After an explosive night in Osaka on 11/02 at the first New Beginning show, we move onto the closing night of the tour with The New Beginning in Sendai. I am by no means expecting the same fireworks from Osaka that saw 3 titles change hands and Bullet Club reign supreme, but it should still be an interesting show with plenty to look forward to. Here I’ll assess how each match is poised following the Osaka show.
- Captain New Japan, Manabu Nakanishi & Sho Tanaka v. Satoshi Kojima, Tomoaki Honma & Yohei Komatsu
This match sees Nakanishi & Captain New Japan – who lost in Osaka – team with the victorious Sho Tanaka. Tanaka won his match with ease and looked very good doing so, beating Yohei Komatsu. Honma was unsurprisingly one of the stars of the show in Osaka despite losing to Ibushi and Kojima was also on the winning side of a 6 man tag match. I think he should be victorious again alongside Honma and Komatsu; I am biased by Honma’s presence in this team though.
- Jay White & Tiger Mask v. reDragon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly)
Jay White was unfortunate to miss out on wrestling in Osaka and faces off again against reDragon, who will no doubt be smarting from their IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Championship loss to The Young Bucks from that event. Fish & O’Reilly have beaten a few Young Lions is tag contests in the build-up the The New Beginning and I don’t see that changing here, even with Tiger Mask’s presence. The pair will be keen to exact revenge on anyone in their path.
- Timesplitters (Shelly & KUSHIDA) & Mascara Dorada v. Bullet Club (Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks)
In Osaka we saw the potential beginning of a rivalry between Dorada and Kenny Omega when Dorada saved Ryusuke Taguchi from the grasp of the Bullet Club. The Young Bucks just so happened to pin KUSHIDA to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight tag belts. I envisage both parts of these two teams will go on to feud for titles, with Timesplitters feuding with The Bucks & Dorada v. Omega. This adds intrigue and this should be very good with Dorada’s lucha style and The Bucks’ fast pace. I fancy Dorada to pick up the victory; it will give him credibility to rival Omega.
- NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title Match: Jushin Thunder Liger (c) v. Chase Owens
A ‘Power Struggle 2014’ rematch when Liger took the NWA title from Owens, ending a pretty impressive 246 day title reign for Owens. Owens also pinned Liger on Wednesday in Osaka in a tag match. Liger, unfortunately, hasn’t been doing too much to impress me lately and I’d like to see this title change hands. No doubt Bruce Tharpe will be involved somehow and will do all he can to assist his NWA star, as Owens regains the gold.
- NWA World Heavyweight Title Match: Rob Conway (c) v. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
This, like the above, has a fair amount of history to it: Conway lost the NWA Heavyweight title to Kojima (Tenzan’s partner) at WrestleKingdom8, making several failed attempts to regain before eventually beating Kojima in Las Vegas in June to win back his championship. The day after WrestleKingdom8, Conway & his partner Jax Dane defeated TenKoji successfully defending the NWA tag titles (with more than a little help from Bruce Tharpe), only to lose them to Tenzan & Kojima at Invasion Attack in April. Tharpe has been talking Conway up on Twitter recently in exchanges with Shinsuke Nakamura and is obviously confident in his man; Conway to retain.
- Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano v. Kota Ibushi & Tetsuya Naito
Nothing is ever crystal cut in New Japan but I envisage this match would be close. Sakuraba & Yano both were on the winning side with Kazuchika Okada against Bullet Club in Osaka but truthfully, neither did too much at all. Ibushi & Naito on the other hand were both victorious, with Naito defeating YOSHI-HASHI to score his team the win and Ibushi defeating Honma 1v1. Ibushi has been outstanding recently and Naito is very good also, I can’t see them not defeating Sakuraba & Yano here; Ibushi & Naito hands down.
- Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi) v. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI)
This one is perhaps not so easy to call; Okada had a rough time on The Road to The New Beginning against Bullet Club, particularly Fale. He seemed to put those demons to rest in Osaka though overcoming some early punishment to get back to his old self, dispatching Tama Tonga with The Rainmaker. It makes me wonder whether he’ll continue to win and work his way up through Bullet Club to their champion, AJ Styles, or if more Bad Luck is on its way. I’m going to buy in and say Okada & YOSHI-HASHI to win.
- Bullet Club (Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson & Tama Tonga) v. Hirooki Goto, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Katsuyori Shibata
I was relatively surprised at these two title changes in Osaka, with Tanahashi dropping his IWGP Heavyweight belt to AJ Styles and Goto & Shibata losing their tag titles to Gallows & Anderson. I’d like to see Shibata move away from tag matches and begin to make waves as a singles wrestler. Tanahashi was bust wide open in an accidental clash in Osaka and was bleeding fairly heavily. This is a big, strong & powerful Bullet Club trio and fresh off winning the tag belts, they’ll win again here.
- NEVER Openweight Title Match: Togi Makabe (c) v. Tomohiro Ishii
Again I’ll try not to let my bias enter into this; Ishii is one of my favourite wrestlers on the planet at the minute. This is a WrestleKingdom9 rematch when Ishii lost the title to Makabe. There were certainly a few who were surprised by this result, despite Ishii carrying a long term shoulder injury. We were deprived of seeing them face off in Osaka by Makabe’s absence from the scheduled 6 man tag match involving the pair, leaving Ishii to have to make do with Kojima. This has built this match further for me and I can’t wait to see them go at it again. Expect some brutal strikes in a gruelling, hard-hitting contest. I want to see Ishii regain, so I’m going to predict that!
- IWGP Intercontinental Title Match: Shinsuke Nakamura (c) v. Yuji Nagata
Unlike Makabe & Ishii above, we did see these two competitors square off in Osaka: ‘Swagsuke’ laying down the initial challenge in his usual nonchalant, pompous style and Nagata replying with a frenzied, demonic arm lock. The New Japan Cup is coming up (March 5-15) and I did wonder about Nakamura’s involvement in this – he won it in 2014. However I think the New Japan Cup this year has Kazuchika Okada’s name on it, leading to him challenging AJ Stlyes at Invasion Attack for the IWGP Heavyweight title. As a result, Nakamura retains the title here – I don’t fully appreciate what Nagata would bring to the title. Oh and expect to see the Boma Ye countered with an overhead belly-to-belly, its happened every time they’ve been in the ring together.
You can enjoy The New Beginning in Sendai LIVE on NJPW World (www.Crimaz.com) which is free for February. If you don’t watch NJPW already, it really is the perfect time to discover your new favourite promotion.