New Japan Pro Wrestling
THE NEW BEGINNING IN OSAKA
February 11, 2019
Osaka Prefectural Gym
Kevin Kelly and Don Callis on commentary.
SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka & TAKA Michinoku)
TEN-KOJI & JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER
Tenzan takes the mic again as he has the last couple of events and talks to Iizuka, and shows him the t-shirt he’s wearing of Tenzan and Iizuka as friends. He tells Iizuka to wake up, Tenzan says he and Iizuka will tag again and again Iizuka attacks before the bell. The action spills outside and its chaos at the start. Iizuka and Tenzan back in and Iizuka beats down Tenzan, Iizuka runs the ropes but Tenzan takes him down with a tackle. Tag to Liger who dumps Iizuka and hits a baseball slide as Kojima lays in boots and tosses Iizuka back inside where Liger looks for the surfboard before Suzuki pulls him off and Suzuki-Gun gets chaotic again.
The action spills into the crowd with Iizuka getting a chair shot on Tenzan and then stomping Tenzan down. The ref begins the count but Liger gets thrown back in to break it as SG works the numbers advantage and Suzuki gets the hanging rope armbar. Iizuka is tagged in and unmasked and he bites Liger in the arm, then bites Tenzan who goes down at ringside and then bites Kojima. Liger is pulled up by the horns and bitten again, allowing Suzuki-Gun to get the triple team. Tag to Suzuki, shots traded with Liger but Suzuki absorbs each one and hits a kick to the back, covers but only gets 2.
TAKA in who hits a nice knee in the corner and a running knee of the ropes, cover but only gets 2. Liger mounts a comeback and knocks TAKA down off the ropes, and Kojima and Suzuki both get tags and trade an aaggressive flurry of strikes. Kojima looks for the corner boot but Kojima counters into Machine Gun strikes. Suzuki just laughs between each set of chops, Kojima looks to set up the elbow drop but Suzuki rolls out of it and strikes Kojima, snapmare and PK follows with a cover but only 2.
Kojima and Suzuki square off and start trading blows, Kojima gets a nice flurry off, but Suzuki just cracks off a single forearm that staggers Kojima. JESUS. Suzuki keeps going before snagging Kojima into the choke and looks for Gotch, lifts him but Kojima reverses into a backdrop. Kojima sets up the lariat, Suzuki evades back into the choke, Iizuka tags in and bites Kojima’s forehead before falling to a Koji-Cutter. Tag to Tenzan, who lays in Mongolian chops to Iizuka, Tenzan crushes him in the corner and hits the big suplex, covers but only gets 2.
Tenzan with a Mountain Bomb, cover but still only 2. Anaconda Vice is attempted but Suzuki-Gun breaks it up, Tenzan gets Mongolian Chops on Suzuki as Kojima comes in and they hit the Ten-Koji Cutter, Tenzan gets the t-shirt and puts it in Iizuka’s face. Suzuki hits a big kick and beats down Tenzan, then gets a chair and looks to hit Tenzan but Iizuka steps in between, looks like he’s going to protect Tenzan but then takes the chair and lays it into Tenzan’s throat himself as the ref calls for the DQ.
Ten-Koji & Jushin Thunder Liger defeat Suzuki-Gun by DQ after a chair shot
JAY’S RATING: 2 out of 5
This didnt do much for me, it sort of stayed on one note the whole time for me and just repeated the same basic storyline between Tenzan and Iizuka that we’ve already seen. Nothing new was added, and the ring work was fine at best. Eh.
After the bell, Iizuka gets the iron glove and crushes Tenzan in the throat again. Liger tries to protect Tenzan but gets beaten down soon, as Suzuki and Iizuka tear up the shirt.
AYATO YOSHIDA & SHOTA UMINO
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (EVIL & SANADA)
Yoshida and EVIL start us off at the bell. EVIL gets a headlock to start, whipped to the ropes but Yoshida gets dropped with a tackle. Yoshida comes back with a tackle of his own and tags in Umino and they get EVIL down with a double tackle. Umino looks for the slam but EVIL reverses, and Umino re-reverses and gets the full body slam. EVIL fires back, hits another slam and tags in SANADA who nails a slam of his own. Tag to EVIL, slam. Tag to SANADA, slam. Tag to EVIL, you guessed it, another slam. Cover by EVIL but only gets a 2 count.
Chinlock by EVIL. Yoshida in to try to help but EVIL turns him away with a chop. Umino fires back but misses a dropkick and EVIL takes advantage with a half Crab until Umino powers to the ropes. Big chops by EVIL but he eats a missile dropkick off the ropes by Umino, who looks to tag Yoshida and does. Yoshida in hot, takes down EVIL with a forearm and keeps SANADA at bay. Big chops by Yoshida stagger EVIL and Yoshida gets a nice boot and a shoot kick, covers EVIL but only gets 2.
Backdrop by Yoshida is blocked, EVIL hits a senton and covers but only gets 2. Tag to SANADA but Yoshida floors him with a kick to the chest, tag to Umino who out-speeds SANADA and takes him down with a forearm. Suplex by Umino connects, cover but only a 2. Waistlock by Umino, SANADA reverses but Yoshida hits a kick, double team on SANADA connects and Umino hits a top rope missile dropkick on SANADA, covers but EVIL breaks it at 2. EVIL gets sent into the barricade, Umino hits an Everest German suplex with a bridge (NICE) and covers but only gets 2!
Umino stays on SANADA, looks for a fisherman suplex he’s used as a finish, SANADA fights out but eats an Umino dropkick. Fisherman attempt again but SANADA goes behind with a dragon sleeper, Umino turns it into a rollup for 2, gets another rollup and gets a close 2 on SANADA. Strikes by Umino but he misses in the corner and LIJ gets a double team sequence, suplex from SANADA and a cover but only 2. LIJ hits Magic Killer, cover by SANADA and thats the WIN.
LIJ defeats Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino by pinfall after Magic Killer
JAY’S RATING: 2.5 out of 5
This wasnt a bad match insofar as Yoshida and Umino got a chance to show some really solid stuff again, both of them seeming poised to break out if they want to as they start to level up their status. However, I also question how much LIJ was kept on their toes, not that the Young Lions cant get some solid and competitive offense in, but this was REALLY close, and LIJ are the champs. So the storytelling felt off to me, and LIJ’s victory at the end didnt really have the impact I would have hoped. A fine outing, but lacking.
SUZUKI-GUN (Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado)
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI)
Suzuki-Gun jumps LIJ before the bell because OF COURSE THEY DO. The action spills out of the ring with Taichi running Naito into the barricade as chaos ensues. Finally the ref begins the count as Taichi puts a chair into Naito’s face. Taichi sends Naito back in and follows in, then mocks the tranquilo pose to a chorus of boos. Taichi works over the taped shoulder and neck of Naito and tags in Desperado, who hits a neckbreaker. Desperado keeps the aggression on, and Kanemaru is able to hit a dropkick as Naito was draped on a rope, Desperado covers but only gets 2. Naito sent outside and Kanemaru gets the slicing leg drop over the barricade and beats Naito down.
Naito sent back in, tag to Kanemaru who keeps on the shoulder and neck. Cover but only 2. Tag to Taichi who rips the tape off of Naito and then uses it to choke Naito while the ref is distracted. Taichi spits on Naito and toys with him. Naito tries to fire back but cant put much behind it, so Taichi puts him down with a kick and the pants go flying, and Taichi lands a HARD buzzsaw kick and covers but only gets 2. Bomb by Taichi is reversed into a rana and Naito hits a running dropkick and both are down. Naito gets the tag to BUSHI, Desperado tagged as well, BUSHI gets the running rana but misses in the corner, is able to land a missile dropkick but Kanemaru cuts him off.
BUSHI evades the double team and gets a Romero-style double rana to take both over. Desperado catches BUSHI off the ropes with a spinebuster to get momentum back, but BUSHI lands a DDT and tags in Shingo. Shingo catches a Desperado spear and they trade shots, Shingo gets the strike advantage but Desperado hits a spear and tags Kanemaru. Kick is blocked by Shingo but Kanemaru takes out the knee, which was an issue at the last Sapporo event, and that opens him up to get double teamed and covered, but he’s out at 2. Kanemaru looks for Deep Impact but Shingo catches and tosses him, looks for Pumping Bomber, Kanemaru evades it and looks for a tornado DDT but Shingo muscles him over into a suplex instead.
Tag to Naito who goes at Kanemaru and teases the over the top dropkick, takes a shot at Taichi and then hits it. Gloria gets interrupted by Taichi but Naito hits him with an enziguri, Kanemaru back in but BUSHI sets him up for a Naito dropkick. LIJ takes control and gets Kanemaru in a numbers game, leading to Pumping Bomber from Shingo and Destino from Naito! Cover and thats the WIN.
LIJ defeats Suzuki-Gun by pinfall after Destino
JAY’S RATING: 2.5 out of 5
This was a decent match with some solid ring work all around but that ultimately added… I’m not sure what to these stories. Shingo’s stuff felt a bit repeated from Sapporo, and this was the least engaged I’ve been in the Desperado/BUSHI rivalry yet. Taichi and Naito still have some stuff, but it didnt feel like it went anywhere here that it hasnt already been, and with LIJ winning it seems like Taichi might be moving on to aa new program. So this match ended up feeling a little like a decently executed afterthought to me.
After the match Naito leaves the Junior champs to celebrate in the ring, they make their way up the ramp and are met in the opening by Roppongi 3K, who get more than a little confrontational until a brawl breaks out and R3K literally takes the belts away and bring them back to the ring. YOH takes the mic and calls out the champs. Shingo replies, says they won Junior Tag League, but lost the titles, so he has no idea what they want. Shingo says do you want a title shot? YOH says thats right. R3K put themselves forward as the next challengers. YOH is developing some mic work, which was cool to see, though Shingo felt more confident to me. This could be a nice next title match – I hope they pull out the stops a bit.
BULLET CLUB (Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens) vs TOMOAKI HONMA & YOSHI-HASHI
Yujiro and Honma start us off, but Chase gets a blindside shot in as well. Shots to Honma in the corner by Yujiro followed by a running boot, but a tackle attempt moves no one. Honma fires back and takes down Yujiro with a tackle. Slam by Honma and he looks for kokeshi but Owens gets a knee to the back, which opens Honma up for a Yujiro lariat. Mounted shots by Yujiro, and BC keeps the pace in their favor. Tag to Owens who stays on Honma, and gets a closed fist shot to the face of Honma before sending him into Yujiro’s boot.
Tag to Yujiro and a quick double team. Snapmare and running single leg dropkick by Yujiro, covers but only gets 2. Honma tries to counter, blocks a suplex and deadlifts Yujiro up and over in one of his own in a good deadlift spot. Tag to HASHI who is in hot, staggers Yujiro and takes him down with a tackle. Owens gets the trip and pulls HASHI outside but HASHI gets a suplex on the floor to Owens, back inside and lands the running blockbuster and a cover but only gets 2. Yujiro with a sliding dropkick to get control, looks for a fisherman but HASHI reverses, loses the neckbreaker though, he and Yujiro have a weird sequence where HASHI tries it again but Yujiro turns it around for a fisherman buster and plants HASHI with it.
HASHI responds with a spinning back kick, tag to Honma and tag to Owens, awkward moment due to a pacing mistake there as Honma puts down Owens. Slam by Honma followed by shots in the corner and a running bulldog, looks for kokeshi but Owens moves and Honma face plants. Double team on Honma, big knee strike from Owens and a cover but HASHI breaks it up at 2. HASHI takes out Yujiro’s knee but Owens puts him outside, lays in a lariat to Honma but Honma wont go down, big headbutt by Honma followed by a flying kokeshi and a falling kokeshi on Owens, covers but Yujiro breaks it at 2. Chops by Honma, BC gets a double team that drops Honma hard on his neck, which has had major problems in the past. Eye of the Hurricane by Owens, but Honma kicks out. Owens follows with the Package Piledriver and Honma just BOUNCES. Cover, the 3 count and the WIN.
Bullet Club defeats Tomoaki Honma & Yujiro Takahashi by pinfall after a package piledriver
JAY’S RATING: 1.75 out of 5
This just felt slow and sluggish and awkward to me, in spite of Owens and Honma fighting HARD to keep the momentum going. The closest it came to really getting engaging was the end as Honma’s neck came into focus as a point of worry, and an exclamation point put on it with the package piledriver which adds an extra layer of aggression to Chase Owens (which I like). But as a match, this really did very little, HASHI and Yujiro slowed things down immensely, and I quickly stopped caring.
As everyone awaits the next match, some familiar music hits… and its KOTA IBUSHI! Huge pop for Ibushi as he makes his way down to the ring. Ibushi takes the mic and thanks everyone for their support during his injury. He’s happy to be back here right now. Ibushi announces that he will be staying with New Japan, and the crowd EXPLODES! “Ibushi” chants! HOLY CRAP THAT WAS A POP. Ibushi also officially announces that he will be back for the New Japan Cup. Well that is HUGE NEWS. No Golden Lovers in AEW, but I have a feeling this means Ibushi is lined up to be a true top guy in NJPW very soon, and I. LOVE. THAT. THOUGHT. This honestly also feels like the best way for Omega and Ibushi to both achieve their singles goals, without having to always have the Golden Lovers thing hanging over them. This is great. Ibushi is ready to be one of the true faces of New Japan. Pull the trigger and soon.
GUERRILLAS OF DESTINY w/ Jado vs TOGI MAKABE & TORU YANO
As Togi and Yano make their way down the GoD jumps them from behind. Tama Tonga is back to his Bad Guy ways, and as Kevin Kelly says is set on being worse than ever before. GoD are completely in control as they bring Togi and Yano down to the ring. Yano is sent into the ring and Loa follows and we get the bell. GoD double teams Yano, cover by Loa but only 2. They look for Guerrilla Warfare but Togi breaks it up, looks to gain momentum but Jado trips Togi off the ropes to keep GoD in control.
Togi is sent into the barricade as Yano is tossed outside. Tama brings Yano into the crowd as Loa keeps on Togi at ringside. Tama cuts a promo into the camera as the ref counts. Yano scrambles and staggers his way back into the ring at 18, and Loa lays shots in immediately. Yano gets crushed in the corner and Tama gets tagged in and keeps the pressure on. Cocky cover by Tama gets 2 before he keeps beating down Yano and tags in Loa. Yano grabs the hair and is able to take down Loa, and gets the tag to Togi.
Tama meets Togi coming but gets caught in a powerslam. Clotheslines for both Loa and Tama in the corners, corner punches on Loa but Loa blocks the Northern Lights. They both hit lariats, no one moves but both feel the impact, Togi then drops Loa to his knees with one but gets caught off the ropes in a slam. Shots by Loa but he gets dropped by a left arm lariat by Togi. Tag to Yano and tag to Tama, Yano goes to the eyes and exposes the corner, Tama evades running into it but Yano sends him back anyway, gets an atomic drop and floors Tama with a turnbuckle pad shot. Signature Yano pose.
Yano evades a cane shot from Jado but eats a Tama dropkick instead. GoD double teams Yano in the corner and get the back suplex/neckbreaker, cover but Togi breaks it up. GoD keeps control, Togi tries the double clotheslines but Jado gets a cane shot which opens up Togi for Gun Stun from Tama! Yano sends Loa into Tama and the ref and gets a low blow on Loa! Jado pops up and Tama is able to get a cane shot to the head of Yano, another Gun Stun and covers and thats the 3 count and the WIN.
Guerrillas of Destiny defeat Togi Makabe & Toru Yano by pinfall after Gun Stun
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5
This was a fine outing that didnt have much in the way of fire behind it, which is I think why they opened with the beatdown and kept the match overall fairly short and to the point. I’m interested in the evolution of Tama here, and I’m glad that they not only abandoned the Good Guy thing but used it to make him THAT MUCH WORSE now. Tama wears this cockiness, this I-dont-give-a-fuck-ness, extremely well, and I feel like this could be the gimmick evolution that carries him to the next level. His ring work has always been good and is only getting more interesting. I’d also be happy to see GoD back on the tag title hunt after this, but nonetheless I came away here with an eye on Tama Tonga’s future.
After the match Tama assaults Yano with the cane and beats down the Young Boys as well. Tama starts swinging at EVERYBODY, camerapeople, announcers, ringside people, EVERYONE. He throws a cameraperson off the stage. Tama is out of control. I love GoD’s music – it was the perfect underscore for this beat down. And honestly, I’m LIKING this direction for Tama Tonga. This could be his route to the top of the card soon.
IWGP World Junior Heavyweight Championship
RYUSUKE TAGUCHI vs TAIJI ISHIMORI (c)
Kevin Kelly references some mind games from Taguchi toward Ishimori with his overalls ring entrance gear. This is the first time Taguchi has had a title shot since 2017. Nice crowd response for Taguchi. The bell rings and they go to the mat to begin, getting a break in the ropes. Lock up again, Taguchi gets the wrist, Taiji with a great quick counter out, Taguchi tries to counter similarly and it doesnt work to comic effect. They hit the ropes and the pace picks up, Taguchi almost gets an ankle lock, teases a dive when Taiji bails and instead gives a good show to the crowd.
Taiji gets Taguchi outside and also teases a dive, and steals Taguchi’s dance! The crowd fires up, and Taguchi is upset! Taguchi said that was his! Taguchi rolls in but Taiji is on him right away. Taiji with incredible evasions that open up Taguchi to get dropped with a bombs away springboard Thesz press. Cravate by Taiji with hard strikes, and Taiji looks dominant. Backbreaker by Taiji, a cover but Taguchi is out at 2. Neck twist by Taiji keeps Taguchi from building momentum, and he grounds Taguchi with a headlock. Taguchi fights up but Taiji catches the Funky Weapon twice into atomic drops, but Taguchi lands a dropkick FLUSH and sends Taiji outside.
Plancha wipes out Taiji at ringside, Taguchi tosses him in and hits a springboard dropkick, Taiji outside again and Taguchi lands a beautiful tope con giro! Taguchi rolls Taiji in and covers but only gets 2. Three Amigos attempted but Taiji blocks number 3, but Taguchi is able to get him over and covers for another 2 count. Taguchi looks for Dodon, Taiji out of it and hits the handspring twisting head kick and both are down. Taiji is able to get the sliding German on Taguchi off of the middle rope, and hits it nicely.
Taiji lines up Taguchi but misses the double knees, tries to hoist but Taguchi rolls it through and looks for the ankle lock! Taiji out of it but Taguchi follows into La Magistral for 2, and goes right back to the ankle lock! Taiji crawls to the ropes and gets the break. Taguchi works over the ankle and gets a gourdbuster, and then hits Funky Weapon Boma Ye for a 2 count and locks in the ankle lock again, but Taiji gets the ropes again as well. Dodon is blocked into a rollup for 2, Taiji catches Taguchi and gets the tombstone lungblower, but he can’t follow up immediately.
Taiji looks for the end, but Taguchi rolls through and gets the ankle lock again and walks Taiji away from the ropes and leans into it! The crowd is hot. Taiji tries the ropes again but gets pulled into Dodon! Taguchi covers but gets only a VERY close 2 count that the crowd loved! Taguchi is fired up, hoists Taiji but Taiji gets out and hits a huge lariat. Taiji hits double running knees in the corner, hoists Taguchi and hits a Ground Zero style maneuver and covers but only gets 2. Taiji calls for the end again and looks for Bloody Cross, Taguchi escapes and gets an enziguri, looks for Dodon but Taiji reverses it into Bloody Cross, covers and thats the 3 count and the WIN.
Taiji Ishimori defeats Ryusuke Taguchi by pinfall after Bloody Cross to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title
JAY’S RATING: 3.8 out of 5
This was a very entertaining title match that almost kicked into the next gear. And while I would have liked a little more time for these two to really uncork, this felt about establishing Taiji as champion, and Taguchi had some opportunities to really shine while still accomplishing that overall goal. The crowd support for Taguchi is awesome, and he really is showing himself to be one of the most reliable members of the Junior division, full stop. He’s fun, he can go, and he’s always a legitimate threat. If the job was to boost Taiji, however, this was no less accomplished – he showed himself multi-faceted and focused as always, and was particularly crisp in execution here. I really want him to be a really dominant champion in BC – they havent really had one in a while, especially with the group split stuff, so Taiji just OWNING the Junior division could be a really strong way to go and keep BC relevant in the title conversation. He showed that he is able to carry that here if they want. Strong work all around.
After the match, Taiji points to the commentary booth where Jushin Thunder Liger is sitting, and calls him up to the ring. Liger takes the mic and says you called me to the ring, and Taiji raises the title and offers Liger a shot at the belt. Liger is confident and says anywhere and anytime.
BAD LUCK FALE vs KAZUCHIKA OKADA
Okada goes right for Fale before the bell but Fale is able to put him down. Okada tries for a slam early, Fale fights him off, Okada keeps fighting back, lays in elbows and is able to dump Fale outside and take him out with a dive. Okada poses on an announce table and the crowd pops. “Okada” chants. Chase Owens distracts Okada and Fale takes advantage with a big shoulder tackle at ringside. Fale grabs a chair to distract the ref while Yujiro and Owens beat down Okada. The ref starts the count, Okada back in but Fale is right on him and keeps Okada grounded, standing on his back.
Fale keeps the pressure on Okada, and throws him into the rafters with a huge backdrop. Okada rolls outside and is coughing roughly, the air just totally knocked out of him. The ref counts again and gets to 18 and a half before Okada rolls in. Okada fires back, looks for a slam again and gets Fale up but falls backward and gets crushed, Fale stays on for the cover and gets a 2 count. Fale back to keeping Okada grounded. Okada looks to slam again but still can’t get Fale up. Okada runs the ropes and hits an elbow to stagger Fale, and follows up by hitting the body slam! Nice pop.
Okada tries to stay on Fale and gets the running low single leg dropkick, hits the corner flying elbow and a DDT, covers but only gets 2. Okada favoring the leg but looks to climb, Fale up first and runs through Okada. Fale hoists Okada and lands a Samoan Drop, covers but Okada gets out at 2. Fale looks for a piledriver, but Okada is able to backdrop Fale to escape and slow down Fale’s momentum. They trade shots, Fale lands a big forearm, Okada hits 3, and Fale rocks Okada with another single one. Okada keeps coming, Fale drops to a knee but comes back with another hard one that crumples Okada.
Okada fires back with a shotgun dropkick into the corner on Fale, looks to hoist for the Air Raid Neckbreaker and GETS IT! Cover, but only 2. Okada looks to climb again and hits the big elbow drop and calls for Rainmaker. Fale fights out of it and demolishes Okada with a lariat, covers but only gets 2. Okada gets crushed in the corner and Fale lands the big splash, covers Okada but still only gets a 2 count. Fale looks for the Bad Luck Fall, Okada escapes to the apron and climbs the corner, hitting a big missile front dropkick to put Fale down!
Okada looks for the Tombstone but Owens is on the apron, Okada knocks him down and the ref goes down due to Fale as BC does the beat down on Okada. Yujiro hits a fisherman buster and Owens hits that sharp knee strike, and the crowd boos. Owens looks for the package piledriver but YOSHI-HASHI comes down for the save before getting run over by Fale. Okada fires back at Fale but gets caught by a huge spear, Fale looks for the Bad Luck Fall again but Okada out and hits a dropkick to the back and another from the front.
Rainmaker is blocked into a Grenade attempt, Okada dropkicks out of it but Fale hits Grenade on the next attempt, covers but Okada kicks out at 2! Okada grabs at the leg of Fale but Fale kicks him off and looks to climb the corner, Okada cuts him off with a huge dropkick that sits Fale down on the turnbuckle, Okada climbs the front and looks for a superplex, and gets Fale over hard! Fale fires back with sharp strikes, but Okada answers with a Discus Rainmaker! Okada pulls Fale up, hits one more Rainmaker, covers Fale and that’s the 3 count and the WIN.
Kazuchika Okada defeats Bad Luck Fale by pinfall after Rainmaker
JAY’S RATING: 3.25 out of 5
This was a solid match that had a clear story to tell and delivered it well. Fale is still fairly limited to me in terms of how many in-ring stories he can tell in a singles setting, so there was a bit of repetitiveness and familiarity that hurt this match for me, but he is also simultaneously someone who knows how to be dropped in, so the chemistry factor still comes through and that carried it here with Okada. Okada also looked great constantly fighting up from beneath against Fale, which I think is a good story to tell as Okada looks to rebuild and get back on the path toward the IWGP Title. A well-executed outing here.
IWGP World Heavyweight Championship
JAY WHITE w/ Gedo vs HIROSHI TANAHASHI (c)
Chants for Tanahashi at the bell. Jay drops to ringside to start things at his own pace, looks to trip up Tana and go for the knee but Tana backs away. Jay back inside, Tana shows that the knee is solid and they lock up. Jay seems to get a strength advantage but Tana gets a headlock, Jay looks to counter for the knee but Tana gets to the ropes. Gedo looks to pick the leg, Jay back at Tana but Tana stays a step ahead and gets a headlock to ground Jay. Jay gets out and stomps Tana in the corner, Tana fights back as Jay keeps looking for the knee, gets the leg swept and tries to wrap Tana’s leg around the ringpost but Tana counters and pulls Jay into the post instead.
The action spills outside and Tana reverses a Jay whip, sending Jay into the barricade. Cheap shot from Gedo and Tana tosses Gedo into the ring, Gedo begs off as Jay gets behind Tana and hits a Saito suplex over the top rope to the floor, with Tana hurting his knee on the way down. Jay works over Tana at ringside, driving Tana between the barricade and the apron back and forth. Tana’s knee is slammed down into the apron repeatedly, Jay back inside and just paintbrushes Tana. Tana rises to him and lays in shots but Jay goes right back to the knee to ground Tana.
Jay lines up Tana and hits a running Euro and head and arm suplex into the corner. Jay gets Tana’s legs around the corner post and wraps the knee around it, then follows with a gourdbuster that lands Tana knee first onto a ringside announce table. The ref begins the count, and titles can change hands on a count-out here. Tana climbs back inside at 17 and Jay goes right for the knee. Shots traded, Jay goes for the knee, sidesteps a dropkick from Tana but gets taken down with a flying forearm. Slam by Tana is followed by the somersault senton off the middle rope, covers but only gets 2. Tana looks for the Cloverleaf, Jay fights to the ropes and kicks at Tana’s leg to escape before Tana dropkicks Jay in the knee and both are down.
Jay to ringside and Tana climbs the corner, but Jay rolls back inside and hits the snap Flatliner and deadlift German suplex combo to perfection. Twisting brainbuster (the Bladebuster) from Jay, covers but Tana kicks out at 2. Tana is in the ropes and Jay lays in Euros and chops, but Tana asks for more and fires up. Jay chops away and hits a big running Euro. Tana plays possum and gets the dragon screw with Jay’s leg draped over the middle rope, and Jay rolls to the outside clutching his knee. Tana looks to climb again, and comes off the top with a big High Fly Flow cross boday that wipes out Jay!
Jay and Tana back inside, Gedo up on the apron to distract the ref and Jay gets aa chair but Tana sends Jay into Gedo. They trade counters, Jay looks for Blade Runner, Tana looks for Twist and Shout, they keep trading counters to big moves, Jay hoists Tana but Tana is finally able to snatch Jay in Twist and Shout! Tana holds on and hits another Twist and Shout, and Tana keeps holding on. Twist and Shout number 3 connects, Jay cracks a smile as Tana tells him to come on, Tana looks for Sling Blade but Jay keeps moving out of range showing great intelligence.
Dragon screw by Tana connects in the corner, a 2nd one from Tana, Tana lines up Sling Blade again but dodges by dropping to his knees, then laughs to himself. Cool. Tana with a straight-jacket German, bridges to cover but only gets 2. Tana looks to climb, Gedo tries to interfere but is swatted away, and Tana hits High Fly Flow to the back of Jay. Tana climbs again and flies but Jay moves and Tana wipes out. Jay looks to follow up with TTO but Tana fights him off. Jay stomp-kicks the back of the knee, keeps working it over with grounded dragon screws, and locks in the TTO. Chants for Tana as Jay wrenches back. Tana tries to pull himself to the ropes and finally gets the break.
Gedo cheers on Jay from ringside. Jay pulls up Tana just to dump him hard with a snap Saito suplex, looks for another, Tana tries to fight it off but Jay snaps it off anyway. Tana is hoisted and Jay puts him down with a DVD type move for a 2 count. Kiwi-Krusher plants Tana firmly, cover by Jay but Tana still able to get out at 2. Jay looks for Blade Runner, Tana fights it off but Jay gets a sleeper suplex, looks for Blade Runner again but Tana gets a small package for 2. Tana cant follow up, Jay pulls him up but Tana snaps off shots to the face and takes down Jay and works the knee. Tana looks for the cloverleaf and turns him over, sitting down while keeping Jay vertical. Tana sits deep but Jay finally gets the rope for the break.
Tana pulls Jay away but Jay fights out, but Tana turns it into a Styles Clash! Both competitors are down. Tana looks for a Dragon Suplex, Jay looks for Blade Runner but Tana catches Jay in Sling Blade and a second one! Cover by Tana, but only 2. Tana is feeling some momentum and stays on Jay, Dragon Suplex connects, bridges for the cover but Jay is out at 2. Jay rises, Tana climbs and comes off the top but Jay catches him and LANDS BLADE RUNNER! Cover, and Jay gets the 3 count and the WIN as we have a new champion!
Jay White defeats Hiroshi Tanahashi by pinfall after Blade Runner to win the IWGP Heavyweight Title for the First Time
JAY’S RATING: 4 out of 5
This was a REALLY strong main event, and without question the best match of the New Beginning events. I feel like I’m being ever so slightly generous but only be a hair, as if it were me I think it was one or two more beats away from REALLY pushing into “great” territory (I would have had it take 2 Blade Runners, for example, which I dont think would have made Jay White look any weaker in this victory). I also don’t mind Jay White taking the title on his first attempt, especially with some of the recent landscape shifts and Tanahashi officially being in John Cena territory. White is continuing to get better and better and better, showing that he’s a rule breaker who is also good enough to win clean as he did here, and as such has the potential to really have a “reign of darkness” holding this belt and putting Bullet Club back at the top of the heap a bit. If GoD gets the tag straps back, we could be seeing the beginning of a BC resurgance, which could be intriguing right now. Tana fought hard here and showed well, but Jay played more chess to me here, and that was the key to victory – thats another good trait for Jay to have as champ, and further reminds me of classic HHH in a good way. Overall, a really great note to end the New Beginning Series on, and I have a feeling that this title change will be sure to have some interesting implications, both storyline and not (i.e. crowd reaction), over the coming weeks and months. Way to keep things interesting in the main event picture.
After the match Jay takes the mic and says his last Young Lion match was in Osaka. He said this was his home and everyone here was his family. He says he was wrong. He says none of you think I deserve this. You didnt think he could beat the top guys but he did. And he just beat Tanahashi again. He says he is champ in spite of all of you. He is the real champion. He does this for himself, for Gedo, for the Cutthroat Era, Bullet Club. He says its a new era, does the Breathe With The Switchblade catchphrase and welcomes everyone to his era. The crowd has been quieter than normal throughout the end and post-match. Not a bad promo, can get tighter but it did the job, and we are now in the reign of Switchblade.
I think one of the things that of course will be debated coming off of this event is “was it the right time to pull the trigger on Jay?” Jay only started holding singles gold in New Japan just barely over a year ago, so putting the belt on a talent still so relatively early in their push is something that on the larger stage I tend to question (I think the trigger was pulled to quickly on Ziggler, on Sheamus, I even feel like the Miz is NOW ready to be champ more than he was when he was champ). And its hard because the fans are asked to invest on a main event level very quickly. I’m a fan of the Cena model, which is similar to The Rock, Austin, HHH, Jericho, Benoit, Hart, Michaels… climbing the ladder gradually to become a top star. Its just good storytelling. But there are also exceptions, where it just feels earned and right for any number of reasons. Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle are perfect examples of people who were just READY. And so I look at Jay White with all of this in mind… and while the crowd feels uncertain to me in the aftermath, I think this has the potential of going an Okada route in terms of being handed the ball before many think you are ready, but showing everyone that you know how to run with it. I am leaning that way here. And I think that because Jay does already have a strong visceral connection with his character and POV, he knows how to tell both a combat and a character story in the ring, he knows how to work a crowd… the pieces are all there. With Omega leaving, there isnt another really strong gaijin threat I can think of, which is a layer as well. Jay’s a leader. There’s no question that he owns that role well. And another reason this sits well with me is, if I’m being honest, I think Tanahashi is a legend and one of the greatest of all time full stop… and I also think that I dont really feel a Tanahashi reign right now. I’ve seen it. He tells a good story, but its still essentially the same Tanahashi I’ve seen in this role many times. Putting the belt on Jay is an investment in building next gen top talent and when I look at who is on the table, Jay makes a ton of sense to as the front of the line, with Kota Ibushi adding an exciting element to that conversation looking to the near future. Naito still has more to say in the IWGP Title conversation, as does Okada, with some curiosity I have around Tama Tonga as well. And if you’re going to put a true legend into this equation, Minoru Suzuki is far more interesting a choice to me, and the idea of Jay White vs Minoru Suzuki sounds SUPER interesting to me for some vicious heel-on-heel action. While New Beginning as a whole underwhelmed me, this card definitely delivered some decent work in the last couple of matches as well as the best match of the series in this main event. Lets see what the Cutthroat Era holds.