It truly was an end of an era in Osaka, Japan, making New Beginning one of the very best shows of 2024 so far.
The Rainmaker, NJPW’s franchise player, has wrestled his last match for the promotion after a 14-year run which saw him win the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship twice and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship five times, the G1 Climax Tournament four times and the New Japan Cup twice.
It was fitting that Okada’s last match would be against his long-time frenemie, Hiroshi Tanahashi.
After a rivalry spanning 15 matches and 11 years, tonight’s match was billed as their final encounter and Okada’s last NJPW. Okada didn’t resign with NJPW and is on his way to either the WWE or AEW.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, the NJPW World Television Champion and the president of the company, was the first to come out.
Okada was greeted with massive cheers. He seemed to be fighting back tears as he made his way to the ring. Tanahashi agreed with the crowd as he nodded his head throughout the chant.
Okada’s strength was a factor knocking down The Ace with shoulder tackles. Tanahashi fought back with his agility catching Okada with a crossbody off the ropes and a shotgun drop kick.
Okada’s drop kick knocked Tanahashi off the top rope to the floor. Okada was rounding booed when he threw The Ace into the ringside barricade. Okada drop kicked The Ace in the back of the head, stood on him with one foot which invited more boos. They threw their support behind Tanahashi.
Okada gained the momentum with a DDT and a two count. Okada stuck his chin out daring Tanahashi to punch him, to forearm smash him. Tanahashi not only did so but took him down with a flying elbow smash and a senton off the top rope for a two count.
Tanahashi began working over Okada’s knee and just crushed him with an impressive High Fly Flow from the top rope to the floor.
Minutes later, Okada would fly leaping off the top rope with a flying elbow smash driven into The Ace’s chest. Tanahashi blocked a Rainmaker attempt with a slingblade.
Both men threw hands at each other as they got to their knees and then to their feet. Okada won that exchange. The Ace reversed a Tombstone attempt into Twist and Shout.
Okada blocked a High Fly Flow by putting his knees up. Okada might have prevented that but in doing so hurt his right knee even more. It didn’t stop him from hitting a shotgun dropkick or a clothesline. As Okada held The Ace’s wrist Tanahashi defiantly labeled him with shots.
A drop kick off the ropes led to a Tombstone Piledriver from Okada. The Ace almost rolled up Okada when he attempted a Rainmaker Clothesline. Okada would win his final match in NJPW though with a Landslide and a Rainmaker clothesline.
Tanahashi and Okada hugged after the match. Overcome by tears, Okada fell to his knees in the middle of the ring before standing up and saluting the fans. He bowed to the crowd and then hit his Rainmaker pose one more time before going through the NJPW curtain for the last time.
Bryan Danielson looked like he was on his way to defeating Zack Sabre Jr. in their match after knocking Sabre into next week with the Busaiku Knee. Sabre rolled out of the way out of a second one. He and Danielson traded roll-ups until finally Sabre pinned Danielson.
The Guerrillas of Destiny (El Phantasmo & Hikuleo) had Taiji Ishimori to thanks for losing their IWGP Tag Team Championships to BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens & KENTA). Hikuleo chokeslammed Kenta to the mat. ELP lands the Super Thunder Kiss ’86. The official is about to count three but Owens pulled him out of the ring threw him into the security railing. Jado attacked Owens. Owens kicked him in the “lower abdomen” and gave him a knee trigger in the face. Taiji Ishimori brainsed ELP with the belt in the head. Hikuleo tries to chokeslam him in return. Kenta punches him in the “lower abdomen”. Ishimori hit Hikuleo with the belt too. Kenta scored the 1,2,3 to steal the belts away from The Guerrillas.
The main event was an absolutely insane match pitting the Dog Pound Cage Match against The United Empire (Will Ospreay, TJP, Jeff Cobb, Francesco Akira & HENARE) and BULLET CLUB War Dogs (David Finlay, Gabe Kidd, Drilla Moloney, Alex Coughlin & Clark Connors). It was Ospreay’s final match in the company before jumping to AEW. He received a massive ovation being the first of The United Empire to come out. Ospreay climb to the top of the cage to salute the fans with tears in his eyes as well.
The cage itself was odd. It wasn’t attached to the ring. Instead, it was a massive fence surrounding the ringside area. The door will remain open until all of the participants have entered the match. There hasn’t been a cage match in NJPW since 2003. Ospreay’s girlfriend is at ringside for the match.
Ospreay asked for the microphone before he could begin the match against David Finlay.
“I had a long flight over here. You and me are going to get in this ring and you are only going to give me two minutes? Noooo. If you are a real leader you will give me ten minutes right now,” said Ospreay to Finlay and referring to the War Games rules of the match. Finlay agrees to five minutes.
Ospreay and Finlay charge at one another once the bell rings. There are no flips or dives. Just haymakers being thrown. A hurricanrana by Ospreay sends Finlay scrambling to the floor. Ospreay wastes no time in hitting Finlay with a plancha. Ospreay is the first to be thrown into the cage. He bounces off screaming holding his back and head. Finlay pulls a steel chair out from under the ring. He swings at Ospreay and misses hitting the cage instead. Ospreay slingshots Finlay into the cage.
Drilla Moloney is the next man to enter the match. He appears with a battered and bruised Callum Newman in tow. As Ospreay is distracted Finlay attacks with a steel chair from behind. Moloney has handcuffs. Moloney handcuffs Newman to the cage beating on him some more. Moloney has a belt with all sorts of forks and other implements attached to it. He puts it under the ring for now. The fans cheer for Ospreay as he is double-teamed and thrown into the cage.
Moloney ducks Ospreay suplexing him on the floor. The next man out is Henare. Henare doesn’t back down. He takes on both War Dogs on his own while Ospreay recovers on the floor. The United Empire take over double-teaming Finlay. On the floor, Ospreay smashes a chair over Finlay’s back.
Clark Connors is the next out giving The War Dogs the advantage. Connors has barbed wire wrapped around his forearm. He spears both Ospreay and Henare. He hits Henare in the stomach with the barbed wire and Ospreay in the head. He then rakes the barbed wire raking it over Ospreay’s forehead.
TJP is next out for The United Empire as Connors and Finlay set up a table in one of the corners of the ring. TJP is carrying barbed wire with him. TJP wraps the barbed wire around his boot. He uses it to push Connors head into the corner turnbuckle.
Ospreay rejoins the battle on the floor. He is busted wide open with blood gushing down his face. Alex Coughlin is the next out for Bullet Club. He comes out with about a dozen chairs looped around both of his arms.
Coughlin spikes TJP right into the cage. Connors and Coughlin bury TJP under a bunch of steel chairs. Coughlin slams Henare on the chairs and TJP. As the War Dogs look to the entranceway for Francesco Akira he enters from the other side of the arena, climbs to the top of the cage and leaps onto them. Akira pulls a kendo stick from under the ring. He wails on Bullet Club.
Akira separates Finlay from the others. He hits him over and over and over with the kendo stick. A bloody Connors spears Aikra through the table in the corner. Gabe Kidd is next out for the War Dogs. He wheels out a cart full of weapons. The War Dogs take over until Jeff Cobb comes out as the last member of The United Empire. Since it is War Games rules either team can try to win the match now. The cage door is locked with a chain.
Cobb picks up a charging Moloney slamming him into the cage which shakes and rattles. Connors leaps off the apron. Cobb catches him and just throws him back hard on the apron. Finlay strikes Cobb from behind with a kendo stick. Cobb no-sells it. Cobb gives him an F5. Cobb and Ospreay double-team Finlay for a two count. Connors charges Cobb. Cobb side-steps him, pushes him into another table set up in a corner. Connors hits so hard his head leaves a dent in the table.
Kidd introduces a ladder into the match bashing everyone in the head while spinning around and around with it while Henare is on the floor receiving actual medical attention.
TJP comes from under the ring dressed as the Aswang demon. He begins cleaning out for The United Empire. Henare returns to the match with a massive bandage around his head and jaw. With everyone down in the middle of the ring and 35 minutes gone by both teams huddle in their respective corners. Both teams charge each other leaving Ospreay and Finlay in the ring to settle things. Connors spears Ospreay off the apron through a table on the floor. Kidd and Henare square off. Henare punches right through a steel chair in Kidd’s hands. Henare breaks a steel chair over Kidd’s head.
Akira and TJP wallop on Coughlin with kendo sticks. He no-sells the beating. He bounces off the ropes breaking through both kendo sticks before being drop kicked out of the ring. While Akira and TJP hold Coughlin on a table Henare leaps off the cage. Henare puts Coughlin through the table. Connors empties a bag of thumb tacks in the ring and a whole pile in a corner. TJP as Aswang, slams Connors face-first onto the pile of thumb tacks. Finlay delivers Conchairto to Cobb.
At 45 minutes into the match Gedo drags a barbed wire table down to the ring. The Great-O-Khan arrives on the scene. Gedo stabs Khan in the eye with a key to the cage. Gedo unlocks the cage so they can bring the table in. Khan throttles Gedo. He retrieves the key. Khan frees Callum Newman. Ospreay is prevented from putting Finlay through the barbed wire table by Kidd. Ospreay reverses things on Kidd raking his face along the barbed wire. Gedo rakes Ospreay’s eyes from behind stopping him from putting Finlay away. Newman super kicks Gedo in the head. Aswang spits red mist into Finlay’s face. Ospreay gives Finlay a hook kick to the head. Newman and Ospreay execute simultaneous OsCutters on Gedo and Finlay. Ospreay powerbombs Finlay through the barbed wire table.
Ospreay was about to finish off Finlay. Moloney attacked Ospreay with a fork to the head. Kidd piledrove Ospreay from the apron through a ladder suspended between the ring and the cage. In the ring, Moloney stabs Akira in the forehead with the fork. Moloney licks the fork afterwards. Akira gains possession of the weapon. He stabs Molony in the head as the crowd cheers him on.
Akira does the same to Connors, puts a dog collar around his neck and hangs him over the ropes as was done to him. The War Dogs start disassembling the ring ripping off the covering and padding. Henare turns the tables on Kidd suplexing him on the exposed wooden planks.
Coughlin handcuffs Henare to the steel cage and just hits him over and over with a kendo stick. The War Dogs spike piledrive Akira into the exposed wood. Ospreay drags Akira over to a corner so he won’t suffer any more damage. Ospreay gets to his feet to to face all of the War Dogs.
“You are the only one left. Hit me, Will. Hit me! Hit me!” yells Finlay giving Ospreay a free shot.
Finlay gets on his knees. Ospreay staggers and falls.
Connors spears Ospreay. Finlay drops Ospreay on his barbed wire knee. Finlay pins Ospreay for the win. The War Dogs pose over a fallen Ospreay.
The United Empire gather in the ring hoisting Ospreay to his feet. He begins to cry as he take the microphone.
“Osaka, for eight years you guys have been my home. You have seen me as a young boy become a man. I want to thank everyone, every single person here. Thank you so much for looking after me. I promise you all, I swear to this, I will come back one day. I promise. Please don’t forget me because I will not forget any of you guys. I love you guys so f—–g much. I am ready to show the world what NJPW has produced. I am the man I am today because of you. I promise that I will come back,” he said as streamers fell on him and the rest of The United Empire hugged him. Ospreay’s girlfriend entered the ring. She hugged and kissed him. As he stood on the entrance way fans cheered his name.
New Beginning in Osaka Results
YOH & Toru Yano vs Ryusuke Taguchi & Boltin Oleg
While Taguchi and Oleg are both hefting Yoh and Yano back and forth, Yoh rolls up Taguchi.
Winners: YOH & Toru Yano
Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) vs United Empire (Great-O-Khan & Callum Newman)
Bishmon pin Newman with Shoto.
Winners: Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI)
Tiger Mask, Tomoaki Honma, Shota Umino & El Desperado vs HOUSE OF TORTURE (EVIL, SHO, Ren Narita, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Yujiro Takahashi)
Everyone brawls on the floor to start things off. When he tags in Honma talks some sense into Desperado who was just stomping the crap out of Sho in a corner after his backstage sneak attack weeks ago which laid out Desperado.
Honma gets Evil up for a suplex which gets a big cheer, pop from the crowd.
While Dick Togo distracts the official Sho punches Tiger Mask in the “lower abdomen”. Narita hits Tiger Mask in the face with that exercise bar. Sho pins Tiger Mask with Shock Arrow.
After the match Togo chokes out Umino with his garotte. As he does so Evil spray paints an ‘X’ on his chest.
Desperado tackles Sho in the middle of the ring, rains down some punches on him and reclaims his stolen mask. Sho though walks off with Desperado’s IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship belt.
Winners: HOUSE OF TORTURE (EVIL, SHO, Ren Narita, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Yujiro Takahashi)
Los Ingobernables De Japon (BUSHI, Shingo Takagi, Yota Tsuji, Hiromu Takahashi & Tetsuya Naito) vs Just Five Guys (SANADA, DOUKI, Yuya Uemura, Taichi & TAKA Michinoku)
Sanada spins Bushi around and around. A Skull End puts Bushi away. Naito lays the belt on the mat between him and Sanada. Sanada stares down at it as Tjusi and Uemura have a staredown and grab each other by the hair.
Winners: Just Five Guys (SANADA, DOUKI, Yuya Uemura, Taichi & TAKA Michinoku)
Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Winner: Kazuchika Okada
Guerrillas of Destiny (El Phantasmo & Hikuleo) (c) vs BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens & KENTA) – IWGP Tag Team Championship Match
Winners: …and new IWGP Tag Team Champions, BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens & KENTA).
Bryan Danielson vs Zack Sabre Jr.
Winner: Zack Sabre Jr.
United Empire (Will Ospreay, TJP, Jeff Cobb, Francesco Akira & HENARE) vs BULLET CLUB War Dogs (David Finlay, Gabe Kidd, Drilla Moloney, Alex Coughlin & Clark Connors) – Steel Cage Match
Winners: BULLET CLUB War Dogs (David Finlay, Gabe Kidd, Drilla Moloney, Alex Coughlin & Clark Connors)