After the dust from Wrestle Kingdom settled, NJPW started the build to their next major block of shows, the New Beginning Tour. This is where the NJPW year truly begins, with most titles on the line along the way, starting with tonight’s main event. However, this post is dedicated to two undercard tag team matches that set up future matches, and a big singles match from the legendary Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Let’s get right into the undercard! For the two main event matches, the post is here.
Tag Team Match: CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano) vs. BULLET CLUB (Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL)
Kicking off the card, we have a continuation of the tired BULLET CLUB vs. CHAOS feud from the Road To New Beginning Tour, as Okada & Yano take on EVIL & Takahashi. Okada wants a one-on-one encounter with EVIL, but instead has to pair with the 2021 King of Professional Wrestling and deal with The Tokyo Pimp as well. EVIL & Takahashi of course have Dick Togo at ringside.
After a quick distraction from Togo, EVIL tried to start the attack on Okada before being hit with a DDT. Togo was beat up by both Okada & Yano, but that left him distracted. Togo exposed the BULLET CLUB corner post, and Okada was thrown into the steel by Takahashi. EVIL would use the exposed steel before trying for Darkness Falls, but took a Big Boot to the face instead.
Yano tagged in, tried to expose more corner pads, and blamed Takahashi for the heinous act. Takahashi got the Fisherman Buster, then used his cane for a shot but Okada broke the pin up. Okada hit the dropkick, and Yano low blowed & rolled up Takahashi to end the match.
This was a fun but incredibly skippable tag team opener. Okada is only giving his full effort in big time singles matches, and no one else in the match is going to pick up the slack. Match Rating: 2/5 (**)
Eight Man Tag Team Match: Kota Ibushi, SHO, Master Wato & Tomoaki Honma vs. Los Ingobernables De Japón (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi)
This match is essentially a big preview for New Beginning In Hiroshima. There SANADA challenges Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Double Gold, SHO challenges Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, and Master Wato challenges BUSHI. Add in veteran Tomoaki Honma and Tetsuya Naito, and you have a fine 8-man tag team match.
Wato & BUSHI would start, with Wato looking good against the veteran, before Honma tagged in. Naito squared off with Honma, and took a back elbow before avoiding the Kokeshi. Despite wearing his t-shirt, Naito was on point tonight with a dropkick combo in the corner, bringing the fight to Honma. All of L.I.J would stomp him down, before he’d hit a neckbreaker & DDT combo.
Ibushi tagged in alongside SANADA, and the mood instantly switched to a fast paced affair, Ibushi hitting the powerslam and rolling to the corner for a springboard moonsault. SANADA came back with a hurricanrana before getting the vaulting body press. Back in the ring, SANADA wanted the Paradise Lock, Skull End or TKO, but Ibushi countered them all.
SHO & Hiromu brought a similar fire, bringing a lightning quick pace ending with a big powerbomb that shut SHO down. BUSHI & Naito hit a sunset flip into a dropkick combo, before BUSHI got the Lungblower. Honma would get the Kokeshi on Naito, starting a series of events where all hell broke loose until SHO & Wato picked apart BUSHI, setting up the Power Breaker. BUSHI was dropped with Shock Arrow, and this one was over.
An L.I.J multi-man tag team match is always fun, especially with this crew and their top level chemistry. The Ibushi led team held up their side of the match up nicely, and this one did it’s purpose of setting up the coming matches. Ibushi vs. SANADA should be a classic once again. Match Rating: 3/5 (***)
Loser Must Retire The Mongolian Chop Match: Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Great-O-Khan
After a bitter beat down on New Years Dash, Hiroyoshi Tenzan needs revenge on Great-O-Khan. O-Khan used Tenzan’s own Tombstone Piledriver to have him sent out on a stretcher, but Tenzan is stubborn like a bull. He rushed back from injury, and has put one of his iconic moves, The Monoglian Chop, on the line in his first big singles match in years.
Before Tenzan even hit the ring, O-Khan & Tenzan clashed on the ramp and the brawl began. Tenzan would have control of the match by the time they reached the ring, knocking him down with the shoulder tackle and choking him out. Some mongolian chops from both men would make up the strikes of the match, O-Khan hitting a bit harder due to his youth.
Tenzan had to fight through a choke hold and nerve hold on the mat, O-Khan focusing on the neck. On commentary, El Phantasmo realized Tenzan was in the nWo, and decided to start cheering for him as “that’s cool as hell”. This extra motivation let Tenzan hit a rolling kick, before some signature Mongolian Chops, sending O-Khan to the floor. He’d press the control, and go for the diving knee drop to the back to the head, crushing the face of O-Khan before a diving Mongolian Chop.
A brainbuster dropped O-Khan, who came back with some chops before taking a lariat and being locked in the Anaconda Vice. Tenzan missed a moonsault press, but managed to stay in control and look for the piledriver. O-Khan hit a bicycle kick, some more chops, and the Tombstone Piledriver. Tenzan fired up and this disrespect, before falling to the Dominator for the loss.
Tenzan doesn’t have many singles matches for a reason, and O-Khan is not at the level of being able to save this one. However, O-Khan taking the torch from Tenzan by force is a great move, as his potential is big. Tenzan has an undeniable legacy in championship and tournament wins, but tonight could have been his last taste of spotlight, and O-Khans first. The action was solid at best, but the storytelling was stellar Match Rating: 3.75/5 (*** 3/4)
Should Great-O-Khan just take the entire moveset of Hiroyoshi Tenzan? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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