Minoru Suzuki is the new IWGP Intercontinental Champion after beating Hiroshi Tanahashi in an epic match at New Japan Pro Wrestling’s New Beginnings show in Sapporo. Tanahashi was stretchered to the back after the referee stop the match due to the amount of punishment Tanahashi’s leg received. In the other big angle, Jay White left Kenny Omega clutching his head and neck from a cheap shot to further their feud.
The opening video package featured a recap of Wrestle Kingdom 12 and the New Year Dash show.
New Beginning in Sapporo, day 1, took place at the Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center Hokkai Kitayell.
Michael Elgin vs. Katsuya Kitamura
These were two big guys trying to out power each other, which led to a series of hard hitting and high impact moves. The two exchanged forearms and chops and went back and forth with slams, clotheslines, and suplexes.
Elgin won with a buckle bomb followed by a power bomb.
This was a solid opening match. It told a simple story of the two trying to out power each other throughout the match.
Match Rating: 7/10
Kushida, Tiger Mask, Jushin Thunder Liger, Manabu Nakanishi, and Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Taka Michinoku, El Desperado, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Takashi Iizuka
Michinoku and Iizuka ran thru the crowd, which interrupted El Desperado’s entrance.
The match started with everyone fighting and battles taking place both inside and outside of the ring. Iizuka grabbed a guard rail to choke Tenzan. Iizuka bit Liger’s head and foot.
Kushida and Michinoku had an exciting fast exchange including a handspring elbow and a cartwheel drop kick by Kushida before everyone came into the ring to brawl.
Kushida won via armbar on Michinoku.
Match Rating: 5.5/10
Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii vs. Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi
Yujiro tried to knock Ishii down with forearms and boots to the face. Yujiro hit the ropes and Ishii delivered a shoulder block that knocked down Yujiro.
Owens was tagged in and has the referee look the other way while he delivers a closed fist to Yano. Ishii was tagged in and bumped Owens around, which was followed by Yujiro intervening and Owens and Yujiro double teaming Ishii.
Ishii suplexes Owens for the win.
Match Rating: 5.5/10
Never Openweight 6-man Tag Team Championship: Champions Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga, and Bad Luck Fale vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Toa Henare, and Togi Makabe
Taguchi pets Tanga Loa’s mohawk which angered Loa who took Taguchi’s glasses off his head and broke them. Taguchi and Loa start off the match and it didn’t take long before all men come into the ring and brawl. Henare was beaten down by Fale who tagged out to Tama Tonga and both men had a nice exchange of moves. Tama flapjacks Henare to get a near 3 count.
Tama applies the Dream Catcher and Henare taps out.
Match Rating 7.5/10
David Finlay, Juice Robinson, and Kota Ibushi vs. Marty Scrull, Hangman Page, and Cody
Great chain wrestling between Finlay and Scrull to start off this match. Juice Robinson performed a series of fast moves on Scrull. Cody grabbed Robinson’s head for Scrull to gain the upper hand and slow down the pace of the match.
Scrull tagged Cody while Robinson tagged Ibushi and the two had a short stare down before exchanging forearms, which was reminiscent of their Wrestle Kingdom 12 match. They do high flying dives from the apron to the outside and off the top rope to the inside.
Page gets the pin over Finlay with the Rite of Passage.
Cody and Ibushi had a stare down with Cody inside the ring and Ibushi on the outside.
Match Rating: 7/10
Will Ospreay and Yoshi-Hashi vs. Hiromu Takahashi and Tetsuya Naito
Naito threatened Don Callis and Callis begged for Naito to leave him alone.
The match began with Ospreay being whipped into the railing. Naito threatened the Japanese’s announcer Milano AT and took Yoshi-Hashi’s scepter. Hiromu worked over Ospreay’s knee and then tagged in Natio to continue the punishment. Ospreay was saved and tagged out Yoshi-Hashi who got revenge on Natio for stealing his scepter. Ospreay and Hiromu resumed their fight with Ospreay’s knee not bothering him anymore since he performed many moves that involved flips on Hiromu.
Natio pinned Ospreay via a jackknife pin.
Unfortunately, the later part of this match was hard to follow since Ospreay was selling that he could not even stand on his leg and only a few minutes later he was running the ropes at full speed and flipping and landing on his feet with no without a problem.
Yoshi-Hashi and Naito brawled to the back with the young boys trying to break them up.
Match Rating: 6.5/10
Gedo, Hirooki Goto, and Kazuchika Okada vs. Bushi, Evil, and Sanada
Sanada and Okada started off the match with a series of fast arm drags with both men quickly getting to their feet and staring at each other with the crowd applauding them. Gedo tried to take Bushi’s mask off and Sanada grabbed Gedo’s beard. All the wrestlers brawled on the outside, and Sanada and Okada fought on the aisleway. Sanada put Gedo in a paradise lock and taunted Okada. Okada ran into the ring and the referee sent Okada back onto the apron. Sanada drop kicked Gedo to release the paradise lock. Okada got triple teamed for a near 3 count.
Goto saved Okada who locked in the cobra clutch on Bushi for the win.
Okada chased Sanada down the aisle and attacked him and dragged him into the ring and tombstoned him. Okada stuffed a handful of rainmaker bucks in his mouth. Okada walked away and Sanada was helped to the back by young boys.
Match Rating: 7/10
Sho, Yoh, Jay White vs. Nick Jackson, Matt Jackson, and Kenny Omega
The Young Bucks and Sho and Yoh started off the match with back and forth high paced moves. Sho and Yoh performed a stereo running dive onto The Young Bucks.
Omega and White exchanged blows and Sho and Yoh ran in to beat down Omega. Omega delivered the snap full nelson suplex to Sho, Yoh, and White.
Omega and The Young Bucks pinned Yoh with a leapfrog-assisted Indietaker.
This was by far the fastest paced match of the night.
White hit the Blade Runner on Omega and taunted The Young Bucks, then walked to the back. Omega was slow to get up and held his shoulder and neck while walking to the back.
Match Rating: 8/10
IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki
Suzuki is slowly growing back his hair that he lost in the hair match at Wrestle Kingdom 12. His hair wasn’t that long to begin with. He may be looking like his normal self in a couple of weeks minus the rat’s tail that was on the back of his head.
There were loud Tanahashi chants to start off the match with great mat wrestling from both men. The mat wrestling ended when Suzuki put an arm bar in the ropes on Tanahashi. After breaking the arm bar, they brawled on the outside.
When they returned to the ring they exchanged stiff strikes. Suzuki got the upper hand and the crowds cheers for Tanahashi to fight back. After getting beat down, Tanahashi mounted a come back with submissions and high impact moves including a cross body off the top rope, which hurt Tanahashi’s knee. The crowd loudly chanted Tanahashi’s name.
Suzuki locked in a knee bar on Tanahashi, which was sold nicely. Tanahashi managed to escape but Suzuki quickly locked on another leg hold including a heel hook and figure four. Tanahashi put the Texas clover leaf on Suzuki who escaped.
Suzuki delivered a drop kick to Tanahashi’s leg and put another leg submission on him. When Tanahashi escaped, Suzuki stiffly kicked his leg. Suzuki returned to an ankle hold in the middle of the ring and the crowd loudly cheered for Tanahashi.
The referee stopped the match when Tanahashi was in a knee bar.
Suzuki-gun came out to celebrate with the new IWGP Intercontinental champion Minoru Suzuki.
Tanahashi was stretchered out of the ring to the back.
Suzuki went to the backstage press conference area and shook a Cooler’s beer and sprayed it everywhere to celebrate his win.
This was an amazing match where everything was believable and logical. Suzuki’s offense was always stiff and great looking, and Tanahashi’s selling made the crowd think that he was in serious jeopardy of losing the title during most of the match. The combination of Suzuki’s offense coupled with Tanahashi’s selling made this an amazing match of the night.
Match Rating: 9.5/10