Saturday, February 27, 2016

New Japan Pro-Wrestling - The New Beginning in Osaka 2015 Review

AJ Styles challenges Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Title!

NJPW The New Beginning In Osaka
Osaka, Japan 2/11/15

Before the show, it was announced that NEVER Openweight Champion Togi Makabe would be missing the show due to a severe case of the flu. Some of the undercard had to be reshuffled as a result.

1.) Sho Tanaka vs. Yohei Komatsu: **¾

The show kicks off with a battle between two of New Japan’s Young Lions! This was a pretty solid opener. You can always count on Komatsu & Tanaka to deliver good performances in these spots, and this was no exception. Tanaka would pick up the win in this encounter.

2.) Captain New Japan & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Mascara Dorada & Tiger Mask: *3/4

Here we have a team of two heavyweights taking on a team of two juniors, which is a very rare occurrence in New Japan. This wasn’t very good, as you would expect, but it was the best match possible considering who was involved. Mascara Dorada gets the win for his team over Captain New Japan, which commentary makes a big deal out of (since it’s a junior pinning a heavyweight).

3.) NWA World Heavyweight Champion Rob Conway & Chase Owens (with Bruce Tharpe) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title Jushin “Thunder” Liger: **½

There are two NWA title matches taking place at The New Beginning in Sendai a few days later, so it’s natural that the two sides would team leading up to it. Tenzan & Liger is a pretty unique team. As far as the match itself goes, this was fine. It was a solid undercard tag team match. Completely inoffensive. In the end, Owens would pick up the win over Liger, setting up their upcoming title match.

Afterwords, Bruce Tharpe drapes the NWA Flag over the body of Liger.

4.) Kota Ibushi vs. Tomoaki Honma: ****

Now this was a match that I was really looking forward to coming into this show, and sure enough, it delivered! Both guys are just so entertaining to watch in the ring that it was almost impossible for this match to be bad. You also have a bit of a backstory here, as Honma was the one who replaced Ibushi in the 2014 G1 Climax when the former IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion had to pull out due to a severe concussion. A great match here, which sees Ibushi getting the victory.
5.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - Triple Threat Match - reDRagon vs. The Young Bucks vs. The Time Splitters: ****

This is basically a rematch from Wrestle Kingdom 9, except it’s a three-way match instead of a four-way match (no Forever Hooligans in this one). As you would expect, this was a great match. These are three of the best tag team in the world, so it should be no surprise that this delivered. Really fun action from start to finish. The Young Bucks regain the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles here by pinning one of The Time Spitters, not reDRagon, which is a key note, since reDRagon have only one loss as a team in New Japan at this point, that being their debut at the Seibu Dome.

6.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title - Kenny Omega vs. Ryusuke Taguchi: **

So Omega won the title back at Wrestling Kingdom 9, and this is Taguchi’s rematch. This rematch has been built up by Kenny Omega shoving flagpoles up Taguchi’s ass. No seriously, that’s how they’ve actually built this match. This was….barely passable. Omega’s comedy stuff just doesn’t work in a New Japan environment. Omega gets the win (as expected) to retain his title.

After the match, Omega & The Young Bucks attack Taguchi until Mascara Dorada & Alex Shelley make the save. Dorada has a stare down with Omega, so I guess that’ll be the next title match.

7.) Six-Man Tag - CHAOS (“Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano) & Kazushi Sakuraba vs. The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, & Yujiro Takahashi): **¼

Okada is still reeling from his devastating loss to Tanahashi and Wrestle Kingdom 9, and to make matters worse, he’s stuck in a feud with Bad Luck Fale, after the former IWGP Intercontinental Champion pinned him in a tag team match at New Year Dash 2015. As far as this match is concerned, there really wasn’t much to it. The main objective here was to continue building the coming Okada/Fale singles match, which it did. Okada gets the win for his team with a Rainmaker on Tama Tonga.

8.) Six-Man Tag - Satoshi Kojima, Tetsuya Naito, & Yuji Nagata vs. CHAOS (IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii, & YOSHI-HASHI): ***

Here we have another Six-Man Tag, but this one has a more immediate build, as Yuji Nagata is challenging Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Title at The New Beginning in Sendai. This was much better than the previous Six-Man Tag. Everyone is this match is good, so it’s no surprise that this turned out to be a very respectable undercard match. Nagata’s team scored the win, continuing the build towards Nakamura vs. Nagata.

9.) IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata vs. The Bullet Club (Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows): ***1/2

Goto & Shibata ended the one year title run of Anderson & Gallows back at Wrestle Kingdom 9, and this is the chance for The Bullet Club to take the titles back. I really enjoyed this match. I’d put it on-par with their match from Wrestle Kingdom 9, but if I had to pick, the match in the Tokyo Dome was the better of the two. Still, this was a very good match. In a shocking result, Anderson & Gallows won the titles back, ending the reign of Goto & Shibata before it could really begin.

10.) IWGP Heavyweight Title - Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles: ****

Styles lost the IWGP Heavyweight Title to Tanahashi at King of Pro-Wrestling 2014. However, Styles was able to score a pinfall victory over Tanahashi in a multi-man tag team match at New Year Dash 2015, which has led to this rematch. This was a great Main Event. It wasn’t fantastic, by any means, but it was still a really good match. At one point, Tanahashi hit a huge dive from the top rope to the floor onto the rest of The Bullet Club, and clunked heads with one of The Young Bucks, busting Tanahashi open. It was unintentional, but Tanahashi being busted open definitely added to this match. In the end, Tanahashi’s best efforts weren’t enough, as AJ Styles picked up to win to regain the IWGP Heavyweight Title. Styles celebrates with The Bullet Club to close the show.

Overall: 7.75/10

While nothing on this show was a Match of the Year Contender, The New Beginning in Osaka was a very solid outing from New Japan. You had three real standouts with Ibushi/Honma, the Three-Way for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles, and the Main Event for the IWGP Heavyweight Title. All three of those matches were great, but I don’t think either of them really stood out as a definitive Match of the Night. You also had another really good match for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. The rest of the undercard was largely forgettable.

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