It’s time to close out the New Beginning for 2019, folks! Check results of today’s show out here, and match recs for last weekend’s shows in Sapporo here, but otherwise, let’s get on with the show!
As always, I’ve got a very simple five point scale laid out where a 1 is total skip, 2 you can probably skip unless you love one of the folks in it, 3 is a match that’s worth watching but not necessarily worth making time for, a 4 is a solid recommendation to make time for if you can, and a 5 is a must-watch.
Mind you, these are not star ratings. They’re not meant to be absolute ratings in any sense, but rather a simple (and hopefully sensible) way to determine if a match is worth your time. A one is not necessarily a bad match, but rather just one I feel like you’re best off skipping. I have my biases, of course, but hopefully I can make it easy for you to adjust for them.
Jushin Liger & TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, TAKA Michinoku, & Takashi Iizuka) (2): Pretty standard opening tag fare here, with an extra dose of Suzuki-gun chaos. Some nice extended Kojima/Suzuki action, Iizuka gets a long exchange with Tenzan as his last hurrah on a big show ahead of his retirement later this month, a nice story beat in there playing with the way Hiroyoshi’s been trying to bring the man out of the monster and right into our finish.
This is very slightly more worth watching than average because of the Tenzan/Iizuka stuff, but still not exactly a must-watch classic or anything. Watch accordingly!
Ayato Yoshida & Shota Umino vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) (3): Feeling out gives way to an extended beatdown on Umino, then Yoshida gets the tag and a nice little hot streak on EVIL for a beat. The action intensifies, the Young Lions get a shocking amount of offense on the tag champs, the dream is alive as we head for a finish.
Not a lot to it, but this is really fun stuff, if maybe a little shorter than would have been totally optimal. Worth watching, hardly essential.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Shingo Takagi, & Tetsuya Naito) vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Taichi, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (2): Suzuki-gun with the attack before the bell, things settle down with Naito being worked over until Taichi gets a little greedy. The juniors go at it, wild strike exchange between Despy and Shingo, LIJ run hot all over Kanemaru and we head to a finish. This felt like it was just starting to get really interesting when it ended, unfortunately.
Really standard undercard stuff, hunt down a gif of Desperado and Takagi beating each other for sure, but the whole match? Hardcores only.
Bullet Club (Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Tomoaki Honma & YOSHI-HASHI (1): Bullet Club on the offensive early, working Honma over until he manages to tag Tacos in. Soon enough it’s Owens’ turn to get worked over, repeatedly extending his lease on life dodging the standing Kokeshi and then it hits! Yujiro takes YOSHI out on the floor, Biz Cliz go to work with double teams and we go to the finish. This is fine, but there’s just not a lot to this one at all, folks. Pass.
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. Most Violent Players (Togi Makabe & Toru Yano) (3): GoD with the attack before the bell, of course, into an extended beatdown on Yano, just wiping the Sublime Master Thief out. Makabe in hot, clubbering with Tanga Loa, tag back to Toru and he’s ready for shenanigans against Tonga! And shenanigans we get, with a ref bump… and Bullet Club taking full advantage with Jado at ringside as we head to our finish.
This one was a bit slow to start and ended a bit abruptly but I still enjoyed it more than I would have expected and would be fairly well into a rematch. Going a little high, I think, but a solid match all the same.
Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Taiji Ishimori (c) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship) (5): Taguchi playing mind games, harkening back to Ishimori’s time in the Sailor Boys, dancing, but Taiji’s got nothing to be embarrassed about and throws it right back at him! Bone Soldier in control, grinding him down, fending the Funky Weapon off with targeted knees to counter as he tries to rally. But rally he does, focusing on high flying rather than butt bumps for a beat and it pays off!
Ryusuke focuses on the ankle, the action intensifies, we get some really tight nearfalls as the toll on the leg is taken, and this rules. Every year we get two or three of these killer matches where Taguchi plays the wily vet and they’re always, always so good. Watch this!
Bad Luck Fale vs. Kazuchika Okada (3): Okada with a hot start but Fale literally runs him over in response. A dive on the floor puts the Rainmaker back in control momentarily, but again he gets freight trained and Owens and Yujiro work him over while Bad Luck keeps Red Shoes occupied with a chair. Fale’s dominance really sets in from there, but gradually Kazuchika fights back into it and well, you’ve seen one of these matches and you’ve seen them all, basically.
This is hardly the worst of them, and if you’re new to their feud it’s the same kind of tight David and Goliath action they almost always bring, so it’s worth watching on that end of things. But if you’re like me and you’ve seen this match every time they’ve run it for the past five years, you can safely give this a pass, folks.
Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. “Switchblade” Jay White (IWGP Heavyweight Championship) (5): Fighting hard from the start, neither man fooling around, and a trip to the floor nearly sees Tanahashi take charge before Gedo interferes and White is able to get his trademark back suplex over the ropes and to the floor off! Working the leg over, destroying the bum knee to set TTO back up, using it as leverage to take control back every time the 1/100 Ace tries to rally!
Eventually Hiroshi’s indomitable will lets him get into his usual routine of dragon screws and Twists and Shouts and so on, but the knee remains a problem and we head into the last act of the match asking if the 1/100 Ace can possibly overcome the pain enough to hit the High Fly Flow that’ll end it or if he’ll fall to TTO once again.
Shock of shocks, this is fantastic and worth watching, folks. It’s got a little bit of flab to it that could have stood to be trimmed, but even with that, it’s great and you should watch it.
There you have it, folks
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to toss in your two cents below, Cagesiders.