New Japan Pro Wrestling
The New Beginning in Sapporo Night 2
February 3, 2019
Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center
Sapporo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Toa Henare Def. Yota Tsuji

An extremely standard New Japan opener, work was totally fine but super basic as expected. Tsuji is one of the newer Young Lions so I was surprised at the amount of offense he got even though it was still pretty brief. **3/4

Manabu Nakanishi & Tiger Mask Def. Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida

Umino and Yoshida have now carried a Nakanishi led team to a second good match in a row, sure, his partner is still capable but it’s a little feather in their cap none the less. Tiger Mask should only wrestle Young Lions, always entertaining when he mixes it up with them. Shota does a fantastic pinfall save which just goes to show how exquisite is timing already is. ***

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Ren Narita Def. Takashi Iizuka & TAKA Michinoku

Read my review from night one, essentially the exact same match even down to the promo and finish. At Iizuka’s retirement match, Tenzan will moonsault him back to normal and he can ride off into the sunset. Unfortunately, this isn’t the last time we’ll see Iizuka today. **1/2

Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, Tomoaki Honma & Ryusuke Taguchi Def. Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Yujiro Takahashi & Taiji Ishimori

Also, a very similar match to the corresponding match from night one, except not as good. Not sure what else to say about this one? Tanga Loa needs to pick ring attire and stick with it, c’mon mate which is it? Trunks, shorts or tights. ***

Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens Def. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI

Something not hitting with this combo of guys which is worrying leading up to the Osaka card. Okada is one of Fales best opponents but Fale has lost even more motivation to try in ring since they last met in July. White and Tana have had 3 matches already and none of them have been terribly mind-blowing. The highlight of this match is when the three babyfaces did a combo of moves and YOSHI being the gigantic dork that is tried to get a three-man pose going a la what the CHAOS guys do, but to no avail – this is serious stuff Okada and Tanahashi. Decent match but nothing to go out of your way to see. ***1/4

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Shingo Takagi & BUSHI © Def. El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

This was a very good match, maybe even the match of the night and by the sounds of things, I might be the low man on this. Probably the most selling Shingo has done in his New Japan tenure and was still very awesome. BUSHI (as correctly predicted in the night 1 review) got more shine in this then he has in recent big matches. He and Despy were going for each other’s masks, which might be building to a mask v mask match down the track but Despy constantly go for masks so who knows? ***3/4

IWGP Tag Team Championship
EVIL & SANADA © Def. Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr.

Another very good match which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Some might feel this was a bit underwhelming but I think this reached around its potential. Hard-hitting and cool submissions make it pretty hard to complain. SANADA pins Suzuki after a Magic Killer and Moonsault Press getting revenge for the night before. ***3/4

IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Tetsuya Naito © Def. Taichi

Boy, where do I even begin?

This is one of the toughest matches to rate. The pre-match angle of Iizuka, sigh attacking Naito during his entrance and the subsequent tease of would he actually wrestle or not went forever. Lucky this was Naito and the crowd didn’t completely zone out and were dead for the actual match. The match itself consisted of Naito doing his best to make Taichi look credible (the pre-match attack doesn’t help) he was doing some crazy ass head and neck bumps that you couldn’t pay me do. The crowd was thoroughly behind Naito through out the whole match. The closing stretch was pretty darn good, with some great near falls creating some suspenseful drama. Naito eventual hits a second Destino for the win.

From bell to bell I feel this match was better then their match at the anniversary show last year, and I went 4 snowflakes on that one. However the length of the pre-match angle/tease as well as how it ended up making Taichi look sort of weak really hurt this match for me. If you want to move Taichi up the card losing fair and square in a super competitive match against one of the three most over people in the company is a good way to go about it I would’ve thought. Whatever, its apparent Taichi is destined to be a shtick wrestler and if that’s the case keep him out of my G1, thanks in advance. Another reason for this booking is that Naito has been talking about being the first person to hold the Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championship at the same time and if that’s the direction they’re going having him overcome the beat down and winning convincingly keeps him looking pretty good. Some people will hate this match, some people will love it, and I’m sort of cruising in the middle. ***1/2

Final Thoughts

A pretty disappointing show overall. Still a good show, not as good as night one and definitely didn’t live up to expectation, for me at least. The last three matches are all worth a watch especially the main event just to see where you sit with it. The show drew extremely well, beating out night 1 convincingly and almost doing 900 tickets better then night 2 in Sapporo last year (headlined by Omega and White). The undercard also built well to Osaka, but as a whole, that card doesn’t really do it for me.