New Japan Pro Wrestling
February 11th, 2021
Hiroshima Sun Plaza Hall

Watch: NJPW World

Meet our previewers: 

Jeri Evans: Has spent the past several days explaining the positives and negatives of the forbidden door being kicked open to her Plushies. They are uninterested which is disappointing. Jeri Evans can be found in the garage heap known as Twitter at TheJerriest_Jer doing her best to never be the main character of the day. 

John Carroll: John is thinking about how there’s somehow not one, not two, not three, but FOUR big Japanese wrestling shows this week (these two New Beginning in Hiroshima shows, NOAH’s big return to the Budokan on Friday and finally DDT Kawasaki Strong on Sunday with the Endo-Akiyama title match), which means they somehow have to figure out a way to fit that all into one Wrestling Omakase episode. Oh no. Follow them on Twitter @toshanshuinla, check out the podcast on Twitter @wrestleomakase, and especially check out our Patreon where we just put up a new 5 Matches episode covering retro puro matches from four different decades with guest WH Park from Post Wrestling!

Yota Tsuji, Yuya Uemura & Gabriel Kidd vs. Suzukigun (Dangerous Tekkers & DOUKI)

Jeri: Oh boy, if the Dangerous Tekkers are still not champions they will take out their aggression on the Young Lions. If they ARE champions, they’ll take out their celebration on the Young Lions. Either way, the Young Lion abuse is going to be strong. This crop of Young Lions though don’t lay down and take it, they are going to fight and this could be  a fun opener. You know how it’ll end, but getting to that ending will definitely be a good time. Prediction: Suzukigun

John: Yuya Uemura put up quite the fight against Minoru Suzuki on Monday’s final Road to New Beginning Korakuen huh? It’s always risky to project too much based on how someone’s doing as a Young Lion (as the old joke goes, someone thought Yujiro Takahashi was IWGP material at some point), but man do I have high hopes for that kid in the future. As Jeri said, this match will have a very different feel to it whether the Tekkers have walked out of the previous evening with the IWGP Tag Team titles or not, but either way the winners are of course not in doubt here. Prediction: Suzukigun

Suzukigun (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. BULLET CLUB (Yujiro Takahashi, El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori)

Jeri: So many bastards in one match, can that grumpy desire to be a massive dick energy be contained? El Phantasmo’s impressive (totally not aided by anything) superkick schtick is catching on and working and I have a feeling his work will be the highlight of this match. Could be a decent and entertaining undercard six man, but I’m not expecting more than that. I’m having a hard time coming up to say anything of significance other than this could be okay and move things along. Perfectly acceptable undercard match. That isn’t an insult. Sometimes that’s just what things end up being. Prediction: BULLET CLUB

John: El Phantasmo has talked a lot of shit about virtually everyone on the New Japan roster during his short (but memorable!) stay on NJPW English commentary team, but he’s spent a great deal of time in particular taunting the team who he & Ishmori beat to become the new IWGP Jr. Tag Team Champions. When questioned if he would offer Desperado & Kanemaru a return match for the titles, he’s repeatedly pointed out that NJPW does not generally do automatic rematches (this is true), and thus in his view the Suzukigun duo need to pin either one of them to earn another title shot. And as Phantasmo has been all too eager to point out, neither of them have been able to get that done despite numerous opportunities throughout the New Beginning tour.

Well, this right here would just so happen to be their last chance. So there you go- there actually IS a storyline in this otherwise sleepy looking undercard tag. Can Kanemaru & Desperado earn a rematch for the junior tag titles, probably at CASTLE ATTACK? I’m gonna say yes, they pull it off and score a pinfall over either of the two champions to finally earn their rematch. Prediction: Suzukigun

Tomoaki Honma, SHO & Master Wato vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI)

Jeri: More Honma/Naito .. . yay. I’m struggling to come up with a significance analysis to say about this card if I’m being truthful. If I’m looking forward to anything in this match it’s Sho and Takahashi interactions which should be great, especially after their main event, and for Bushi/Wato to finally come to an end. Honma/Naito will probably continue because it must, I suppose. I don’t expect this to be bad but certain characters will bring it down from where others could take it. Still, there could be good signs of life when we get SHO and Hiromou Takahashi in there and that alone could merit some interest in viewing. I don’t have hopes in this being good, but there could be moments. Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japon

John: I’m guessing that this will likely end up being the end of the road for the Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomoaki Honma feud here, especially after Naito embarrassed him with yet another twenty-count pinfall on Monday’s final Road To Korakuen. As much as I’ve enjoyed the lopsided feud (apparently much more than my colleague has!), there just isn’t enough juice here to carry us through another tour. I’m not sure if Naito will have anything particularly big to do for CASTLE ATTACK either (it could be something like a NEVER 6-man challenge for Naito, SANADA & BUSHI maybe? Just throwing one idea out there), but it seems very silly to keep this Honma feud going at this point. Naito will pin him one more time here for old time’s sake, and we’ll probably all get to move on. Prediction: Los Ingobernables de Japon

Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano vs. EVIL & Dick Togo

Jeri: There will be shenanigans. Yano and Dick Togo are in this match so expect shenanigans where your mileage will vary. I’m a fuddy duddy so I’m probably not going to be that interested. We’ll also have Okada/EVIL interactions and confrontations which again I guess your mileage will also vary. This could be fun, this could be a mess. We can combine the two and it’ll be a fun mess. This undercard underwhelms me so much but we’re building to Okada/EVIL more than likely so at least this will continue that trend, whether or not that’s a good thing depends on how much that match tickles your fancy. It doesn’t tickle me at all. Yano and Togo, they’ll cheat, they’ll do comedy, one of them will take the fall. Roll credits. End Scene. Move on with the show. Prediction: Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano

John: EVIL attacked Okada after their six-man tag team match on the final Road To Korakuen show today, which on one hand sounds good if you’re looking for anything of interest to finally happen in this absolutely nothing feud so far. But uh, here’s the thing…..he gave Okada the chair baseball swing. We’re talking about the same thing that he used to do as a borderline comedy spot in virtually every match as an LIJ member, which his opponents tended to sell like they just took a transition move, and now we’re supposed to take it seriously as a big post-match attack that supposedly left, of all people, OKADA down and out?! Yeah, ok. This feud sucks. This match will be fine or whatever, but I can’t even imagine the person who’s super into EVIL vs. Okada and counting down the days until they announce their big singles match. Prediction: Who cares

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) © vs. BULLET CLUB (Jay White & Guerillas of Destiny)

Jeri: Okay, I’ll admit, I’m all into this. YOSHI-HASHI’s time in the sun as champion I believe is coming to an end and my heart will break. But unto all things an ending and Jay White that magnificent bastard I love rooting against is going to infuriate me doing the worst thing I can think of. He’s going to succeed. Rude. This could be pretty damn good if everyone is on their A game and Tama brings a solid C+/B- to the fold. I can see it heated, I can see some nice nearfalls, and I can see me sad in the end. White could potentially finally get that pinfall on Ishii but I think they’ll hold off until another one on one. For now YOSHI-HASHI who’s had a magical stretch will run out of magic and his title reign will end with him looking at the lights. Don’t be sad it ended, just be glad it happened. Of course I could be wrong, but I feel it’s time. Thank you YOSHI-HASHI, these many months will not be forgotten. At least not by me. Prediction: BULLET CLUB 

John: People haven’t really paid attention because we’re talking about a NEVER 6-Man title reign and no one cares about those belts, but this CHAOS trio has quietly had some real bangers since coming together. They put on some extremely fun matches during the tournament where they won the titles back in August and followed up with an awesome title match against the Suzukigun trio of Taichi, Zack & DOUKI in October. They compliment each other really well and all work hard, so I have very little doubt they’re capable of putting on another great title match here. Four stars or so is definitely not out of the possibility.

As far as who walks out with the belts,I just don’t really see Jay White wasting his time with the NEVER 6-man for more than one tour, and I kind of have a feeling that GOD might be going back home after this tour is over as well, so a title change doesn’t strike me as particularly likely. But again, it’s the NEVER 6-man belts- it’s not like they can’t just put them on the BULLET CLUB trio here, send GOD home to Florida anyway, and just not have them defended for months. The last time they were defended before tonight was, again, October! But ultimately, I just have a feeling that CHAOS retains here. Prediction: CHAOS

IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Double Championship
Kota Ibushi © vs. SANADA

Jeri: CAN YOU FEEL THE EXCI . . .Indifference? I shouldn’t feel this way about Ibushi main events. Ibushi main events usually have me hyped, excited, ready for a great match. This one has me just accepting it is happening. Not a main event I’m sinking my teeth into, but if SANADA is on point and can get some fire under him, and bring out some rare personality, this could potentially be great. I don’t expect a high ceiling of great, but a “ehhh, that was worth a watch” type of reaction great. Maybe I’m being harsh on SANADA. The man has tools, just it seems like he has no desire to sharpen them at times. I don’t see him winning at all and I don’t think that helps this match, but they have proven capable in previous matchups of having some scary good nearfalls so that could come into play and cause me to leap out of my seat a bit. I feel Ibushi will be in the game wanting his second defense, and first non Wrestle Kingdom defense, to go off well. If SANADA can turn it up a notch just a bit, this could be a damn good match. SANADA could also come in with zero fire, minimal personality and this just turns out decent. I don’t think it’ll be bad by any stretch, but I’m not holding out to be blown away either. Prediction: Kota Ibushi

John: There’s no way to spin the build up to this match as anything but poor even if you like both guys, and just like I said on the Night 1 preview I happen to like both guys a lot. This was just never going to be a hot feud given the personalities we’re dealing with here though- Kota is a space cadet (and I say that with love) and needs someone to ground him in reality, and SANADA is sure not that person. The build here was just completely empty and devoid of anything for people to sink their teeth into. And yet…..the fans at Korakuen still seemed pretty into seeing Ibushi and SANADA face off on Monday (certainly by clap crowd standards), so maybe things will turn out okay at the end of the day here. Maybe Ibushi vs. SANADA, lackluster build and all, still has a certain baseline level of fan interest heading into Hiroshima, maybe the fans will be really into it (again, by clap crowd standards), and maybe these two beautiful wrestlers will overdeliver on very low expectations. Maybe this match will be a lot better than their G1 final. And maybe by the end of it, we’ll all forget about how boring the build up to this defense was, and we’ll just remember how great the match was. Yes, that’s a lot of maybes. But hey, stranger things have happened.

What I can’t sit here and tell you with a straight face is that I’ve got any real suspense on who will walk out of Hiroshima with the belts. Kota Ibushi will undoubtedly retain. But with another major show coming up just over two weeks later (the two-night CASTLE ATTACK event from Osaka Jo Hall on the 27th & 28th), what I absolutely can’t wait to see is who will walk out at the end of the show to be Kota’s next challenger. Let’s close this out by quickly going through some of the possibilities, at least in my opinion:

  • Shingo Takagi, SANADA’S LIJ stablemate who just so happened to beat Kota back during the G1 last fall, is now free to face him after losing the NEVER strap to Tanahashi. Yes, that would make this yet another example of the NJPW “failing up” booking pattern. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
  • Will Ospreay, coming off a big win over Satoshi Kojima in Nagoya with nothing obvious on his plate for Osaka. Unlike Shingo though, he did lose to Kota in the G1.
  • Tetsuya Naito, who teased in interviews that he has something big on the way- repeatedly telling the likes of Honma and Tsuji, among other interested suitors, that they had a limited window to earn a singles match because he would be busy again soon. He may also feel that Kota earns him a return match after he granted Kota that 1/4 title shot basically out of the goodness of his heart, after Kota lost the Wrestle Kingdom briefcase to Jay White.
  • Or maybe you buy the Joe Lanza Theory, that Okada and EVIL could fight in the main event of Night 1, with the winner getting the shot on Night 2?
  • Or maybe it could be someone I’m not thinking of at all! 

I think at the end of the day Shingo has to be the favorite, but that’s way more exciting to think about than pretty much anything involving this match, huh? Anyway, enjoy New Beginning in Hiroshima everybody! Prediction: Kota Ibushi