It is an interesting time in New Japan Pro Wrestling. After Wrestle Kingdom 13, a lot of major changes have come to one of the biggest companies in the world. How will New Japan look as we enter the first of the annual New Beginning Shows? The first of three New Beginning shows will have eight matches, a few grudge matches and appearances by some of the biggest names in the company. With the ever-changing landscape of this preview: of NJPW New Beginning Sapporo Night One.
Ren Narita vs Yuya Uemura
It is a Young Lion battle! It is very common to have the newer talent of New Japan open these major cards. Ren is the “veteran” despite being twenty-one years old. He has been in New Japan for over two years now.
Yuya is twenty-four years old but made his official debut in April of 2018. These Young Lion matches always provide a good opportunity to see the future talent of New Japan on the biggest stage.
Toa Henare & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida
It is a mixture of in-ring experience in this tag match. Shota and Ayato have been a tag team for nearly a year now. They tagged together in World Tag League last December and many other times in the later part of the year. They just generally aren’t that successful so far.
The other team is a mix of age and wrestling styles. Nakanishi is a former IWGP Heavyweight Champion and at 52 years old wrestles less frequently for New Japan at this point. Toa Henare is twenty-six years old and is a constant presence in New Japan, especially in the tag division. It should be an interesting start to this tag heavy card.
Tiger Mask & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Taka Michinoku & Takashi Iizuka
The combined ages of the four men in this match is 192 years old. It is a veteran tag match to say the least. You will rarely see these wrestlers outside tag matches these days but with the many accomplishments of these four it should lead to some interesting moments in Sapporo.
Another important point to mention is Iizuka is retiring on February 21st. It will be worth it just to watch Takashi Iizuka act crazy and scare the audience in Sapporo on Saturday. We should enjoy these moments while we still can.
Ryusuke Taguchi, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomoaki Honma, Toru Yano & Togi Makabe vs. Taiji Ishimori, Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi, Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga
It is Bullet Club versus quite a mixture of talents from a wide variety of NJPW factions. One of the biggest stories coming out of New Year’s Dash was the reformation of the Bullet Club. They brought Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi back into the fold and even used the original Bullet Club music as well.
It will be interesting to see what the reformed group does against the mix of Taguchi Japan, Chaos, and New Japan members. It will also be a chance to see a preview of the upcoming Jr. Heavyweight Championship match. It will good to see how Taguchi and Takahashi work with each other in this tag setting.
Preview: NJPW New Beginning
Shinzo Takagi, Bushi & Tetsuya Naito vs. El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi
This is a six-man tag match to set-up the second night in Sapporo. You have a preview of the IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship match and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship match in the same match. It is still shocking to think that Taichi will be the first title opponent for Naito after Wrestle Kingdom. That will occur on Sunday.
It also be interesting to see where the Suzuki-gun versus Los Ingobernables feud goes in the three New Beginning shows. This is the first of three matches between these two popular factions on this show alone. This faction fight should help to carry New Japan in the early parts of 2019.
Preview: NJPW New Beginning
Sanada versus Minoru Suzuki
It was strange to see Minoru Suzuki not be a part of the main card for Wrestle Kingdom 13. Suzuki-gun decided to make up for the exclusion of their leader with an attack on the members of Los Ingobernables at the Dash the next night. It quickly set-up the singles match between Sanada and Minoru Suzuki.
Sanada is best known for his tag reigns with Evil. He does occasionally get a chance to showcase his single wrestling skills against the likes of Okada at last year’s New Beginning show. He also has had strong runs in the New Japan Cup and G1 Climax. It will be good to see him against the strong style of Suzuki. At 50 years old, he still is among the best technical wrestlers in the world.
Evil versus Zack Sabre Jr.
This should be quite the mixing of styles in the final Suzuki-gun/Los Ingobernables match of the night. Evil always seems to be on the brink of main event status with matches against the IWGP Heavyweight Champion and IWGP Intercontinental Champion in the last two years. However he has been unable to win the big one just yet.
Zack Sabre Jr. had a lot of success in New Japan Wrestling in 2018. He won the New Japan Cup and had an excellent title match against Okada at Sakura Genesis. It is a match between two possible main event stars in New Japan Wrestling. Who will pull off the major victory?
Preview: NJPW New Beginning
Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Takahashi vs. Bad Luck Fale & Jay White
The main event is a tag match to set-up the final New Beginning show in Osaka next week. It is still strange to see the uneasy partnership between long-time rivals of Okada and Takahashi but they have a shared enemy in Jay White. White has recently defeated Okada cleanly at Wrestle Kingdom 13 and attacked Takahashi at the New Year’s Dash to set-up the next Heavyweight Championship feud as well.
New Japan uses these tag matches to set up the clear story of momentum heading into major shows. Will the Bullet Club get the momentum before Osaka? Will the rivals get one over on the cocky heels? It should be fun to watch on Saturday.