Wrestling Review: NJPW The New Beginning in Osaka (2018)

Over the lat several Road to The New Beginning shows, it has been CHAOS and Los Ingobernables de Japon getting the best of each other, and this all culminates as New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) presents The New Beginning in Osaka. Over the five CHAOS vs LIJ matches, three titles are on the line at the show: in the main event, the leader of the CHAOS faction, and longest reigning champion in New Japan history, Kazuchika Okada, defends his IWGP Heavyweight Championship against SANADA, of Los Ingobernables de Japon. In the second last match, Hirooki Goto defends his NEVER Openweight belt against the King of Darkness EVIL, and in the third match from the top the Aerial Assassin Will Ospreay defends the Junior Heavyweight Championship against Hiromu Takahashi. Katsuya Kitamura continues his Best of Seven challenge series, and with a current record of 0-5, his match against Yuji Nagata is a must win affair.

+ Kazuchika Okada (c) vs SANADA (IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match): based solely on the moves he performs, SANADA may well be my favourite wrestler of all time. His various suplexes, his moonsault and of course the dragon sleeper (of sorts) are all among my favourite attacks. But Okada is the best wrestler walking the face of the planet right now for a reason, and this match proved it. Both Okada and SANADA are such freakish good athletes this was always going to be a physical showcase, but it turned out even better. This was fantastic
+ Hirooki Goto (c) vs EVIL (NEVER Openweight Championship Match): both men leaving the match with bloodied mouths is a sign of just how hard hitting these two were, with even referee Red Shoes deciding to sit most of this match out and just let them do their thing. I really enjoyed this, though it was hard to follow the incredible Ospreay/Takahashi match before it
+ Will Ospreay (c) vs Hiromu Takahashi (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match): boy oh boy, this was incredible. These two are some of the best in the world, and they fucking killed each other for our enjoyment like the gladiators they are. This was the match of the night, if not match of the year
+ YOSHI-HASHI vs Tetsuya Naito: originally, I had written that this should have been Naito vs Ishii. Though the more the match went one, the more I thought that maybe YOSHI-HASHI deserved to be there, and it soon turned into one of if not the best match of YOSHI-HASHI’s career, thanks in no small part to just how good Naito is
+ Gedo vs BUSHI: BUSHI is just the best, isn’t he? He had such an awesome entrance mask, and once the shenanigans of the early part of the match ceased he showed why he might be one of the most underrated in the company. Gedo is Gedo, and that’s fine enough, but it was really interesting just how pro-LIJ the crowd was. This was pretty good by the end
+ Toa Henare and Taguchi Japan (David Finlay & Juice Robinson) vs CHAOS (Jay White, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano): lord I love Ishii, and he should have been facing Naito later in the show. Almost everyone in this match got a good reaction except for Jay White, who I don’t think the crowd is quite sure what to think of yet
+ Michael Elgin, Togi Makabe and Taguchi Japan (KUSHIDA & Ryusuke Taguchi) vs Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku & Takashi Iizuka): this was mostly built around Makabe versus Suzuki, but everybody got their chance to shine. Taguchi ass offense was no match for Iizuka’s biting, and the story form New Year’s Dash with Taichi and Taguchi continued. I enjoyed this, though I can’t say I’m overly hyped for Makabe/Suzuki – something about Makabe just doesn’t do it for me
+ Katusya Kitamura vs Yuji Nagata (Katsuya Kitamura Best of Seven Series Match #6): this was easily the best of the Kitamura Best of Seven, and Nagata is as good as ever. Kitamura is going to be a huge star (though I’ve been saying that for a long time now…) and this series proves that. This is the first of his series I feel confident listing as a positive for the show, thanks in so small part to a brutal slap and chop exchange in the middle of the match

“Cold Skull” SANADA. What a man.

– Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru: I feel like it’s been ages since I saw Kanemuru, let alone in a match against the tag champs but with my boy Desperado by his side I was hoping for something good. SHO was still running with a taped up back after the Wrestle Kingdom match against the Young Bucks, which was some nice continuity, but I’m never really a fan of wrestlers intentionally handicapping what they can do for the sake of a fake injury. This was okay, but ever really clicked for me, despite a nice ending

> I think this show saw the first ever wrestling move known as the “Greco-Roman bite to the perineum”, as named by commentator Don Callis
> after Jericho showed up a few months ago, it is hard to imagine that this had an even bigger surprise appearance, and a dream match set up for a future show

Should you watch this event: Good lord, what a show. The main event was worth the price alone, but add on to that two more incredible title matches, another two CHAOS vs Los Ingobernables de Japon and then even more fantastic preliminary tag matches, and this was a show not to be missed.


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