After a packed day one of The New Beginning In Sapporo, NJPW brought an even bigger card for day two. Along with three title matches, including Naito versus Taichi, this card had five other matches. Let’s look at the second night.
Yota Tsuji vs. Toa Henare
The first match was a Young Lion versus Toa Henare match. Yota Tsuji nearly fell over when running down the ramp in this venue. To be fair, the ramp has tons of level changes. Henare’s first big move in the match was a Samoan Drop, with a kickout at two afterwards. Tsuji started to get on a roll, landing a dropkick and then a Boston Crab. Henare escaped, making it to the ropes. Henare reversed a move from Tsuji, landing a takedown. They traded slaps, ending with Henare giving Tsuji a headbutt. Henare did a clothesline off the ropes for a close kickout. Henare finally put away Tsuji with a Rock Bottom. Not a bad match. I wonder when Henare will finally escape these Young Lion matches.
Shota Umino & Ayato Yoshida vs. Tiger Mask & Manabu Nakanishi
The next match was a classic Young Lions versus veterans bout. Nakanishi gave Shota a Standing Splash for a two count. Umino got a big pop from the crowd when he landed a slam on Nakanishi. As everyone else was outside the ring, Tiger Mask had a leg move on Yoshida. Luckily he reached the ropes. Mask landed a Tiger Driver, but Umino broke up the count. Tiger Mask did a Superplex onto Yoshida to end the match.
TAKA Michinoku & Takashi Iizuka vs. Ren Narita & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Before the next match, Iizuka and TAKA made their chaotic walk to the ring from through the crowd. They faced Ren Narita and Hiroyoshi Tenzan. The match started outside the ring, with Iizuka putting chairs on Tenzan. Narita and TAKA battled in the ring until Tenzan got the hot tag after Narita landed a Slam. Tenzan was on a roll until his brainbuster was reversed. Iizuka tried taking out his iron glove but Narita stopped it from happening. Tenzan went to the top, but got kicked off by TAKA. Iizuka had the iron glove slid to him and landed it, making the ref end the match via DQ. Iizuka got a mic after the match and strangled Tenzan with it. The crowd popped for him grabbing the mic because they thought he would speak. Tenzan passed out from the microphone. The crowd applauded afterwards, I assume because Iizuka will retire on the 21st.
Tomoaki Honma, Toru Yano, Togi Makabe & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Yujiro Takahashi, Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale w/ Jado
The next match worked as a preview for Taguchi versus Ishimori, which will happen later down the line. Why does the NEVER Openweight Title look so comically small? We’ll never know the answer. Taguchi and Ishimori got separate entrances from their teams. Tonga kept doing his comedy gimmick of being the good guy. This is a good gimmick but I feel there’s no progression with it, just the same thing every match. Honma landed his Kokeshi on Takahashi, and then gave Makabe a hot tag. He did his punches and laugh in the corner on Yujiro. Later on, Taguchi put Taiji in an Ankle Lock that got broken up. He put it back in once everyone cleared out. The ref got taken down, letting Jado hit Taguchi in the head with a kendo stick. Yano got tagged in and undid a corner pad. Of course he was the one who ended up going into it. Tonga protested this. Against his will, Tonga was thrown into Yano while being the illegal man. Jado got on the apron, distracting the ref. Tonga stopped a kendo stick spot, which leg Yano hit a low blow and a roll-up to win the match.
Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale & Jay White w/ Gedo vs. YOSHI-HASHI, Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi
This match was an extended version of last night’s main event, with Chase Owens and YOSHI-HASHI being added to the match. Okada had a good exchange with Fale, landing a slam. He then tried for a Tombstone Piledriver, but couldn’t land it. He did land a Back Body Drop though. He called for a Rainmaker but didn’t get it, getting hit with a Samoan Drop. HASHI got a close count on White after a Neckbreaker. White also got a kickout with a Death Valley Driver. Okada stopped a Blade Runner attempt. HASHI landed a clothesline on White and then a Fisherman Buster for a very close pinfall attempt. The crowd was unglued for this. He went to the top for a move but White put his knees up. White put in the reverse Figure Four to win the match. He calls it the TTO (Tanahashi Tap Out). HASHI tapped out to end the match. Everyone brawled after the match. Gedo got slapped by Tanahashi. White kicked Tanahashi’s injured knee once and then landed a Blade Runner. White walked out with Tanahashi’s belt. This Jay White build has been truly amazing.
El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Shingo Takagi & BUSHI (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match)
The first of three championship matches on this card was for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles. Kanemaru and BUSHI were defending their belts. They came out very dressed up for this bout. Togi Makabe joined the Japanese commentary team. The match had some pretty good moves throughout. They kept a pretty quick pace. BUSHI and Desperado traded blows at one point, with BUSHI getting the upper hand then then tagging in Kanemaru. Kanemaru and Takagi fought each other. Kanemaru landed a DDT after pushing the ref out of the way. Kanemaru landed a Moonsault for a two. He went to the second rope and tried for a Deep Impact, but it got reversed into a Belly-to-Belly German Suplex. Takagi landed another after. He landed an impressive Death Valley Driver, catching Kanemaru mid-move. He then tried for Last of the Dragon, but it got reversed into a Sunset Flip. Takagi landed a clothesline for a count but then Desperado pulled the ref out. Desperado tried to use a chair but instead was hit with it. Kanemaru tried for a Satori Surprise but was blocked by the chair. BUSHI then gave Kanemaru his mist. BUSHi did a Suicida to Desperado, letting Takagi do a Pumping Bomber which Kanemaru kicked out of. BUSHI and Takagi landed the double team move “Rebellion” to win the match and retain. Great work in this contest by all of them. This reign can really help Takagi as he has only been with the company for a short amount of time. I hope they get a few more months out of this reign at least. Desperado was unmasked after the match by BUSHI, with his mask being thrown into the crowd.
Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki w/ TAKA Michinoku vs. SANADA & EVIL (IWGP Tag Team Championship Match)
The second Suzuki-gun versus Los Ingobernables match was ZSJ and Suzuki challenging SANADA and EVIL for their tag belts. As EVIL was getting his name announced, they were attacked. Suzuki attacked EVIL with a barricade and chairs in the first few rows of the crowd. SANADA made it in at the 19 count. ZSJ had SANADA in the ring in a submission move that he escaped, but he had no help since Suzuki was targeting EVIL at ringside. Suzuki and ZSJ tried for dual piledrivers but both got reversed into big moves from LIJ. The duo hit a Magic Killer on Suzuki, but ZSJ broke up the pin. SANADA tried for a Skull End but Suzuki got out of it. Suzuki got hit with another Magic Killer, and then SANADA did a Moonsault off the top to win the match. Wow, it looks like no belts are moving on this show. This was a good match, with a little less exciting of a finish compared to the match before. Not going to lie, I was starting to get a little burnt out at this point. We were approaching the three hour mark, and we were watching the second of three long matches.
Taichi w/ Miho Abe vs. Tetsuya Naito (IWGP Intercontinental Championship Match)
The main event of the evening was Taichi versus Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP IC title. As Naito was making his walk down the ramp, Takashi Iizuka came and hit him with a ladder. Taichi acted innocent as if he didn’t expect that this would happen. On the ramp Taichi landed Black Mephisto on the ramp. Naito was down on the ramp for a long time, getting checked out by doctors and Young Lions. Taichi got on the mic and got some boos. They carried Naito through the corner aisle, and disappeared. Taichi went up to the Japanese commentary team, where Makabe got up and considered fighting him. There was a few awkward few minutes where Taichi walked around doing bits. I thought maybe he was improvising. After a while the announcer told the crowd that the doctor was checking on Naito. Referees and NJPW employees came out and delegated. Eventually we saw a limping Naito be helped out by BUSHI. The match became official, and it started.
Five minutes into the match, Taichi gave Naito a great Clothesline on the apron that made him go upside down. Taichi took out a table and set it up at ringside. Taichi tried for a move onto it but Naito stopped it. Naito did a great piledriver through the table. Taichi got in the ring at the 18 count. Naito went to the top rope to land a Huricanrana that got a two count. Taichi did a side-suplex and then did the tear off of his long pants. He landed a Clothesline after an exchange. Naito landed a Gloria for the two count. Naito tried for the Destino, but then Iizuka came back. He attacked BUSHI, and then got on the apron. Naito threw him into a guardrail at ringside. Taichi picked up the IC title in the ring and tried to hit Naito with it but couldn’t. Naito put down the title and picked up Taichi’s microphone stand. He hit him with the microphone. Naito tried using the mic for the third time but was hit with a chair from Taichi. Naito was hit so hard with a chairshot to the head that it scared me. I didn’t catch what happened to the ref that made him absent this whole time. Naito kicked out once again after Taichi hit a side suplex.
Taichi attempted another Black Mephisto but it got reversed into a move. Naito tried for a Destino but it got stopped. Taichi pushed the ref and then kicked Naito in the groin. He tried for a roll-up but wasn’t successful. This was an spectacular combo. Taichi did a Superkick for a very late kick out. Taichi tried for a Powerbomb but Naito slipped out. He shoved the ref, kicked Taichi in the groin, then did a Destino that got kicked out of. Yes, I said that right. A Destino was kicked out of. Another Destino got reversed, but then Naito did a Reverse Huricanrana. Naito did a Brainbuster for a two count. For the last time, Naito landed a Destino to end the match.
This was a truly great main event. You know, I didn’t know how I’d feel about this match. I thought the gap between Naito and Taichi wouldn’t make this match believable. And while there was that gap, the attack at the start made it all make sense. The attack made it so that Taichi actually had a chance. Taichi came out of this match looking better than he did before, in my opinion. This was a great main event, and a not bad show overall. NJPW returns on the 9th for their next Road to show.
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