New Japan Pro Wrestling
THE NEW BEGINNING IN SAPPORO
February 3, 2019
Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center
Kevin Kelly and Andy Simmons on commentary.
YOTA TSUJI vs TOA HENARE
The bell rings and they lock up. Henare with the early advantage, but they get into the ropes for the break, with Tsuji landing a chop before breaking. Henare looks to return but Tsuji gets another chop. Shoves and shots traded. Henare with a headlock, grinds Tsuji down with it before Tsuji escapes. Tackle attempts move no one, until Tsuji takes Henare down with one. Slam attempt by Tsuji is blocked as Henare gets a slam of his own. Big chop from Henare, cover but Tsuji is out at 2.
Henare gets the arm and uses his power to wrench on it, and lays a shoulder into Tsuji. Samoan drop by Henare, cover but only 2. Tsuji blocks a suplex, and gets a great spinning body slam to take down Henare to a respectful pop. Tsuji lays into Henare, hits a running shot in the corner, ducks a clothesline and takes down Henare with a running dropkick. Boston Crab attempt is successful by Tsuji but Henare is able to power to the ropes. Henare gets the lifting running spear to put down Tsuji, but is slow to follow up.
Big knees to Tsuji who is seated in the corner (nice move for him), lines up Tsuji and hits the ropes but Tsuji hits a spear. Tsuji fires up, Henare strikes back, they trade, Tusji gets a big slap but eats a headbutt, Henare looks fired up, runs the ropes and hits a huge lariat, covers but Tsuji kicks out at 2. Uranage follows from Henare, covers and thats the 3 count and the WIN.
Toa Henare defeats Yota Tsuji by pinfall after the uranage
JAY’S RATING: 2.25 out of 5
This was a fairly entertaining outing, with Tsuji showing some real promise and Henare continue to specify his point of view in the ring on a number of levels. I dont know that I’m feeling the uranage as the finisher for him, I dont know if he’s found his climactic moment yet, but his aggression is playing well for him lately, and has me interested in seeing more.
AYATO YOSHIDA & SHOTA UMINO vs MANABU NAKANISHI & TIGER MASK IV
Umino looking fired up, he starts off with Tiger. Kick from Tiger is first contact, Umino gets a go behind and a waistlock, Tiger gets the rope break. Chop from Umino on the break and he looks super aggressive. Tiger fires back, but Umino runs him over with a tackle. Impressive. Corner running shots get blocked by Tiger who lands a big kick, then tags in Nakanishi. Tag to Yoshida. Lock up, Yoshida chops Nakanishi in the ropes and gets a headlock, tackle off the ropes does nothing. Nakanishi takes down Yoshida with a tackle and lands a slam, but misses a knee drop.
Yoshida looks for strikes but Nakanishi hits a spear and knocks down Umino. Another slam from Nakanishi and a tag to Tiger, who lays in some sharp chops. Yoshida fires back, but Tiger KOs him. More strikes from Tiger, tag to Nakanishi who keeps pressure on. Shots traded, Yoshida gets an enziguri and gets the tag to Umino who comes in hot, knocks down Tiger and goes right for Nakanishi. Strikes rattle Nakanishi, but Umino looks for a slam but cant get Nakanishi up. Umino stays on him but still cant lift him, and Nakanishi gets a slam and a running splash, covers but Umino is out at 2.
Chops from Nakanishi collapse Umino, but Umino comes back and finally gets Nakanishi up in the slam! Tag to Yoshida, tag to Tiger, Yoshida takes down Tiger with a shot and a big slam, then kicks Nakanishi off the apron. Yoshida lines Tiger up and hits a single leg dropkick, covers but only gets 2. Suplex attempt, Tiger fights out, Yoshida gets a choke as Umino holds Nakanishi, but Nakanishi breaks out and breaks the hold.
Missile dropkick from Umino takes down Nakanishi, but Tiger gets the rolling kneebar on Yoshida in the ring and wrenches until Yoshida gets the rope break. Tiger follows and looks for the Tiger Driver, Yoshida out, Tiger tries again and lands it, covers but Umino is in and breaks it at 2! Tiger sits Yoshida up top, hits an avalanche butterfly suplex and covers, and thats the 3 count and the WIN!
Manabu Nakanishi & Tiger Mask IV defeat Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino by pinfall after an Avalanche Butterfly Suplex
JAY’S RATING: 3 out of 5
I really enjoyed the hell out of this one, and was particularly impressed by Shota Umino’s showing, his aggression, his focus – he really showed his leveling up here very clearly. Yoshida is also someone I have an eye on, and this could be a really cool new addition to the Junior Tag division. But the New Japan Dads win out in the end, and thats fine. The work itself really just delivered here. Well done.
SUZUKI-GUN (TAKA Michinoku & Takashi Iizuka)
HIROYOSHI TENZAN & REN NARITA
Narita has been showing well with his bridging belly to belly finish. Tenzan calls for the mic again and calls out Iizuka, telling him to wake up, asking how long he’s going to keep acting crazy. Tenzan tries to reason with Iizuka. Tenzan extends the hand but Iizuka goes wild on Tenzan before the bell and takes him outside, whipping Tenzan into the barricade. The action spills into the crowd. Iizuka chokes Tenzan with a chair as the ref starts the count, and TAKA (who has been beating down Narita) rolls Narita in and the match begins.
TAKA keeps the pressure on Narita, who fires back with chops until TAKA pokes the eyes, but Narita takes down TAKA and hits a belly to belly out of the corner without the bridge, covers but only get 2. Boston Crab attempted but TAKA gets to the ropes, Narita knocks down TAKA but Iizuka gets a distracting shot to the back and TAKA takes control. Iizuka takes down Tenzan at ringside. Tag to Iizuka and TAKA removes the mask, Iizuka pulls up Narita and starts biting into the head, breaking before the ref’s 5 count. Bite for Tenzan as well, he holds on and almost falls over the top rope.
Iizuka back in and beats down Narita, and almost goes after the ref. Tag to TAKA, Narita fires back, TAKA leans into them and then goes for the shin to drop Narita. Big corner knee strike by TAKA, cover but only 2 so TAKA drills the knee into his face again, cocky cover only gets 2. Narita turns the tide with strikes and a dropkick, gets a suplex and tags in Tenzan who comes in hot. Mongolian chops to Iizuka and TAKA. Corner clothesline crushes TAKA but Tenzan cant get the suplex, TAKA fires back and tags in Iizuka for the double team. Pump kick by TAKA, cover by Iizuka but only 2.
Iizuka looks for the iron glove, but Narita cuts him off with a dropkick, Mongolian chops from Tenzan to Iizuka and lands a Mountain Bomb off the ropes, covers but only 2. Slam by Tenzan and he looks for the moonsault, TAKA cuts it off and slides the glove to Iizuka who jabs it into Tenzan’s face, which promps the DQ call from the ref.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Ren Narita defeat Suzuki-Gun by DQ after Iizuka uses the iron glove
JAY’S RATING: 2 out of 5
This match sort of existed for me. I get it, its about building a goodbye story for Iizuka’s upcoming retirement, with a former tag team partner in Tenzan trying to “save” him before he retires. I get it. Its a fine storyline. But the match just felt meh at best to me.
After the match Iizuka chokes out Tenzan with an electrical cable, tries to hang him over the top rope and finally gets him over and chokes out Tenzan.
TOGI MAKABE, TOMOAKI HONMA, TORU YANO & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI
BULLET CLUB (Guerrillas of Destiny, Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi) w/ Jado
Taiji and Taguchi start us off. Mat work to start with great acrobatic counters from Ishimori, smooth reversals from Taguchi who gets a headlock and takes down Taiji with a tackle. Hip attack by Taguchi sends Taiji outside and Taguchi fakes a dive into a taunt. God I love Taguchi. Tag to Tama, who plays his retiscent “Good Guy” shtick right away. Tag to Honma. Tama looks to shake hands. Honma doesnt trust him, says hes a Bad Guy. Tama insists he’s a Good Guy. Tama tags Yujiro in, who gets a headlock but Honma turns it over into one of his own until Yujiro bites the hand to escape.
Chops by Yujiro, Honma takes him down with a tackle. Honma looks for kokeshi, Jado looks to interfere with a cane shot by Tama stops him. Yujiro brings Honma outside and beats him down, holds him as Jado works him over with the can as Tama protests. Back in, tag to Loa who fights Honma into the corner and then tags in Tama. Tama hits Honma, feels bad and tags Yujiro back in. I dont know… Yujiro keeps beating down Honma and tags Taiji. BC keeps the pressure on, tag to Loa who hits a series of elbow drops, covers but Taguchi breaks it at 2.
Loa tags Tama in again, Tama hits a suplex, covers but gets only 2 and tries to tag out, but Loa drops down and wont tag. Dropkick by Tama connects, covers but Honma gets out at 2 and Tama tags in Yujiro. Boot to Honma in the ropes by Yujiro connects, he looks for the fisherman but Honma escapes and hits a falling kokeshi! Tag to Togi who comes in hot and knocks down all of BC. Togi crushes Yujiro in the corner, hits the mounted punches but Yujiro blocks the Northern Lights before eating a lariat, cover by Togi but only 2.
GoD double teams Togi and takes him down with a double dropkick, fisherman buster from Yujiro and a cover but Togi is out at 2. Yujiro looks to hoist Togi but cant, and eats a left arm lariat. Tag to Taguchi who lands corner hip attacks, they trade counters and Taiji gets tagged in. Fast action by both with Taiji landing a bombs away springboard Thesz to take down Taguchi, then hits a seated corner running double knees. Taiji looks for the Tombstone Codebreaker but Taguchi reverses it into the ankle lock! Taguchi applies it with an Indian Deathlock but Loa is in to break it up.
Taguchi is able to snatch the ankle again, the ref gets taken out and Jado hits a cane shot to Taguchi’s head! Taiji with a rollup, but only gets 2. Shots traded by Taguchi and Taiji, hip attack counters the Taiji handspring and Taguchi gets the tag to Yano. Tag to Loa and Yano goes for the corner and exposes the metal. Loa fights back and sends Yano into the corner, but Tama is upset about Loa using the corner turnbuckle.
BC triple teams Yano as Tama looks distraught, and Loa whips Tama into Yano and they hit a suplex neckbreaker combo, cover by Loa but only 2. Loa has the cane, but Tama grabs it out of Loa’s hands and throws it outside as he hams up the reaction and says “dont cheat”. Yano gets low blows, Togi takes down Tama and Yano rolls up Loa and gets the 3 count and the sneaky WIN!
Toru Yano, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma defeat Bullet Club by pinfall after a low blow
JAY’S RATING: 3 out of 5
I almost gave this an extra bit of a rating, but honestly I think Tama’s shtick is wearing on me, especially as its so fake and still costing BC matches that I would otherwise have expected them to take. And that doesnt feel like great storytelling to me. The action was solid, Taiji looks great and Taguchi looks like a threat, but there was too much other “stuff” in this one, and I don’t typically mind a fair amount of “stuff” (hell, I LOVE Toru Yano!). This crossed the line for me and hurt my enjoyment of the match. Nonetheless, a solid outing with solid hype to the upcoming Juniors Title match between Taguchi and Taiji Ishimori.
BULLET CLUB (Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens)
HIROSHI TANAHASHI, KAZUCHIKA OKADA & YOSHI-HASHI
Jay begs Tana on, Okada tries to calm things down and decides to start instead opposite Chase Owens. We get the bell and Fale gets a shot in on Okada from behind as Owens keeps the pressure on. Double team on Okada but Okada reverses and gets Fale to crush Owens, then drops Fale with a DDT. Smart sequence. Tag to HASHI, triple team combo keeps Owens grounded, HASHI tries to put a group cheer or something together and it DOES. NOT. WORK. Oh, that was painfully funny. Owens fights back and tags in Jay as HASHI gets distance. Tana asks for the tag, and gets it.
They both go at it, Tana gets the upper hand, slaps the hell out of Jay but Jay finds a moment to take out Tana’s knee and shoves the ref aside, allowing BC to take out Tana’s teammates while Jay continues to work over Tana’s knee. Jay sends Tana into the barricade, Owens and Fale double team Okada and then HASHI. HASHI tries to help Tana but gets dumped by Jay, who keeps working over Tana before tagging Fale. Owens holds Tana as Fale works him over. Tag to Owens who keeps working Tana’s knee.
Tag to Jay who gets a single leg crab on the bad knee. HASHI in with a chop but Jay doesnt break. Jay finally breaks and dumps HASHI, tag to Owens who hits a KneeDT. Tana fires back, takes a shot at Jay, Fale intervenes, Owens comes back but Tana keeps coming and dropkicks Jay off of the apron. Owens back on Tana but Jay wipes out Owens and Tana gets a dragon screw on Jay before tagging Okada! Okada in hot, takes down Fale and floors Owens, follows with a flapjack and a cover but only 2.
Tombstone attempt by Okada but Owens gets an Eye of the Hurricane and tags in Fale who crushes Okada in the corner and hits a big splash, cover but Okada is out at 2. Fale hoists Okada who gets out and looks to lift Fale but cant get it. Okada gets it the second time however and calls for the Tombstone. Fale is too big to turn and fights out, looks to counter into a piledriver but Okada backdrops him as the faces rush in to knock down BC. Okada climbs the corner and lands the big elbow and looks to make it rain, but Fale counters into a Samoan Drop.
Okada looks to tag Tana as Fale tags Jay, who cuts Tana down, Okada hoists him but Jay fights out and hits a big chop on Okada. Air Raid Neckbreaker connects for Okada, tag to HASHI who connects with chops and hits Headhunter and knocks Owens down. HASHI hits the bunker buster, covers but only gets 2. Fisherman attempt is blocked by Jay, HASHI hits the ropes but Gedo trips him up, BC gets a triple team and Jay spikes HASHI with a Death Valley Driver for a 2 count.
Jay calls for the end but Okada is in to cut him off, Owens takes on Okada but eats a dropkick. Fale in and pounces Okada but gets taken down with a Tana Sling Blade. Twist and Shout connects on Jay, HASHI looks to take advantage and hits a thudding lariat and hits his new Karma, covers but Jay is out at 2! HASHI looks for a swanton, Jay gets the knees up, pulls up HASHI into a sick choke suplex and follows up with his new knee submission, the Tanahashi Tap Out (TTO) as Tana is held and made to watch. HASHI tries to fight to the ropes as Jay wrenches and HASHI finally submits.
Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens defeat YOSHI-HASHI, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada by submission after TTO
JAY’S RATING: 3.5 out of 5
This was a fun 6-man tag to tease the IWGP title match, with everyone delivering well in their roles. I sort of wish I could give it better given the collective abilities of all involved, but this is also a pretty shallow place on the card for them, so I feel like this match made sense given all of the elements, and it moved the story to the next phase exactly as it needed to. Very much looking forward to this title match – I think it has a ton and a half of potential. Lets see.
After the match, Jay hits Blade Runner on Tanahashi. Jay poses with the belt after.
IWGP World Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
SUZUKI-GUN (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Shingo Takagi & BUSHI) (c)
Shingo and Kanemaru to start us off, and for once there isnt an attack before the bell from Suzuki-Gun. Lockup gets to the ropes with Kanemaru getting a kick. They trade chops and counters, Shingo gets a spinning tilt-a-whirl slam showing the power advantage. Tags on both sides as BUSHI and Desperado go at it hot. Desperado goes for the mask early, BUSHI counters and goes to the mask as well, the ref breaks it up and BUSHI takes down Desperado with a dropkick. Tag to Shingo who knocks down Kanemaru, and Shingo hits a big knee and a suplex on Desperado.
Tag to BUSHI for a series of double teams, cover by BUSHI but only gets 2. BUSHI chokes Desperado with the shirt but Desperado is able to dump him, and Kanemaru gets a great leg drop over the barricade on BUSHI at rinsgide. BUSHI sent back in, Desperado looks for the mask again until Shingo cuts it off and lays in headbutts. Kanemaru cuts Shingo off at the knee and the action spills outside again as Suzuki-Gun takes control. Shingo’s knee gets worked over by Kanemaru and we finally get a count started as Suzuki-Gun makes it back into the ring. BUSHI rolls in and Kanemaru comes in right away with a choke.
Tag to Desperado, double team dropkick and a cover but BUSHI is out at 2. BUSHI gets a rana off the middle rope and looks for the tag but cant get it. Enziguri by BUSHI and he looks for the tag again and gets it to Shingo, who comes in hot but favors the left knee. Shingo tries to keep it fast and powerful and gets a nice flatliner/DDT combo on both opponents. I cant tell if Shingo is selling or not… Desperado goes to the eyes but Shingo catches a spear attempt before falling to a second one. Suplex attempt by Desperado is blocked but Desperado goes for the knee, Shingo fires back with strikes and an explosive short lariat. DAMN.
Tag to BUSHI who climbs the corner, missile dropkick takes down Desperado and Kanemaru is knocked down, double team backstabber connects for LIJ and BUSHI covers but only gets 2. Crowd is behind LIJ. They look for Rebellion but Suzuki-Gun counters into a double team dropkick suplex, spinebuster/dropkick combo follows and Desperado hoists and plants BUSHI, covers but only gets 2. Desperado looks to finish and looks for Pinche Loco, BUSHI fights out, Desperado lands a closed fist but BUSHI gets a swinging fisherman neckbreaker and both are down.
Tags on both sides, Shingo in slower, kicks by Kanemaru but Shingo hits big chops. The knee is still hobbly as Shingo hits a suplex for a cover and a 2 count. Shingo is either hurt or selling brilliantly. Kanemaru goes back to the knee, Shingo comes back and looks for Pumping Bomber but Kanemaru uses the ref to reverse and hits a big tornado DDT, follows with a great moonsault and covers but only gets 2. Kanemaru looks to follow with Deep Impact, Shingo catches him coming and tosses him overhead. Kanemaru fires up but gets thrown overhead again and the action slows back down.
Shingo pulls himself up, the crowd gets behind him, looks for a lariat but gets a pop-up DVD instead, covers but Desperado breaks it at 2 as BUSHI chases him off. Shingo looks for Last of the Dragon but Kanemaru gets a rollup for 2, Gory Bomb from Shingo plants Kanemaru as Shingo rolls to his corner. Pumping Bomber collapses Kanemaru, cover by Shingo but Desperado pulls the ref out of the ring. Desperado brings in the chair and gets a shot in, BUSHI ducks a shot and gets one of his own, Kanemaru looks for the Suntori Surprise but BUSHI blocks it with the chair and gets the mist on Kanemaru! Shingo dumps Desperado and BUSHI takes him out with a suicide dive, Shingo crushes Kanemaru with Pumping Bomber, covers but Kanemaru kicks out at 2! Shingo calls for the end, LIJ hits Rebellion, cover and thats the WIN for LIJ!
LIJ defeats Suzuki-Gun by pinfall after Rebellion to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
JAY’S RATING: 3.8 out of 5
This was a fun and well-paced title match that almost pushed into the next gear but fell just short for me. But everyone still looked good here, if Shingo was selling the leg he’s a damn master, the mask story was well told with the BUSHI/Desperado rivalry feeling nice and personal, Kanemaru just IS a master and Shingo comes away once again the star of the show. I have super high hopes for Shingo in the future, both in and out of the Junior division. This guy is limitless, I think.
After the match, BUSHI unmasks Desperado as LIJ stands tall.
IWGP World Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre, Jr.)
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (EVIL & SANADA) (c)
Tensions are flaring early between Suzuki and SANADA. Suzuki-Gun attacks before the bell because of course they do. Suzuki beats down SANADA on the outside but SANADA reverses and whips Suzuki into the barricade as we get the bell. EVIL and ZSJ start off inside trading shots. ZSJ turns a hiptoss attempt into a stretch, EVIL gets out of it and tags SANADA. Senton by EVIL, cover by SANADA but only a nearfall. ZSJ uses speed to rollup SANADA for 2, evades a dropkick but SANADA gets the legs and looks for the Paradise Lock, but ZSJ counters and strikes the arm, Suzuki interferes and gets a rope-hanging armbar as ZSJ dumps SANADA.
Suzuki beats down EVIL at ringside and takes it into the crowd, as ZSJ keeps on SANADA. Suzuki buries EVIL under chairs and barricades, and ZSJ gets an Octopus on SANADA in the crowd. The ref finally starts the count. SANADA barely makes it in at 19 and ZSJ follows up immediately with the hammerlock fujiwara, working SANADA’s wrist along the way and then turning it into a hammerlock, then rolls it into a pin for 1. Tag to Suzuki who further beat down EVIL in the crowd, and they quick trade arm work to perfection. Super interesting tag work.
Suzuki paintbrushes SANADA, SANADA fires back with shots but Suzuki laughs. They trade and Suzuki hits a thudding one that puts SANADA down. SANADA looks for a dragon screw but Suzuki snatches the arm into a cross armbar and gets full extension as ZSJ watches for EVIL. Suzuki just brutally tortures the arm until SANADA makes it to the ropes. Tag to ZSJ who keeps working the arm. Suzuki works EVILs arm at ringside while ZSJ ties up SANADA. This is a clinic. ZSJ fujiwara’s the arm and SANADA finally gets to the ropes.
SANADA tries to leapfrog ZSJ but ZSJ catches the leg, SANADA is able to fight back and gets dragon screws on both ZSJ and Suzuki and EVIL is ready for the tag. Tag to EVIL who takes down ZSJ and runs through him with a tackle. EVIL has an answer for each ZSJ attempt and lands a nice fisherman buster, cover but only 1 on ZSJ. ZSJ fires back with a head and arm suplex and a neck crank, they each evade shots until EVIL lands a big lariat. Darkness Falls is reversed and ZSJ sweeps the leg and tags in Suzuki.
Suzuki right at EVIL and hits the corner boot and the PK, covers but EVIL is out at 2. EVIL gets a sole kick to the gut and tags in SANADA, he springs but Suzuki locks in the choke, ZSJ gets in for the double team, stereo PK and a cover but SANADA is out at 2. SANADA sidesteps Suzuki and LIJ gets the double team, ZSJ is knocked down and LIJ looks for Magic Killer but ZSJ is back in to break it up as Suzuki gets an ankle lock and ZSJ gets an octopus as Suzuki transitions to a heel hook! SANADA wont give up, EVIL is tied up by ZSJ and Suzuki wrenches the leg even more until SANADA finally powers to the bottom rope.
Choke by Suzuki follows and SANADA gets seated down for a ZSJ PK, PK from Suzuki follows, cover but EVIL breaks it up at 2. Suzuki looks for Gotch and ZSJ looks for Zack Driver, but both are countered into Darkness Falls and a TKO! LIJ gets Suzuki with Magic Killer, cover by SANADA but ZSJ breaks it up at 2! LIJ looks for their finishers, EVIL hits Everything is Evil as SANADA looks for Skull End but Suzuki rolls into a Gotch, but EVIL breaks it up. Magic Killer again on Suzuki, SANADA hits a great moonsault and covers and thats the 3 count and the WIN!
LIJ defeats Suzuki-Gun by pinfall after Magic Killer and a moonsault to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
JAY’S RATING: 3.8 out of 5
This was another very good match by a bunch of very good wrestlers. LIJ is looking dominant in the tag division lately, and I’m not quite sure who seems like the most real threat to them, which was why part of me was wondering if they might go the other way on this one. Also, Suzuki eating the fall from SANADA feels like something. But overall, this was a great outing, everyone looked good and I genuinely didnt know how it was going to go at times. Nice work.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship
TAICHI vs TETSUYA NAITO (c)
As Naito is making his entrance, Takashi Iizuka runs down and nails Naito in the head with a ladder. Iizuka pushes all of the Young Boys away and digs the ladder down into Naito. Taichi feigns not knowing whats going on while in the ring, as he watches Naito get destroyed. Taichi comes down the ramp and just picks up Naito’s limp body, hoists him up and hits Black Mephisto on the ramp. Taichi snags the IC strap and celebrates with it in the ring, as Naito is motionless on the ramp. Taichi grabs the mic and says the match is now over. He tells everyone to go home because this is it.
Naito is being helped to his feet, a Young Boy picks up Naito piggy back style and walks him down and through the floor level exit, taking him to the back to be evaluated. Taichi gets in Togi Makabe’s face, who is a guest on commentary, and tells him to go home. Togi gets fired up and looks ready to go, but Masahiro Chono (also on commentary) holds him back. The crowd gets behind Togi as Taichi talks shit in the ring and holds the IC belt. Taichi throws shots at Chono as well. Taichi takes a mic from Kevin Kelly and calls himself champion. Taichi does “tranquilo” with the belt, and we get an announcement that Naito is being checked on.
Taichi starts demanding the belt as trainers and officials talk through what to do. The ref takes the belt and says its not Taichi’s yet. Suddenly Naito emerges from the back with BUSHI in support, but Naito looks very hurt. Chants for Naito. Naito gets in the ring and demands the match go on. We get the bell and Naito goes right for Taichi, but he’s having little impact and goes down quickly due to being jumped at the entrance. Taichi beats down Naito, Naito tries to come back but Taichi laughs him off and take down Naito again. Taichi hits the ropes but Naito is able to take down Taichi with a nice single leg dropkick, but he cant follow up. “Naito” chants.
Taichi up first and stomps Naito, and says the match is over. Naito pulls himself back up, Taichi puts him down and lands a loud kick to the head. Kevin Kelly mentions that Taichi is a Toshiaki Kawada protege, and you could really see it there. Taichi mocks Naito in the tanquilo pose. Taichi looks for a kick again but Naito catches it and gets the running low dropkick to a seated Taichi’s back, and the momentum shifts. Naito looks for more offense but Taichi hits a lariat while Naito is on the apron, dropping Naito down hard on his neck.
Taichi looks under the ring and pulls out a table, sets it up and looks to suplex Naito through it. Naito holds on, they trade shots and Taichi looks for Black Mephisto instead, Naito counters and PUTS TAICHI THROUGH THE TABLE WITH A PILEDRIVER! Holy crap that was a bump. The ref starts counting as both wrestlers are down. Naito rolls in first, Taichi follows at about 18. Avalance Rana from Naito follows, Naito covers but only gets 2. Naito looks for Gloria, Taichi counters and takes Naito down with a leaping kick to the face.
Lariat to the back from Taichi followed by a great backdrop driver, and the pants go flying as Taichi lines up the superkick. Naito counters but misses a rolling kappo kick, Taichi hits the ropes and levels Naito with a lariat. Cover, but only 2. Taichi keeps right on him and locks in a Dragon Sleeper/Stretch Plum (which was another Kawada favorite). Naito is starting to fade, falls into a cover by Taichi but is just able to get out at 2. Powerbomb is reversed into a rana by Naito, followed by a very sharp spinebuster that shifts the momentum again.
Naito looks for Gloria but Taichi fights out, Naito follows with a swinging tornado DDT and hits Gloria on the 3rd attempt, cover but only gets 2. Naito looks for Destino but Iizuka reappears at ringside. Naito takes down Iizuka and whips him into the barricade, BUSHI and the Young Boys hold Iizuka back but Taichi has the IC belt and the ref is off trying to get control. Taichi lines up Naito but Naito ducks and lands a sharp enziguri, picks up the belt but then goes to the microphone stand instead, the crowd pops and it gets planted right into the side of Taichi’s head. Naito lines up another shot, but Taichi grabs the legs and begs, and Naito hits him anyway and then lines up a swing but Taichi cuts it off with a chair shot, and a big one right over Naito’s head and Naito folds up.
Taichi fires up, hits another big backdrop driver, covers but Naito is out at 2! Black Mephisto attempt is blocked by Naito into a pseudo-reverse rana, looks for Destino but cant grab it, Taichi hits a low blow and a Gedo clutch on Naito but only gets 2! Taichi lines up a superkick and cracks it off hard, covers Naito but still only gets 2! Chants for Naito. Taichi looks for Last Ride but Naito reverses and gets a low blow of his own and a rough looking Destino, covers Taichi but only gets 2! A 2nd Destino is countered, but Naito gets a reverse rana instead, hits a hard Flowsion-type move and covers but Taichi kicks out at 2 again. Naito winds up the arm again and hits Destino full on, covers and gets the 3 count and the WIN!
Tetsuya Naito defeats Taichi by pinfall after Destino to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Championship
JAY’S RATING: 3.5 out of 5
This was a very good match, though for a main event title match I was hoping for a bit more than very good if I’m being honest. While the opening angle was executed well all things considered, and took its time to add a sense of reality to it, I dont know that it was actually that interesting a choice, and stalled momentum for me at the top which was only salvaged by the fact that this crowd could not get enough of Naito. Taichi continues to show growth and improvement, and I did not question his placement in this main event, which actually says a bit given how fresh his push still relatively is. It looked like Taichi might’ve taken the belt, and while people wouldnt have liked it, I dont know that they wouldve argued with it. The match itself was solid, and the closing was really the best part of the whole match and is really what pushed it into very good territory. Good work by both, and these two have the potential to get to great I think.
After the match, Naito takes the mic. Naito says they had 3 title matches, and LIJ won all of them. He talks about wanting to be the first to hold both the IC and Heavyweight IWGP titles at the same time.
This was a solid enough show, but similar to Day 1 I dont feel like there’s much to say. Things advanced. Future matches for New Beginning got pushed. People looked solid. But it definitely feels like they are saving their best stuff for later in the tour or something, because it just never really broke out at any point for me. It was a very “status quo” show, which might be fine given that there is still more New Beginning to come. I guess I’m just not sure that this card, that either Sapporo card, has me really fired up to keep watching – its more just knowing the matches coming up (in particular White/Tanahashi and Taguchi/Ishimori) that has me interested. The cards did little other than remind me that they are happening. If youre looking at ones to catch, its the two tag title matches for sure.