By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
New Japan Pro Wrestling The New Beginning Osaka
Osaka, Japan at Osaka-Jo Hall
Broadcast live on New Japan World and FITE.TV
The English broadcast team was Kevin Kelly, Gino Gambino, and Chris Charlton…
1. Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, and Yuji Nagata vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Toa Henare, Tomoaki Honma, and Togi Makabe. The match was Nakanishi’s final match in the venue. In the end, Kojima took out Honma with a lariat and then pinned him. Nakanishi took the mic and thanked the fans for coming. He said he hoped the fans would support him in his final four matches. Nakanishi added that New Japan will go on without him to greater heights. Nakanishi and his teammates posed for the photographers in the middle of the ring. Nakanishi bowed to all four corners of the build and was the last to leave the ring.
Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, and Yuji Nagata defeated Ryusuke Taguchi, Toa Henare, Tomoaki Honma, and Togi Makabe.
Powell’s POV: The match was fine for what it was and Nakanishi’s post match speech was nice.
2. Sho and Yoh (w/Rocky Romero) vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles. Kamemaru and Desperado targeted Sho’s injured knee, which he suffered from an attack by Suzuki-Gun at a previous event. There was a nice near fall with Sho performing a piledriver on Kanemaru that led to a near fall. Sho and Yoh followed up with Strong X (a top rope double stomp into a piledriver) on Kanemaru that led to the pin.
Sho and Yoh defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado to retain the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles.
After the heels left the ring, Ryusuke Taguchi entered the ring with a basketball and delivered a promo. Taguchi asked Romero to team with him in challenging Sho and Yoh for the tag titles. Taguchi made a basket with his arms and had Romero shoot a basket. Yoh took the mic and said he kind of expected him to come. Yoh said that Roppongi hasn’t surpassed Romero yet, but if accomplishing that means they have to face Romero and Taguchi then so be it. The teams fist bumped to close the segment…
Powell’s POV: A good tag match. Sho did a great job of selling the knee injury while the challengers did an effective job of focusing on the injury. The post match angle was interesting. I haven’t watched any NJPW since Wrestle Kingdom and thus I don’t know if they’ve been building to the this or if it was as surprising as it was to me.
3. Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, and David Finlay vs. Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Yujiro Takahashi, and Chase Owens (w/Jado). Ibushi took a lot of damage from his opponents, but he caught Owens with a big lariat that turned him inside out and then tagged out. Robinson tagged in and went for Pulp Friction on Loa, but Tonga broke it up. Later, Jado hit Tanahashi with a kendo stick shot from ringside. Loa hoisted up Tanahashi, who then rolled him into a pin for the win.
Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, and David Finlay defeated Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Yujiro Takahashi, and Chase Owens.
Robinson and Finlay stayed behind wand watched Ibushi and Tanahashi walk to the back while selling a bit of tension.
Powell’s POV: I didn’t really get the finish with Tanahashi selling a kendo stick shot for a couple seconds before simply hitting a move and getting the pin, but the idea of the outcome was to position Tanahashi and Ibushi as the No. 1 contenders to Tonga and Loa while Robinson and Finlay are also in the mix. Kelly played up the idea of NJPW matchmakers having a tough decision.
A video package aired in the building for NJPW’s G1 Climax 30 dates. The video also included the announcement of Wrestle Dynasty on Saturday, August 22 in New York at Madison Square Garden. There was also an announcement about NJPW returning to television with World Pro Wrestling on BS Asahi in Japan beginning in April…
Powell’s POV: NJPW will be running MSG during SummerSlam weekend. SummerSlam will be held in Boston on August 23, so while it depends on the time of the events, NJPW’s event will likely run opposite NXT Takeover. There was no mention of Ring of Honor involvement during the video package, nor were AEW wrestlers Chris Jericho or Jon Moxley featured. ROH’s involvement seems like a possibility and perhaps we’ll find out more on today’s ROH Free Enterprise stream, but this is clearly billed as an NJPW event. Meanwhile, AEW hasn’t allowed Jericho or Moxley to work past NJPW events in the United States.
4. Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi (w/Miho Abe). Late in the match, Ospreay hit an OsCutter on Taichi and then performed a wild dive over the top rope and onto Sabre on the floor. In the ring, Okada hit the Rainmaker lariat on Taichi and pinned him clean. After the match, Ospreay kissed the British Championship, then laid it on the mat and knelt down next to the ropes while Sabre jawed at him from ringside and then took his title belt.
Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay defeated Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi.
Powell’s POV: A solid tag match. This was positioned as a middle of the card match and the wrestlers worked middle of the card style. It was still good given the talent of those involved, but this was not a case of these wrestlers trying to steal the show. They did a nice job of setting up Sabre vs. Ospreay for the British Championship at the Rev Pro “High Stakes” event on February 14. And now we get to the beginning of the good stuff.
5. Sanada vs. Jay White (w/Gedo). It was a slow start with White dominating early. Sanada came back and eventually put White in the awful Paradise Lock, then dropkicked him free and covered him for a two count. White regrouped and performed a nice suplex. White set up for a Kiwi Crusher, but Sanada blocked the move. White performed a brainbuster instead and then delivered the Kiwi Crusher, which led to a two count.
Sanada battled back and was setting up for a moonsault when he spotted Gedo on the apron. Sanada hit Gedo and then placed him on the top rope while White smothered the referee. Sanada kicked the top rope into the groin of Gedo. Sanada performed a springboard moonsault flip into Skull End. Sanada spun White around while locked in the hold, then held onto it while bringing him to the mat. Sanada eventually released the hold and went for the Muta moonsault, but White rolled out of the way.
After a nice back and forth sequence, White caught Sanada with a sleeper suplex. White pulled Sanada back to his feet. Sanada hit White with elbows, but White suplexed him into a pin for a near fall. White suplexed Sanada again, then signaled for the Blade Runner. White pulled Sanada up to his feet and hit the Blade Runner, then covered him and scored the clean pin…
Jay White defeated Sanada.
Powell’s POV: A good match with a decisive win for White. Gedo interfered at different points in the match, but the finish wasn’t booked to be the direct result of his interference. It appears White is being booked strong to set him up for a shot against Tetsuya Naito’s titles.
A video package set up the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship match…
6. Hiromu Takahashi vs. Ryu Lee for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. The wrestlers jumped out to a fast start, then settled into a very long exchange of chops, which the live crowd was receptive to. Takahashi eventually went for a huracanrana. Lee landed on his feet, then Takahashi delivered another chop. They went back to trading chops. It finally ended with Takahashi being knocked off his feet. Lee also went down, but he was first to his feet and performed a dropkick on a seated Takahashi in the corner.
Takahashi got up on the apron. Lee leapt over the ropes and performed a head-scissors takedown that sent Takahashi flying to the floor. Lee placed Takahashi in a seated position on the guardrail, then returned to the ring and performed a suicide dive (the ref was leaning on the ropes) onto Takahashi, which sent both men crashing over a broadcast table. Wow.
Lee dumped Takahashi over the barricade to ringside again and then rolled him back into the ring to beat the referee’s count. Takahashi came back with a sunset bomb on Lee, who was on the apron, which send both men to the floor. Back inside the ring, Takahashi slammed Lee and covered him for a two count.
Takahashi placed Lee on his shoulders and then ran him into the corner pad. Lee countered out of a Time Bomb attempt, but Takahashi rolled him into a triangle style submission hold. Lee put his foot over the bottom rope to break the hold. Takahashi placed Lee on the top rope, but Lee tripped him into tree of woe position. Lee went for a double stomp, but Takahashi avoided it.
Lee went back to the ropes and they fought for position. Lee headbutted Takahashi, who was hanging in tree of woe position over the outside of the ring, then Takahashi drilled him with a double stomp that left both men down at ringside. Lee got back to his feet and rolled Takahashi to the apron to break the count.
Takahashi fired back with a superkick and eventually performed an overhead toss of Lee to the floor. The ref started his count and then Takahashi pie-faced him to make him stop. Takahashi went up top and performed a Hiromu Bomb onto Takahashi on the floor. Takahashi returned to the ring, then Lee barely beat the ref’s twenty count.
The wrestlers traded a pair of German suplexes each. Lee hit another, then Takahashi superkicked him and gave him another German suplex. Lee got back to his feet and hit two more German suplexes and let out a primal scream. A short time later, Lee performed a Buckle Bomb, then charged at Takahashi, who overhead tossed him into the corner.
The wrestlers jockeyed for position and eventually Lee performed an inverted piledriver for a good near fall at the 20:00 mark. Lee placed Takahashi over the middle of the top rope, then went up top and double stomped him. Lee followed with a running knee and covered Takahashi, who grabbed the bottom rope just in time to break the count.
Lee powered up Takahashi into Last Ride position, but Takahashi countered into a Canadian Destroyer for a near fall. Takahashi picked up Lee and drove him into the corner. Lee came back with a sunset driver style move and got a two count, then followed up with a great running knee to the head for a good near fall with Takahashi kicking out at the last possible moment.
Lee threw another knee to the head, then Takahashi came back with another Canadian Destroyer. Takahashi performed a Time Bomb for a near fall. Takahashi performed a second Time Bomb and scored the clean pin. Afterward, Lee was being assisted at ringside when Takahashi crawled over and held up one finger, then Lee did the same. The broadcast team assumed it meant that they agreed to do it one more time…
Hiromu Takahashi defeated Ryu Lee to retain the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship.
Powell’s POV: An outstanding back and forth match with the amazing athleticism these two are known for. Takahashi and Lee matches always deliver. It was hard to tell whether the broadcast team was playing into the danger, being sincere, or some combination of both, but they expressed some concern about the duo teasing another match. As good as their matches are, I share in that concern, especially given the major neck injury that Takahashi suffered the last time they met in a singles match. They’ve worked crazier matches than this in the past, but it’s still insane to see Takahashi working the style that he is given the severity of that injury.
A video package set up the IWGP U.S. Championship match…
7. Jon Moxley vs. Minoru Suzuki for the IWGP U.S. Championship. Moxley wore his eye patch to sell his AEW angle. He was introduced second and stood on the ramp and motioned for Suzuki to come to him. Suzuki grabbed two chairs from ringside, went to the ramp, and tossed one to Moxley, who got the better of the brief chair duel. Moxley grabbed a pice of the barricade and slammed it onto Suzuki. They continued to fight at ringside and Suzuki got the better of it for a bit, then they entered the ring.
Moxley lost his patch and most of the bandage that covers his eye, so it was easy to see that there was nothing actually wrong with his eye (not that anyone actually thought there was an issue caused by the angle with Chris Jericho and the jacket spike). They battled back to ringside and traded time on the offensive. Moxley applied a single leg crab. Referee Red Shoes barked at him to return to the ring, but Moxley blew him off, then picked up Suzuki and ran him into the guardrail.
The wrestlers made their way back to ringside. Suzuki yelled “come on” and then they traded more slaps and continued to brawl. Moxley oddly used the barricade as if it were the ring ropes by bouncing off it and into a clothesline on a seated Suzuki. Moxley pulled out a table and set it up on the floor. Moxley ripped the remainder of his eye bandage away. Suzuki hit Moxley with a chair and then put him in a guillotine while sitting on the table.
Suzuki released the hold and then grabbed another chair and wrapped Moxley’s arm inside of it before slamming another chair onto it. Suzuki laughed and stuck his tongue out while Kelly yelled about the arm likely being broken. Suzuki slammed Moxley’s arm into the ring post, then put him in a cross arm breaker. Moxley powered up Suzuki with his bad arm and slammed him through the table at ringside.
Suzuki got up and slammed a piece of the broken table on his head, then Moxley did the same before they both returned to the ring and traded elbows. Suzuki took several elbows and then laughed at Moxley, who eventually hit Suzuki with one that staggered him. “I don’t give a f—, break my f—ing arm,” Moxley could be heard telling Suzuki. “Come on, motherf—er.” Suzuki caught Moxley in a rear naked choke that showed some light. Suzuki wrenched on the choke and Moxley started to fade. Suzuki released the hold and went for the pin, but Moxley kicked out.
Suzuki ran the ropes and drilled a seated Moxley with a kick to the face before covering him for two. Both men got to their feet. Suzuki threw a series of slaps, then Moxley tagged him with a knee that led to a near fall a short time later. Moxley set up for his Death Rider (Paradigm Shift/Dirty Deeds), but Suzuki spun out of it and hit him with a forearm. “F— you,” Moxley barked before returning the favor. Suzuki followed up with a dropkick.
Suzuki set up for a Gotch Style Piledriver, but Moxley avoided it and gave him a Death Rider that led to a near fall. Moxley crawled over to Suzuki and said, “We’re going to finish this, motherf—er” and then kissed his forehead. Moxley went to ringside and brought two chairs into the ring with him. Moxley tossed one of the chairs to Suzuki and said, “Come on.” The referee tried to take Moxley’s chair away. Moxley and Suzuki both fought with the ref over the chair and sent him flying. Moxley slammed the chair over the head of Suzuki, who smiled and stuck his tongue out.
Moxley went for a Death Rider, but Suzuki avoided it. Suzuki went for a Gotch style piledriver, but Moxley avoided it and gave Suzuki a Death Rider onto one of the chairs. The referee was down and couldn’t make the count. Both men got to their feet. Suzuki fired away with several slaps. Moxley laughed and mocked him. Suzuki threw more slaps. Moxley bounced off the ropes and tagged him with a lariat, which Suzuki sold by wobbling, yet remained on his feet. Moxley ran the ropes and performed a lariat that sent Suzuki to the mat, then followed up with another Death Rider and scored the pin.
Jon Moxley defeated Minoru Suzuki to retain the IWGP U.S. Championship.
After the match, Moxley celebrated in the ring while Suzuki threw a fit at ringside. Suddenly, Sabre hit Moxley from behind (the production crew missed the initial shot). Suzuki hit Moxley with the title belt, then applied a Saito Sleeper and choked out Moxley. Sabre picked up the IWGP U.S. Title belt and put it over his shoulder for a moment, then placed it on the fallen Moxley and left the ring. After Sabre left, a young lion entered the ring to help Moxley, who took the wrestlers down before releasing him. Moxley went back to selling his “injured” eye and then left the ring with his title belt…
Powell’s POV: How do you follow up Takahashi vs. Lee? With a kick ass brawl between Moxley and Suzuki. NJPW did a nice job of building anticipation and both men came through with a fun match. This was really good and I liked the post match angle. My only complaint is that they stuck with Moxley recovering and seeming more concerned with selling his AEW eye injury than seeming dazed by the Sabre attack. They really should have cut to a video package. That said, Moxley vs. Sabre should be a fun clash of styles in what could be a battle between the U.S. and British champions.
A video package set up the main event… Ring entrances took place for the main event. Kelly noted that 11,411 fans were in attendance for this event. Kenta was accompanied to ringside by the rest of the Bullet Club members. Tetsuya Naito was out second and came to the ring alone. The Bullet Club members did their too sweet bit. Tama Tonga shoved referee Red Shoes to the mat, then he got up and ejected them all from ringside…
8. Tetsuya Naito vs. Kenta for the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships. Kenta took the fight over the barricade and in front of a group of fans. He grabbed a Naito stuffed bear from a female fan and placed his foot on it (that dirty son of a bitch!!!). Kenta ran Naito into the guardrail a couple times and played to the crowd for heat. Kenta returned to the ring, then Naito eventually beat the referee’s count only for Kenta to toss him through the ropes and out the other side.
Back inside the ring, Kenta whipped Naito into an exposed corner. Kenta did the spot where he teased stomping on the head of Naito, only to land on the other side of his head and then lightly tap him with his foot. Kenta followed by mocking one of Naito’s poses, which drew some boos. A short time later, Kenta caught Naito with a draping DDT from the guardrail.
Later, Naito set up for Destino, but Kenta shoved him into the referee. Kenta followed up by running Naito into the referee a second time. REF BUMP!!! Jay White ran out while the referee was down and gave him a wicked suplex. White set up for a Blade Runner. Bushi ran in and missed with the mist, then White gave him a Blade Runner. White picked up Naito, but Hiromu Takahashi made the save and took White away from ringside. Red Shoes recovered in time to count a Kenta near fall.
Kenta ran Naito into the exposed turnbuckle for a good near fall. Naito came up bleeding heavily. Kenta followed up with a running knee for a near fall. Kenta set up for a GTS, but Naito countered into a Poison Rana, then hit Valentia for a near fall. Naito dropped Kenta with Destino and scored the pin.
Tetsuya Naito defeated Kenta to retain the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships.
After the match, a dejected Kenta rolled to ringside while a bloody Naito stood in the ring with his two title belts. Kelly raved about the attendance and said it was double the normal ticket sales for the venue. He said the real rush for tickets came after the main event was announced. Naito stood in the ring and delivered a promo. Naito told Kenta no tranquilo, just get out of here as soon as possible.
Naito asked what’s next. He called out Hiromu Takahashi. Kelly said the tradition of the New Japan anniversary event is that the IWGP Heavyweight Champion faces the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion. Takahashi joined Naito inside the ring and told him that he taught him pro wrestling when he was a young lion. Takahashi asked Naito if he remembered the day before he went on excursion. He recalled Naito saying that they should have a match together when he returned. When it came to the idea of facing Naito, Takahashi said the answer was yes and there could be no other answer.
Naito and Takahashi went face to bloody face for a moment, then Naito hyped the first singles meeting between them. Naito closed it by hyping up Los Ingobernables, then confetti fell from above. Naito picked up his two title belts and placed them in the middle of the ring, then Takahashi placed his IWGP Jr. Hvt. Title nearby and picked up the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and looked at it for a moment. They struck the LIJ fist bump pose, then picked up their respective title belts and spoke to one another off mic. Takahashi headed to the back while Naito celebrated a bit longer at ringside before following to the back…
Powell’s POV: Kenta’s Wrestle Kingdom attack on Naito was polarizing, but I fell on the side of those who liked it. Ultimately, though, Kenta was set up in the spot of being the challenger who would predictably lose to the new champion in his first title defense. That predictability is nearly unavoidable in situations where the new champion is strong rather than flukey.
The wrestlers did their best in this match to give Kenta the early momentum, but it was slow and plodding, and Kenta didn’t come across as a challenger who was going all out to win the title during that time. And with the outcome feeling like a foregone conclusion, the match felt like it went long just for the sake of going long. On a positive note, the WK angle did put heat on Kenta and made the fans want to see Naito get some revenge, so they had that going for them.
Overall, a good show despite the main event feeling needlessly long. The Takahashi vs. Lee and Moxley vs. Suzuki matches were great. The main event and White vs. Sanada were both solid, and I enjoyed the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag match more than I expected to. The post main event angle sets the stage for what should be a fun match between Naito and Takahashi. If you’re short on time, go out of your way to catch the two great matches, but nothing else is truly must see. The MSG announcement was cool and helped make this a newsworthy event.