NJPW New Beginning in Osaka 2018
By Big Red Machine
From February 10, 2018
KATSUYA KITAMURA SEVEN-MATCH TRIAL SERIES MATCH #6:
Katsuya Kitamura vs. Yuji Nagata - 5.75/10
Kitamura is starting to feel like a real member of the roster who has an actual chance of winning one of these. He didn't win this one, which stinks for him, but it was nice to see Nagata win again.
SUZUKI-GUN (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. ROPPONGI 3K (w/Rocky Romero) - 7/10
Holy sh*t Suzuki-Gun didn't jump the bell on their opponents! They did have a different heel trick up their sleeves, though. They worked over Yoh's back all match and Yoh sold it very well. One great heel finish later and we've got some new presumptive #1 contenders. We also got a good post-match beat-down, with Romero getting some, too, when he tried to sacrifice himself to save Yoh's back.
TOGI MAKABE, MICHAEL ELGIN, RYUSUKE TAGUCHI, & KUSHIDA vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka, TAKA Michinoku, & Taichi) - 6/10
Once again the babyfaces jump Suzuki-Gun before Suzuki-Gun can jump them. It's nice to see that someone has finally learned to expect this crap from Suzuki-Gun. I also like that the babyfaces do always make sure that Suzuki-Gun are at least facing them when they attack. This was basically our Generic Suzuki-Gun Undercard Brawl.
JUICE ROBINSON, TOA HENARE, & DAVID FINLAY JR. vs. CHAOS (Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, & Jay White) - 6/10
Yano didn't do much, and the stuff he did do wasn't his same old sh*t, so that was good. The match was good for the time it got, but felt almost completely pointless to me. Jay White got the win again via a Blade Runner followed by Crucifix Elbows for the ref stoppage.
HOLY F*CKING SH*T WE'RE GETTING REY VS. LIGER AT STRONG STYLE EVOLVED!
BUSHI vs. GEDO - 5/10
BUSHI went to go confront Gedo in the aisle so they started exchanging blows right there instead of waiting to get to the ring. BUSHI brought some hedge clippers with him to try to remove Gedo's beard. This really should be a Mask vs. Beard match.
They did lots of stuff revolving around the mask and the beard but this match was hard for me to get into because there was no babyface (Gedo, who is nominally the babyface, has been the dick in this feud) and I don't really have strong feelings about either character.
YOSHI-HASHI vs. TETSUYA NAITO - 8.5/10
YOSHI-HASHI jumps Naito from behind on his way down the ramp. He also ripped Naito's shirt, then got into the ring and did Naito's pose. This was a match full of frustration and anger and passion and attitude... and lots of work on the head and neck. YOSHI-HASHI made a great showing of it, but Naito prevailed in the end. Naito disrespected YOSHI-HASHI after the match while YOSHI-HASHI was still down. I don't know where YOSHI-HASHI can really go from here, other than totally off the deep end crazy. As for where Naito goes from here...
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Naito gets attacked from behind by... Taichi? Taichi smashed him in the back of the head with his microphone stand, then dragged him off the stage while trying to choke him out with the microphone stand. This was odd because it is two heel groups feuding and because it's a junior heavyweight attacking a heavyweight. I am quite excited to see where it goes.
IWGP JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Will Ospreay(c) vs. Hiromu Takahashi - 9.5/10
Lots of work on the head and neck from both men. Ospreay's selling in particular was wonderful. They did a fantastic job with their pacing, too, alternately speeding things up and slowing them down as the story required. In addition to all of that they had wonderful shows of defiance here as well. They also seemed to make an effort to pull out some really cool stuff that they don't do so often, and placed it perfectly in the match as to be believable as a false finish. Throw in little, nuanced stories like both guys going for the Time Bomb and Hiromu countering Ospreay's big moves into German Suplexes at progressively higher angles, and you've got yourself one f*cking hell of a match.
NEVER OPENWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Hirooki Goto(c) vs. EVIL - 4.75/10
They both worked the head. The referee let EVIL get away with a ridiculous amount of cheating, and that string of balls looked SOOOOO goofy being used as a weapon. This match just didn't do it fo0r me at all. It was probably the most boring top match on a New Japan show I've ever seen.
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Kazuchika Okada(c) vs. Sanada- 9/10
They had lots of great work on the head and neck and some AMAZING drama on the nearfalls. I shouldn't have really believed that Sanada had a chance, but they made me believe it. I really wish they would apply count-outs consistently, though.
A great show from New Japan, despite one of the top matches bombing. This was a fine example of how to do a show with without having most of your titles on the line but still making almost every match feel important. I'd like to see a lot more booking from New Japan like we got on this tour throughout the rest of the year.