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NJPW New Beginning Tour Preview

1 year ago

NJPW New Beginning Tour Preview

By: Sonal Lad

After the whirlwind Wrestle Kingdom 17 event, New Japan Pro Wrestling returned for its annual New Beginning tour. With special singles matches and titles on the line, the tour is full of the biggest stars wrestling to get 2023 off to the best start possible.

Here is a look at all the key matches coming up during the New Beginning tour.

February 4th

Francesco Akira & TJP (c) v DOUKI & Yoshinobu Kanemaru – IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Championships

Francesco Akira and TJP have really brought the IWGP Jr tag division into a new era. Yet, after beating them in Super Jr Tag League and New Year’s Dash, DOUKI and Yoshinobu Kanemaru are out to cut their reign short.

While both teams are fairly new, they have showcased impeccable tag team offense and chemistry. The Empire duo has created an innovative offense that is influenced by each other’s experience and style. DOUKI and Kanemaru’s similar style and approach to wrestling have also made them dangerous. Neither afraid to bend the rules.

The new teams have revitalized the IWGP Jr tag division, and whoever wins will definitely continue that legacy. Yet, Akira and TJP seem unstoppable in the big matches, and they will want to continue their long reign to bring legitimacy to the belts.

Credit: NJPW1972

TAICHI v Will Ospreay – Special Singles Match

After his loss at Wrestle Kingdom 17 to Kenny Omega, Will Ospreay seemed like a broken man. Unsurprisingly, his anger was aimed at TAICHI on New Year’s Dash after the debut of his new faction, “Just Four Guys.”

Both men started as juniors before moving to heavyweight, meaning their wrestling styles are diverse. While TAICHI uses his strength and power, Ospreay utilizes his speed and agility, adding his new muscle. It will be a tough fight. As their careers have been so different, it will be interesting to see who wants it more.

Giving himself a year to succeed, this match will be vital for Will Ospreay. Yet, with nothing really to lose, TAICHI is at an advantage with less pressure. He has a desire to finally get to the top of the company. TAICHI and Ospreay are two very dangerous wrestlers with a lot of passion, which could mean a heated match for fans.

Credit: NJPW1972

Shota Umino v Testuya Naito – Special Singles Match

Like many young wrestlers, Shota Umino was inspired by Naito to get into the business. Yet, after returning from his excursion, Naito hasn’t shown Shota any interest. With a huge win against Los Ingobernables de Japon at Wrestle Kingdom, Shota set his eyes on Naito. The young star is out to prove he’s worth watching.

As a first-time match, it’s hard to know what to expect. Naito is always unpredictable with his style. As it’s not been long since Shota’s return, his style is still unexpected. With both Umino and Naito’s size and stature, it will be fast and dynamic.

Although no titles are being defended, a lot is at stake for both men. While Shota is out to prove he’s no longer a young lion, Naito’s pride will be on the line. With the Ungovernable One set to face Keiji Mutoh in his last match, a loss against Shota is the last thing he needs.

Credit: NJPW1972

February 5th

YOSHI HASHI & Hirooki Goto (c) v Shane Haste & Mikey Nicholls (TMDK) – IWGP Heavyweight Tag Championship

After months of the IWGP Heavyweight Tag titles out of Japan, Hirooki Goto and YOSHI HASHI (known as Bishamon) beat FTR at Wrestle Kingdom. Like most bouts on the tour, the challenge from TMDK’s Mikey Nicholls and Shane Haste came after the duo pinned YOSHI HASHI at New Year’s Dash.

Bishamon and TMDK couldn’t be more different inside the ring. Goto and YOSHI HASHI truly embody Japanese Strong Style with their dojo roots. TMDK are a lot more unpredictable with an offense that combines strength, speed, and a lot of tandem tag team moves.

Although Bishamon has excelled in the tag team division, TMDK has years of experience that make them a threat. Could TMDK end Bishamon’s tag team reign early, or will the CHAOS duo have enough determination to create a legacy with the titles again?

Credit: NJPW1972

Zack Sabre Jr (c) v Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW WORLD TV Championship

When it comes to iconic rivalries, Zack Sabre Jr and Tomohiro Ishii are one of the most well-loved. In the past, the two have come to blows over the RevPro British title, and this time, it’s over the new NJPW WORLD TV title. After ZSJ beat Ren Narita at Wrestle Kingdom, Ishii made his challenge at New Year’s Dash.

Like the other matches, the bout will be fought within a 15-minute limit. Although Zack has thrived in the past with this format, it equally suits Ishii’s power-based offense. It will be fast-paced, dynamic, and definitely advantageous to whoever can dictate the pace. A small mistake by either man could make a huge difference in a match of this kind.

ZSJ and Ishii are two completely different wrestlers, but it’s why their matches are so good. Although Ishii is deserving of a singles title, the first champion needs a long reign to cement the division’s legitimacy. Also, as the newest TMDK frontman, ZSJ will want to showcase his dominance.

Credit: NJPW1972

Hiromu Takahashi (c) v YOH – IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship

Winning a fatal four-way at Wrestle Kingdom is not an easy task, but Hiromu Takahashi did it to win the IWGP Jr title for the fifth time. Yet, the day after, YOH shocked everyone by pinning the new champion in a tag match and made his challenge. The two have wrestled many times before, but both seem even more determined in 2023.

Hiromu and YOH are different in every way. While Hiromu’s style and personality are unpredictable, YOH is cool and calm, with a more precise wrestling style. In the past, the two have been known for their epic trading of chops. No doubt the match will be fast, dynamic, and full of action.

YOH is definitely the underdog in this match, and most people don’t expect him to win. Yet, many wrestlers have fallen to YOH after underestimating him. If he can keep his cool and not be overwhelmed by Hiromu, he might have the chance to win his first singles title. Yet, Hiromu won’t be ready to let go of his title that easily and wants a long reign after having to relinquish the title twice.

Credit: NJPW1972

February 11th

Hiroshi Tanahashi v KENTA – Special Singles Match

Amidst the title matches on February 11th, there is a special and important singles match between Hiroshi Tanahashi and KENTA. Since KENTA arrived in New Japan in 2019 and then joined Bullet Clug, he and Tanahashi have had a very intense rivalry.

Even going into the warm-up matches, both wrestlers are fired up, with KENTA being extra violent and vicious after the bout ends. As talented as both wrestlers are, with decades of experience, their match at New Beginning could be more brutal than before. With it being personal, there is more at stake than many other matches.

After their insane match at Wrestle Kingdom 16, resulting in an injury for KENTA, the match will no doubt be brutal. With both veteran wrestlers far from where they want to be in NJPW, it will be a proving match and possibly have title implications in the future.

Credit: NJPW1972

Hiku Leo v Jay White – Loser Leaves Japan

After Jay White lost the IWGP World Heavyweight title to Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 17, he needed someone to blame. With Hiku Leo betraying Bullet, he became the target of the Switchblade. In a fierce New Year’s Dash match, Jay challenged Hiku Leo. The catch was that  whoever lost the match would have to leave Japan.

White and Hiku Leo’s styles are extremely different despite the same Bullet Club roots. Jay is known for his defensive offense and getting into his opponent’s head. Hiku Leo is still fairly unknown, except for his obvious size and strength. It will be a battle of will and who has more to lose.

With huge stakes and also room for interpretation of the stipulation, it will definitely be a must-win match. While it doesn’t seem clear whether the loser has to leave just Japan or New Japan completely, it will impact the wrestlers hugely. It is almost impossible to imagine New Japan without Jay and Hiku Leo seemingly has so much potential.

Credit: NJPW1972

Tama Tonga (c) v El Phantasmo – NEVER Openweight Championship

At Wrestle Kingdom, Tama Tonga finally got his happy ending. He beat Karl Anderson for the NEVER Openweight title and won his first NJPW single’s belt. After taking hold of the title at New Year’s Dash and causing a disqualification, El Phantasmo made his challenge against the new champion. The former faction mates will be facing each other in an intense battle.

When it comes to the most athletic wrestlers, Tama and ELP are at the top. While both are extremely strong and powerful, their strengths lie in their speed and agility. Despite their animosity, their offense is more similar than expected, with ELP’s differences lying in his showmanship.

Out of all the matches on the tour, this will definitely be one of the fastest. After a rocky few years for the NEVER Openweight title, Tama Tonga is out to give it some legitimacy. Yet, El Phantasmo’s talent in the ring could also do wonders for the belt. It all depends on who wants it more and what they want more: the belt or the satisfaction of beating a rival.

Credit: NJPW1972

Kazuchika Okada (c) v Shingo Takagi – IWGP World Heavyweight Championship

After Kazuchika Okada beat Jay White for the IWGP World Heavyweight title at Wrestle Kingdom, the Rainmaker’s celebration was interrupted by Shingo Takagi. After losing to Okada the previous year, Shingo came out to make a challenge. The Dragon claims he’s improved enough to beat him.

Although Okada refused the champion versus champion stipulation, as Takagi holds the KOPW belt, the stakes are still high for both men. When it comes to wrestling, Okada and Shingo combine speed, strength, and unrivaled power. They are two of the most dangerous men in wrestling.

While it seems unlikely for Okada to lose the title, fans will be treated to a spectacular match between two of the best wrestlers in the world. In the past, Okada and Shingo have always put on match-of-the-year candidates, and this won’t be any different.

Credit: NJPW1972