FEBRUARY 11, 2021

Watch: NJPW World (JPN) / Watch: NJPW World (ENG)

Finally, after 15 shows and 25 days, the New Beginning campaign has concluded.

There were two fundamentally pessimistic questions coming into this one. The first question requires no prior knowledge to activate beyond the previous night’s New Beginning show. The second question doesn’t either, but is significantly enriched if you are dumb enough to watch the Road To’s (read my seven reviews on this tour here – read my divorce summons, which will assuredly cite these reviews, in the months to come). New Japan answered both of these questions successfully, but to varying degrees.

Question #1: What is this garbage?

More specifically, why are they booking these finishes and these characters and can they produce a good card? This question is seeped in myopia and absurdly sensitive recency bias, as they’ve already provided two enjoyable events on this very tour: the de facto New Beginning show at Ota Gym on January 23rd, and the first New Beginning card in Nagoya on January 30th.

This question was answered with partial success. This show was fun, undergirded by a very boisterous and indefatigable Southern Honshu crowd. The matches were well-worked, but some unfortunate flubs kept a couple from being complete triumphs. It wasn’t a resounding victory to end a tour, but it was fine.

Answer: The same as always. Multi-show events are still replete with fluff and inconsequential undercards. Nothing was offensive on this show, and while much of it was sufficient, it did not feel like a grand culminating show on par with last year’s spectacular New Beginning show.

 Question #2: Could SANADA and Ibushi be any colder as a main event program?

On paper, it looked like a fairly weak build, just two cosmic himbo’s staring at shiny things and delineating the complexities of the numbers one and two. The diplomatic politeness of their rivalry is admirable and refreshing, but came across on broadcast so cold you’d measure it in Kelvin. It certainly didn’t help that SANADA disappeared halfway through the feud, leaving Ibushi with nothing left to do but infiltrate SHO and Hiromu’s backstage comments, both trolling and lecturing them in turn.

And yet, the attendance for this show was 2,007. That’s a gigantic gain over Night 1 and a huge gain over the G1 shows in this building last fall. Obviously, this show took place on a national holiday and that assuredly helped, maybe considerably. But, for reference:

  • The attendance for New Beginning 2021 Night 1 (February 10, 2021), was 1,135.
  • The attendance for the October 6, 2020 G1 Climax show (under COVID conditions) was 1,422.
  • The attendance for the October 7, 2020 G1 Climax show (under COVID conditions) was 1,430.
  • The attendance for the July 24, 2019 show (the latest pre-COVID date) was 3,481.

You can go back and find slightly higher attendance numbers at Hiroshima Sun Plaza (3.761 on September 15, 2018, for instance), with some eye-rolling 5000+ figures thrown in, but just looking at these numbers this show’s draw is impressive. That is a retention of 58% of their pre-COVID number.

Answer: To the fans in attendance, not only was this the hottest match of the tour, but their reactions rivaled the sustained intensity of the Wrestle Kingdom crowds from the month prior. It turns out that they did not have to do anything (which certainly suited SANADA). This might confirm that the Japanese fanbase might actually attend events based on things that appeal to their sensibilities. Ibushi and SANADA deserve a lot of credit here.

 There was some last-minute shuffling to the schedule, shifting the Suzuki-gun and Los Ingobernables de Japon around the card to accommodate the Bullet Club vs. LIJ juniors program instigated on the February 10th New Beginning show.

Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr & DOUKI) def. Gabriel Kidd, Yuya Uemura & Yota Tsuji

This one was not as violently demented as the previous night’s. This allows us to really refine our notion of which faction works best with the Young Lions to an even more precise measurement. It’s not just Suzuki-gun that are the most ruthlessly effervescent in committing atrocities against the Young Lions, it is the specific combination of Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru that are the perfect formula, and the one against which all others should be calibrated.

That’s not to say there were some robust interactions in this one. The match eventually sharpened its focus on the match-up of Gabriel Kidd and Zack Sabre Jr, and it absolutely delivered a sensational display of bellicose Anglican ferocity.

The European uppercuts were stiff and crisp, although we should probably get some adjudication on what we should call them when Brits use them, post-Brexit. At one point, there was a brilliant sequence of reversals and roll-through’s that ended up in a Boston crab for Kidd, and it was smooth and satisfying. Even more satisfying: Sabre continuing his armbar after Kidd tapped out, and really wrenching it in, too.

This led to a funny moment where Uemura and Tsuji came to help Kidd, but Tsuji instinctively went into Ringside Young Lion mode, and feebly tried to pull Sabre off of Kidd, while Uemura remembered he was a wrestler and started stomping away.

Tsuji really is something else. During the tour, he requested a match with Naito, on the condition that he get 55,000 likes on Twitter for his declaration. He’s stalled at 25,500. In a professional crisis, his February 10th backstage comment lamented his stock at 27 years old. He proceeded to lay out the successes achieved by Kazuchika Okada, Jay White, and Will Ospreay by the time they were 27.

The 27 Club: the only thing where professional wrestling comes out positively compared to real entertainment. ***1/2

Master Wato, SHO & Tomoaki Honma def. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru)

The age difference between Honma and Suzuki is mind-boggling. Suzuki is nearly 8.5 years older than Honma, and yet while Suzuki looks like he could still make a run with the World Heavyweight Championship, Honma looks like he’s about to make his last run, literally. Suzuki looked younger facing the cherubic Uemura; when face-to-face with Honma, you are jarringly reminded of Suzuki’s transience. Seeing a gamboge, ossified senior like Honma makes you marvel at the alacrity of the 52-year-old Suzuki, but it prompts you to recall that he is indeed 52 years old.

As stulted as Honma movements often are, and often always were, the crowd fully supported him. They rallied behind him consistently, as if he were a Young Lion (and based on the previous match, this audience loves the Young Lions). Honma’s peak came when he lost every match years ago; I suppose they’ve reclaimed that feeling by having him eat 25-count pins from Naito not once, but twice on this tour.

This one seemed like a bunch of guys that didn’t totally know why they were fighting, so they stayed with their partners for the most part and displayed some vaguely non-committal interactions just in case this somehow attains relevance. SHO and Desperado were the clear highlights, providing more material for future confrontations. There was a great sequence where they traded spears within moments. After Despy’s scathing promo in the aftermath of their Best of the Super Junior’s contest, this is certainly one to keep an eye on.

And then, Master Wato. My plans for this review was to present an extended defense of Wato, who had a pretty good tour in opposition to BUSHI. And then we had the end of the match, with Master Wato’s signature pin, the La Carretera. It actually does end up being, by definition, Wato’s signature. In all the wrong ways.

Executed correctly, Wato should spin around his opponent, almost starting like a Destino and ending up swinging all the way around the waist of the opponent, ending up behind them for a school-boy roll-up with a jack-knife bridge. At full speed, it can look spectacular.

This one was spectacular, all right.

So Wato accomplished the spinny part perfectly. The schoolboy was fine, except that instead of ending up in a position where he could easily jack-knife, Wato ended up on the outside of Kanemaru’s right leg. He had to brush that leg to the side to position himself for the flip through to the bridge. That apparently was enough to short circuit Wato’s master brain, and instigated a chain effect of increasingly dreadful errors as Wato’s brain and body ceased communications.

First, he couldn’t get all the way over on his first attempt at the jack-knife flip. Now, this is essentially a forward somersault, not even something they teach you on day 1 of wrestling school… it’s something you do in pre-school. Wato got caught somehow in mid-flip, stuck in a headstand and basically ended up doing a breakdancing move on top of Kanemaru, like Kanemaru was a fucking pizza box. Time stood still as Wato got stuck vertically, then kicked his legs up, held this position for what seemed like several historical eras, and then floated back to the original position.

In the next phase, Wato tried the forward flip again, this time flipping right onto his bloody head, and once again getting stuck for a brief moment. The momentum of this bungle actually brought a lot of force in the shifted weight of both guys, which allowed Wato to power his legs upwards and over for the full jack-knife… right into the fucking ropes. Just right square onto the bottom rope.

What’s funny about this was that referee Sato had to stop his count twice, because each time he anticipated Wato correctly enacting the move. On the first one, he brings his arm up twice, coinciding with each botched step of Wato’s aborted first flip. Then, he has to pull up hard when Wato’s feet land flush with the bottom rop. There’s a little stutter of his hand as it remains aloft, waiting to register something, anything resembling the finish of this match.

Wato then completes this fiasco with a gorgeous bridge. It looks great as long as you ignore his slippery feet on the bride, sliding around on each count until the three is finally administered, after which he simply collapses. If Sato’s count was even milliseconds slower Wato would have crumbled and lose the count.

If Inoki was running this show, he would have stormed the ring, beat Wato’s legs until clots formed that looked like Ibushi’s bulbous veins protruding through his skin, and probably cancelled the remaining matches. The fact that Inoki didn’t show up and force Wato in a doggy crate before an assembled press core is solid evidence that Inoki was not watching.

I’ve consulted with several anthropological experts and monomythic Joseph Campbell scholars, and it appears that the La Carretera is, unfortunately for Wato, the only unskippable step in the Way of the Grand Master. He literally cannot become the Grand Master until he masters this pin. I’m starting to hope and wonder if Wato might be a projection from an alternate membrane of the multi-verse, and he is that reality’s Mistico in reverse: botch magnet, then superdraw. ***1/4

BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi & Tetsuya Naito def. El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi

Things were shuffled around to make damn sure this match was on the card, and while the match was minimally interesting, it was probably the correct decision. Even though there is a lot of time and plenty of shows left before Castle Attack, most of those shows are once again at Korakuen Hall, where they are pulling houses in the 400-550 range. Despite full sincerity, these crowds can barely produce substantively audible sound even in maximum unison. Better to just have these LIJ-Bullet Club interactions on a show with five times as many fans, producing fifty times as much perceptible sound, and that people are actually going to watch. As seen by many of the reactions to the Taichi “what’s in the box?” game, building narratives on these Road To’s is futile.

We have a maelstrom of things going on here, and most of it resides with the Juniors; after weeks of being stuck in Honma Exile, Naito simply existed here, and Yujiro existed just so Naito could exist here. No, this one is about the Juniors. ELP is promulgating some kind of “chosen one” track in his verbal work against Hiromu, whereas Hiromu is pulling the old New Japan standby, “You want this singles title? Huh, you do? Well, then I want to waste everyone’s time and turn people against me by challenging for your utterly worthless tag title!” BUSHI chose not to challenge Hiromu after defeating Wato, on the notion that defeating Wato is a worthless victory. He certainly was validated in that assertion tonight.

All of this is to say that the match itself was not much to write about. The ELP sect of Bullet Club generally does the same routine no matter who is in the opposite corner. An abundance of back-rake-centric offense anchors the routine. For some, this rules, and for others this is repellent. Just because the presentation is ironic doesn’t mitigate the stupidity of the content.  With ELP, there is no middle position; you accept or reject his persona, and the effect it has infecting any tag partners, wholesale.

There is no turnaround point with ELP’s antics, either. You won’t hear someone say, “My word! From its inception, that El Phantasmo’s outlandishly picaresque escapades completely fucking stupid, but then at a point it went so long that it became funny.” No, you hate or love it exponentially. And so, when ELP performed a full seven cartwheels in the process of completing a back rake, you either enjoyed all seven or abhorred all seven. No one was lost nor won over after the 5th one.

Here’s something very cool about ELP that was exhibited in this match: the loaded boot actually is treated subtlety, and really effectively. He hasn’t been firing it up, or perpetually gesticulating towards his foot all match, or anything of the sort. He barely acknowledges it in most matches. In this match, you could be forgiven for forgetting about the boot. It only emerges when he uses it, which was teased here but left unresolved. The boot was caught, actually, and as in previous reviews, I wonder why that would also hurt, if the boot is so devastatingly powerful.

The most interesting thing about this one was a absolutely fiery, electric hot tag period from Hiromu and Yujiro getting a bloody nose. I went back, and the best I could tell was that Yujiro’s nose got busted on Naito’s Combinación de Cabrón. When Naito did the move, my first response was how safe it looked. If anything, it appeared that Naito’s boots avoided Yujiro’s face altogether. It goes to show how precarious it all is, I suppose.

The match ended with a perfectly competent Destino, which is a welcome sight after a month of Honma Destino’s, one in which he had to take running forward, although with the Destino you can never tell how much is on Naito and how much is on the opponent. After the match, Hiromu and Naito offered more of their animated comedy revue, with sketches around hand raising and towel asphyxiation and Naito’s hat and Japanese comedy is really a trip, people. ***

Toru Yano & Kazuchika Okada vs. Dick Togo & EVIL – DOUBLE COUNT OUT

Perhaps you saw this match on the schedule and thought, “Hmmm, we’ve seen this before, on January 30.” NO, that was a tag team match between Kazuchika Okada and Toru Yano against EVIL and Yujiro Takahashi, STUPID! “But wait,” you retort, “surely they met on February 1.” NO, that was a six-man tag where Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano, and Tomohiro Ishii defeated EVIL, Dick Togo, and Yujiro Takahashi. That’s totally different, you idiot.

The original finish was a very welcome novelty: quick and memorable in its unexpectedness. In lieu of a match to discuss, I was going to focus on the mind-blowing notion that people are actually buying and wearing the Okada shirt with that MesoAmerican Ancient Aliens print he wears to the ring. Or how the Toru Yano ring introduction takes nearly a minute now because Yano has become like one of those people on Hoarders that have become indistinguishable from their junk.

I was even ready to praise the post-match brawl, which had some superb chairshots. Then Okada picked up the microphone. **

Kazuchika Okada def. EVIL by Disqualification

Here’s a way to know something is going to be all argle-bargle: is Marty Asami assigned to the match? If he is, brace yourself. In fact, research the best methods for bracing and workshop some ideas and positions, because you will need elite level bracing if Marty Asami is a match’s administrative presence.

Marty Asami is the most inept, useless imbecile in wrestling. In my 2/3 review, I noted how much I revile some actor in an apple cider gummy commercial, because there is no way that actor could play such an odious, head-swiveling fuckface without actually being that person. Marty Asami has to be this incompetent in real life; there is no measure of Daniel Day-Lewis Actor’s Studio immersion technique that could explain just how exceptional Marty Asami is at portraying such a unfathomably bumbling, flaccid fool. And so, we should have figured this was coming.

This started at its zenith. The crowd was going bonkers. Liger was going bonkers. Okada came out at a million miles an hour, firing up the crowd even further. Once EVIL took control and put an end to all that annoying obstacles to an EVIL match like “energy,” and “excitement,” and “momentum,” the crowd still stayed engaged. Even a trademark awkward, disconnected application of the Money Clip could not mollify this enthusiastic Hiroshima audience. The match was actually pretty good!

And then, Dick Togo came back out. And, deciding that things have been far too ambiguous since his return a year ago, he simply ran into the ring, pushed down the ref, stomped Okada to draw the DQ finish, and compelled 2,000 people to witness an unequivocal attempted assassination. **

YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto, and Tomohiro Ishii (c) def. Jay White, Tama Tonga, and Tanga Loa

A lot of people use the phrase existential crisis, but the current The Bullet Club’s philosophical thrust, with its obsession over realness and authenticity, is actually Existentialism. And with a metaphysical tinge, as well, as the Bullet Club has had so much turnover that it’s turned into a Ship of Theseus-type thought experiment. Can you call a group of former Bullet Club leaders the Bullet Club, if there aren’t any Tongans? Does the existence of the Bullet Club precede its essence? How can we measure the gentle indifference of the universe to anything Yujiro does in the ring?

This CHAOS trio have an otherworldly sense of timing when it comes to six-man tag matches. They inherently know when to vary pace, and present an exquisite touch in placing the sequence where everyone gets taken out one-by-one in succession. All of that is demonstrated in this match to tremendous effect.

Their greatest asset is YOSHI-HASHI; in a trios match, his work underneath is galvanizing. At one point in this one, YOSHI-HASHI sold some sort of knockout or concussion incredibly well. The exchange he had with Tanga Loa was the highlight of the match. The audience rallied behind him exuberantly, and at multiple points during the match. They even supported the bastard during a butterfly lock stretch.

The big flaw of this team was in full display here, unfortunately: preposterous match lengths with numerous superfluous or inconsequential segments.  For example, there was a low blow spot that didn’t lead to anything. And that’s literal. Jay White hit a low blow behind the back of … Marty fucking Asami, of course, and there was no immediate follow-up. The braindead ref turned around, and YOSHI-HASHI simply recovered, and then they did more stuff to him. This match was replete with those kinds of dead spots. They also did the drumming without Okada, and it doesn’t work without Okada:

Jay was remarkable, as usual. When brawling with Ishii at ringside, he called Yota Tsuji a “big fat fuck” when ordering him to move. Jay tossed Ishii over the barricade, and badgered Tsuji with questions about whether he could go over the railing to fight so close to the crowd, to Tsuji’s befuddlement. Shortly afterwards, Jay graciously thanked Tsuji, for thoroughly unknowable reasons. White also dragged YOSHI-HASHI’s comatose corpse around when YOSHI-HASHI was in the midst of the incredible sell noted above. When the crowd clapped enthusiastically to revive their hero, Jay clapped along, slapping his hand against YOSHI-HASHI’s limp, lifeless one.

Weird things happened throughout this one in good ways, such as the crowd being continuously hotter for Tama Tonga’s inclusion in the match than anything else, or Hirooki Goto’s unexpected plancha. All the pairings worked well. Obviously White and Ishii were magnificent together, as they have been all tour. The surprise was how congruent Tama Tonga and Hirooki Goto were. They moved at a speed above everyone else in the match, bounding off the ropes and constructing multiple levels of misdirection.

YOSHI-HASHI eventually pinned Tanga Loa on a flash roll-up, though it didn’t really come across as abrupt. They missed the peak, so it was a bit anti-climactic. It was too bad, because Tanga and YOSHI had impressive chemistry. Afterward, YOSHI-BDE challenged G.O.D. for the tag belts.  ***3/4

IWGP Heavyweight / IWGP Intercontinetal Championship
Kota Ibushi (C) def. SANADA

As noted above, this match, against all reason and logic, drew the house. This match-up was one of two programs this tour based around a champion all but begging the challenger to give something resembling a fuck about the title and the match.

And yet, it didn’t matter one bit, because the crowd was fully captivated and raucous throughout. They were absorbed by the totally expected but still adroit bit of measured grappling at the outset (the highlight of which was SANADA figure-fouring Ibushi’s neck and then slapping his own ass for… leverage?) They were clamorous in response to both men’s repeated appeals for participation. They timed their claps to the rhythm of the forearm exchanges. And they maintained a degree of consistency over the entire half-hour of this contest. The boys did not lose them once.

And you could damn well forgive them if they did after that TKO from the apron to the floor. Ibushi inexplicably landed on his feet, then went Wato Brain and just flung his chin towards the ground as fast as he could. It looked horrible, and I’m not exaggerating how bad it is. I know it was that bad because I have a very vivid impression of this spot, which was easy to attain because they showed a replay of it. The only replay of the night, and it was this fiasco.

That said, the rest of the match was crisp and well-structured. The match built logically and the work was great throughout. There’s a notion that this did not seem like an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match, or that it was inferior to past efforts between these two; that concept seems to be the overarching motif of the New Beginning in Hiroshima main events. That same critical analysis was applied to the previous night’s main event of Hiromu Takahashi vs. SHO. Both main events were matches we have seen fairly recently, coming off of the respective champion’s Wrestle Kingdom ascensions. The end result was any rational person profiling these matches as obligatory.

Neither match exceeded these mental limitations and defective expectations, but Ibushi-SANADA was the more successful of the two. SANADA and Ibushi’s athleticism was obviously the armature of the match, with their status as nonpareil sportsmen in direct competition. As they had done on the run-up shows, each did a dropkick/plancha sequence, with Ibushi thieving SANADA’s trademark routine, though he could not match SANADA’s idiosyncratic flair for it.  Ibushi was unable to mimic the earthing SANADA does, which tonight evoked legitimately impressive reactions. But he has no charisma, you see.

The point here was clear, and effective: no one else is capable of matching either of these two athletically. But in this match, each wrestler has finally have found their physical capability doppelganger. Inspired by this idea, they both tested each other’s moveset. In addition to the dropkick/plancha set, they traded ranas and SANADA stole the dart throw into the corner, absolutely killing Ibushi,  as well as his opponent’s jumping knee strike (the Kindagoye)

The only part of the match I thought was a deficient was when Ibushi executed a half nelson suplex/Last Ride sequence, which seemed oddly placed, just a dead spot after the forearm exchanges. It seemed way too soon for it and the crowd reacted in kind, though they were instantly boisterous after a few moments to reset. This match, like the main event the night before, was unique in that it involved almost zero limb work. Now, it’s nice to get a match without all the goddamn limb work for a change, but both matches did suffer from a lack of sinews. Not that limb work was needed to fulfill that role; it’s just that many matches do use it in that function. I expect better from these four. I expect them to make it work. In that regard, they did not.

The ending sections were great. You knew there was going to be a breathtaking callback to the famous G1 2.9999999 count; this match had two. On the first, instead of letting SANADA bridge, Ibushi extended his legs, pushing SANADA forward, allowing Ibushi to maneuver SANADA into a reverse Kamigoye position. In the second, Ibushi once again kicked out impossibly close to the three count. Just watch this goddamn sequence and tell me this is a 2.75 star match:

The Kamigoye has entered the pantheon inhabited by the Destino, Rainmaker, High Fly Flow, etc. This is not a compliment. Unless Ibushi pulls his knee pad down, the match is not ending. The reverse Kamigioye, which absolutely should be a protected, scarcely performed death variant. You know, being a knee to the brain stem, and all. The combination of reverse Kamigoye followed by the regular Kamigoye should not be wasted on a New Beginning title defense. It just shouldn’t.

That said, the sum of this match was very good, bordering on excellent at times. The early critical assessments do not seem as favorable, which should be expected; divisiveness and SANADA are intrinsically connected. Without question there were a couple of shaky spots and questionable aspects, but anyone that rates this lower than 3.5 stars needs a nap. ****1/4


This deserves to be addressed on its own. After the match, Naito sauntered to the ring and challenged Ibushi. Naito’s self-awareness made him incapable of brazenly challenging for both titles, so he challenged for just the Intercontinental Championship. It was a bit brutish and obvious, but there was no natural way for someone to challenge for one of them realistically. It was assuaged by the way these two interacted; they simply cannot restrain themselves from being goofy around each other.

Impartially, this is an energizing concept, and one that makes a lot of sense. It is heavily bolstered by historical weight. As Ibushi is trying to unify these titles, which would effectively close off the lineage of the Intercontinental Championship, that belt’s most audacious detractor has emerged to rescue it. The belt that demoted him from the Wrestle Kingdom main event. Tetsuya Naito, who could never exceed that belt, nor the man it is synonymous with, for much of his career. Now he is the last hope to salvage it.

It also works because of the scheduling and personnel. Castle Attack has two shows, both in Osaka; these are the types of big-time matches expected to carry this left-field scheduling. You need a major match-up there, and this is still one of the biggest.

Likewise, after such a perfunctory title defense, this one is legitimately up in the air. It seems like a fait accompli that Naito gets to split the belts he misguidedly wanted to conjoin, and he gets to do it now so the company has another object to wave around to lure in attendees. But it’s not guaranteed; what if this is just some obfuscation from something bigger coming up? Or, what if they just want to truly solidify this title reign. Or, unfortunately, what if they just don’t have any other credible challengers right now?

Due to that, the negative effects of losing just one of the titles but maintaining the other is mitigated. Ibushi loses little by dropping the title to someone of Naito’s stature. He just beat Naito, for one, so this loss is not as bad in the long continuum between these two. And second: it’s Kota Ibushi. One great Ibushi title defense and his credibility would be entirely restored.

That’s the impartial case. I am not impartial. As an Ibushi devotee, it really comes down to this: everyone and everything involved in this can get fucked, besides Ibushi. The double title thing was short-sighted and paradoxical to begin with; there was no sensible way to cleave the belts once they were united. Very likely, someone was going to have to suffer the indignity of losing one belt and impotently holding on to the other. Why does it have to be this guy? The person whose entire character right now is centered around the concept that he considers both titles sacrosanct, to the point of rarely letting either belts even touch the floor? What effect will this have on the main title? How do both Ibushi and the title repair their credibility?

The answer to that could be found in a popular scenario: Shingo. Shingo Takagi is the panacea of New Japan Pro Wrestling. If, the night after losing the IC title to Naito, Ibushi were to courageously defend his heavyweight championship against Shingo, having a Shingo-level match, that would deflect much of the talk about the devaluing of himself or the title. This is 2021, and when Shingo has a Shingo match, that is what people talk about. It would reestablish Ibushi as the top guy with the top title.

I expect Ibushi to lose the IC title and then semi-main the Anniversary show underneath Naito and Hiromu. Whatever, those two dopes will be long dead and buried when Ibushi is drawing houses in his 150s.


An acceptably inconsistent show that isn’t tarnished with the nadirs of the previous night, but is nowhere near the best card on the New Beginning 2021 tour. The main event, while divisive, was a worthy display of the medium, and parts of the undercard were entertaining and useful as we transition almost immediately to the Castle Attack campaign.