NJPW “The New Beginning Sapporo” results (2/23): Vetter’s review of David Finlay vs. Nick Nemeth for the IWGP Global Title, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Matt Riddle for the NJPW TV Title


By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

New Japan Pro Wrestling “The New Beginning Sapporo”
February 23, 2024 in Hokkaido, Japan at Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center
Streamed live on New Japan World

The venue is an arena. The lights were low so it was hard to gauge the crowd size. Walker Stewart and Chris Charlton provided commentary.

1. Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Yuji Nagata at 7:56. Mat reversals early on. Nagata applied a modified Figure Four at 5:00, and Sabre eventually reached the ropes. Sabre applied a Triangle Choke move. Yuji applied a Crossface, and cranked on Sabre’s left arm. Sabre applied a crossarm breaker out of nowhere, and Yuji immediately tapped out. Okay action.

2. “House of Torture” Yujiro Takahashi, Ren Narita, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated Ryusuke Taguchi, Boltin Oleg, and Togi Makabe at 7:28. The HoT attacked at the bell. Boltin hit a bodyslam. He picked up Ren and flipped him around in his arms, then he did it to Yujiro, then to Kanemari. This guy is just a beast. Taguchi got in and hit his buttbumps at 1:30. The HoT beat up Taguchi in their corner. Togi made the hot tag at 4:30 and he hit a double clothesline. Ren did a slingshot, slamming Togi’s neck on the bottom rope. Ren got his push-up bar, but Togi avoided being hit with it. Togi went to the top rope, but Kanemaru sprayed alcohol in his eyes. Ren hit Togi with the push-up bar, then he hit the X-Factor faceplant to pin Togi. Exactly what you’d expect here.

3. Kazuchika Okada, Yoh, Tomohiro Ishii, and Yoshi-Hashi (w/Toru Yano and HIrooki Goto) defeated “United Empire’ Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb, Francesco Akira, and Calum Newman at 10:58. Charlton wondered if Will Ospreay would have lost to Michael Oku last weekend if he hadn’t been in the 64-minute cage match in NJPW. Goto and Yano walked to the ring but they joined Japanese commentary. Okada and O-Khan opened, and the crowd loudly chanted for Okada, as they had a feeling-out process. Yoshi-Hashi entered and hit some chops on O-Khan at 3:00. Stewart and Carlton talked about how these factions move forward with the loss of their leaders.

Akira entered and traded faster offense with Yoh, hitting a top-rope crossbody block on Yoh for a nearfall at 5:00. Cobb and Ishii tagged in and they immediately traded shoulder tackles; eventually Cobb went down. Cobb hit a standing moonsault at 6:30, then an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Ishii hit a suplex and they were both down. Okada tagged back in and tried to pick up Cobb, but Jeff blocked it, and Cobb hit a dropkick. Newman hopped in and hit a running Mafia Kick to Okada’s chest, then a dropkick into the corner, then a Penalty Kick for a nearfall at 9:00. Ishii hit a German Suplex. Okada hit a dropkick on O-Khan. Okada’s team all beat up on Callum. Okada hit a dropkick on Newman, then the Rainmaker clothesline for the pin. That was fun and much better than the first two matches of the night.

* Yano and Goto hopped in the ring so all six members of Chaos could take photos together. Meanwhile, Great-O-Khan was still at ringside and was holding his KOPW title belt above his head. However, Okada walked right by O-Khan, completely ignoring him. “That was a complete show of disrespect,” Charlton said.

4. “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi, Bushi, and Yota Tsuji defeated “Just 5 Guys” Sanada, Taka Michinoku, Taichi, Yuya Uemura, and Douki at 10:17. All ten wrestlers fought at the bell. Taka hit a Mafia Kick on Bushi for a nearfall at 1:00. Sanada and Naito blocked each other’s offense. Douki and Hiromu entered at 3:00 with quicker offense, with Hiromu hitting a huracanrana. Yuya and Tsuji entered at 4:30, and Uemura applied a Boston Crab and sat down on the lower back for pressure. Uemura hit a back suplex for a nearfall. Yota hit a superkick; Uemura hit a Pele Kick, and they were both down at 7:00.

Shingo and Taichi tagged in for the first time and battled, with Shingo knocking him down with a shoulder tackle. Shingo hit chops; Taichi hit some spin kicks to the thigh. Taka entered and hit a running Penalty Kick on Shingo at 9:00, then a Superkick. Shingo hit a Pumping Bomber clothesline for a nearfall. Bushi hit a dive through the ropes to the floor. Shingo nailed another Pumping Bomber to pin Taka. Outside of Yuya-Yota (which will be a hair-vs.-hair match on Saturday), the rest of the LIJ-J5G feud is ice cold; it’s time for them all to move on to different opponents.

5. Mayu Iwatani defeated Mina Shirikawa to retain the IWGP Women’s Title at 12:28. They both wore white/silver, nearly identical gear. They traded quick reversals at the bell. MIna has longer, darker hair. Mina dropped Mayu hard on her knees, and immediately twisted the legs. Mayu kicked her in the face at 2:00. They got up and traded forearm strikes. Mayu hit a Dragon Suplex at 5:30, then a frogsplash for a nearfall, but she missed a moonsault. Mina immediately hit an enzuigiri. Mina put Mayu on her shoulders and spun her to the mat. Mina applied a Figure Four at 7:30, and they rolled around on the mat as Mayu eventually reached the ropes.

Mayu nailed a Tombstone Piledriver at 9:30, then a Buzzsaw Kick to the head. Iwatani hit a hard top-rope missile dropkick, then a top-rope doublestomp to the chest, then a top-rope moonsault for a believable nearfall; I thought that was it. Mina trapped both arms and got a nearfall. Mayu hit a Dragon Suplex for a believable nearfall at 12:00. Mayu hit a Dragon Suplex with a high bridge for the pin. Good action.

6. Sho defeated El Desperado via count-out to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title at 17:26. Desperado dragged Sho to the ring and they brawled on the floor so I start my stopwatch at first contact; they got in the ring and the bell sounded at 1:20 to officially begin, as Desperado immediately applied a Stretch Muffler. Sho hit Desperado in the head with the title belt on the floor, and Sho was in charge in the ring. Sho hit a Lungblower to the back for a nearfall at 6:00. Desperado hit a basement dropkick on the knee, then a spinebuster. Desperado applied a Stretch Muffler at 9:00 when suddenly the lights went out! The lights came on and Kanemaru was in the ring and stomping on Desperado.

Taguchi ran to the ring and helped beat up Kanemaru. Sho and Desperado brawled on the floor, where Desperado slammed Sho’s knee into the ring post at 13:30. Back in the ring, Desperado again applied a Stretch Muffler, but Sho powered out! Desperado hit a Tombstone Piledriver move along his back for a nearfall. The ref got bumped and Sho immediately hit a low blow uppercut! They went to the floor, where Sho hit an unproetected chairshot to the head. Desperado hit a chairshot onto a chair on Sho’s head at 16:00. The ref was counting and was getting close to the 20-count. They both went to get in the ring when Ren Narita came out of nowhere and applied a sleeper on Desperado! Charlton shouted that titles change hands on count-outs! Sho got into the ring and won via countout. Again, official time is closer to 16:06. I hate this title change.

7. EVIL (w/Dick Togo) defeated Shota Umino to retain the NEVER Openweight Title at 16:02. Shota attacked from behind; he’s cut off a lot of his hair. They fought to the floor, where EVIL slammed Shota back-first into the guardrail at 1:30. EVIL held up the NEVER title and said “this is mine and will never be yours.” (Thanks Chris for the quick translation!) EVIL stomped on Shota in the ring and kept him grounded. Shota hit a dropkick at 5:00. Charlton noted here about Shota’s haircut. Shota hit a DDT onto the ring apron at 8:00, and EVIL tumbled to the floor. Shota hit a springboard dropkick in the ring, and he applied an STF on the mat. The bell rang at 9:11 so Shota released the hold, but of course, it was Yujiro Takahashi is the one who rang the bell!

Yujiro and Togo hopped in the ring and beat up Shota. Dick hit his knife-edge chop to the groin as Shota was being held upside down, and EVIL got a nearfall at 10:30; Charlton berated the referee for being so grossly incompetent. Shota nailed a swinging faceplant and they were both down at 12:00. Shota hit a shotgun dropkick. EVIL hit a clothesline that struck both Umino and the referee. Togo jumped back in and choked Umino with his wire. Shota avoided the Magic Killer, and he hit a tornado DDT on EVIL. Shota hit a Dragon Suplex for a nearfall at 14:00. Shota avoided an Everything is Evil and he nailed a stunner for a nearfall. Shota hit a Hidden Blade. EVIL hit a clothesline, then the Darkness Falls sit-out powerbomb for a believable nearfall. EVIL immediately hit the Everything is Evil uranage for the pin.

8. Matt Riddle defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to win the NJPW TV Title at 8:34. Standing switches early on and the announcers remind us we have a 15-minute time limit. Tanahashi hit a plancha to the floor at 3:00. He missed a second-rope summersault senton, and Riddle immediately hit a running knee, then some chops. Riddle hit a running penalty kick on the ring apron, then a springboard corkscrew moonsault to the floor on Hiroshi. In the ring, Riddle hit a senton; he went for a corkscrew moonsault, but Tanahashi got his knees up to block it. Tanahashi nailed the Twist and Shout at 6:00, then a Sling Blade clothesline for a nearfall.

Tanahashi hit a Dragonscrew Legwhip in the ropes; he went for a top-rope move but Riddle caught him with a dropkick. They traded rollup attempts. Riddle nailed a jumping knee, then his modified jumping Tombstone Piledriver for the pin! I did NOT think that was the finisher, just because it wrapped up quicker than I expected. Riddle leaned into the camera and shouted that he didn’t come to Japan to lose.

* A nice video package aired showing Nic Nemeth appearing at Wrestle Kingdom on Jan. 4, only to get attacked by David Finlay.

9. Nic Nemeth defeated David Finlay to win the IWGP Global Title at 24:02. Nic got in the ring first; Finlay snuck in from behind and attacked him, and they brawled on the floor. The bell rang to officially begin at 0:55. They brawled right back to the floor. In the ring, Finlay mounted Nic and repeatedly punched him, and he choked Nemeth in the ropes. Finlay hit a snap suplex at 4:30 but only got a one-count. Nic hit a Stinger Splash and a standing neckbreaker, then some elbow drops to the chest at 6:30. They brawled back to the floor; Nemeth accidentally superkicked Gedo. With the ref out of position, Finlay struck Nemeth with the shillelagh and got a nearfall at 8:30, and he began twisting the left leg.

Finlay hit a bodyslam with Nemeth’s damaged leg hitting the bottom rope. Nic hit an Angle Slam at 10:30 and they were both down. Nemeth missed a Stinger Splash and struck his head on the ring post! Finlay immediately slammed Nic shoulder-first into the corner, then he hit an Irish Curse uranage-style backbreaker over his knee for a nearfall. Finlay tossed Nemeth to the floor and Nic immediately clutched at his sore knee upon landing at 13:00. Nemeth barely dove in at the 19-count. Finlay immediately hit a spear and a swinging sideslam, then he applied a Figure Four; Nemeth finally reached the ropes at 16:00 (we hear the 15-minute call, as I started stopwatch early.)

Finlay yelled at Nemeth; Nic spit into Finlay’s face so David hit a rolling elbow, and he was in control. Charlton said this is as dominant as he’s seen Finlay since he won the title. Nemeth set up for a superkick but he collapsed! Finlay immediately hit a standing powerbomb for a believable nearfall at 18:00. He stood behind Nic and hit some crossface blows. Nemeth shoved Finlay shoulder-first into the corner, a leaping DDT, then he hit a Fame-asser legdrop for a nearfall, and they were both down at 21:00. Finlay hit the Oblivion neckbreaker over his knee for a nearfall and they were both down again. They traded forearm strikes while on their knees, and more as they got to their feet. Finlay hit a headbutt. Nemeth hit a superkick and a leaping inverted DDT for the pin! New champion! Again, the official time was closer to 23:07.

* Nemeth got on the mic and said: “You may not know me but you’re going to. I will defend this title any time, anywhere, and I will leave it all on the line, every damn night.” He vowed he would be a global champion. He was about to leave when he asked for a tag match on Saturday, with Tanahashi as his tag partner.

Final Thoughts: A very good main event. With the exodus of Okada, Ospreay and Tama Tonga, I guess I’m not too surprised to see both Nic Nemeth and Matt Riddle win titles so quickly here. Obviously, it means they’ll both be back soon, as well. I’ll go with the women’s match for second place; I don’t know them as well but they worked hard and impressed. The Riddle-Tanahashi match was fine but it also felt like they wrapped it up just as it was getting rolling. Both the HoT matches left me quite cold, particularly seeing Desperado lose a belt by count-out.

NJPW will be back in action on Saturday with the big Yota Tsuji vs. Yuya Uemura hair vs. hair match.


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