NJPW New Beginning 2017 in Sapporo
Minoru Suzuki and Suzuki-Gun returned to NJ at New Year's Dash, and Suzuki brutally assaulted Okada multiple times since then. After coming off a grueling match with Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom, Okada was already in bad shape, and now the constant neck attacks puts his title reign in jeopardy. IT'S A NEW BEGINNING, YES IT IS!
El Desperado/Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Hirai Kawato/KUSHIDA
I will forever say FRICK Kushida, so I'm happy to see him in the opener after he said he was going to make the junior division great again. Be less interesting than the Young Lion, breh. Can't say I'm familiar with Kanemaru. Obviously, much of the match is Suzuki-Gun fucking Hirai up while he tries to make the hot tag. Nothing particularly interesting, as it's a very basic match and it has Kushida. Harai had a pretty good showing, although still fairly sloppy at times. Desperado pins him with a whirly bird powerbomb thingy.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima/Yuji Nagata vs Henare/Tomoyuki Oka/Yoshitatsu
Old dudes vs young dudes and Yoshi Tatsu still cosplaying as HHH for some reason. Yoshi Tatsu against 2017 barely mobile Tenzan. What a dream match. Henare seems pretty neat. No one needs Yoshi doing shitty strike battles. In fact, no one needs Yoshi at all. Just eliminate him and Tenzan and make this a normal tag. Nagata makes Oka tap to a crossface.
CHAOS vs Katsuyori Shibata/Tiger Mask IV/Jushin Liger
If there is ever a good spot for Will Ospreay, it's getting the shit beaten out of him by someone like Shibata. Shibata and Ospreay begin. Lmao at Shibata doing WoS shit to show up Ospreay. I don't really need to see Gedo, Jado, Tiger Mask, or Liger anymore, either. Liger spends most of the match as FIP. Really nothing going on here, but the whole point was to build some heat for the Shibata/Ospreay singles match at in Osaka. Ospreay pinned Tiger Mask with a springboard cutter and then hit Shibata with one after the match.
Yoshi-Hashi vs Iizuka
Taguchi Japan vs Los Ingobernables de Japon
Ten man tag fuckery. Not sure why the fuck the team is named after Taguchi. Another big tag to tease a bunch of matches for the next show? Ya don't say. I can appreciate the economy of the booking, but it doesn't tend to put on particularly engaging matches. A whole lot of hip attacks in this. Also a lot of bad camera work. A lot of stuff is missed completely or just barely seen in the corner of the shot. Elgin hits a bunch of German suplexes that don't even look that impressive. His enzuigiri looks comically weak. Dragon Lee and Takahashi had the hottest sequences by far. Everyone else kind of seemed to be sleep walking. Dragon Lee pinned Bushi with an Orange Crush.
Roppongi Vice vs Suzuki-Gun IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Frick Taichi. Frick Beretta. Frick Rocky. And you know, frick 70 year old Taka. Suzuki-Gun's return is just replacing the Bullet Club booking with a Japanese stable. Just as dull. To put it another way: A match like this makes me wish the Young Bucks were on the card. Trent spends almost the entire match as FIP and it sucks. It all sucks. This feels like a 45 minute match. There was a hilariously bad botch late in the match with a SG reverse doomsday wheel kick. Trent kicked out of fucking EVERYTHING, and it wasn't like a "wow this guy has so much heart!" type of thing, but more of a "let's keep this match going for some reason" type of way. Even with COPIOUS Suzuki-Gun interference, RPG still won and retained their titles. This is maybe the longest 14 minute match I've ever seen.
Juice Robinson vs Hirooki Goto NEVER Openweight Championship
Not sure how CJ Parker got a title shot at any title, but here we are. Expect him back in NXT by the start of 2018. Ol' Juice attacks right as the bell rings, hitting a huge flurry of offense trying to end the match as quickly as possible. It doesn't work, but Goto does bail to get a breather and gets another beating. Then CJ does a cannonball into the guard rail and is fucked. My man kept it too juicy. From that point on, Goto destroys the back for quite a while. Juice makes a brief come back and then is able to counter or avoid most of Goto's main spots. But lmao at him doing the Tenryu chop/punch combo. The time with Tanahashi has imbued young Juice with a fighting spirit, so that's interesting. A GTR eventually put Juice down. Title retained. A good showing from CJ Parker, but he's really going to need to change that gear if he's moving up the card.
Chaos vs GBH vs KES IWGP Tag Team Championships
Well, fuck. I guess it's okay Davey Boy Jr. and Archer are back, but not while wrestling Makabe and Yano. Fucking lmao at Archer's entrance of bringing multiple water bottles and walking around ringside spitting it at everyone in the first few rows. Yano has been doing the same comedy spots in every match for like a decade now. Jokes get old, breh. So sick of Yano. And Makabe. And Honma. And Ishii. Change your shit up, mother fuckers. Yano pinned Makabe with a roll up. OUTTA NOWHERE. Titles retained. Frick this.
Kazuchika Okada vs Minoru Suzuki IWGP Championship
Finally. In addition to the bad neck, Okada has a heavily taped knee and is still pretty beat from Wrestle Kingdom anyway. This starts off pretty slow, but doesn't take Suzuki long to go after the knee. Okada tries to no sell it and be a badass, but his weak ass elbows look hilarious when he's trying to be this super tough dude. Things stay pretty slow for a while as Okada softens up Suzuki's neck for a bit. I feel like this needed to start out a bit hotter after the rest of this show being so half paced. It seems in danger of ending via count out after Okada's leg gets wrapped around the the guard rail a few times. So much leg work. SO MUCH leg work. Which, normally, I'd be down for, but the rest of the show was so dull that I'm really going to need more than 20 mins of leg locks to stay entertained. And the leg work really doesn't matter that much anyway since Okada is still doing kip ups, dropkicks, and jumping from the top rope. Okada's random no selling is to be expected at this point. Really in wrestling in general. Slapping your knee is all you need to do to "sell" when you go from not being able to walk to a phoenix splash. A large chunk of the match is Suzuki having various leg locks on and Gedo thinking about throwing in the towel. After doing this long, almost 70s AJPW style match, there's a ref bump and a Suzuki-Gun/Chaos brawl. Of course, there was no need for it, as the match immediately went back to leg locks once the brawl was over. This late stage slap battle lmao. Okada really needs to tighten his shit up if he's going to be getting into strike battles with dudes known for hitting hard. Okada hits 3, maybe 4 Rainmakers to end the match. Title retained.
I wasn't feeling this show from the jump, and my opinion of it didn't improve as it went along. When you have 3-4 of the best guys in the world on your show and Juice Robinson puts on one of the strongest performances, you've got a problem. Suzuki/Okada was frankly pretty boring, as there was no tension in Okada tapping out when he was showing all the leg work wouldn't prevent him from doing all of his jumpy moves anyway. That in addition to the strike stuff looking bad because Okada's strikes suck beyond his dropkick.