In Sapporo, NJPW will present its first of two Pay-Per-Views on their annual New Beginning tour. So far on the house shows, the booking has been somewhat 50/50, with Suzuki-gun perhaps slightly more protected. But none of that is relevant to what will take place tomorrow night in the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Centre. However with another show in just 6 days, there is plenty to consider and many seeds to plant in the February 5th edition of the event.
With three heel factions currently in the company and only one face stable, one would have to imagine either LIJ or Bullet Club will turn face due to their overwhelming support from the fans in recent months. Suzuki-gun have only just returned and offer fresh heel adversaries for Okada, Tanahashi, Roppongi Vice etc. so it won’t be them. But with Bullet Club no where to be seen on this tour, one has to wonder what New Japan is upto here.. are they just cycling through the leaders of each faction and having Okada knock them all off? He won his feud with Naito last year at Dominion, knocked off the hottest commodity in wrestling right now, Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 11, will the same fate lie with Minoru Suzuki? Or will Suzuki-gun dominate NJPW and take over. Let’s check out the whole card:
Hirai Kawato & Kushida vs. El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
The outcome of this match all depends on what direction the company goes in with Suzuki-Gun. To establish an essence of “suzuki-gun is here”, it’s important Desperado and Kanemaru get the win here. These two are arguably the better team in SZG out of them and Michinoku & Taichi, so it’s also possible that these two will be the ones to knock off Roppongi Vice. Besides.. Kushida can get his win back next Saturday. Prediction: SZG win, pinning Kawato.
TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) and Yuji Nagata vs. Tomoyuki Oka, Henare and Yoshitatsu
While David Finlay’s momentum was derailed following a torn labrum, Oka is given the chance to shine on a bigger stage. Alas, he most likely won’t as the vets will probably win this one unless they’d like the Nagata-Oka feud to extend any longer (please no). TenKoji jobbed to KES earlier on the tour, so they’ll pick this one up. Prediction: TenKoji & Nagata get the victory.
CHAOS (Gedo, Jado and Ospreay) vs. Shibata, Justin Liger and Tiger Mask
This match will all revolve around the anticipated bout between Ospreay and Shibata on the 11th in Osaka for the Revolution Pro British Heavyweight Championship. Ospreay has been a marquee name for RPW for some time now, and is already their Cruiserweight champion. That fact alone will weigh the most next Saturday. But for this match, Shibata continues his roll and CHAOS will continue their inconsistency. With Gedo and Jado almost 30 years into their professional tenures, it only makes sense for Shibata and co. to get a win here. Prediction: Shibata, Liger and Tiger Mask are victorious.
YOSHI-HASHI vs. Takashi Iizuka
This match is quite rare in the NJPW landscape. A regular singles match with no title or tournament advancement up for grabs. While this match will be enjoyed through its sheer freshness, the victor should be obvious. While the iron glove could come into play, it’s likely YOSHI-HASHI will foil the plan of Iizuka and continue his singles push, being the first member of CHAOS to stick it to Suzuki-gun. Prediction: YOSHI-HASHI wins, levelling the score of victories in the night between CHAOS and SZG at 1-1.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi, Michael Elgin and Dragon Lee vs. LIJ (BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA, Tetsuya Naito and Hiromu Takahashi)
This match is jam-packed with implications for The New Beginning in Osaka. A team full of challengers and champions will take on the triumphant, dominant LIJ. There are so many factors to take in, regarding who could use the momentum. Regardless, expect a challenger of sorts to get the fall to give credibility moving into their respective title match in Osaka. Prediction: LIJ are defeated after Elgin pins Seiya Sanada.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Title Match: Roppongi Vice (c) vs Taka Michinoku & Taichi
Roppongi Vice are hot off an enormous win over the Young Bucks at WK11, to which was a huge payoff to the storyline that played out. While Taka & Taichi are formidable opponents for Romero and Beretta, it definitely doesn’t serve CHAOS or the Young Bucks for that point, any respect or justice if Roppongi Vice are knocked off so early before putting together a decent title run. Keep in mind, Taichi could be in the running for a future Junior Heavyweight title match if Dragon Lee defeats Takahashi in Osaka. Taichi was given that ball in NOAH and ran with it, so all things considered… Prediction: Roppongi Vice score a decisive victory. CHAOS 2-1 Suzuki-gun.
NEVER Openweight Championship Match: Hirooki Goto (c) vs. Juice Robinson
Damn Juice Robinson is on a roll, but that’s only if you don’t check his win-loss record lately. Robinson has improved so much since going through the NJPW Dojo. Since, he’s signed full-time with NJPW, he has teamed with Tanahasi in the World Tag League, and most recently scored a victory over Goto in ten-man tag action at New Years Dash, which brings us to where we are now. Hirooki Goto’s story is similar to Robinson’s, just on a bigger scale. In recent months, Robinson debuted in the Tokyo Dome and challenged for the ROH TV Title. Both of these being major accomplishments in themselves, alas, he lost them both. Goto has gotten to the top many times in NJPW, but has never captured the elusive IWGP Heavyweight Championship. With Goto being the veteran whose suffered even more losses than Robinson, and the main event scene being crowded at the moment, it’s safe to assume Goto will hold on to the NEVER Openweight Championship for a while yet until a spot opens up for him on a grander stage. Prediction: Robinson loses to Goto, continuing his current story to an eventual payoff down the line, where he will score that definitive singles victory that has eluded him so far.
IWGP Tag Team Championship Match: Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano (c) vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Killer Elite Squad
With this match being repeated exactly in 6 days time, one has to imagine at the very least, a title change will take place somewhere on the tour. Either way, KES should move into a feud with Ishii and Yano going into Invasion Attack or Dominon, which they should win so Ishii can return to his singles run. Makabe & Honma are the team stuck in the middle in this match, which is exactly why they should win. No one will expect these two to get the win, but if they do, knowing NJPW’s booking of the tag division as of late, they will drop it to KES in Osaka in six days time. This would mean the title would go through all three teams across the tour, with KES coming out victorious. Prediction: Makabe & Honma get the win, with Makabe scoring the fall on Toru Yano.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Minoru Suzuki
Interestingly enough, this match is not the main event in Osaka.. most likely due to Naito being an Osaka favourite. Okada also drew over 5000 fans last year in Sapporo so perhaps it isn’t such a bad idea to have the main events set up as they are. While this match probably isn’t fit for a Dominion or Wrestle Kingdom main event, it fits perfectly for its spot, and is surprisingly unpredictable. Do New Japan have Okada defeat the one stable leader he hasn’t defeated in this run, or do they mirror Pro Wrestling Noah and have Suzuki-gun vs NJPW and have them take all the titles within months. Personally? I think neither. I think they will pull the trigger on Suzuki getting the win thanks to his “army”, but he will go on to lose to either Naito or Omega at Dominion, whosever faction turns face. The money match for Wrestle Kingdom 12 is Okada vs. Omega 2, it was the only six star match in history and was the launching pad for NJPW going global in 2017. Perhaps Kenny does what CHAOS and Okada could never do.. take out Suzuki-gun once and for all. Okada could still win and easily have his match with Omega next January, but to add more substance to the feud other than a rematch for the sake of it, Omega should do something Okada hasn’t, and for that to happen, Minoru Suzuki should get it done in Sapporo. Besides, I can’t see Omega winning the G1 again, so he’s gonna have to win the belt somewhere else. Cue Suzuki at Dominion. Prediction: Suzuki hits the Gotch-style Piledriver on Okada after a distraction/interference from Takashi Iizuka.
Well 434 Universe.. those are my predictions for New Beginning in Sapporo, what are yours? Are you excited to watch the card? Tell us everything in the comments!