The New Beginning is set to finish in explosive fashion in Osaka.
Double Champion Tetsuya Naito will be putting both of his titles on the line when he seeks revenge against the world’s most hated wrestler KENTA. The King Minoru Suzuki goes to war with Jon Moxley for the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship. A Junior Heavyweight rivalry that will be remembered as one of the greatest in history reignites as Hiromu Takakashi defends his IWPG Junior Heavyweight Championship against Ryu Lee.
3 first time matches are set to take place in front of 11,000+ in the iconic Osaka-Jo Hall and each will have a very distinct feel to them. 4 title matches, a special singles match and tag-team matches that could lead to future ramifications for the Heavyweight Tag Team and British Heavyweight Champions. I’ll be taking an in-depth look at the 4 matches topping the card in my preview for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s The New Beginning in Osaka.
SANADA vs Jay White
SANADA’s star was on the rise throughout 2019; he shone bright during the New Japan Cup even though he lost in the final to Okada, the first of 4 times the pair would meet in the year, even earning the coveted Tokyo Sports Match of the Year award for their battle at King of Pro Wrestling. The final record was 3-1 in Okada’s favour but the feud pushed SANADA onto the next level and established him as a true contender for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Although he was unsuccessful against Zack Sabre Jr. at Wrestle Kingdom 14, he quickly set himself straight the next night and picked up a huge victory over Jay White with a Japanese Leg Roll Clutch in a tag-team match, much to the chagrin of the Switchblade.
Now the ever sharp Jay White finds himself blunted and not in the immediate title picture for the first time in a long time, even though he defeated Ibushi during Wrestle Kingdom night 2. He may take solace in knowing his Bullet Club brother KENTA is challenging for the double championship but we all know the ever cocky White would rather be in that position himself. Instead, he will be looking to put SANADA “back in his place” as SANADA is “believing in himself far too much lately.” White has a frustrating ability to deliver on his promises in New Japan, having had perhaps the best year of any wrestler in 2019; winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at The New Beginning, being a finalist in the G1 Climax and also winning the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
There may not be a title on the line but the victor here will have valid claims to challenging the winner of the night’s main event. SANADA’s technical prowess being confronted with the countering acumen of White is going to be a treat to watch in this first-time match-up. Both have vast repertoires at their disposal and will need to pull out all their tricks if they hope to best the other.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs Ryu Lee
Hiromu’s first defence of his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship will be against the man he last defended the title against in his previous reign before injury. At the G1 Special Dallas in July 2018 these 2 men met in a thrilling match that was overshadowed by the horrible phoenix-plex that broke Hiromu’s neck, leading him to not return to the squared circle for 530 days. Yet with that broken neck Hiromu marched on and not only finished the match, but defeated Ryu Lee to retain his title.
After his wild match with Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom 14 it is safe to say that Hiromu is back. The Ticking Time Bomb kicked things up a gear and dethroned Ospreay with a new move he has dubbed Time Bomb II and was reunited with Mr Belt. Hiromu’s willingness to sacrifice his body every time he steps into the ring gives him a scary edge against most opponents, but that is not always the case when it comes to Ryu Lee, as both men know each other incredibly well.
The history between Hiromu and Lee dates back to 2014, when Young Lion Hiromu (then Kamaitachi) was on an excursion in CMLL and came face to face with Lee for the first time. Since then their paths have been intertwined and has spanned continents; the two would meet countless times in CMLL throughout 2014, 2015 and then a surprise return at FantasticaMania in 2016 saw Hiromu (still as a Young Lion) defeat Lee for the CMLL World Lightweight title. At The New Beginning in 2017 Hiromu successfully defended the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against Lee and he’ll be aiming for a repeat this year.
Now, more than 7 months removed from that fateful night in Dallas, these two titans of the Junior world will clash again. In the years to come we will remember this rivalry in the same way we have recently revisited the history of Jysuhin Thunder Liger, and his rivalries with the likes of Naoki Sano. Much how Liger and Sano helped define an era of Junior wrestling, Hiromu and Lee are currently doing the same. Be careful not to blink whilst this match is taking place because Hiromu and Lee shoot around the ring like they’ve been shot out of a cannon.
IWGP United States Title: Jon Moxley (c) vs Minoru Suzuki
“That punk Jon is a lot of fun. This is it. Our war has begun. Don’t you dare think you can escape from Japan safely, punk.”
Suzuki had some strong words for Moxley following New Year Dash!! Moxley successfully defended his newly won title on night 2 of Wrestle Kingdom 14 but Suzuki hit the ring post-match to deliver the Gotch Style Piledriver, delivering the first blow in the conflict. Moxley loves a fight and the sadist Suzuki loves to get beaten up, it’s a match made in hell.
When Moxley first joined New Japan the match at the top of many wish-lists was Suzuki vs Moxley. The IWGP US Heavyweight Champion has made it no secret that he is a big fan of Minoru Suzuki, citing his match with Tanahashi during King of Pro Wrestling 2012 that made him a fan of NJPW. Moxley says he’s watched that match about 100 times! Not only is this a dream match for the fans it’s a dream match for Moxley and as we’ve learnt, a motivated Moxley is a sight to behold. But he’ll need more than motivation if he hopes to knock the crown off The King.
As much as Suzuki loves taking punishment he always returns it ten-fold. Suzuki hits the nastiest forearms in all of professional wrestling and they produce a devastating sound that reverberates around the arena, and sickeningly I think Moxley may be looking forward to having that sound ringing through his ears. This match marks the first time that a Japanese wrestler will challenge for the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship and it is likely Moxley’s toughest challenge in a New Japan ring so far. He earned the title in a punishing Texas Deathmatch at Wrestle Kingdom 14 against Lance Archer but the punishment that Suzuki can deliver is more than what can be offered by tables and chairs. If Suzuki wins, I hope America is ready to bow to its potential new King.
IWGP Intercontinental & World Heavyweight Title: Tetsuya Naito (c) vs KENTA
Being sat in the Tokyo Dome and seeing Naito win the big one, the biggest possible one, was magical. The end of arguably the best story in all of wrestling; the early chapters beginning in 2013 with a defeat to Okada and the closing pages climaxing with Naito being the first ever double IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Champion, by conquering Okada. What should have been the sweetest moment for Naito was made bitter when KENTA tore up the closing pages of the story Naito was creating and added his own chapter by laying out the newly crowned double Champion with a sneak attack during his post-match celebration. What a dickhead!
Although he got off to a rocky start with New Japan, KENTA has proven that he is back to the roots he set before joining WWE. The explosive kicks and bullying slaps are back and they can make any competitor crumble quickly. KENTA made his shock appearance in New Japan during Dominion at Osaka-Jo Hall and now, 8 months later, he returns to that same venue in the main event challenging for the most important Championships there are. His method of getting to this position is immoral at best, but his plan worked and he is now vying for the throne. Even if you don’t like it, you almost have to respect it, Naito certainly does. “The professional wrestler Testuya Naito can appreciate it all, but the kid in me who watched as a fan all those years ago is furious.” But should Naito even be defending both titles? Naito doesn’t think so and I agree.
Wrestle Kingdom 14 was a special occasion and I think people should be challenging for one of the titles, not both. It cheapens the legend that was created at Wrestle Kingdom 14, but on this occasion, Naito has made an exception as he wants to get his hands on KENTA. At New Year Dash!! Naito was not his usual tranquilo self; he charged straight for KENTA during their tag match, forgoing his mantra just so he could get a drop of revenge, and who can blame him? Osaka has not been a friendly place to Naito over the years and his record in the city isn’t the best; the history between Naito and Osaka would warrant its own article. After a 6+ year story it cannot be time for the fairy tale to end for Naito just as it gets going… Can it?
- Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Manabu Nakanishi vs Ryusuke Taguchi, Toa Henare, Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) (C) vs Suzuki-Gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado)
- Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, David Finlay & Juice Robinson vs Bullet Club (Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi, Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga)
- Will Ospreay & Kazuchika Okada vs Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi
- SANADA vs Jay White
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi (C) vs Ryu Lee
- IWGP US Heavyweight Championship: Jon Moxley (C) vs Minoru Suzuki
- IWGP Heavyweight & IWGP Intercontinental Double Championship: Tetsuya Naito (C) vs KENTA
You can find me on Twitter @CiaranRH.