Saturday, February 27, 2016

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

Yuji Nagata challenges Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Title, while the NEVER Openweight Title is vacated!

NJPW The New Beginning in Sendai 2015
Sendai, Japan 2/14/15

It was announced before the show began that, once again, NEVER Openweight Champion Togi Makabe was off the show due to a severe case of the flu. Because of this, New Japan had decided to strip the NEVER Openweight Title from Makabe, declaring it vacant and announced that a Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma singles match later on in the night would decide the new champion.

1.) Captain New Japan & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Satoshi Kojima & Yohei Komatsu: *¾

We start things off with a pretty random tag team match. Nothing really much to say about this one, other than it sucks to see Kojima in this position, because he still has a good amount left in the tank. Nakanishi & Captain New Japan get the win in a pretty forgettable match.

2.) ROH World Tag Team Champions reDRagon vs. Tiger Mask & Jay White: ***

Our next contest sees the former IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions reDRagon taking on Tiger Mask & Jay White. Fish & O’Reilly lost their titles in a three-way match in Osaka a few days before, but weren’t the team that was pinned. This was a very solid undercard tag team match. reDRagon are just so fun to watch, and they worked well here with Tiger Mask & Jay White. In the end, White would fall to Chasing The Dragon, which leads to Fish & O’Reilly getting the win.

3.) Six-Man Tag - The Time Splitters & Mascara Dorada vs. The Bullet Club (IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks): ***1/4

Back at The New Beginning in Osaka, Alex Shelley & Mascara Dorada save Rysuke Taguchi from a Bullet Club beatdown, and Dorada make it clear that he’s the next challenger for Omega’s IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title. As far as this match goes, it was pretty good. A very fun match, as you would expect for these six guys. Dorada gets the win for his team, continuing to build momentum towards his eventuall title match.

4.) NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title - Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Chase Owens (with Bruce Tharpe): **1/2

This is the first of two NWA title matches on the card. Liger actually won the NWA World Jr. Heavyweight Title from Owens back at Power Struggle 2014. This was a decent match, but not much else. A perfectly fine undercard title match. Liger ends up reversing a package piledriver attempt with a pin to retain his title!

After the match, Liger challenges Tiger Mask (who was in Liger’s corner) to a title match, Tiger Mask accepts. It’s odd to see a champion calling out a challenger, but I’m sure the match will be good.

5.) NWA World Heavyweight Title - Rob Conway (with Bruce Tharpe) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan: ***3/4

Up next we have our 2nd NWA title match of the night, but this time it’s Rob Conway defending the NWA World Heavyweight Title against Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Now I don’t think anyone was expecting much coming into this match. From what I’ve gathered, Conway really hasn’t set the world on fire in his previous New Japan appearances, but this match came out of left field. This was actually a really good match, bordering on great. It ended up being much better than I think anyone expected. I don’t know what it was, but this match just worked. Conway was good, Tenzan was good, and Bruce Tharpe played his role very well. In the end, Tenzan is able to overcome the attempted outside interference from Tharpe to defeat Conway and win the NWA World Heavyweight Title! Again, much better than you could have possibly imagined.

6.) Kota Ibushi & Tetsuya Naito vs. Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano: **¾

This is an interesting tag team match. Ibushi & Naito are a semi-regular team, which Yano & Sakuraba have been partners for a few months. This was a fine tag team match. Nothing really much else to say. Naito is able to counter Yano’s shenanigans to score the win for his team.

7.) CHAOS (“Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi): **¾

Once again, Okada is in tag team action against Bad Luck Fale, but this time, it’s a two-on-two encounter. I’d say this was very similar to the tag team match that preceded. It was totally fine and inoffensive, but not much else. Okada takes out Yujiro with a Rainmaker to get the victory for his team.

8.) Six-Man Tag - Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto, & Katsuyori Shibata vs. The Bullet Club (Tama Tonga & IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows): ***¼

AJ Styles is oddly not on this show, so instead we have Tama Tonga in this Six-Man Tag. I’d say this was pretty solid. It might have been the best Six-Man Tag of the two shows (though I think the Omega/Young Bucks vs. Dorada/Time Spitters match was on par with this one). Everyone did a good job here, and in the end, the babyface side of Tanahashi, Goto & Shibata would pick up the win.

9.) NEVER Openweight Title - Tomohiro Ishii & Tomoaki Honma: ****3/4

As mentioned earlier, Togi Makabe was unable to complete due to a bad case of the flu, so he was stripped of the title, and this match is going to decide the new NEVER Openweight Champion. All I have to say is this match was awesome!!!! These went right at each other right from the opening bell and didn’t let up until the end of match. Just great, hard hitting action from start to finish. These two nearly killed each other at several points in this match. Ishii came off like a badass and the crowd was SO behind the underdog Honma. Eventually, Ishii was able to put away Honma to reclaim the NEVER Openweight Title. An absolutely brutal affair, and one of the best matches of 2015!!

10.) IWGP Intercontinental Title - Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Yuji Nagata: ***½

We’ve finally reached the Main Event. Nagata won the pre-show “Rambo” at Wrestle Kingdom 9, and used this victory to challenge Nakamura at New Year Dash 2015. Nagata’s family was at ringside to cheer him on. This was a really good match, though as the Main Event, it was slightly disappointing. I’m sure part of it had to do with the fact that they had to follow an incredible match between Ishii & Honma, but this match just didn’t reach the levels of their encounter during the 2014 G1 Climax. The finish of the match felt anticlimactic as well, as Nakamura won out of nowhere. With all of that said, this was still a very good match. Nakamura celebrates to close the show.

Overall: 8.0/10

While one would think that The New Beginning in Osaka would have been the better show of the two, The New Beginning in Sendai was actually slightly better. You had an incredible match with Ishii vs. Honma for the vacant NEVER Openweight Title, that was a legitimate Match of the Year Contender. You also had a NWA World Heavyweight Title Match that was significantly better than anyone anticipated. While the IWGP Intercontinental Title Match was disappointing, albeit still pretty good, the rest of the undercard was, as a whole, more consistent compared to the Osaka, and in the end, it made for a slightly better show.

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