Instead of stepping back, regrouping, and climbing the ladder back up… he’s just taking the elevator right to the top as if nothing has happened. He thinks it’s his time, he’s tired of being nice, and he’s going after Okada. Will that work? No. Okada wins, and Goto is out of the picture. Nice little February title defense for Okada it is! Prediction: Kazuchika Okada

John Carroll: Seriously, for all the shit Gedo got for how bad his booking supposedly was in 2015 (some of it valid, some of it overblown), hopefully someone will give him some love for how well he’s booked this feud. When Okada-Goto was first announced for New Beginning it’s okay if you groaned- I actually like Goto more than most and I still wasn’t really all that into it either. But by absolutely running with Goto as the hyper-aggressive, pissed off heel in this feud (something I did NOT expect them to do), attacking Okada at almost literally every turn, they’ve given what looked at first like a completely throwaway defense for Okada some actual damn intrigue. I don’t think Goto will win this, but it actually feels like he could, which is a hell of an accomplishment when you really think about it. Heel Goto is awesome, and I sincerely hope he follows up this run by joining Ingobernables. Imagine him as Naito’s right-hand man and tag team partner. Goosebumps just thinking about it. Oh this match will be awesome, by the way. Prediction: Kazuchika Okada

Bryan Rose: When I first heard about this match, I groaned. Goto can best be described as having a bridesmaid complex as he’s always in line for IWGP title shots, but he’s never actually won, and his window to people buying his nearfalls and close calls vanished a while ago. But, on the other hand, these are two fantastic wrestlers. Goto really can have a great match when he’s put in a prominent position such as this one, and Okada is one of the best “big time” match wrestlers in the world. The angle they’ve been doing of Goto not taking Okada’s bragging and beating him up on every opportunity is pretty cool too. I still don’t see Goto winning the title, unless they’re going in a completely new direction for 2016, but it could happen. If you’re asking me on who I think is leaving with the title, however, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be Okada. He’s been pushed as the new ace, and will probably hold onto that title until a new rival can be established. Prediction: Kazuchika Okada