New Japan’s New Beginning in Osaka

Jushin Thunder Liger & TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) b. Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taka Michinoku, & Takashi Iizuka) via DQ when Iizuka used a chair – Tenzan took the mic and again tried to reason with Iizuka to bring back his old self. Iizuka would have none of it and attacked Tenzan. Everybody brawled through the crowd. Iizuka gnawed on all three babyfaces. Back in the ring, Liger chopped Suzuki, who laughed off the offense. Kojima got in the ring, and landed his trademark Machine Gun Chops. Suzuki still laughed and went for a Gotch Piledriver. Kojima escaped. Suzuki did not laugh. Suzuki got a chair to use on Tenzan. Iizuka stepped in the way and stopped him. For a moment it looked like Iizuka had a change of heart, but that didn’t last long and Iizuka grabbed the chair and smacked Tenzan himself. The referee called for the DQ, but everybody brawled after the match.

IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions EVIL & SANADA of Los Ingobernables De Japon b. Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida when Sanada pinned Umino after a Magic Killer – Obviously nobody expected to see Young Lions defeat the veteran tag champions. However, that did not mean that the crowd didn’t appreciate their effort. Especially since they got a few near falls. But in the end, Evil and Sanada hit Umino with the Magic Killer, and Sanada covered him for the pin.

Los Ingobernables De Japon (IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito & IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Champions Shingo Takagi & BUSHI) b. Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, & El Desperado) when Naito pinned Kanemaru with Destino – As usual, Suzuki-Gun attacked before the bell and the brawl spilled out to the floor. Back in the ring, Taichi mocked Naito’s Tranquilo pose while they took him apart. Bushi and Takagi made a comeback before tagging Naito back in. A six man melee broke out with Naito hitting Destino on Kanemaru for the win.

As Bushi and Takagi went to the back, they were met on the ramp by Sho & Yoh of Roppongi 3K. Sho & Yoh tried to shake hands, but Takagi and Bushi blew them off. Sho & Yoh took offense at this and attacked them and took the belts back to the ring. Takagi asked if they wanted a shot, to which R3K said yes. R3K clearly came across as heels, so it will be interesting to see if they are still affiliated with CHAOS, who seem to have been a babyface stable for the last few months.

Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi (w/Tokyo Latiina) of Bullet Club b. YOSHI-HASHI & Tomoaki Honma when Owens pinned Honma with a Package Piledriver – Honma & Takahashi started out, with the heels getting the advantage early. Honma rallied and hit the Kokeshi. Takahashi made the save, allowing Owens to finish off Honma with a Package Piledriver

Kota Ibushi’s music hit, and Ibushi stepped out for a surprise appearance. In his first appearance since WrestleKingdom, Ibushi told the crowd he was not going anywhere and was staying in New Japan. He announced that he will be part of The New Japan Cup. The crowd roared their approval.

Bullet Club’s Guerrillas Of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa w/Jado) b. The Most Violent Players (Togi Makabe & Toru Yano) when Tonga pinned Yano with a Gun Stun – GODs attacked from behind before their introduction was made. They tossed Yano into the ring and tried for a Magic Killer. Makabe made the save, but was tripped from the outside by Jado. GOD continued the assault until Yano made the hot tag to Makabe. After cleaning house, Makabe tagged Yano back in. Yano did his usual turnbuckle removal, but GOD ganged up on him. Makabe made the save, and Yano shoved Loa, causing a ref bump. Yano then rolled up Yano, but of course no ref was there to count. Jado’s kendo stick came into play when it was used to thwack Yano. A Gun Stun by Tama got the pin.

GOD continued to beat on Makabe and Yano after the match, then finally left.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Taiji Ishimori p. Ryusuke Taguchi with a Bloody Cross – High speed action out of the gate, with Taguchi seemingly getting the shine by knocking Ishimori out of the ring and celebrating with his usual antics. Ishimori, not to be outdone did the exact same thing to Taguchi, and mocked Taguchi’s mannerisms after knocking him out of the ring. This seemingly upset Taguchi, which helped Ishimori get an advantage in this ring. Taguchi made his comeback and hit several dives. Ishimori hit a Bloody Cross in response but couldn’t get the pin. Taguchi again put Ishimori in the anklelock, and hit the Dodon when Ishimori tried to escape. Ishimori kicked out and soon after responded with a second Bloody Cross for the pinfall win.

After the match, Ishimori started gesturing toward Jushin Thunder Liger, who was sitting in on commentary. When Liger entered the ring, Ishimori issued the challenge.

Kazuchika Okada p. Bad Luck Fale with a Rainmaker – The announcers have been making the point that Okada, seven years removed from his first IWGP Title win, is the furthest he had ever been from the World Title scene. Fale came to the ring accompanied by his Bullet Club buddies of Yujiro Takahashi and Chase Owens. In a change from the norm, Okada attacked before the bell, and hit a plancha to the outside. Fale used his size to plow through Okada and break the momentum. Back in the ring, Fale gave Okada a HUGE backdrop that looked pretty scary. Okada managed to slam Fale and start his comeback. In a surprising show of strength, Okada lifted Fale for his inverted neckbreaker, then followed up with a top rope elbow. Fale blocked a Rainmaker attempt and again plowed through Okada. A splash from Fale got a two count. Fale lifted Okada for a Bad Luck Fall, but Okada escaped and landed a top rope dropkick. Owens got on the apron, but got slugged for his effort. Fale yanked Red Shoes in Okada’s way, causing the ref bump. The heels ganged up on Okada until YOSHI-HASHI ran out for the save. Fale speared Okada and again went for the Bad Luck Fall. After dodging a second Bad Luck Fall, Okada hit a dropkick. Fale scored a very close near fall with a Hand Grenade, then climbed to the top rope. Okada managed to hit Fale with a dropkick, and then used a superplex to get the big man down to the mat. Okada followed that up with two straight Rainmakers to score the much earned clean pin.

Jay White p. IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi with a Blade Runner to win the title – It definitely was one of the biggest upsets of the modern era, though the announcers did drive home that it was the anniversary of Okada’s upset of Tanahashi seven years earlier. Tanahashi won the initial lock ups and tests of strength, but then the match spilled outside and Gedo got involved. Tanahashi got Gedo into the ring and went after him when White struck. He suplexed Tanahashi out of the ring and repeatedly slammed him into the apron and barriers. Tanahashi limped in to beat the countout. White continued the offense with suplexes. Tanahashi managed to catch White’s leg in a dragon screw, and started his comeback with a High Fly Flow to the floor. Back in the ring, White tried to use a chair behind the referee’s back. Tanahashi caused White to hit Gedo, and hit a Twist And Shout neckbreaker. Tanahashi hit a German Suplex for a two count, and a High Fly Flow to the back. He then went to finish off White with another High Fly Flow, but White dodged and Tanahashi crashed to the mat. White capitalized and locked in the TTO (inverted Figure 4), but Tanahashi made it to the ropes for the break. A Kiwi Crusher also got a two count. White tried a Blade Runner, only to have it reversed into a small package, which is the way Tanahashi won the last time they faced off. Tanahashi put White in the Cloverleaf, and turned it into a Styles Clash when White made the rope break. Tanahashi followed up with two straight Slingblades, but White kicked out. White also kicked out of a German Suplex. Tanahashi tried another High Fly Flow, which amazingly White managed to counter by catching him and hitting a Blade Runner. Tanahashi failed to kick out, and White was awarded the clean pin and the championship. This is the first time in a long time where an IWGP Heavyweight Champion lost the title on his first defense. The crowd fell silent in disbelief.

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After the match, White took the might and cut a gloating promo. He said that two and a half years ago, he had his final match as a Young Lion. Since his return, nobody thought he could win the title, and that he would never beat Tanahashi.

This was a really shocking victory, especially since it was Tanahashi’s first defense. It’ll be interesting to see how well White will draw as the hampion. Nw Japan has since announced that White will dfend the title at the G1 Supercard in Madison Square Garden. It’s worth noting that show has already sold out, so it won’t be a fair measuring stick to judge his appeal. My hunch is White will drop the title at that show, possibly to Ibushi, since the New Japan Cup is in March and the card is in April. Time will tell.

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