New Japan Pro-Wrestling ends its New Beginning tour at a sold out Osaka Jo Hall. Five titles are up for grabs as Tetsuya Naito puts both the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships on the line against KENTA in the main event. Also featured is a match for the IWGP U.S. Heavyweight title between Jon Moxley and Minoru Suzuki as well as a rematch from the 2018 G1 Special in San Francisco as Ryu Lee challenges Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Let’s get started!
Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima def. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Toa Henare & Ryusuke Taguchi @ 7:10 via Kojima Lariat on Honma – **3/4
Give me Nagata and Makabe throwing arms and Kojima potato-ing Honma every day of the week. Everyone took Nakanishi’s double sledges extra hard and Makabe even took three whole bumps so there was a lot to enjoy. Nakanishi’s teary eyes as he took the mic to thank the crowd and pose with his friends before heading to the back was super emotional. Let the man wrestle for another twenty-eight years.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Roppongi 3K (c) def. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado @ 16:23 via Strong X on Kanemaru – ***1/2
The best tag team in New Japan takes on Roppongi 3K. The great limb targeting from the SZKG team doesn’t lead to much, but it’s at least focused on throughout the match. SHO’s never really enabled by the attacks outside of a slip on a powerbomb which still ends with him planting Kanemaru. Since the cross-armed piledriver wasn’t going to be the finish it’d have been a nice touch if the knee buckled. Make us feel paid off for watching all that knee work.
YOH shined the brightest throughout the match with a great hot tag and a heated slap exchange with Desperado. He looks to have the most upside in the group right now and after this back and forth with Desperado, that’s the BOSJ match I’m hoping to see. Overall it was a strong match that held my attention through its focus on SHO’s knee but I do wish SHO gave more in the way of selling in the closing stretch.
Taguchi comes out after the match and calls for Romero to be his partner for the next challenge. Romero accepts but causes friction within 3K in the process. It’ll likely take place on the anniversary show and be a fine goofball tag ending with a nice closing stretch.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Juice Robinson & David Finlay def. Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi @ 10:52 via Tanahashi Schoolboy on Loa – **1/4
The New Beginning US crew have returned home to continue their feud. It’s nice to hear the crowd care about the tag champions now that Tanahashi and Ibushi are involved in the title picture. The end of the match teased Tanahashi and Ibushi leapfrogging Juice and Finlay as the challengers due to Tanahashi’s pin. It’d a huge step down for them but at least it’s a match I wouldn’t absolutely dread to watch. I guess.
G1 dates are announced as well as an August 22nd show at Madison Square Garden dubbed ‘Wrestle Dynasty’.
Moreover, they announced a new TV deal in Japan which will be Friday nights at 8pm on BS Asahi.
Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay def. Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. @ 11:53 via Okada Rainmaker on Taichi – **1/2
Completely fine but ultimately meaningless match. After taking Okada to thirty-five minutes in a singles match last week, Taichi is taken out in twelve tonight. Okay. We’re getting a rematch of Sabre versus Ospreay because Ospreay passed out rather than tapped out. Okay. The guys are all good but there’s nothing to the match but Ospreay raising the RPW title to crickets was great.
Jay White def. SANADA @ 21:53 via Bladerunner – ****1/4
This had three major factors going for it:
1) It was a fresh match
2) Both have clearly defined characters
3) They didn’t have to work the main event style
I loved the hell out of this match. Them not being in the main event made me bite on schoolboy pins I’d otherwise never buy into. They stayed away from limb work so nothing felt out of place. Gedo played his role which enhanced SANADA’s babyface comebacks and White’s cutoffs felt devastating. I’ve never believed in the Skull End as much as I have here; even SANADA using the Paradise Lock to get a breather from the double team felt well-deserved.
If these guys were wrestling a main event you’d know it’s going thirty minutes but with White’s match against Okada at last year’s Wrestle Kingdom only going fifteen, anything felt possible here. This is one of the most exciting matches so far this year thanks in large part to it’s completely unpredictable nature along with everyone knowing their part and exceling in their role.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Hiromu Takahashi (c) def. Ryu Lee @ 23:55 via Time Bomb – ****1/4
They picked up right where they left off. An extremely physical battle that gave no time to catch your breath. The Dragon Driver was teased twice but thankfully they never followed through. After channeling Kobashi and Sasaki with a six minute chop exchange, the two begin throwing bombs that only these guys can managed to do so effectively. They go so hard that you buy into their exhaustion, nothing about their selling feels hokey. Some spots didn’t land but their success rate at this pace is nothing short of breathtaking.
My major nitpick is the draping moves making Hiromu look bad by just waiting for the move. One time he evades the attack which is a great touch but other times it’s glaringly off-putting. Still, it’s great to see Hiromu and Lee going back at it and with a pace that showed no signs of Hiromu slowing down. This was great and an excellent change of pace from the last match while being similarly engaging.
IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship
Jon Moxley (c) def. Minoru Suzuki @ 17:16 via Death Rider – ****1/4
No one can top the big match aura of Minoru Suzuki. More than the moves these two did, what will be remembered is Suzuki’s reactions. Walking up the ramp with two chairs to start the match, beating himself over the face with a busted table in order to fire himself up, mocking Moxley’s shoulder shrug and eating the rebound lariat which put him on rubber legs but ultimately refusing to crumble.
There’s nitpicks in the brawling like Moxley keeping the chair wrapped around his arm while waiting for Suzuki to attack him with a second chair. It’s far from a perfect match but the big time energy from Suzuki helped elevate the match beyond its actions.
Sabre comes out and attacks Moxley after the match to set up the next challenge. Another fresh match that won’t be in the main event and will likely work the mat-based style we saw Moxley try out during the G1. Sign me up for this change of pace.
IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Championship
Tetsuya Naito (c) def. KENTA @ 34:40 via Destino – ***1/4
I’ll readily admit I’m in the minority but babyface Naito is impossible for me to get behind. They started the match right by having KENTA bail to the floor and taunt Naito on the outside for the first five minutes. This match was best when it was all about the mood. Naito giving KENTA all the time in the world on the outside and not playing into the trick he normally gives out was a nice touch. Then giving KENTA the boots in the corner was also good.
The first fifteen minutes I could really get behind but once KENTA locks in holds, I feel no sympathy for Naito. When White runs in after a ref bump to beat down Naito, he starts pulling at my heartstrings a bit and then the blood in the finishing stretch also helped. Overall it’s close to impossible for me to root for Naito because he doesn’t exude the babyface energy of someone like SANADA, for example.
I’ll take the L for how I feel about the guy but this went too long and tried too hard for me to care about Naito. The ending visual of his face covered in blood provided a cool energy to close out the show but as a whole the match failed to keep me engaged.
We get the celebration we were robbed at Wrestle Kingdom to end the show and have Hiromu come out at the behest of Naito to set up their exhibition match at the anniversary show next month. A cool ending to a show that was largely great outside of what was a pretty tedious main event that I’ll admit is on me but I can’t kick my feelings about Naito.
After starting strong, the show dipped a bit with tag matches that felt meaningless, made even longer by everyone getting their own entrance. Once those matches were over, the show picked up with three great matches in a row. Each match provided something different and helped create a memorable show overall. I thought White and SANADA had the best match of the show. Both guys really dug into their extreme babyface and heel personas and passed with flying colors. I’ve had my problems with both guys in the past but this pairing on this night, they hit a home run.
The junior tag featured great limb focus by Suzuki-Gun and YOH brought some next level fire he had never shown before tonight. Seeing Hiromu and Lee back in the ring together was a great sight. They picked right back up where they left off without an hiccups. What an incredible duo. The big time aura from Suzuki is something to be remembered. He helped make the match feel special in ways very few are capable of pulling off. The main event had its moments but once I was forced to cheer on Naito, I checked out. The post-match celebration was great and the upcoming match with Hiromu will be special because Naito won’t be forced into playing the babyface.
If you loved the main event then this is a no brainer show of the year contender. For me it’s teetering on that line but there’s little doubt that it felt special.
Jay White vs SANADA
Hiromu Takahashi vs Ryu Lee
Minoru Suzuki vs Jon Moxley
Roppongi 3K vs Suzuki-Gun
Naito’s Post-Match Celebration
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