The New Beginning tour wrapped up in Osaka, as we all found out if Jay White’s new era was truly underway.
Coming from the Edion Arena in Osaka, we’ve again got Kevin Kelly and Don Callis on commentary
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Jushin Thunder Liger
With Takashi Iizuka retiring in ten days’ time, you’ve got to expect something here involving Tenzan… and sure enough, he was out with a t-shirt from the dark ages (relatively speaking), commemorating his former team with Iizuka.
Yeah, it led to a jump start with Tenzan and Iizuka putting the boots to each other before Tenzan’s shoulder tackle got him ahead. Liger’s in, throwing Iizuka outside for a baseball slide dropkick, before Don Callis ran away. Ah, he was only on fleetingly too.
We’ve more bedlam on the outside as Suzuki whipped Liger into the guard rails, before he went into the crowd as the camera crew badly struggled to keep up. Iizuka whacks a chair on Tenzan on one side of the arena, before we returned to the ring, with Liger getting caught in a hanging armbar as Suzuki got involved from the apron. Some biting from Iizuka keeps Liger at bay, before Iizuka went over to nibble away on Tenzan’s mullet. There’s some for Kojima too, before Suzuki came in and grabbed hold of the Liger by the horns.
The exchanges between Liger and Suzuki were fun to watch, but probably not to take as a snapmare and a PK gets Suzuki a near-fall, before TAKA came in and scored a two-count from a knee strike. A Shotei from Liger sends TAKA flying, before tags bring in Kojima and Suzuki to tee off on each other, with machine gun chops just being laughed off. So Suzuki gets more of them.
Suzuki and Kojima continue to tee off on each other, until Suzuki’s smacking elbows ranga round the arena. Poor Kojima. A rear naked choke’s next, but Iizuka tags in for some more biting on Kojima only to get cut-off with a Koji cutter. Tenzan’s back in to get a near-fall from a suplex to Iizuka, before a Mountain Bomb and an Anaconda Vise caused the ring to fill to break up the hold.
Suzuki takes some Mongolian chops that send him outside, before a Ten-Koji Cutter dropped Iizuka once more. Tenzan gets that old t-shirt and tries to wake up Iizuka with it, only for Suzuki to kick him away to prevent the brainwashing. A chair’s brought in… but Iizuka gets in Suzuki’s way to stop him from using it… because he wanted to whack Tenzan himself… and there’s your DQ! Ah, you big tease! This was okay, but this was all about building up to Iizuka’s retirement, complete with the Iron Finger shot to Tenzan afterwards. **½
After the match, Iizuka and Suzuki rip apart the signed t-shirt that Tenzan had, as Suzuki-gun wandered to the back.
Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA)
Well isn’t this the acid test? Yoshida and Umino finally started to pick up some wins on this tour, but against the IWGP tag team champions… it’s going to be a hard ask, especially when they were pinned in less than ten minutes at World Tag League only a few months ago.
The Young Lion team get into it before the bell, as we start with EVIL just charging down Yoshida… only for the K-DOJO trainee to come back with some forearms as a double-team shoulder tackle knocked EVIL to the mat. Umino tags in to drop EVIL with a slam, only for EVIL to sidestep him as he turned the match back around with a slam of his own.
SANADA’s in next for a slam, then quickly back out as Umino was being used as a slamming tackling dummy. Quick tags and quick slams! Osaka were finding this comedic, although Yoshida did have to dive in to make a save when EVIL went for a cover. EVIL keeps up the pressure, wringing the arm of Umino in the corner, only for the Young Lion to get free and respond with a missile dropkick before Yoshida got the tag in.
Yep, Yoshida knocks SANADA off the apron before he lit up EVIL with chops… there’s similar treatment for SANADA as my browser froze for a spell, before Umino returned in to knock down SANADA with a back elbow. A vertical suplex is good for a two-count, before Umino and Yoshida double-teamed SANADA en route to another missile dropkick. EVIL breaks that one up, before a bridging German suplex from Umino almost led to the upset as SANADA barely kicked out in time.
Umino goes for a Fisherman’s suplex, but SANADA gets free, only to run into another dropkick. Another crack at the Fisherman’s suplex is nicely flipped out of and into a Skull End, but Umino slips out and chains together some flash roll-ups for two-counts as he sensed a weakness… and then EVIL comes in to even things up. A belly-to-back suplex from SANADA gets him a two-count, and once Yoshida was dispatched to the outside, a Magic Killer gets SANADA the win – but my God, this was not convincing at all on his part. ***¼
Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI & Shingo Takagi)
Yeah, it’s another one of these.
We had a jump start too, as Taichi went after Naito at the bell, taking him outside and into the guard railings, then into the ring post as the rest of Suzuki-gun went after BUSHI and Shingo away from the camera’s view. A chairshot to Naito almost took us to a count-out, but Taichi throws Naito back inside, where Desperado was waiting for him with a neckbreaker.
Naito gets tossed outside again, this time with Kanemaru throwing him into the guard rails ahead of a step-up leg drop as LIJ were really having a hard time here, with Naito’s taped-up shoulder having a particular bull’s eye on it. Taichi comes in to remove, then choke Naito with the trainer’s tape, and before long it’s time to whip off the trousers.
A buzzsaw kick from Taichi fells Naito for a two-count, before a ‘rana helped Naito tag out as we got to Desperado and BUSHI, with the latter scoring a missile dropkick. Shingo’s in next to try and chop his way through Desperado, who punches back, before landing a spear as Kanemaru returned to dropkick the knee away from Shingo.
Kanemaru looks for a Deep Impact DDT, but he’s just caught and suplexed by Shingo, who then went for a Pumping Bomber, only to have to settle for a deadlift suplex after Kanemaru went for the eyes. Naito’s back in to go for a Combinacion Cabron to Kanemaru, with a shot at Taichi in the middle of it, as things broke down a little. Taichi breaks up a Gloria attempt as the ring started to fill-up… BUSHI heads outside with Desperado in a plancha, while Kanemaru finally takes a Pumping Bomber, ahead of a Destino as Naito left with the W. This was pretty decent, but you know my takes on these sorts of matches – it’s very unlikely we’re going back to these matches after the New Beginning ends, so it just felt very… superfluous? ***¼
After the match, SHO & YOH met Shingo and BUSHI on the aisle and started to beat them down. The crowd booed that as they took their belts, then ran into the ring as they asked for a title shot…
Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens) vs. Tomoaki Honma & YOSHI-HASHI
Remember when YOSHI-HASHI beat Pete Dunne? That feels like a million miles away on this current form, especially given his recent struggle to beat Ren Narita…
We miss the jump start as the production crew was showing us Jushin Thunder Liger on the commentary row, and we start with Yujiro taking Honma into the corner for a big boot to the face. Honma rebounds with a shoulder tackle, before he slammed Yujiro… only for CHase Owens to interfere to stop Kokeshi.
This crowd is dead for this match. Like, more than usual. Mounted punches from Yujiro keep Honma down, before Chase comes in and punches Honma in the throat, having distracted the referee with a phantom hair pull. Yujiro came in and almost pinned Honma, before a suplex from Honma showed he had enough fight left in him to make the tag out to YOSHI-HASHI.
YOSHI-HASHI gets whipped into the corner, but comes back with a chop and a shoulder tackle before Chase trips him to the outside. Not to worry, Chase gets suplexed on the floor before YOSHI returned to score with a Head Hunter running Blockbuster for a near-fall. A sliding dropkick from Yujiro looked to lead to a Fisherman buster, but instead YOSHI-HASHI countered with a suplex that he lost, then came back with a Bunker Buster… that gets countered into a Fisherman buster by Yujiro.
A rear spin kick from YOSHI-HASHI gets him some breathing room as tags take us back to Honma and Owens. Chase gets slammed then railed on in the corner ahead of a bulldog and… a missed Kokeshi. Yeah. Never change, Honma. Forearms and boots trap Honma in the ropes before a running knee from Owens nearly ends it, before Honma fought back with a headbutt and a leaping Kokeshi. YOSHI-HASHI runs in with a knee strike ahead of a Kokeshi for Honma, who nearly got the win, before he got up and began to chop away at Owens some more.
Double-teaming with Yujiro led to a back suplex/neckbreaker combo, before a Final Cut got Owens a near-fall… as a package piledriver ended up doing the trick with the Bullet Club getting the win. Well, this dragged a little, with the crowd seemingly not caring much. I don’t know what you do, but that’s two matches in a row that YOSHI-HASHI has looked particularly unstable in, which must be becoming a concern. **½
SURPRISE KOTA IBUSHI! He’d been out of action since WrestleKingdom with a concussion – and as he’s reportedly not under a New Japan deal, some had been tagging him with a possible move to AEW… but he declares that he’s not going anywhere, he’s staying in New Japan! Especially because he wants to be a part of next month’s New Japan Cup. Cue a sigh of relief…
Togi Makabe & Toru Yano vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
No longer a good boy, Tama Tonga’s back to being what you usually tell your good boy to do. HEEL. Especially when he jumped his opponents in the aisle, barely seconds into Makabe’s overdub.
The Guerrillas charge Makabe into the guard rails as the pre-match beating gave them a huge advantage. Tanga Loa rolls Yano into the ring to start off, as some double-teaming almost ends this quickly, only for Togi Makabe to break up a Magic Killer as the match then spilled into the crowd.
Tama throws chairs and… a fan’s bag onto Toru Yano, before he proved his bad guy credentials by emptying out said bag. The crowd booed more for that than anything in the prior match! Yano barely beats the count-out, but the tide doesn’t change as Tanga Loa throws him into the corner before Tama continued the beat down. Eventually Yano tried to get back into it, pulling down Tanga Loa by his trimmed man bun, before tagging in Makabe, who was full of the proverbial piss and vinegar.
Corner-to-corner clotheslines led to mounted punches for Tanga, before clattering clotheslines led to Tanga Loa slamming Makabe. A tag’s made to Yano, who goes straight for the turnbuckle pads… Tama stops himself from running into the exposed corner, but can’t stop it a second time as Yano followed up with a turnbuckle pad shot to Tama. Jado threatens with his Kendo stick, which distracts Yano long enough for Tama to come back in with a dropkick, as a double-team neckbreaker nearly ended the match.
In the end, Jado manages to crack Makabe with the Kendo stick… but he’s not legal, and after Yano shoved Tama Tonga into the referee, we get a low blow for Tanga Loa… before Tama uses the Kendo stick on Yano ahead of a Gun Stun for the win. This was fine, but it says a lot when emptying out a fan’s bag draws the biggest heat. Still, it’s establishing a more violent Tama Tonga, even if you can’t quite do anything with him with his. Unless they’re planning a singles run? **½
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Taiji Ishimori (c)
Something tells me that Taguchi’s still poking fun here…
Don’t worry, underneath those dungarees, Taguchi has regular gear on – he’s not doing a TK Cooper! Taguchi goes for the leg early on, only for Ishimori to grab a wrist as he found a way to subdue his challenger, before a roll through to avoid a leapfrog led to Ishimori getting caught in an ankle lock.
Ishimori scuttles outside and actually applauds the Sailor Boy dance Taguchi does, before they swap places as Ishimori faked out… then did the dance himself. Well, he’s owning the mind games here, and Taguchi is beside himself!
Back inside, Ishimori puts the boots to Taguchi, before he turned up the speed en route to a springboard seated senton. A cravat keeps Taguchi grounded, before a chinlock/backbreaker drew a near-fall, before a chinlock takedown took Taguchi into a crossface in the middle of the ring.
Taguchi breaks free and heads outside for Ishimori with a body press to the floor, before returning inside with a missile dropkick… that takes Ishimori back outside ahead of a tope con giro to the outside! Inside again, a kick from Taguchi drops Ishimori, only to get caught with a baseball side German suplex as the momentum continued to shift, with Taguchi quickly coming back with an ankle lock out of nowhere.
A shinbreaker from Taguchi, then a front suplex leaves him down as we’re back to the “Oh My Garankle” ankle lock, only for Ishimori to get to the ropes as he’s right back in with a tombstone gutbuster. Another ankle lock follows as Taguchi just walks Ishimori from the ropes, then cinches down on the hold before he pulled Ishimori into a Dodon to come within a hair’s breadth of winning the title!
Taguchi fires up as he looked for a Burning Hammer, only for Ishimori to come back with a clothesline, before a death valley driver (that almost ended in a Jackhammer) drew Ishimori a near-fall. An enziguiri out of nowhere opened it up for another Dodon, only for Ishimori to strike back with a Bloody Cross to end the Taguchi resistance. This was all kinds of fun – having gone into this not expecting Taguchi to win, I was really into the near-falls at the end, but in the end, there was really no way Ishimori was losing. ****¼
After the match, Jushin Thunder Liger leaves the commentary table… and he’s challenged by Taiji Ishimori as Liger’s 30th year in wrestling could well end with him winning gold?!
Bad Luck Fale vs. Kazuchika Okada
Fale’s out with Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi – and I guess that’s why he’s back to using the generic Bullet Club theme. Surprisingly, these guys are 3-3 in prior singles matches…
We’ve a hot start too, as Okada’s jumped by Fale, before he took him outside for a plancha as the match broke down. Fale uses a chair behind the ref’s back, which just meant that when he stood on Okada seconds later, we were getting a bit of a theme developing, as Fale looked to wear out Okada’s lower back.
A beautiful back body drop sent Okada into the skies, almost leading to him landing on his head as Okada rolled outside to cough up a lung or something. It almost led to the count-out, but Okada rolls back in and tries to fight back, clocking Fale with some forearms before stupidly going for a body slam, with Fale falling back onto him.
More forearms from Okada led to him clattering into Fale with a back elbow ahead of a body slam… but it left Okada wracked in more pain, as he seemed to be a hair slower than usual. A low dropkick took Fale into the ropes, ahead of another back elbow and a DDT for a near-fall.
Fale’s back with a shoulder charge and a Samoan drop for a near-fall, before he blasted thru Okada with some forearms. Okada’s shotgun dropkick takes Fale back into the corner, ahead of a massive neckbreaker slam as Fale was forced to kick out to keep the match alive. A top rope elbow drop follows, ahead of a Rainmaker pose that prompted Chase Owens to bellow “he’s going for the Rainmaker”… which Fale just muscled out of as he lands his own clothesline for a near-fall.
Okada looked like he was running on fumes as he was sent into the corner, before a body splash and a big splash nearly put him away. A Bad Luck Fall looked to be next, but Okada wriggled onto the apron and hit a missile dropkick to weather the storm. Chase Owens comes in to interfere, only for Okada to knock him off… Fale pulls the referee into the path of an Okada forearm, and now we get the beatdown.
A Fisherman buster from Yujiro and a running knee from Owens before YOSHI-HASHI successfully negotiated the ramp and the ring apron to make the save. A Western Lariat dropped Owens, only for Fale to charge him out of the ring, before a spear smashed Okada in half.
Another Bad Luck Fall’s avoided as Okada slipped free, then returned fire with a dropkick, only for a Rainmaker to get countered into a Grenade for a very close near-fall! From there, Fale threatens to give himself a nose bleed as he heads up top, only to get caught by an Okada superplex as Okada finally landed the Rainmaker. A second one followed for good measure, and that’s enough to get the win. Solid stuff considering the limitations, but I genuinely expected there to be a twist in the tail here. ***½
There was no twist afterwards either, as YOSHI-HASHI celebrated with Okada as I genuinely think the “CHAOS mole” storyline’s a goner.
IWGP Championship: Jay White vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (c)
Apparently Jay White’s only been wrestling for six years. That’s an insane turnaround considering he’s gone through the Young Lion system and is already slotted in the main event…
From the off, White instantly powders to the outside, demanding that we do things on his terms, before he hit the ring and locked-up with Tanahashi, trying to out-muscle him into the corners. Instead, we end up in the ropes as White looked to go for the champion’s leg, before a drop-down from White was so telegraphed, Tanahashi was able to follow him down and into a headlock.
Tanahashi keeps hold of the headlock, but White got free and tried to go for the legs, dragging Tanahashi towards the ring post… but Tanahashi just pulls in into the post. They head outside, where White’s tossed into the crowd barriers, before Gedo’s attempt at a cheapshot just gave White plenty of time to recover.
A Saito suplex took Tanahashi from the ring to the floor after White’d snuck back in, and that opened up the door for White’s usual tactics, charging Tanahashi between the guard rails and ring apron repeatedly. Finally back inside, White chops out Tanahashi’s knee, then suplexed the champion into the corner as he finally got his wish of slamming Tanahashi’s leg into the ring post.
We’re back outside as White suplexes Tanahashi over the guard rails and onto the commentary table. Somehow Tanahashi makes it back inside as he unloaded with some forearms, knocking White to the mat before he followed up with a scoop slam and a flip senton to crush White for a near-fall.
White again kicks out the knees of Tanahashi, immobilising the champion briefly before he ran into a low dropkick. Tanahashi teases a High Fly Flow crossbody, but he second guesses himself, instead coming down into the path of a sliding Flatliner from White before a brainbuster almost led to a new champion.
Chops trap Tanahashi in the ropes… but White spends too much time mouthing off as Tanahashi comes right back with a Dragon screw in the ropes. That took White outside and into the path of a High Fly Flow crossbody on the floor as Tanahashi damn near went coast-to-coast. Back inside, Tanahashi keeps going for a Twist and Shout, eventually nailing it.
My feed craps out again as White sank to his knees to avoid a Slingblade… if it were strategy, it backfired as a strait-jacket German suplex from Tanahashi almost ends it. Tanahashi heads up top as he looked for a High Fly Flow, but he has to deal with Gedo again before a High Fly Flow to the back crushes White. Not being Kamala, Tanahashi rolls over White and heads up again, but White rolls away and looked to go for the TTO… but Tanahashi swats him away instead.
White locks in the TTO anyway, but Tanahashi eventually gets to the ropes as White recomposed himself. Tanahashi’s pretty much dead weight as commentary surmised that we’d be getting a ref stoppage, but instead White hauls up Tanahashi for a Saito suplex… then another… before a death valley bomb led to a near-fall. A Kiwi Krusher’s next, as White’s busting out everything here in search of the title… but Tanahashi kicks out and ends up taking a sleeper suplex for his troubles.
From there, White goes for a Blade Runner, but Tanahashi counters into a small package for a near-fall before he continued to swat away White. A low dropkick from Tanahashi saw him fake out a Dragon screw, as he then proceeded to Dragon screw White’s leg into the mat ahead of a Cloverleaf… but they’re painfully close to the ropes… so Tanahashi walks him away as White eventually got to the bottom strand.
Except Tanahashi just pulls him away as White is pulled into a head stand as Tanahashi switches it into a Styles Clash! Tanahashi tries for a Dragon suplex, but has to settle for a Slingblade when White looked to counter into a Blade Runner… a second Slingblade followed for a near-fall. A Dragon suplex is next for a near-fall, with Tanahashi unable to hold the bridge, before Tanahashi went up for a High Fly Flow crossbody… which White caught and turned into a Blade Runner… and that’s it! On V0, we have a new champion, with Jay White crowning his rise to the top in monumental fashion.
Perhaps not a mat classic, but a very good match that played off of the past few tours of White antagonising and torturing Tanahashi led to him making the most of it… but by God, White was made to work for it. ****¼
Post-match, White reminds us how his final match as a Young Lion came two and a half years ago at Osaka’s Jo-Hall – before telling us that he won this in spite of the fans. Not sure they were meant to cheer that.
This perhaps wasn’t a top-to-bottom, all time great show, but it’s one that was monumental for the reasons you’d expect. Is this Jay White, the transitional champion, or is this the start of the Cut Throat Era? Only time will tell, but New Japan pulling the trigger is certainly a brave move – one that has to be lauded in this current atmosphere.