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NJPW ‘The New Beginning in Sapporo’ (2.2.20) Results & Review

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The second and final night of back-to-back shows at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center for the New Beginning 2020. The British Heavyweight Championship is on the line as Will Ospreay challenges Zack Sabre Jr. and the main event features Taichi in his home prefecture taking on Kazuchika Okada in a special attraction match. Everyone else is gearing up for their big match next week in Osaka. Let’s get started!

Toa Henare def. Yota Tsuji @ 8:16 via TOA Bottom – **3/4
The type of wrestling New Japan is desperately missing; a simple, no frills slugfest. You have guys like Ishii who have a tendency to rush through spots, EVIL has outside chair gimmicks and Goto is so uninspired that I zone out during a lot of his matches. These two wrestle like the who train them and genuinely hooked the crowd based off their power and size which is something the company largely lacks.

Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tiger Mask IV def. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Yuya Uemura @ 9:48 via Tiger Suplex on Uemura – **1/2
Everyone wants a piece of Nakanishi on his retirement tour and he’s more than willing to give them a shot. Everyone stole each other’s signatures and did the three way submission hold like the night before. Tiger blasted Uemura with a headkick followed by a butterfly suplex off the top before finishing the young lion with a Tiger Suplex. Nakanishi takes the mic and thanks the fans after the match. Good stuff all around.

El Phantasmo def. Gabriel Kidd @ 8:51 via Frog Splash – **3/4
The newest member of the LA Dojo, Gabriel Kidd, had a killer World debut. The guy has years of experience under his belt so this doesn’t come as a shock but it’s awesome to see. He showed great fire and has a face that makes him look like a real tough guy. From a technical standpoint he excelled in the role and looks to have already won fans over with this performance. Phantasmo continues to give him the what for after the match with a CRII.

Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & Robbie Eagles def. Shingo Takagi, EVIL & BUSHI @ 9:43 via Eagles Ron Miller Special – ***1/4
Everyone starts off by continuing their feud from yesterday until only Shingo and Ishii remain. They have a great back and forth that goes just long enough to satisfy the taste buds. Eagles gets BUSHI in the Ron Miller Special, eats two stomps from EVIL but hangs on (even Eagles is now geeking EVIL out) long enough for both Ishii and Goto to clean house with simultaneous Ushigoroshis on EVIL and Shingo, stranding BUSHI and forcing the submission. After the match Eagles signals for the belt; the 6-man belt. The NEVER title was right there, Robbie.

Jon Moxley, YOH, SHO & Ryusuke Taguchi def. Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado & DOUKI @ 12:56 via Taguchi Oh My & Garankle on DOUKI – **1/2
The interaction between Suzuki and Moxley wasn’t as good as the day before but the Taguchi comedy was better than Okada/Taichi so it’s a wash. Suzuki running up into the crowd to attack Moxley before the bell was equal parts great and terrifying. The two are sure to have a spectacle, it’s great seeing Suzuki motivated. Them teaming up to take out Taguchi from stepping between them was good stuff.

New Japan announces a seven day proper Hokkaido tour dubbed ‘Summer Struggle’ coming this July to the delight of the crowd.

Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & Hiromu Takahashi def. KENTA, Jay White & Taiji Ishimori @ 15:35 via SANADA Skull End on Ishimori – **
More of a wrestling match than a mood match like the day before and less interesting for it. The guys did their moves and that’s all well and good but the money in Naito/KENTA is the taunting and we saw little of that until after the match. Everything with Naito and Hiromu playing around with each other during the post-match celebration was more entertaining than anything actually done in the ring. We need a heavy dose of taunting on the ninth to hide the fact Naito and KENTA have zero chemistry.

RPW British Heavyweight Championship
Zack Sabre Jr. (c) def. Will Ospreay @ 27:04 via Referee Stoppage – **1/2

What was Ospreay’s goal? Why did he apply a crossface and the figure four? Why did he attack Sabre’s leg? He didn’t go back to any submissions in the second half and Sabre didn’t show any ill effects to the leg. It doesn’t help that the match went painstakingly long but when there’s no clear goal by the challenger it’s tough to sink your teeth into the match.

That said, both guys are extremely smooth and provide cool spots through slick transitions. Sabre was as good as always but Ospreay didn’t look like he had a clear mission and for a match to go half an hour without establishing any sort of plan, it makes the match impossible to invest in.

Kazuchika Okada def. Taichi @ 30:52 – ***1/2
Taichi’s first singles match against the Rainmaker and only their second overall, dating back to an untelevised match in 2008. At thirty minutes, the match is very long and off-putting for those who aren’t sold on Taichi or are burnt out on Okada. With that said, this was a monumental moment for Taichi’s career. Wrestling in the main event in his home prefecture against the 5 time IWGP Heavyweight Champion and he went all out for the occasion.

Okada gave us his usual main event effort but Taichi really stepped up in the spotlight and provided a memorable moment for those who support him. Nothing was left on the table, Taichi put every ounce into the match, you can’t not be impressed with the effort. Of course, Okada won so no monumental shifts to be seen but a nice moment nonetheless.

Overall Thoughts
The show started stronger than the night before until it hit a wall and limped to the finish line. Both young lion singles matches were a lot of fun. It’s always nice to feel optimistic about the future. I have full confidence in Suzuki and Moxley delivering next week but am suddenly dreading Naito/KENTA. They’re great at throwing poses but haven’t convinced me the match itself will be anything worth remembering. You can argue the same happened in tonight’s main event but IWGP Heavyweight Championship matches are held to a higher standard than a special attraction match.

Aside from Taichi big moment, what will stick with me most from the show is the simultaneous Ushigoroshis from Goto and Ishii while BUSHI is locked in the Ron Miller Special. What a great visual. All in all the show had its highlights but was decent at best.

Along with providing show reviews from across Japan, Robert McCauley is also an editor for WrestlingDesk.

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