Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/02/10/njpw-new-beginning-in-osaka-report-kazuchika-okada-vs-sanada-chaos-vs-lij/
Welcome to POST Wrestling’s coverage of the New Beginning in Osaka card from the sold-out Edion Arena.
Wai Ting and I will have a review of the show Saturday afternoon for all members of the POST Wrestling Café on Patreon at www.postwrestlingcafe.com.
Kevin Kelly and Don Callis are calling the show on New Japan World.
KATSUYA KITAMURA VS YUJI NAGATA
Kelly mentions Nagata just winning the All-Asia tag titles with Jun Akiyama at AJPW’s Yokohama show this past week.
Kitamura is 0-6 in his seven-match trial series.
Nagata targets the left arm. Nagata then dropped Kitamura after four big leg kicks.
Nagata attempted a gut wrench suplex and Callis wasn’t optimistic about Nagata’s strength and stated, “Kitamura has to sit that ass down”.
Nagata ate chops, fired back with slaps and then exchanged slaps.
Kitamura kicked out of a PK and the audience was impressed.
Kitamura delivered more chops and Nagata would pop right back up and absorbed all of Kitamura’s strikes. Nagata hit the Backdrop hold and won the match.
WINNER: YUJI NAGATA AT 10:59
The story of the match was that Kitamura faded down the stretch and could not hang with Nagata. This was probably the best match of the trial series although the standout of the match was Nagata and less Kitamura. Kitamura has a phenomenal appearance but at this stage of his career, it’s paramount who he is paired with.
ROPPONGI 3K VS EL DESPERADO AND YOSHINOBU KANEMARU IN A NON-TITLE MATCH
Sho Tanaka’s back was taped up all over.
Kelly noted a flu bug within the locker room than affected Yoh and Hiroyoshi Tenzan.
Desperado drove Yoh’s back into the barricade. Kanemaru Irish whipped Sho back first into the barricade as well. This continued with Sho being worked on in the ring with his back focused upon.
Later in the match, Tanaka returned and attempted a suplex to Kanemaru and his back gave out. He later was able to hit a bridging suplex and Desperado made the save by kicking the injured area.
Kanemaru hit a superplex and then applies a Boston crab onto Sho. Desperado stopped Yoh from breaking up the submission and sent him to the floor. The referee was distracted with Rocky Romero on the apron, Desperado brought a chair in and attacked the back of Sho, Kanemaru continued with the Boston crab and Sho submitted.
WINNERS: YOSHINOBU KANEMARU (submitted Sho) AND EL DESPERADO AT 10:23
Kanemaru and Desperado continued their attack after the match and went after Rocky Romero. Desperado held up the titles and will be the next title challengers for Roppongi 3K.
This was the Sho Tanaka spotlight match with the focus on his back and he stood out a lot. This wasn’t near the level of Matt Jackson’s performance in the teams’ last match, but this continued the trend of junior heavyweight tag matches built around a body part and are working effectively.
MINORU SUZUKI, TAICHI, TAKASHI IIZUKA AND TAKA MICHINOKU VS TOGI MAKABE, KUSHIDA, RYUSUKE TAGUCHI AND MICHAEL ELGIN
The match began with all six brawling. Makabe and Suzuki paired off and went to the floor.
Iizuka took Elgin into the crowd and used a chair. Taichi choked Taguchi with a cable.
Iizuka bit the ass of Taguchi.
Makabe and Suzuki were eventually tagged in and the audience reacted well to Makabe’s offense. Makabe stopped the PK and stood up to Suzuki and they traded forearms.
Michinoku distracted the referee, Iizuka brought the Iron Fingers in and was thwarted by Elgin.
Makabe dropped Michinoku with a lariat and hit the King Kong knee drop as the others were held on the floor and Makabe pinned Michinoku.
WINNERS: TOGI MAKABE (pinned Taka Michinoku), RYUSUKE TAGUCHI, KUSHIDA AND MICHAEL ELGIN AT 11:53
Makabe set forth the challenge for Suzuki and the Intercontinental title and he held up Suzuki’s title. Suzuki returned to the ring to take his title and responded to the challenge and held the title up.
The six-man was nothing special with a lot of brawling and designed to set up the next IC title match.
JAY WHITE, TOMOHIRO ISHII AND TORU YANO VS JUICE ROBINSON, DAVID FINLAY AND TOA HENARE
Robinson delivered an airplane spin to Yano and both were dizzy.
White and Finlay were tagged in together, coming off their singles match at Korakuen Hall this past week. The audience didn’t really react to the pairing despite their history.
Henare landed a flying shoulder tackle onto White from the top rope and he started to get the crowd engaged. White stopped Henare and hit the Blade Runner, instead of the cover he attacked with the elbow strikes from the crucifix position and referee Marty Asami stopped the match.
WINNERS: JAY WHITE, TOMOHIRO ISHII, AND TORU YANO AT 7:36
This was an odd mix of talent at various stages of their respective careers. You have the major project in Jay White, who is being given every chance in the world to break through as a top guy with the new gimmick, a prominent match at the Tokyo Dome, a clean win over Kenny Omega for the U.S. title and the latest gimmick is White winning his matches by referee’s stoppage. Then you have Ishii and Robinson, who are great talents but are in a holding pattern for the time being. Finlay has a lot of potential, but I feel he needs to go elsewhere and then come back and he’ll be a bigger star for it. Finally, you have Henare, who is just starting to get a push and the jury is out on where his ceiling is, but he has a lot of promise. Yano is Yano and he plays the role perfectly.
They did confirm that White will be defending the United States title against Hangman Page, although they didn’t mention the date.
Next up was a video package to introduce Rey Mysterio and announced he is coming to wrestle in New Japan Pro Wrestling and challenged Jushin Thunder Liger for Strong Style Evolved on March 25th in Long Beach, California.
We even got a nod to the new graphical elements on SmackDown with the words “BOOYAKA 619” appearing on the screen.
They cut to Liger at the Japanese announcer’s area and he accepted the challenge for March 25th.
BUSHI VS GEDO
Gedo came out with the masks he has stolen off Bushi.
Gedo immediately attempts to unmask Bushi as they get inside the ring. Bushi grabs Gedo’s beard to break free and grabs a pair of sheers.
Gedo took the strings from behind the mask and tied Bushi’s mask on the top rope. Bushi was unable to break free of the STRING. This required the sheers to be used by Shota Umino to cut Bushi free of the rope.
Bushi fired back, he set up for the MX and Gedo tossed the referee into the corner to avoid being hit. Bushi went for a lung blower and was shoved into the referee, Gedo punched Bushi as he attempted to the blow the mist and Gedo hit a low blow. The audience was not happy at this blatant disregard for the rules.
The second attempt at the MX connected and Bushi won the match.
WINNER: BUSHI AT 10:06
Let’s hope this best-of-five series is significantly better as a whole than this individual part.
Bushi reclaimed his stolen masks.
TETSUYA NAITO VS YOSHI-HASHI
Naito was making his entrance when Yoshi-Hashi jumped him from behind on the ramp. Yoshi-Hashi then laid down in the ring to mock Naito.
Naito teased playing to the crowd but then spat in their direction. He also spat at Yoshi-Hashi as he had taken over control in the match after the initial sneak attack.
The referee had to check on Yoshi-Hashi as he was teasing he was having trouble with feeling in his right arm. Yoshi-Hashi would recover and land a big dive to the floor.
The audience seemed lukewarm and no one was buying Yoshi-Hashi as a threat to Naito.
Naito hit a flying forearm and attempted Destino but was countered into a slam by Yoshi-Hashi. They traded slaps, and this woke up the crowd. Yoshi-Hashi hit a running sit-out powerbomb and applied the Butterfly lock with Naito trapped for a long time until getting his foot on the rope.
Naito hit a top rope Frankensteiner, a koppo kick and dragon suplex to Yoshi-Hashi. Naito ducked a lariat and hit the Destino and then hit the second one to pin Yoshi-Hashi.
WINNER: TETSUYA NAITO AT 16:48
It started off awkward with the sneak attack by Yoshi-Hashi that didn’t do much for the match dynamic and Yoshi-Hashi’s perpetual babyface fire. It evolved into a good match a better outing for Yoshi-Hashi that most of his output over the past year. This was the easy finish to have Naito win clean and keep him strong for Chris Jericho.
As Naito was leaving, Taichi came from behind and choked him with his cane and dragged him backstage.
WILL OSPREAY VS HIROMU TAKAHASHI FOR THE IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
Ospreay defeated Takahashi in their previous singles match during last year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament.
Takahashi caught Ospreay on the floor and hit a release German onto the ground. He then sent Ospreay flying into the guardrail with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex.
Takahashi worked over Ospreay’s neck inside the ring.
Ospreay blocked a sunset flip powerbomb to the floor, Ospreay went for a shooting star off the apron and landed on his feet and floated over the top of Takahashi in a cool sequence.
Ospreay countered a vertical suplex into a stunner but then did a handspring and was caught with a German suplex in mid-air from Takahashi.
Kelly mentioned that Ospreay is the 80th junior heavyweight champion, which means the NEVER six-man tag titles could surpass this total in no time.
Takahashi hit the sunset flip powerbomb onto the floor on his second try. He followed with the top rope senton, with a great low angled shot from the floor to make it look even more impressive.
Ospreay stopped Takahashi on the turnbuckle with Takahashi in a wheelbarrow position. Ospreay leaped off the turnbuckle and sent Takahashi into the air and landing back first on the top turnbuckle and was something I’ve never seen before.
Ospreay then hit the inverted 450 splash for a near fall.
The OsCutter was countered in mid-air with a reverse neck breaker.
Ospreay hit the cheeky Nando’s kick and then leaped and hit a reverse rana off the second turnbuckle, but Takahashi kicked out at one.
Ospreay called for the Time Bomb and Takahashi countered it into a Canadian Destroyer for a near fall. This was incredible.
Takahashi landed on his feet from a release Dragon suplex and then caught the OsCutter and hit a release German suplex. Ospreay then landed a standing Spanish Fly.
Ospreay hit a shooting star press with Takahashi draped on the middle rope.
Ospreay hit the beheading (an elbow to the back of the head) and on the third attempt he hit the OsCutter and won the match.
This was phenomenal.
WINNER: WILL OSPREAY AT 20:06 TO RETAIN THE IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
These two were just “on” for every spot and the chemistry was off the charts. I loved this match and this was miles ahead of anything else on the show so far.
HIROOKI GOTO VS EVIL FOR THE NEVER OPENWEIGHT TITLE
EVIL wrapped the chair around Goto’s neck and drove him into the ring post.
Red Shoes wouldn’t count Goto out on the floor and then he wouldn’t count the pin attempt by EVIL inside the ring. Huh? He was so disgusted in EVIL that he will withdraw from the duties of his assignment, but a disqualification is just too much, even for Red Shoes at this sizable infraction of the rules.
EVIL is dominating the match but to little fanfare from the Osaka crowd. He set up chairs on the floor for Darkness Falls but was stopped and Goto hit a vertical suplex sending EVIL onto the chairs.
Red Shoes was shoved down to the mat and EVIL grabbed the “string of balls” and attacked Goto with them. EVIL choked him with the balls until Goto stopped him and hit the Ushigoroshi. EVIL stopped the GTR and both were down.
They trade strikes and won’t go down, Goto hits a lariat and EVIL collapses. EVIL returns with his own lariat and hits Darkness Falls for a two-count. Goto blocked the STO and instead EVIL took him down with a lariat.
There were a series of counters for the GTR and STO and ended with Goto prevailing with the Everything is Evil STO.
WINNER: EVIL AT 20:20 TO RETAIN THE NEVER OPENWEIGHT TITLE
The first half of this match was very flat and was not building well. The struggle for their finishing maneuvers was well worked, but I never need to see Goto’s “string of balls” utilized in another match.
This ended up being fine, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for this one and was front heavy with regards to the length.
KAZUCHIKA OKADA VS SANADA FOR THE IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
Kelly goes over all the records Okada possesses and the one left is the number of title defenses with Hiroshi Tanahashi holding the record with 11 and Okada has 9.
Sanada drove Okada’s back into the turnbuckle post and then sent him off the apron and onto the barricade on the floor. He took Okada onto the ramp and delivered a piledriver. Sanada attacked the neck further in the ring. It was all Sanada for the first ten minutes.
Okada jumped off the middle rope and dropkicked Sanada off the apron to the floor and then sent Sanada into the barricade and over with a running boot. Okada was now targeting Sanada’s neck and hit a draping DDT onto the floor.
With Okada in control, he was toying around with Sanada and kicking him nonchalantly in the head. Okada called for the Rainmaker around 17 minutes into the match and Sanada ducked and suplexed Okada.
The crowd roared as Sanada hit a sequence with a dropkick and pescado to the floor and it was insane how quickly this audience increased their level of engagement towards the match and chanted for Sanada.
Sanada goes for the Skull End and Okada gets to the rope for the break.
Sanada hit the TKO and Okada kicked out. Then, Sanada re-applied the Skull End and Okada rolled out. Sanada did the same for Okada’s cobra clutch submission.
Sanada hit a backflip from the turnbuckle into the Skull End, in which he took Okada to the mat with the submission applied and Okada teased tapping. Okada finally made it to the rope, but the audience bought the submission hold as a finish on Okada.
Sanada applied the Skull End with Okada seated on the top turnbuckle. Sanada released it and wrapped his arm around Okada’s neck and drove him down into a neck breaker.
Okada rolled out of another Skull End attempt, Sanada ducked a Rainmaker and then hit a Rainmaker onto Okada for a tremendous near fall.
Okada then reversed the Skull End and applied it onto Sanada, identified as the Dragon sleeper (Okada’s original trainer was Ultimo Dragon). He let it go and hit two consecutive dropkicks to Sanada. Okada hit the tombstone, Sanada ducked the Rainmaker and flipped back into the Skull End and went down to the mat with the submission applied.
Sanada let go out of the hold to hit the top rope moonsault and Okada kicked out. In landing the moonsault, Sanada injured his right knee. He climbed up again and Okada got his knees up and then hit the Rainmaker. Okada held onto the wrist, lifted Sanada and hit a second Rainmaker and then went for a third and Sanada ducked.
Sanada went for another backflip into the Skull End, but this time was caught with a spinning tombstone and one final Rainmaker and won the match.
WINNER: KAZUCHIKA OKADA AT 32:14 TO RETAIN THE IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
This was a great main event and the audience took to Sanada as a credible challenger, which was the goal of this program. Sanada isn’t ready for that elite mix of top main eventers in the promotion but this is the strongest he has been perceived since joining New Japan and the announcers put him over in defeat.
After the match, Okada cut a promo for the audience. Chris Charlton translated on Twitter that Okada issued a challenge for a Champion vs. Champion match for the Anniversary next month at Ota Ward Gym.