New Japan "The New Beginning in Osaka"
A Review by Kevin Wilson

Date:  February 11th, 2015
Location:  Osaka BODYMAKER COLOSSEUM in Osaka, Japan
Announced Attendance:  7,500 (Super No Vacancy Full House)

Even though I still have a lot of events for January to review, New Japan is the one promotion I like to stay current with their big events.  House shows can wait, but I know that you (the people) want details on the biggest events as they happen.  So here we go.  This is a massive show for New Japan, as four championships are on the line.  Here is the full card:

- Sho Tanaka vs. Yohei Komatsu
- Manabu Nakanishi and Captain New Japan vs. Tiger Mask and Máscara Dorada
- Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Rob Conway and Chase Owens
- Kota Ibushi vs. Tomoaki Honma
- IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship:  Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish vs. The Young Bucks vs. Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA
- IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
- Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, and Tama Tonga vs. Sakuraba, Okada, and Toru Yano
- Shinsuke Nakamura, Ishii, and YOSHI-HASHI vs. Yuji Nagata, Kojima, and Tetsuya Naito
- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Hirooki Goto and Shibata vs. Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. AJ Styles

This may be a longer review than the ones I’ve been doing the last few weeks, apologies in advance.  New Japan’s big shows are epically long.

Sho Tanaka vs. Yohei Komatsu
They do the mat dance to begin things, both of these guys appear to be quite good, I am looking forward to them getting some opportunities in 2015.  Chop battle and Tanaka hits a scoop slam.  Spinebuster by Tanaka and he applies a crab hold until Komatsu reaches the ropes.  Komatsu finally fights back some and hits the jumping elbow smash.  Half hatch suplex hold by Komatsu and he puts Tanaka into a single leg crab hold.  Tanaka gets to the ropes and dropkicks Komatsu.  Tanaka picks up Komatsu and slams him to the mat.  Tanaka catches a Komatsu kick, he drops him to the mat and while keeping a hold of the leg he applies a single leg crab hold, picking up the win.  Really loved that spot at the end, Tanaka looks awesome.  I hate calling them rookies because they are not, but a good Young Lion match, New Japan needs to figure out something better to do with these two.  Score:  6.0

Manabu Nakanishi and Captain New Japan vs. Tiger Mask and Máscara Dorada
Nakanishi and Dorada begin the festivities, Nakanishi hits a big chop while Dorada flips around.  Tiger Mask is tagged in and he kicks Nakanishi, Tiger Mask and Dorada try to suplex Nakanishi but Nakanishi reverses it and suplexes both of them instead.  They probably should watch more Nakanishi matches before they try that.  Nakanishi tags in Captain New Japan but Tiger Mask levels him with a back kick.  Captain New Japan tags in Nakanishi, Nakanishi is comically bad at times these days, bless his heart.  Scoop slam by Nakanishi but Tiger Mask dropkicks him in the knee and tags in Dorada. Dorada missile dropkicks Nakanishi, and Nakanishi tags in Captain New Japan.  Captain New Japan fights off Dorada and Tiger Mask, Nakanishi comes in and throws Dorada to the mat.  Captain New Japan goes for a diving headbutt but Dorada rolls out of the way and Tiger Mask dumps Nakanishi out of the ring.  Scoop slam by Tiger Mask, Dorada goes up top and hits the corkscrew senton.  Cradle by Captain New Japan, but Dorada reverses it into his own cradle and picks up the three count.  Poor Captain New Japan is now getting pinned by new Jr. Heavyweights.  This was just a card filler, not much to it.  Dorada looked good with his spots though, so there is that anyway.  Nakanishi makes me sad.  Score:  4.0

Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Rob Conway and Chase Owens
Tenzan and Conway start things off.  I had almost forgotten about the NWA “feud”, Bullet Club has kinda taken over the heel gaijin department.  Mongolian Chops by Conway just to be disrespectful but Tenzan returns the favor.  Tenzan tags in Liger while Owens is also tagged in.  Liger is tripped by Bruce Tharpe at ringside and Owens pounds on him.  Conway is tagged in and he continues working over Liger.  Liger gets away and tags in Tenzan, and Tenzan chops Conway into the corner before hitting a lariat.  Calf branding by Tenzan and he trades elbows with Conway.  Conway gets the better of it and he hits a sliding kick.  Tenzan comes back with a heel kick and he tags in Liger while Owens is also tagged in.  Owens kicks Liger back and he hits a front flip neckbreaker for two.  Owens picks up Liger and hits a gutbuster but Tenzan breaks up the pin attempt.  Shotei by Liger and he hits a powerbomb, but Tharpe gets on the apron.  This obviously distracts Liger (why wouldn’t it), giving Conway a chance to hit the whiplash on both Liger and Tenzan.  Owens gets Liger in a package piledriver and he picks up the three count.  I am not a huge fan of silly old school heel tactics, no logical reason that Liger should give a damn about Tharpe, but that’s the way it goes.  Besides that it wasn’t bad, just an average tag team match.  Score:  5.5

Kota Ibushi vs. Tomoaki Honma
Honma gets the upper hand to start but misses the Kokeshi.   He avoids Ibushi’s kick attempt but Ibushi works over Honma on the mat.  Honma gets back up and chops Ibushi but again he misses the Kokeshi.  Vertical suplex by Honma and he elbows Ibushi in the corner before hitting a face crusher, but again he misses the Kokeshi.  Kinda going overboard with that spot.  Lariat by Honma and he finally hits the Kokeshi.  Honma catches Ibushi with a brainbuster, he goes up top but Ibushi recovers.  Overhead kick by Ibushi and he hits a German suplex hold for two.  Ibushi goes up top but Honma gets up and joins him.  Ibushi elbows Honma off but Honma avoids the missile dropkick.  Ibushi and Honma trade elbows but Ibushi rips off a hurricanrana for two.  Ibushi immediately hits a double stomp but Honma hits a jumping headbutt.  Honma headbutts Ibushi into the corner, he puts him up top and he hits an avalanche backdrop suplex.  Fire Thunder Driver by Honma but it gets a two count.  Scoop slam by Honma, he goes up top but he misses the diving headbutt.  Kick combination by Ibushi but Honma elbows him and they trade blows.  Ibushi gets the better of it but Honma rolls up Ibushi for a two count.  Ibushi hits a hard lariat, he picks up Honma and hits a sit-down powerbomb for two.  Ibushi goes up top and he hits a perfect Phoenix Splash for the three count.  This is going to be blasphemous, but I didn’t love this.  The Kokeshi spot has jumped the shark and needs to be dialed back, you can have too much of a ‘good thing’, sometimes less is more.  I never felt Honma had a chance here even though he hit some big moves because he is still such a loser in the promotion, he needs to beat someone sometime to build suspense.  Ibushi hit his moves beautifully and continues to be a pleasure to watch, and it was still a solid match, it was just missing something to take it to the next level.  Score:  6.5

(c) Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish vs. The Young Bucks vs. Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA
This match is for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.  KUSHIDA and Nick start off and they knock O’Reilly and Fish off the apron.  KUSHIDA and Nick go back and forth and KUSHIDA tags in Shelley while Matt also tags in.  Shelley knees Matt but Matt hits a jaw breaker.  KUSHIDA tags himself in and Matt is double teamed.  KUSHIDA tags in Shelley and they go back and forth working over Matt.  Nick jumps in the ring but he gets kicked by both Shelley and KUSHIDA.  Matt goes off the ropes but O’Reilly tags himself in.  O’Reilly is double teamed by Shelley and KUSHIDA but Fish knees KUSHIDA from the apron.  O’Reilly and KUSHIDA trade elbows outside the ring and Fish lariats KUSHIDA.  In the ring O’Reilly trips Matt, Shelley comes in but Fish knees him.  Things break down a bit (in case you can’t tell) as KUSHIDA is double teamed by O’Reilly and Fish.  O’Reilly picks up KUSHIDA and he kicks him in the chest.  Snap vertical suplex by Fish to KUSHIDA and he hits a falcon arrow.  Matt tags himself in, he picks up KUSHIDA and applies a sleeper.  Nick holds KUSHIDA for Matt but Matt kicks Nick by accident, KUSHIDA tries to make the hot tag but Shelley is pulled off the apron. 

KUSHIDA hits a handspring back elbow to both Matt and Nick and he tags in Shelley.  Shelley hits a double crossbody and he punches Matt into the corner.  Shelley flips himself out to the apron and hits a jumping knee on O’Reilly to the floor.  He snaps Matt’s neck over the top rope and goes for a slingshot splash, but Matt gets his knees up.  Shelley manages to tag in KUSHIDA, KUSHIDA fights off both Matt and Nick and pins them both for a two count.  O’Reilly tags himself in, he runs in with Fish and attacks KUSHIDA, and Fish dives out of the ring onto Shelley and Nick. Matt then goes up top and dives out onto all of them, while in the ring O’Reilly and KUSHIDA trade blows.  KUSHIDA goes up top but he dives out of the ring onto the Young Bucks.  He then goes up top again but O’Reilly reverses the moonsault into a triangle choke.  Wrestlers start flying everywhere, ending with Nick hitting a 450 Splash on O’Reilly.  Nick pulls O’Reilly over and tags himself in, he flips in the ring and hits a face crusher on Fish and O’Reilly.  Shelley kicks Fish in the corner and suplexes O’Reilly into him, this match is too crazy to even try to do half assed play by play.  Matt picks up KUSHIDA and with Nick, and they hit the Indytaker for a two count.   The Young Bucks clear the ring, Matt picks up KUSHIDA and they hit the More Bang for Your Buck for the three count.  The Young Bucks are your new champions!  That match was crazy, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.  I didn’t even type everything that happened, the last few minutes of the match were just mass chaos.  If you like Jr. Heavyweights flying everywhere this is the match for you, really fun to watch although not exactly oozing with substance.  Score:  7.5

(c) Kenny Omega vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
This match is for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship.  I really don’t want to see Taguchi in these matches.  Or any matches.  They trade wristlocks, Taguchi goes for a hip attack but Omega catches him and hits an atomic drop.  Taguchi then hits the hip attack, and we get some Bullet Club shenanigans as Omega pokes the flag pole up Taguchi’s ass.  Taguchi gets the flag and returns the favor, and this is a bit too weird for my tastes.  More Bullet Club interference and Omega attacks Taguchi out on the floor.  Omega rolls Taguchi back in and he hits an elbow in the corner.  Vertical suplex by Omega and he rubs his arm into Taguchi’s face.  Atomic drop by Omega but Taguchi hits a hip attack.  Taguchi lariats Omega out of the ring and he hits a tope con hilo.  They return to the ring and Taguchi hits a DDT.  Taguchi picks up Omega, Omega gets his back and he goes for Croyt's Wrath but Taguchi gets away.  Sunset flip by Omega but Taguchi rolls through and applies an ankle hold.  Snap dragon suplex by Omega and he knees Taguchi in the corner.  Taguchi hits a reverse hurricanrana to counter the Croyt's Wrath, he picks up Omega and drops him on his head.  Sliding hip attack by Taguchi, he gets Omega on his shoulders but Omega gets away.  Taguchi and Omega trade slaps, Taguchi goes up top but Omega gets Taguchi on his shoulders and hits the One-Winged Angel for the three count.  This match started really rough.  I mean it lost me, it lost the crowd, it was just bad.  But about halfway through it picked up and by the end they had put together a decent match.  The stretch run helped save it, but they still need to cut some of this stuff out if they want to have a good match from start to finish.  Score:  5.0

Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, and Tama Tonga vs. Sakuraba, Kazuchika Okada, and Toru Yano
Fale and company attack before the match starts, with Takahashi and Sakuraba staying in the ring.  Takahashi bites Sakuraba’s hand but Sakuraba kicks him in the face.  Keylock by Sakuraba but Tonga breaks it up.  Sakuraba kicks Tonga and tags in Okada.  Fale also tags in, have I mentioned that Fale does absolutely nothing for me?  Promoters are so obsessed with ‘monsters’ they don’t seem to care if they are any good. Sliding kick by Okada but Fale hits a shoulderblock.  Fale takes Okada outside, he gets a tie and chokes Okada with it.  Back in the ring my hatred for Fale has not dissipated but he tags in Tonga.  Tonga chokes Okada and slams Okada to the mat.  Tonga tags in Takahashi and he drops Okada throat-first on the top rope.  Why is Okada the face in peril on a team with Yano?  Okada eventually hits a flapjack and tags in Yano.  Yano unties a turnbuckle and throws Takahashi into it.  Yano does his usual thing, and Sakuraba kicks Takahashi from the apron.  Fisherman Buster by Takahashi and he tags in Fale.  Elbow by Fale but Yano avoids the body press and tags in Okada.  Okada goes for a scoop slam (another brutal spot from the 80s), he can’t pick up Fale but he hits a DDT.  Okada finally hits the scoop slam but Fale drops Okada to the mat.  Elbows by Okada but Fale hits a lariat.  Fale goes for the Big Luck Fall but Okada slides away and hits a dropkick.  Fale tags in Tonga before Okada could tag out, but no one was in Okada’s corner anyway.  Dropkick by Tonga and Okada is triple teamed in the corner.  Cover by Tonga but it is broken up.  The ring clears for Tonga and Okada and Tonga hits the Tongan Twist.  He goes for the Headshrinker but Okada gets out of it and Okada hits a dropkick.  Okada knocks Fale out of the ring and he hits a diving elbow drop to Tonga.  Okada picks up Tonga and nails the Rainmaker, getting the three count.  If they cut the lose fat (pun not intended) this match could have worked, but as a not very long six man tag match with some average wrestlers it just wasn’t anything special.  Score:  5.5

Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii, and YOSHI-HASHI vs. Yuji Nagata, Kojima, and Tetsuya Naito
Nakamura and Nagata start off, they go back and forth as veterans do but neither gets the upper hand.  Nagata tags in Naito while YOSHI-HASHI is also tagged in.  They go off the ropes and Naito hits a hurricanrana.  Wristlock by Naito and he tags in Kojima.  YOSHI-HASHI tags in Ishii and they trade elbows.  Powerslam by Ishii but Kojima hits a DDT.  Ishii chops and elbows Kojima in the corner but Kojima returns the favor.  Ishii avoids the elbow drop (although he rolled the wrong way), while YOSHI-HASHI attacks Naito on the ramp much to the crowd’s delight.  Their hatred for Naito amuses me.  YOSHI-HASHI and Kojima become the legal men, YOSHI-HASHI drops Kojima on the top rope and delivers a dropkick.  Ishii is in next to brutalize Kojima, Nakamura is tagged in but Kojima catches him with the Cozy  Cutter and tags in Nagata.  Nagata knocks Nakamura in the corner and hits a big boot.  Kick to the head by Nakamura but Nagata applies the seated armbar.  Nakamura knees Nagata, he puts Nagata across the top rope and hits a knee.  Inverted powerslam by Nakamura but Nagata drops him with a German suplex.  Nakamura gets up and hits a Boma Ye to the back of Nagata’s head, and both wrestlers are on the mat.  Naito and YOSHI-HASHI are tagged in, and Naito hits a somersault senton.  Naito hits a slingshot dropkick in the corner, he goes up top but YOSHI-HASHI avoids the missile dropkick.  Ishii comes in and lariats Naito in the corner, and YOSHI-HASHI hits a neckbreaker for two.  YOSHI-HASHI goes up top and hits a somersault neckbreaker, but Kojima breaks it up.  Roaring elbow by Kojima but Ishii lariats him.  Nagata boots Ishii out of the ring, Nakamura kicks him, and Naito hits a missile dropkick on him.  YOSHI-HASHI levels Naito with a lariat and he hits a powerbomb for two.  Crowd likes YOSHI-HASHI a lot more than they like Naito.  Naito wiggles away  and hits a jumping elbow.  Scoop slam by Naito while he gives a bloody grin, and he hits the Stardust Press for the three count.  At least Naito is embracing the crowd’s reactions.   This was a step up from the last match, lots of action and they got enough time they didn’t have to rush things.  Not a top tier match or anything but very solid action from bell to bell that kept my attention.  Score:  7.0

(c) Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata vs. Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows
This match is for the IWGP Tag Team Championship.  Goto and Anderson start things off, Shibata comes in and they double shoulderblock Anderson to the mat.  Shibata and Gallows are in next and Shibata kicks Gallows in the leg.  Shibata applies a figure four leglock but Gallows gets to the ropes.  Shibata tags in Goto and they go for a double vertical suplex, but Gallows reverses it.  Gallows lariats Goto out of the ring while Anderson is stomping Shibata in the crowd.  Back in the ring Gallows applies a headlock, Goto goes off the ropes but Anderson pulls him outside the ring and powerbombs Goto onto the apron.  Goto is helped back in the ring and Gallows tags in Anderson.  Anderson rakes Goto in the eyes and tags Gallows back in.  Gallows punches Goto in the corner but Goto blocks a suplex attempt.  Goto hits a vertical suplex and he makes the hot tag to Shibata.  Anderson is tagged in too and Shibata elbows him to the mat.  Shibata elbows Anderson in the corner and delivers a dropkick.  Shibata knees Anderson and tags in Goto, and Goto hits a heel kick in the corner.  Backdrop suplex by Goto, he goes off the ropes but Gallows kicks him.  Anderson goes off the ropes but Shibata grabs him with a sleeper.  Anderson hits a spinebuster on Goto, Gallows comes in and he hits a body avalanche on Goto.  Backbreaker by Anderson and Goto hits a elbow drop.  Gallows Pole by Gallows but Shibata breaks up the Magic Killer attempt.  Goto lariats Gallows and tags in Shibata.  Shibata elbows Gallows down in the corner, he boots Gallows but Gallows kicks Goto back.  Anderson comes in and goes back and forth with Goto, and Anderson drops Goto neck-first onto his knee.  Shibata dropkicks Anderson and Gallows hits a sit-down powerbomb on Shibata.  Sleeper by Shibata to Gallows but Anderson runs in and hits a neckbreaker.  Anderson hits a Gun Stun on Goto, they then grab Shibata but Shibata kicks them off.  Elbows by Shibata to both but Anderson catches him with a Gun Stun.  Magic Killer to Shibata, Gallows covers and he gets the three count.  We have new champions!  I am not thrilled with the result, but I really liked the match.  It was a great back and forth heavyweight clash without any outside interference and silliness.  The ending stretch was just fantastic.  Individually, Anderson and Gallows bore me a bit but as a team they work, and Shibata/Goto are both great.  Score:  8.0

(c) Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. AJ Styles
This match is for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.  Tanahashi and Styles trade submissions, Tanahashi gets the better of it and Styles bails out of the ring.  He returns, side headlock by Styles but Tanahashi starts working on the arm.  Cross arm submission by Tanahashi but Styles gets out of it and kicks him in the back.  Styles dropkicks Tanahashi out of the ring.  Tanahashi avoids Styles’ pescado and knocks Styles back out to the floor, Tanahashi then goes out to the apron but Styles side steps the cannonball.  Tanahashi is beaten down at ringside and back in the ring Styles hits a backbreaker.  Styles throws Tanahashi hard into the corner and he then hits a jumping elbow.  Styles hits a backdrop suplex and applies a stretch hold.  Tanahashi gets out of it and elbows Styles, and Tanahashi hits a back bodydrop.  Tanahashi hits a somersault senton out of the corner and covers for two.  Styles Irish whips Tanahashi but Tanahashi skins the cat and sends Styles out of the ring.  Tanahashi then goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a High Fly Flow onto all of Bullet Club.  Unfortunately for Tanahashi, he conked his head on Matt Jackson’s skull, busting Tanahashi open.  So Tanahashi is dripping blood everywhere but the match goes on because they are wrestlers, Tanahashi goes up top but Styles avoids his dive.  Styles and Tanahashi lariat each other and we get our first good look at the gash near Tanahashi’s eye. 

Styles suplexes Tanahashi into the corner and hits an elbow smash.  Styles goes for the Bloody Sunday but Tanahashi blocks it and hits a trapped German suplex for a two count.  Tanahashi hits another one but Styles hits a low blow to block a third.  Back up they trade elbows and Styles hits an enzigieri.  Dragon screw leg whip by Tanahashi and he hits a Sling Blade.  Tanahashi goes up top but Styles gets his knees up when he goes for the High Fly Flow.  Styles goes for the swandive 450 but Tanahashi returns the favor and gets his knees up as well.  Tanahashi goes up top but Styles runs into the ropes to knock Tanahashi to a seated position.  Styles joins him, Tanahashi goes for an avalanche Styles Clash but Styles kicks him to get free.  Styles hits a Pele Kick, he grabs Tanahashi around the waist but Tanahashi blocks the Styles Clash.  Styles drops Tanahashi with a piledriver instead, he picks Tanahashi back up and hits the Bloody Sunday.  Styles gets Tanahashi to his feet and he delivers the Styles Clash.  Cover, and we have a new IWGP Heavyweight Champion!  Obviously, Tanahashi getting his eye busted open impacted the match as it is possible he was concussed as well.  I don’t think this was Styles best match in New Japan, it started a bit slow, then the injury happened, and after that something didn’t fully click.  The last five minutes were really good and has some nice callbacks to previous matches.  I also liked the piledriver when Tanahashi wasn’t cooperating for the Styles Clash.  So definitely entertaining but it lagged a bit too much and I think the injury likely hindered things.  Score:  7.0

Final Thoughts:

So we get a clean sweep by Bullet Club. My theory is that since they are trying to tap into the American market they are giving more titles to gaijins, but I have no evidence of that. Just a theory. New Japan is held to a higher standard than any other promotion in the world.  We expect so much from them on their big events, sometimes they deliver, and other times they don’t deliver to the level we are expecting.  This event had some really good matches, maybe even borderline great.  But some of their biggest stars that generally pump out MOTY quality matches did not here, and the midcard/opening stuff was all very skippable.  This was definitely not a bad show, it had at least four matches that are worth watching, but it didn’t reach the standard they have set for themselves so in that regard it was a bit disappointing.

Grade: B

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review completed on 2/12/15