New Beginning in Sapporo Night 2 review (1.28.18)

New Beginning in Sapporo Night 2 review (1.28.18)

NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo

 

January 28 2018

 

Because Gedo loves to milk these shows for all they’re worth, New Beginning is spread over two nights in Sapporo. The cash keeps rolling in. This show is even longer than last night. Once again I’m only doing the last two hours because I don’t have a spare four hours to do the whole thing.

 

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship

The Young Bucks (c) vs. Roppongi 3K

This is Roppongi 3K’s rematch from Wrestle Kingdom.

NB2Roppongi

Seven-time champs the Bucks take all this in their stride. They’ve been here before, many times. SHO and YOH do a lot of tandem work, which is partially a tribute to their opponents. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. They picked up a lot of cool shit in Mexico too and that influence is clear. I’m not sure what Rocky Romero adds as Roppongi 3K’s manager. Personality, I guess? He’s a distraction here, with the Bucks intent on hurting him but it’s not like Rocky will interfere. Matt Jackson does excellent work here selling the back. It’s so subtle. The way Nick shows concern for him and how he collapses in mid-move. The Bucks get a lot of crap about how they can’t sell and can’t tell stories. How they’re all about spots. It’s bullshit. The people who criticise them in such a fashion are only watching 10 second GIFs on Twitter. This match is all about the Bucks and their capacity to tell stories. Maybe it’s all the “Elite” stuff that causes fans to turn on them but if you ignore it and focus on the wrestling they’re outstanding. Meanwhile Roppongi 3K have sensational double teams and the combination of the Bucks story and Roppongi 3K’s moves works extremely well.

NB2Matto

There is an issue with Roppongi 3K not making tags and a lot of the match doesn’t exist within the confines of the rules of pro-wrestling. If you can’t get your shit in inside your allotted seconds in a tag changeover then you need to address that. I blame the Motor City Machine Guns. It does allow the Bucks to fire up and get the crowd on their side, which should be an issue as they’re technically heels but the lines are very blurry at this point.

NB2Nick

The match has some wonderful near falls with both teams getting spells of dominance and them getting their shit in. I love Nick having to help Matt get certain holds with his bad back. Like helping him lift YOH for the corner powerbomb before running into position for the kick part. There’s also a great near finish where Matt has the match won with a Sharpshooter but he cannot hold on and collapses. YOH flukes a roll up on the hurt Matt and all that injury psychology comes full circle. There may be new champions but this was all about Matt Jackson and how good he is.

NB2R3K

NB2ROmero

Final Rating: ****

 

IWGP United States Championship

Kenny Omega (c) vs. Jay White

NB2Jay

NJPW have done a solid job of rebuilding Jay after his underwhelming re-debut as Switchblade at Wrestle Kingdom. Omega tells a superb story at the start here. He treats Jay like he’s unimportant and his light slap in the corner is a nice touch. Omega is out here to make sure Jay White leaves looking like a star, the same mentality he took into his matches with Juice Robinson and Beretta. Say what you like about Kenny but he busts his ass to make sure his opponents look good. Especially with Kenny coming off a big year in 2017 and going toe to toe with all NJPW’s biggest guns. Jay is noticeably more aggressive and determined than at WK. An issue that emerges here, from the depths of my mind, is that NJPW has an established main event style and it possibly doesn’t suit everyone. While Omega has adapted to this through the junior division Jay has been pitched right in there and told to sink or swim. If the same happened in WWE we’d be pissing and moaning about our favourite youngster being forced to alter his style to suit the company. New Japan main events can be long and laborious. This match is half an hour long. Does it need to be?

 

If anything it’s forcing Jay to conform when he’s used to sprints and that, combined with his character change, puts incredible pressure on him. Remember how good he was as a young lion? There was a reason for that. It played to his strengths. Look at his Kitamura match and how well that came off. It was because it was a sprint. They would have been better served to keep this tight and contained, rather than expansive and layered.

Imagine Omega’s explosive offence in a shorter match, combined with Jay’s plucky underdog babyface persona. The potential for a wonderful match is in that combination but not this one. That said Jay has learned since Wrestle Kingdom and this is his best match since returning although most of that is on Omega and his never-ending charisma. Jay hasn’t yet got a handle on his Switchblade gimmick. In promos he’s getting there but in the matches he’s not sure how to play a knife pervert. He’s simply too nice.

NB2Omega

Kenny makes a point of destroying White and the match should logically be over several times. Which is another issue with a long match. Jay is beaten so why does the match continue? They have a near fall where Jay barely gets his shoulder up and it looks weird because there’s no kick-out at all. I get what they’re going for but it looks odd. The finale is also bizarre with Jay knocked silly from a V-Trigger he still somehow pulls out a counter and the Bladerunner finishes. It’s a HUGE upset win with no interference. This match suffered from some dodgy structuring and the major issue with making it believable that Jay could survive for thirty minutes and then pull off the win.

Final Rating: ***1/2

 

Post Match:

NB2Hangman

Hangman Page runs out to serve as first challenger. Hangman Page? That’s not going to draw shit. That’s probably not the ideal direction for the US title to go in. A massive step down from Kenny Omega, that’s for sure.

 

Anyway, Omega shoves Page aside and hands the belt to Jay White, who beat him. This leads to issues in the Bullet Club because Kenny isn’t happy with Hangman even being out here. This leads to Cody running in because he’s mad that Hangman’s challenge moment was overwhelmed by Kenny. Dissent in the ranks leads to Kenny shoving over an injured Matt Jackson, unaware who was grabbing at him from behind. It’s such a tragic moment because they’ve been friends for so long and been through so much together.

The inevitable follows with what appears to be a consolidation before Cody full on turns on Kenny and hits Cross Rhodes.

NB2Cody

Don Callis is beside himself with anger about Cody’s betrayal calling him a prick. As Cody goes to level Kenny with a chair out comes KOTA IBUSHI!!! ARGH!!!

If you’re not familiar with their history this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but trust me, this is one of the most emotional things I’ve seen in a long, long time in pro-wrestling. Certainly the most emotional moment since Ilja Dragunov’s winners speech at 16 Carat last year.

NB2Ibushi

The hug afterwards is painfully lovely. It’s genuine. You can’t buy that. Ibushi is outright crying and when he helps Omega to the back there’s actual concern and love there. What a storyline this is. I was irritated when NJPW kept them apart but this is…just breath-taking.

 

Summary:

I’m aware that my ‘cut down’ version of this show amounted to two matches but what a show it was based on those two matches! A stunning performance from the Bucks and then a post main event angle that has been ten years in the making, ever since Kenny went to DDT and Japan in the first place.

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