NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
NEW BEGINNING IN HIROSHIMA NIGHT 1
FEBRUARY 10, 2021
HIROSHIMA SUN PLAZA HALL
Watch: NJPW WORLD
Good morning and salutations to you all once more. I once again bring you reviews for NJPW! I have my coffee, I have my Plushies, I have my desire to watch the main event of this show, and my desire that Master Wato/Bushi is under ten minutes. Anyway, it’s time for The New Beginning in Hiroshima Night 1 and I thank you in advance for reading this! On to the show!
Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado & Minoru Suzuki def. Gabriel Kidd, Yuya Uemura & Yota Tsuji
I am a simple fangirl when it comes down to it. No matter the quality of the bout my eyes will be on the Young Lions. It also must be said that whenever the Young Lions aren’t facing each other I foolishly and desperately root for them to overcome although I know what the inevitable destination of their journey must be. I got to mention the beginning of this match because in a nice change of pace and show of FIRE the Young Lions attack Suzuki-gun before the bell which I loved. There’s a pep in everyone’s step throughout this match and it’s great. There were urgency and speed and a feeling from the Young Lions that they were done with Suzuki-gun’s shit and were going to fight back. I will never grow tired of watching Young Lions throwing what they can in Minoru’s face and Minoru just demanding more and refusing to back down. This was great. I merely was rooting for the Young Lions to survive and they went, screw that, and did their best to thrive. When Uemura gets Suzuki in a Boston crab I knew it wouldn’t end it, of course, but I was rooting for him all the same as the crowd clapped along.
Then holy shit, Uemura has an exchange with Suzuki that involves just SLAPPING Suzuki’s face and this is the moment where he fucked up. Suzuki takes care of business and this is over but holy hell, that was fun as hell opener. I loved it. The fire, the energy, the desire to win from the Young Lions. They stepped up, refused to back down, and it was great. I demand many more Uemura trying to stand up to Suzuki moments in my life. ***1/4
BUSHI def. Master Wato
After such a fun and entertaining opener, we find ourselves here. Yay?
Okay, BUSHI’s mask game is pretty good per usual when he made his entrance. As the match began I hoped to myself they be inspired by the opening bout. The match at the very least copied the previous match and got off to a quick start. I didn’t hate or despise this? At one point BUSHI hits a tope suicida on Master Wato hard into the guardrail and with the crowd clapping it occurred to me that I found this to be an acceptable bout. It felt like both men wanted to win this bout which always goes to adding even to the most mediocre of affairs. I wouldn’t so far to call this mediocre to my surprise. I wouldn’t dare put it in the great range, or close to it, but it was much better than I previously was expecting. The crowd clapping and getting into it went a good way in helping with this. “Terrible” was hit by BUSHI for a nice near fall, and then he hit MX to properly end the match which caught me off guard as I expected Wato to get that victory here. Not sure I like that, I did like BUSHI not going to aftermath respect route and attacking Wato further. Less after match respect, more after the match “I still don’t like you” moments. Good match, I’m not afraid to say it. Master Wato is going to be downgraded soon. He has yet to earn the rank of Master. ***1/4
Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada def. El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori, Yujiro Takahashi, EVIL & Jay White
Match continued the trend of getting things started quickly and I’m approving of this decision. I think this match is a good time to explain I hate the multiple people club on someone’s back spot that CHAOS did to members of Bullet Club in this match. Just always looks too ridiculous to me. The match admittedly failed to hold me, until Ishii and Jay White finally got in there for a one on one session. That’s always going to have my attention. I am damn ready for their next one on one. Did you want Yano shenanigans? I didn’t, but you get some removing corner pad spots in this match if that tickles your fancy. YANO is also responsible for Chaos’s victory with that classic technical wrestling maneuver the low blow. He may have also pushed Takahashi into Dick Togo as well. This match happened. It wasn’t bad, but other than the hot start I didn’t feel the heat or hate I needed. Even Ishii/White which enjoyable didn’t hit that level for me. I’m still looking forward to that though. CHAOS stood tall after the match. EVIL teased fighting Okada after the match but it was just a tease. Okada went after Evil, but it was quickly broken up. I appreciated the attempts at getting me interested in EVIL/Okada but so far it has yet to work. **2/3
As we get to the clean and disinfecting part of the show (which means that catching intermission music) shout out to Kevin Kelly for his solo work. Commentary isn’t easy, doing it solo I can’t imagine. He does it well though and that should be commended.
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Tetsuya Naito & SANADA def.Tomoaki Honma & Kota Ibushi
Not surprisingly this is where the quick start theme ended. God speed to any and all who are interested in Ibushi/SANADA and Naito/Honma because I can’t build up any hype at all for either. SANDA/Ibushi have the IWGP title to add some fuel at least, but it’s cheap water down fuel that threatens to sputter and cause things to come to a stop. It goes without saying you get the appropriate interactions from both duos here. I can’t speak for others but watching SANADA/Ibushi interact is to me personally how it must feel living in the midwest right now. Cold as fucking hell. Watching Honma wrestling just makes me sad because I remember how excited and giddy I use to be at his matches. Don’t get me wrong I am glad he was able to come back and do what he enjoys, I’m just sad I no longer do. Gotch Bless Naito for giving Honma an unneeded neck bump to help him out at one point this match. You’ll be shocked to know Honma took the fall. I know surprising. This match felt like the American Vaccine rollout. Slow and not great. Oh SANADA and Ibushi upgraded their starring to giving each other a fist bump. THINGS ARE HEATING UP!!!!! **2/3
IWGP Tag Team Championship
Guerillas of Destiny (c) def. Zack Sabre Jr & Taichi by DQ
Taichi distracted by a trash bag of paper bags was how this match started.
At least it started quickly. I should also point out DOUKI was out here to attempt to neutralize Jado in this match and dragged him out early. Tama Tonga has an annoying fake laugh and I hate hearing it. It does make me like Taichi getting him hard so that’s a plus! Throughout the early portion of this match, Taichi kept ripping through the bags to find an assortment of objects that are not the Iron Glove, and yes I’m a fuddy-duddy so I hated it. I do not apologize, I don’t want lame humor and Tama Tonga’s dumb fake laugh, I wanted a heated title defense. “Long GOD control spot” is probably one of the most boring things you can have when it comes to pro-wrestling. Hats off to Zack Sabre Jr. for trying to bring life back into this match when he finally entered it. Credit, where credit is due Tanga Loa, continues to prove he’s the better Guerilla and should be the one with a destiny moving forward. I’m caught off guard by how much more I enjoy him these days. Unfortunately, he’s not good enough to bring up his team’s performance alone. It took twenty minutes but we eventually get pantless Taichi which we should never be deprived of…..ever.
I want to care, I’m coming up with random small tidbits in this match to make me care. I hope that you are caring for and enjoying this more than I did, but I really didn’t. Twenty minutes and the best three things I can come up with is Tonga Loa is the better Guerilla, Zack Sabre Jr and Taichi tried, and Taichi took off his pants. Zack Mephisto is hit but you could see just by the position of the ref that the pull-out bullshit spot was going to happen which killed any and all suspense. It doesn’t make me mad, it doesn’t make me jump up and scream bullshit. It just makes me shrug and go “that’s how it goes, moving on.” I just don’t care. The Iron Glove came into play, which they probably should have as much as I’m not a fan. Taichi got it back hit Tonga Loa, hit Jado and it was fine. It leads to the ref seeing Taichi hit Tama Tonga and causing the bullshit D.Q. I often throw out it’s the journey, not the destination but I didn’t enjoy either.
If I wanted to waste my time with half an hour that feels contrived and leads to nothing good I’d watch half a Game of Thrones Season 8 episode. At least it wouldn’t have GOD control spots. *3/4
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Hiromu Takahashi (c) def. SHO
SHO and Hiromu Takahashi came out to save the show. My Fangirl heart was already fluttering at the start of this match. When I make it to Japan I will find Hirmou’s entrance coat, and I will crawl up in it and snuggle. They spent a good portion of the opening of this match forearming each other in the face. I shall confess, I do quite enjoy watching wrestlers forearming each other in the face. They obliged me quite well by long stretches of forearming each other in the face. Two competitors going at it in the main event for one of the top prizes in NJPW. No bullshit, no shenanigans, no comedy, two wrestlers just wailing and going at each other? That, that is the good stuff. Hiromu is one of the best in NJPW (if not THE best) and SHO is great and continues to improve as he’s been going at it solo. After the forearm battle, the match settled and while the work is good it’s not until about the twenty-minute mark it picks up again in intensity and speed.
At that mark, you could almost see them both be like “it’s time to flip our switches” at the same time and they start going at each other with that second jolt intensity this match had been working toward. Part of me wishes they did so sooner, but I’m glad we got there all the same because it was worth it. There is some offense from SHO on Hiromu that makes me cringe, especially a jumping knee strike he nails at one point. I shuddered. I appreciated that almost in this match attempted/landed was earned when achieved. Very little felt like a planned out sequence, it felt like they were trying to outsmart and outmaneuver each other. They landed moves, they hit each other with impact, and the crowd built with the match. SHO’s cross arm piledriver looked particularly nasty this match. I appreciate both men started to come off tired as we surpassed thirty minutes. It was displays of exhaustion that felt like reality and not a “hey we did some stuff for a little while so let us pretend we have it all taken out of us” too many matches do too soon into the proceedings. After thirty minutes you deserve to be tired and spent. SHO has earned the ability to kick out of the Time Bomb. If I have one particular criticism of this match is I’m not biting on near falls/submission spots I’d expect to bite on. Except for time bomb #2 which was the definite ending. Surprised by the lack of a hot closing back and forth stretch. Hiromu is able to get control hit his impactful offense on Sho and then finish him off definitely. My criticism of lack of buying near falls and submissions now expands to me never once thinking “OMG SHO COULD WIN THIS” hurts a match I otherwise thought was pretty damn great.
BUT, that doesn’t take away from SHO who was given the main event spotlight and seized upon the opportunity with a wrestler you have to work hard to not be great with. Hiromu was great (which is no surprise because he is great) and they brought out a more than worthy main event to cap off a show that in my opinion was lacking quite a bit much of the time. EL Phantasmo came out for shenanigans at the end along with BUSHI and Ishmori playing supporting parts. Hiromu was able to fight them off. EL Phantasmo challenged Hiromu for a title shot, Hiromu agreed on the condition Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo put up the Jr. Tag Titles. OKAY THEN! ****1/4
The main event was great. I admit I might be the LOWEST OF THE LOWS on the tag title match, but I can’t pretend I enjoyed it because I absolutely did not. The mildly mediocre middle of the card does not help one bit. I would recommend the main event and for funsies the first two matches if you feel like some three-star meat to gnaw on.