With New Beginning all wrapped up, let's break the show down together, shall we?
As always, I've got a very simple five point scale laid out where a 1 is total skip, 2 you can probably skip unless you love one of the folks in it, 3 is a match that's worth watching but not necessarily worth making time for, a 4 is a solid recommendation to make time for if you can, and a 5 is a must-watch.
Mind you, these are not star ratings. They're not meant to be absolute ratings in any sense, but rather a simple (and hopefully sensible) way to determine if a match is worth your time. A one is not necessarily a bad match, but rather just one I feel like you're best off skipping. I have my biases, of course, but hopefully I can make it easy for you to adjust for them.
Henare vs TAKA Michinoku (2)
Light grappling early, Henare using size and power but TAKA rakes his eyes and uses his veteran wiles to take charge. The young lion makes a comeback off a big shoulder block and some slams, Michinoku catches him with the Just Facelock but he gets the ropes.
A diving shoulder block nearly gets Henare the win, but TAKA is a step ahead...
TAKA Michinoku wins by pinfall with Heavy Killer #1.
I always dig these young lion spotlight singles matches, and this is no different, but the fact does remain that it's a five minute New Japan opener. Skip if you like, but I always dig seeing the new guys get to do their thing one-on-one.
KUSHIDA & YOSHITATSU vs. TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) (2)
The ALLCAPS lads run roughshod on Kojima for a bit but the tide turns and Tenzan works KUSHIDA over. Yoshi comes in and Satoshi does his stuff but KUSHIDA cuts him off before he can go for the elbow. Yoshi and Kojima go back and forth...
TenCozy win by pinfall with a lariat from Satoshi Kojima on YOSHITATSU.
Pretty standard early tag stuff, eminently skippable. Although I think TEAM ALLCAPS gelled pretty well here, wouldn't mind seeing them enter the tag division to give KUSHIDA something to do while the junior title is tied up with LIJ business.
Yoshi picks a fight with Kojima after the match but it doesn't go much of anywhere.
Chaos (Gedo, Hirooki Goto, Jado, & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Juice Robinson, Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask IV, & Yuji Nagata (2)
Nagata and Tacos start, then to Tiger and Gedo, but Liger goes in on Jado and everything starts to break down. Chaos tear Jushin apart with quick tags until the veteran can get the big Shotei off and tag Juice in for the first time. He takes it hard to Goto, busting out Diamond Dust and getting a nearfall off a cannonball.
Ushigoroshi connects and things break down again, Chaos taking it to poor Robinson but soon it's just him and Jado and he's in charge until literally all three other guys break up a pin. Dives clear the Chaos men out...
Juice Robinson, Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask IV, & Yuji Nagata win by pinfall with Pulp Friction from Juice on Jado.
A thoroughly average undercard tag, but damn if Juice getting this sort of shine isn't the most fun thing.
Chaos (Beretta, Kazuchika Okada, & Rocky Romero) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (3)
Suzuki attacks Okada before the bell even rings and puts the boots to him hard as the juniors get into it in the ring. RPG Vice come out ahead until Minoru's gaze turns to him and he busts out the single coolest cross armbar in the ropes I've ever seen.
Choking the IWGP Heavyweight Champion in a section of barricade on the outside now while his buddies continue the work he started on Trent, Taichi using the timekeeper's hammer to try and blind him. Suzuki deigns to come in and work on Beretta personally, Kazuchika tries to break it up but Minoru just catches him too!
Trent manages to escape and Okada comes in hot, but of course the leg is still bugging him and Suzuki is able to play the roadblock. Juniors back in, Rocky runs wild with the FOREVER! lariats but right as he's running hottest Taichi sneaks a low blow in and everything breaks down...
Suzuki-gun win by pinfall with a diving DDT from Yoshinobu Kanemaru on Rocky Romero.
Minoru and his boys being cheating dickheads made this just a cut above your average first-half-of-the-card trios match.
Post-match, they clobber Trent again, Kanemaru restating his challenge for the junior tag titles.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, & SANADA) vs. Taguchi Japan (Hiroshi Tanahashi, Manabu Nakanishi, & Ryusuke Taguchi) (c) (NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship) (3)
LIJ, of course, attack before the bell and isolate Nakanishi for a beatdown, except he's Manabu Nakanishi and he is the immovable object. Taguchi Japan run wild on BUSHI with hip attacks until he throws a dropkick that takes Ryusuke's leg out from under him.
Taguchi's... posterior gets punished a bunch as he's isolated and worked over but the 1/100 Dude comes in and is all dragon screws before slugging it out with EVIL. Nakanishi comes in on SANADA and it's not long before everything breaks down. settling back down after tandem lariats from the champs.
Nakanishi has SANADA up for the backbreaker, Taguchi and Tanahashi come in to block and lock the other two down but when Manabu goes for the Hercules Cutter, referee Tiger Hattori is nowhere to be found, having been knocked clean out the ring in the struggle!
LIJ take it to Nakanishi, SANADA has Skull End partway on and we transition to the "everybody do something cool" bit, with a huge diving crossbody from Manabu that nearly ends it. BUSHI mists Nakanishi, SANADA is right there...
Los Ingobernables de Japon win by submission with Skull End from SANADA on Manabu Nakanishi, winning the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship.
Good fun, with a lot of schtick but not overwhelmed by it. Not something you NEED to see, but if you leave the video running you aren't likely going to regret it.
Milano Collection AT nearly gets into it with SANADA post-match, continuing the eternal story of teasing him doing something with Los Ingobernables.
Katsuyori Shibata (c) vs. Will Ospreay (RPW British Heavyweight Championship) (5)
Grappling to start, but young Will quickly becomes sick of it and goes after Shibata's taped left leg. Back to grappling as Katsuyori goes after Ospreay's arm and the screams begin. Fighting spills outside, Will goes for a shooting star press off the apron, Shibata dodges but the Chaos man lands on his feet!
Throwing big dives now, Space Flying Tiger Drop, Ospreay sits crosslegged in the ring waiting for the champion to return. On him with more abuse of the leg, shinbreaker, spinning toehold into an inverted figure four, Will changes strategies and starts pummeling Shibata in the corner, hitting his own hesitation dropkick.
Katsuyori rises to his feet and beckons the challenger to hit him square in the jaw but doesn't buckle, dropping Ospreay with one of his own in return. Pounding strikes in the corner, the master hits his own trademark hesitation dropkick. Straight suplex gets two and the champion grabs an abdominal stretch.
Desperate, Will walks to the ropes but he gets cut right off, lands on his feet on a suplex, drops Shibata with a German suplex, takes one in return, handspring... SHIBATA CATCHES HIM BY THE LEG IN MID-AIR! He takes him up and over with a leg-trap German suplex!
Slugging it out, the champion wins the exchange handily, flooding the Chaos man's face with strikes and sending him outside with a wicked kick to the chest. On the outside, Will catches him shoulder-first on the ringpost and lays him out with a vicious kick of his own.
The champion's out on the flor as Marty Asami counts, so Will, desperate to win, picks him up and struggles to get him in the ring.... WHERE HE KICKS OUT! Ospreay decides to go flying but Shibata's up and cuts him off on top, clobbering him with forearms and looking for a Kimura lock.
Will slips out, Cheeky Nando's gets two, diving forearm, Rainmaker pose, wrist-clutch, Shibata blocks the Rainham Maker but Ospreay catches him with a few well-placed strikes and lays him back out with a kick. Up top, imploding 450 splash... NOPE! Follows it up with that falling corkscrew roundhouse kick, looks for the OsCutter... SHIBATA CATCHES HIM INTO A SLEEPER HOLD!
Will fires up, reaching for the ropes, but the champion dumps him on his head with a sleeper suplex, keeping the hold in! He breaks it, comes off the ropes...
Katsuyori Shibata wins by pinfall with a Penalty Kick, retaining the RPW British Heavyweight Championship.
I like Shibata all the time, and I like Will Ospreay best when he's matched up against grapplers and strikers, and so of course I thought this was awesome. Go watch it!
Chaos (Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano) (c) vs. Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) vs. Suzuki-gun (Davey Boy Smith, Jr. & Takashi Iizuka) (IWGP Tag Team Championship) (1)
All-out chaos (lowercase) to start, all three teams brawling on the outside. Once things settle down, it's Iizuka and Yano going schtick for schtick. Yano tags Honma in and the action goes outside again, fighting deep into the crowd. They continue to work Honma over in the ring, Davey busting out an AWESOME standing Stretch Muffler at one point.
Chaos in, continuing to work the former Big Japan deathmatch man over but inevitably he makes a tag and Makabe cleans house. Things break down a bit as Great Bash Heel stay in the ring to double-team the Sublime Master Thief, but the Stone Pitbull saves his buddy
Smith puts a run together, bridging butterfly suplex, a sit-out powerbomb, but neither can quite end the match. Iizuka busts the metal glove out again and clocks Makabe with it, Ishii blocks a followup on Yano but eats it himself, a malfunction at the junction leads Iizuka to hit his own partner...
Chaos win by pinfall with a low blow into a schoolboy pin from Toru Yano on Davey Boy Smith, Jr., retaining the IWGP Tag Team Championship.
Man, these three-way heavyweight tags have got to go, or at the very least they should have cancelled this one after Lance Archer went down. It's only been diminishing returns since Wrestle Kingdom. Even my love for my man Yano's shenanigans couldn't save this one for me, and so I'd strongly recommend skipping it.
Dragon Lee vs. Hiromu Takahashi (c) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship) (5)
Slugging it out slap for slap to start, on to trading charges corner-to-corner before we get our first flips, trading running headscissors takeovers. Hiromu outside, Lee with a suicide dive, he follows by taking the champion pillar to post with some help from the barricade.
Dragon firmly in charge, throws a few kicks, punishing Takahashi in the corner. Fighting goes outside again, trading shots on the apron... RUNNING OVER THE ROPES SUNSET FLIP POWERBOMB TO THE OUTSIDE! Running dropkick on the ramp as referee Red Shoes Unno nearly counts the match over before the erstwhile Kamaitachi acquiesces.
Untying the mask, overhead elbows, Lee makes a comeback on a charge... RUNNING OVER THE ROPES FRANKENSTEINER TO THE OUTSIDE! Tope con giro follows, back to the ramp and then back inside, challenger with punishing strikes, chaining two northern lights suplexes into a straight suplex for a nearfall.
Dragon sets Hiromu up top, looking for the double stomp but the champion uses the mask to block it momentarily. Lee pushes him over to the outside... TREE OF WOE BELLY-TO-BELLY SUPLEX TO THE OUTSIDE! Diving Frankensteiner gets countered into a powerbomb!
Back in the ring, both men trade vicious German suplexes, Dragon Lee catches a nearfall off a standing Spanish Fly, and we go back to slap for slap action. Big dropkick knocks Lee flat but the challenger is able to come right back with a snap suplex into the turnbuckles for breathing room.
Going for the running Frankensteiner again... POWERBOMB COUNTER, RIGHT INTO THE APRON! DIVING SEATED SENTON! BOTH MEN GO INTO THE BARRICADE ON IMPACT! IT'S SO EXCITING THE JAPANESE COMMENTARY IS COMING THROUGH THE ENGLISH FEED!
Back in the ring, the champion comes in with disdainful kicks and slaps but gets caught into a Fujiwara armbar! Lee rolls it into a crossface on the block! Takahashi is in agony but he won't give! Into a sort of Rings of Saturn, both arms trapped, but Hiromu gets his foot on the ropes!
A dropkick takes Red Shoes out and the champion sets his challenger up top. Bodyscissors, blocked... HIROMU YANKS THE MASK OFF! VICTORY ROLL DRIVER! RED SHOES WAKES UP IN TIME TO COUNT THE FALL BUT LEE KICKS OUT!
Dragon Lee gets his mask back on, hits Takahashi with his capture Orange Crush... NO GOOD! Thinking Phoenixplex but the champion thinks on his feet and counters into a flip piledriver! Back to the slaps again, both men running low but firing up, Dragon gets a bit of a head of steam up but Hiromu counters a pop-up into a second flip piledriver.... NOT ENOUGH!
Death Valley Driver into the turnbuckles, the champion shifts his grip...
Hiromu Takahashi wins by pinfall with Time Bomb, retaining the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
Naturally, I come into shows with preconceptions, I generally have an idea where I'll end up putting these matches on my scale, but I try not to let that color the way I look at the match.
That being said, I wrote in the five here before the match even started, and with good reason. Takahashi and Lee do a match that no one else on earth does. It's a unique spectacle, and you just can't get it from anybody else. So go watch it already!
Post-match, Ryusuke Taguchi comes down and gets on the mic, issuing a challenge for the title. Hiromu goes to walk off but it's a ploy to attack Taguchi with the belt! The Funky Weapon dodges and locks his ankle lock in!
Michael Elgin vs. Tetsuya Naito (c) (IWGP Intercontinental Championship) (5)
Elgin in charge early here, using his superior strength, press slamming Naito and knocking him from the apron clean to the barricade with a single forearm. And he punctuates it with a cannonball to the outside! Tetsuya seems to get a chance to pull ahead but BIG MIKE grabs him out of mid-air on a dive and hits a delayed vertical suplex on the ramp!
Looking for the deadlift avalanche Falcon Arrow but Naito pokes the eyes and goes to work on his leg, hooking it over the middle rope and wrenching hard. The champion continues to work the knee over, just destroying it with all manner of holds and punishing strikes, but Elgin can still manage to post enough to rock him with a single chop.
He's got Mike in a leglock and beckons him to hit him but just takes 'em and spits in the man's face. Elgin, unsteady on his feet, gets an enzuigiri off, as well as a German suplex lift turned into a sitout facebuster (really cool!) and business picks up.
A moment to steel himself before BIG MIKE charges in with a pair of lariats, he sets Naito up top, momentarily stopped with an eye rake but he gets the German suplex into the turnbuckles! He hobbles over, deadlift German suplex with a one-legged bridge!
Elgin throwing lariat after lariat now, Tetsuya stumbles but doesn't fall and he catches his challenger with a Manhattan Drop chained into a dropkick to the leg! Jockeying for position, Elgin gets another one-legged German suplex off, keeps the waistlock, another, Naito gets the ropes to block and fights him off.
Duck a lariat, tornado DDT, BIG MIKE blocks, goes to turn it into a suplex but the Ingobernable one reverses and finishes the DDT anyway! Naito going back to the leg, Mike's doing everything he can to stop him but plenty of shots make it through and he gets a thumb in the eye anyway.
Tetsuya charges off the ropes, Elgin counters with a bicycle kick without thinking and he lands on the bad leg and crumples! Slugging it out, rolling elbow knocks the champion down but again, Mike crumples. Fighting in the corner, Elgin climbs but Naito goes back to the eye... SUNSET FLIP POWERBOMB!
Naito perches up top, he dives... COUNTER POWERBOMB! NO GOOD! Scoop and a slam, BIG MIKE looking to end it, he heads up top... BIG MIKE FLY FLOW! NOT ENOUGH! Looking for a powerbomb now but his knee is aggravating him and Tetsuya blocks. Back to work on the leg, Elgin has the ropes.
Enzuigiri wobbles Elgin but he throws a lariat, he fires up, off the ropes for a lariat but it won't put the champion away! Again with the powerbomb attempt and again the knee gives out, so he just shoves Naito away with a forearm strike. Up top again to circumvent the problem, powerbomb lift, but Tetsuya fights out of it.
BIG MIKE up top himself this time, Naito goes right to the eye and the Stardust Genius climbs, snapping a Frankensteiner off. POISON FRANKENSTEINER! NO GOOD! Elgin wobbling, fighting, Naito reverses a German suplex attempt into the inverted short legscissors!
Elgin gets the ropes after a struggle but Naito's natural confidence plays across his face as he goes back to stomping at the leg. He takes Mike to the apron, spits in his face... AND GETS CAUGHT BY AN AIR RAID CRASH ON THE APRON! Back in the ring, Elgin keeps it together for the deadlift avalanche Falcon Arrow... and Naito kicks out.
Sliding elbow, a rolling elbow, BIG MIKE is stumbling on the bad leg but full of determination. He mocks Naito's taunt and connects with a backfist, the buckle bomb, goes for the Elgin Bomb but Tetsuya counters with an eye rake and a tornado DDT! DESTINO! ELGIN LIVES!
He hooks it again, but Elgin blocks and connects with a Blu-Ray! The champion rolls outside and challenger follows, the pain etched on their faces and fatigue in their movements as they struggle... BIG MIKE APRON POWERBOMB! A SECOND INTO THE BARRICADE! REVOLUTION ELGIN BOMB IN THE RING... SOMEHOW TETSUYA NAITO WILL NOT STAY DOWN!
Elgin now desperately thinking what he can do to end it, he sets the Stardust Genius up top and clutches him in the Argentine backbreaker rack for the Burning Hammer but Naito reverses to Destino! Naito in the corner waiting, BIG MIKE grabs him, thinking Burning Hammer, Tetsuya lands on his feet.
Backfist in the corner from the challenger, Naito lands a rolling kick, Destino connects out of the corner... NOPE! He hooks the arm this time, full rotation...
Tetsuya Naito wins by pinfall with Destino to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
Very much a match I can pick an issue or two with, but so much of this was so well put together that I don't really care to. A bit excessive in the last five minutes or so, but man, the pain felt real. Great work from both dudes, and I heartily recommend a watch.
A very good card to close out our New Beginning shows with three must-watch matches in the form of Shibata/Ospreay, Lee/Takahashi, and Elgin/Naito. Can't shake the feeling that NJPW would be better served condensing these double shows into one night (and condensing the tag divisions into one, for that matter), but the stuff that needed to deliver here, did.
Check it out on New Japan World, folks.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to toss in your two cents below, Cagesiders.