Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/02/10/njpw-new-beginning-in-osaka-2018-review/
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John Pollock and Wai Ting review NJPW New Beginning in Osaka 2018 from Edion Arena Osaka featuring a Chaos vs Los Ingobernables de Japon themed card headlined by Kazuchika Okada vs Sanada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, Hirooki Goto vs Evil for the NEVER Openweight Championship and Will Ospreay vs Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship.
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I like the addition of reviewing New Japan. I’m pretty pleased Sanada didn’t win but had a great showing, don’t think that upset would have been right really.
Takahashi/Osprey and Okada/Sanada were both fantastic.
Fun show. Takahashi/Osprey blew everything else away! The work rate was crazy. Okada/Sanada was a good match but, for me, it took to long to get going. When it did, Sanada looked like a star. Everything else was watchable. The only stinker was Goto/Evil. Just something about it, I never got pulled in. I really thought Goto turned a corner after WK12.
I enjoyed the last few minutes or so. Other than that, drab stuff. I’m not really huge on Goto but Evil has potential.
Let’s be fair to Goto and EVIL though, they had an awful spot; following the junior heavyweights and preceding the main event - they were basically a glorified cool down match. It was solid and told a good story but it couldn’t compete with what was before it.
It’s weird to think Yoshi Hashi and Naito had a much better match than the Goto vs EVIL bout. That was one giant stinker of a NEVER Title defense. The crowd was dead silent and Red Shoes should theoretically DQ a match that gets THAT out of hand (I know, I know, he’s known for letting matches continue).
Ospreay vs Hiromu was amazing. It was everything I wanted, but I also think they have an even bigger, better match they could do at some point in their careers. Give them another 5-10 minutes and a main/semi-main event slot and I’m ready for it.
Okada vs SANADA exceeded my expectations. I wanted to see SANADA flourish, and flourish he did. The crowd was so hot for him too. It was a glimpse of what could be the next top guy in a year or so if SANADA fine tunes his personality. One minor gripe is the way he applies that dang Dragon Sleeper. The Dragon Sleeper is my favorite submission, and half the time he has it applied Okada’s head was 75% out of his grasp. It’s less of a sleeper and more of a neck wrench at that point. That’s a terrible, smarky thing for me to be irked by, but I couldn’t help it.
Can’t wait for more NJPW!
I could make that same argument for several matches at Wrestle Kingdom following incredible matches, and this show was a nowhere close to that level as an overall show.
The match was not “bad” but disappointing. Given the position second from top, the criteria are higher for me to carry a spot of that significance and be able to follow something big.
The concept of a “buffer match” is not really practiced anywhere outside of WWE, and even they have gotten away from having a throwaway match second from the top on a major.
I totally agree with that sentiment and the cool down/buffer match thing does seem be becoming less of a thing (and like you said was arguably not really a thing outside of WWE anyway and I doubt it was ever a thing at all in Japan) but I didn’t mean that the match was booked to be that; I just meant that it felt like that, due to the slower, more methodical pace they worked. I was taken out of it slightly by Red Shoes continually not DQing EVIL for rule breaking but then refusing to count a pin after allowing the rules to be broken. Especially after Red Shoes threatened to DQ Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom in a No DQ match - that was just weird!
Overall though I thought it was solid and I had fun with it, it just wasn’t on the level I think most of us expected from the pair. Also, Don Callis trying to fit as many references in about Goto’s balls was annoying.
On the subject of cool down matches; I’d say the RAW tag titles match at Rumble was a really good example of four guys who were sent out there with the express intention of cooling the crowd down for what would come after them. It may not have been what it was were Jordan healthy, but what we got was four guys working a very safe style, telling a simple story and doing the bare minimum to be considered more than just working an angle before the next match happened. I’ve seen some fans shit on it but I think it’s unfair, even without Jordan’s injury that match was exactly what the fans needed to be prepared to see another Rumble after the excellent one they’d just seen.