A major NEVER Openweight Championship defence will be the main even on New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) event from Dolphins Arena, The New Beginning in Nagoya. After trading wins over the recent Road To shows, The Dragon of Los Ingobernables de Japon, Shingo Takagi, will face off with the Ace of the Universe, Hiroshi Tanahashi, with Shingo’s title on the line. Two of The United Empire’s members will be in separate singles matches, as Will Ospreay faces off with the veteran, Satoshi Kojima, while Great-O-Khan will battle Hiroyoshi Tenzan with a unique stipulation: the loser must retire the Mongolian Chops form their offensive moveset. The dual IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion, Kota Ibushi, will also lead a four man team against the remaining four me of Los Ingobernables de Japon, while Okada and Toru Yano will team in the opening match to face EVIL and Yujiro Takahashi of the Bullet Club.
+ Shingo Takagi (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (NEVER Openweight Championship): I wouldn’t disagree if you had called this a one match card, but this was absolutely the main event you were expecting it to be. I don’t know how anyone can call Shingo anything less than top three wrestlers on the planet right now, and dammit, as much grief as I give Tana, he can still go when he wants to. This was a history making match that never looked like one guy had the advantage at any time, and it made every single minute intense to watch. Shingo has had some real bangers, but this may be one of the best in his NJPW run so far
+ Will Ospreay vs Satoshi Kojima (No Disqualification Match): these non-traditional matches are a rarity in New Japan, and this was a great showing as to why when done sparingly they can be great. It’s a strange visual for garbage cans, ladders and just so many chairs being used in a NJOPW ring, but it didn’t feel out of place. One man left the ring scarred, and the other left defeated, and I left satisfied
+ Kota Ibushi, Master Wato, SHO, & Tomoaki Honma vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA, & Tetsuya Naito): aside from Wato, who is just stumbling at almost every single roadblock he’s given, this was actually pretty good. Honma looked surprisingly good, and the Ibushi/SANADA moments show good promise of their title match to come, even after their rought G1 finale. SHO and Hiromu is going to be something special, and yes, even my main man BUSHI did some good stuff. This was better than you may think
– Great-O-Khan vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan (Loser must retire using the Mongolian Chop): it’s an interesting stipulation for an up-and-comer, and a beloved veteran on his way out, especially considering the way NJW often has these matches go. I don’t think I can imagine Tenzan without the Mongolian Chops, considering how little else he can do (that said, just look what he does here!) and O-Khan can easily adapt with something else. This was not a great match, and so I am listing it as a negative, but it was perhaps better than you may think, all things considered
– CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano) vs BULLET CLUB (EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi): this was as prelim as prelim can be, and even the crowd knew it. Not even Okada could get them to make any non-verbal noise, and frankly I’m not interested in whatever incoming Okada/EVIL match we’re going to get
Should you watch this event: Frankly, this had all the makings of a forgettable show, but those last three matches (yes, including Tenzan/O-Khan) and the eight man tag were all worth seeing. The Shingo/Tana main event is an absolute must see.