Written by: Kevin Pantoja
Road to the New Beginning
January 30th, 2016 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
New Japan Pro Wrestling held a particularly special show this morning. It was one of their typical “Road to” shows, setting up the upcoming New Beginning shows, but it also served as the final NJPW appearance for Shinsuke Nakamura before he heads to NXT.
David Finlay Jr. def. Hirai Kawato in 4:38
I’ve mentioned before that the young lions are among my favorites to watch in New Japan. They don’t deliver greatness, but they work hard and usually produce good matches. My favorite young lion, Yohei Komatsu, is unfortunately gone for now. David Finlay Jr. has been around for a while, but Hirai Kawato is completely fresh out of the dojo. Due to that, Finlay got in most of the offense. It seemed more like a showcase for Finlay as Kawato has to take losses right from the start. He submitted to the Boston Crab. The match was short, basic and to the point. Fine for what it was. **
YOSHI-HASHI def. Jay White in 6:19
Speaking of young lions, Jay White was in action next. He is another that I’m usually a fan of. YOSHI-HASHI is a member of the Chaos stable alongside the star of the day, Shinsuke Nakamura. He’s way down on the totem pole compared to him though. Similar to the opener, I thought this was fine for what it was. YOSHI-HASHI was as average as he always is, while Jay White continues to show some improvement. HASHI, being higher on the card, bested White via a powerbomb. **¼
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jushin Thunder Liger and Satoshi Kojima def. Manabu Nakanishi, Tiger Mask IV and Yuji Nagata in 10:34
It’s a bunch of old men beating the hell out of each other. Honestly, because of that reason, I found this to be pretty fun. They pulled the whole “knock Nakanishi off the apron a bunch” stuff again, which I always find enjoyable since he’s so slow at trying to get back up. Tenzan and Kojima showed great chemistry as always. When Nakanishi finally got the tag, he did about as good a hot tag as he could with his speed or lack thereof. Nakanishi was walking wild. Tencozy connected on a 3D before Kojima hit a lariat and gave his guys the win. Acceptable stuff here that had moments of fun. **¾
Bad Luck Fale and Yujiro Takahashi def. Kazushi Sakuraba and Toru Yano in 6:57
At the upcoming New Beginning in Osaka show, Toru Yano and the Briscoes will defend their NEVER Openweight Titles against Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga and Yujiro Takahashi. Or, the same match we saw at Wrestle Kingdom 10. This worked as a preview of that match, with no Tama Tonga or Briscoes. They continued the angle of Fale getting frustrated and annoyed with Yano and his antics. Yano was his usual fun self, Fale and Takahashi were there and Sakuraba honestly didn’t seem too interested in this match. Fale put down Yano with the grenade, building some suspense for the upcoming title match. About as expected. **
BUSHI, EVIL and Tetsuya Naito def. Captain New Japan, KUSHIDA and Ryusuke Taguchi in 8:58
Coming out of intermission, we started getting some of the heavy hitters in New Japan. Again, this had some build for the New Beginning, when IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion KUSHIDA defends his gold against BUSHI. I am looking forward to this as I like both guys, especially KUSHIDA. I have to say it again, but EVIL’s is too over the top for me. Sometimes over the top can work but it doesn’t here. I can’t help but laugh at his weird green finger lights. This was worked at a brisk pace, filled with the usual Los Ingobernables shenanigans. It was the best thing on the show up to this point. The BUSHI/KUSHIDA interactions were fun, making me believe their title match will deliver. I also realized that I want to see a KUSHIDA/Naito singles match at some point. BUSHI spit the mist at a spring boarding KUSHIDA and EVIL pinned Captain New Japan with the STO. BUSHI cut a promo on KUSHIDA after the match. ***
Cody Hall, Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson and Kenny Omega def. Juice Robinson, Michael Elgin, Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe in 11:46
The Bullet Club went after the babyfaces before the bell, similar to what Fale and Takahashi did earlier. Good to see stables being consistent. Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson face Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe for the Tag Team Titles at the New Beginning in Nigata, giving this some more build for that show. Michael Elgin was here to show off his power based offense, which he did with some impressive stuff like a powerbomb on Anderson to the outside and a cool fallaway slam while carrying two men. Kenny Omega is obviously in the midst of a push, while Juice and Cody were here to fill spots. Elgin continues to look so much better in Japan. Omega was still a bit over the top at times and while I’m not a big fan, I do really like how this ended. Omega pinned Juice with his own version of Nakamura’s Boma Ye. Considering Nakamura is leaving instead of defending the belt against him after Omega pinned him at New Year Dash, this made total sense and worked well. ***
Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura and Tomohiro Ishii def. Hirooki Goto, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Katsuyori Shibata in 21:52
Before the match started, we got a great video package chronicling Shinsuke Nakamura’s career in New Japan Pro Wrestling. It was set to a slow version of his theme song, “Subconscious”. The crowd was absolutely hot and popped bit for Nakamura. It looked like we would get Tanahashi and Nakamura to start, which the crowd popped for, but Goto pushed Tanahashi back, wanting Okada. For the rest of the match, Goto was mercilessly booed. His interactions with his New Beginning opponent, Okada, were great. The same goes for Ishii and Shibata, who will meet yet again at the upcoming event. Nakamura got to have some cool moments with everyone. Shibata playfully mocked some of his mannerisms and his back and forth with Tanahashi was classic. Ishii picked up the wins for his guys with a Brainbuster on Shibata, gaining momentum before his NEVER Title match. After the match, Kenny Omega showed up to run down Nakamura for leaving instead of facing him. Tanahashi stepped in and revealed that he was “X”, meaning it’ll be him facing Omega at the New Beginning for the vacant Intercontinental Title. Nakamura gave a speech and was carried out on Okada’s shoulders. They were very emotional as was the crowd. A great match capped out by an emotional moment. ****
Overall: 6.5/10. In terms of pure match quality, this was a pretty average show. It started slow before intermission and got good after that. However, this is still a highly recommended show to check out the final Shinsuke Nakamura match in New Japan. Also, even though most of the matches aren’t great, this is a very easy watch that flows nicely. If you can only see one thing, make sure it’s everything Nakamura related.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.