It is an interesting time of some massive changes in New Japan Pro Wrestling. At Wrestle Kingdom 14, all the major titles changed hands. But NJPW Wrestle Kingdom weekend also did a very good job of setting up the next challengers for those titles. How will New Japan look as we enter its traditional New Beginning Shows in Sapporo?
The first of three New Beginning shows will have eight matches, a hard-hitting grudge match and an exciting main event for the NEVER Openweight Championship. With the changing landscape of New Japan in 2020, we should have some unexpected twists and turns as new year truly begins in Sapporo:
Yuya Uemura & Tiger Mask vs BULLET CLUB (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori)
It seems this match will be full of lots of Bullet Club cheating.
El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori are in need of some momentum after losing the Junior Tag Titles at Wrestle Kingdom. The team of the veteran Tiger Mask and the talented Young Lion Yuya Uemura seems like an interesting choice for the opening match of this New Beginning show. Can they pull the upset over the Bullet Club team that is truly out for revenge?
Toa Henare, Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe vs Yota Tsuji, Manabu Nakanishi & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
The Manabu Nakanishi Retirement Tour truly begins. The 53-year-old wrestler is in the last month of his decorated career. It is a shame injuries have slowed him in recent years but hopefully, he will get a good send off on this New Beginning Tour.
The match has many of Nakanishi’s oldest rivals. If you throw in the younger talents of Tsuji & Henare that should really help this six-man tag match be a success. We thank you for your long career Nakanishi.
Ryusuke Taguchi, SHO, YOH & Will Ospreay vs Suzuki-Gun (DOUKI, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Junior)
It is time to set up those future title matches! Will Ospreay will match up with Zack Sabre Jr. for the last time before their British Heavyweight Championship match on Sunday night. We also have Sho & Yoh getting a chance to fight El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru before their Junior Heavyweight Tag Team match as well. It is classic New Japan booking at its finest.
As the only eight-man tag match on the card, it should be quite a chaotic encounter. And it is Suzuki-Gun, so must expect a lot of cheating.
Robbie Eagles & Ryu Lee vs Los Ingobernables De Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI)
This is the only time before their February 9th match that Takahashi will face off in the ring against his old rival Ryu Lee. We cannot forget Takahashi’s career almost ended when he broke his neck in a match against Lee back in August of 2018. Their matches and rivalries have always been quite impressive. That will not change on Saturday night.
The wild card that we shouldn’t ignore in this match is Robbie Eagles. Eagles picked up the shocking pinfall victory over Takahashi in his first match back after a 530-day absence on December 19 at Korakuen Hall. Can Robbie Eagles continue his momentum and establish himself as a future Junior Heavyweight title challenger? It should be fun to watch.
Los Ingobernables De Japon (Tetsuya Naito & SANADA) vs BULLET CLUB (KENTA & Jay White)
It is a rematch of the New Year’s Dash main event! KENTA is quickly getting over with the New Japan crowd as a cowardly heel. He has constantly attacked and disrespected Naito since his Wrestle Kingdom victory. It is amazing to see him so quickly become one of the top heels in the company since joining Bullet Club back at G1 Climax last August.
SANADA and Jay White have also built up quite the rivalry over the last few months. Jay White will be wanting some revenge for his surprising pinfall loss to SANADA at New Year’s Dash. Can the Bullet Club duo get some momentum heading into their big matches on February 9th?
Kazuchika Okada & Jon Moxley vs Suzuki Gun (Taichi & Minoru Suzuki)
The idea of Jon Moxley teaming up with Kazuchika Okada for the very first time is more than enough reason to watch this show on Saturday. The two will team up to fight against their future Suzuki Gun rivals. Okada will have his singles match with Taichi on Sunday. Moxley will defend his US Title against Suzuki on February 9th.
Can the Rainmaker really work well with the Deathrider? It seems like a very odd pairing but they will need to work together if they are going to survive the very likely cheating of Suzuki Gun. It might be the most anticipated match on this very stacked card.
Tomohiro Ishii vs EVIL
Can EVIL finally get his win?
EVIL is winless in three attempts in singles matches against Tomohiro Ishii in his New Japan career. The last singles match at Wrestling Dontaku in May 2019 consisted of minutes of the two trading elbow shots. We should expect another “hoss fight” at New Beginning on Saturday night.
The match should be another classic showcase in Japanese Strong Style. The winner will likely be in line for another singles title match in the near future. If it is half as fun as last May’s match, we should be in for a fun match.
NEVER Openweight Championship
Hirooki Goto(c) vs Shingo Takagi
It is time for the Rubber Match!
Goto and Takagi have created quite a good rivalry in New Japan Wrestling. Shingo Takagi defeated Hirooki Goto at the G1 Climax last August. Hirooki Goto returned the favor with a victory in September. The two were also part of an excellent, hard-hitting tag match at New Year’s Dash. After the match, Takagi challenged Goto for his newly won NEVER Championship. I speak for all New Japan fans when I say we cannot wait for Saturday’s main event.
Goto is really an underrated talent on the very talented New Japan roster. He has tied Ishii for most NEVER Openweight Championship reigns with five. Can he defend the title against his newest rival? It is hard to say but it should be a fun and hard-hitting main event.