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Mitchell’s NJPW Report: AXS TV New Beginnings in Sapporo Part 1!

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NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo Graphic

This review of NJPW: New Beginnings in Sapporo Part 1 will be as broadcasted by AXS TV.
Therefore, all images are courtesy of AXS TV.

 

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • From January 27th, 2018- Six Man Tag: The Bullet Club’s Elite VS Chaos’ Jay White & Roppongi 3K; The Elite wins.
  • IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Minoru Suzuki; Suzuki wins and becomes the new IWGP Intercontinental Champion.

PLAY BY PLAY

AXS TV and NJPW take a look at what led to this intense match-up!

The Once in a Century Talent was victorious through four IWGP Intercontinental Championship defenses, but is badly battered. Meanwhile, the Man with the Worst Personality lost his NEVER Openweight Championship to Hirooki Goto, and even sacrificed his hair. However, it was at New Years Dash that Suzuki chose to strike the weakened Tanahashi, with Suzuki-Gun by his side.

The Meanest Man in the World clearly wants the IWGP IC Championship, and is willing to completely dismantle The Ace of NJPW to do it. Can Tanahashi hope to survive the wrath of THE Minoru Suzuki!?

 

From January 27th, 2018 – Six Man Tag: The Bullet Club’s Elite VS Chaos’ Jay White & Roppongi 3K!

We join this match in progress as Matt Jackson of the Young Bucks breaks free of Sho’s waistlock. Matt leaps and tags in The Cleaner, Kenny Omega! Omega runs in but Sho gets him with a German Suplex! Sho holds on, but Kenny gets the standing switch and snap dragon suplex! Then Yo comes in, he gets a snap dragon! White runs in, Omega blocks his punch with a kick then grabs him in a full-nelson. White elbows out, swings, but Omega still gets him with the snap dragon!

Omega fires up with the fans as the Bucks return. Sho is alone against them, and turns around into a TRIPLE SUPERKICK! Cover, but White breaks it up. Yo returns but Nick Jackson is upon him. He throws Yo out while Matt throws White out. Nick climbs up quick and somersault splashes to wipe them both out. The Elite regroups with Sho in position. Matt puffs, puts it out and lifts Sho, Omega and Nick are there for the buckle bomb kick combo! Tag to Nick, and Matt brings Sho back up. Matt drapes Sho on the ropes while Nick climbs up. Nick hits the draping swanton bomb! Cover, TWO! The fans applaud while The Elite are frustrated.

Nick waits for Sho to stand up, but Sho blocks the superkick. He spins Nick around, German Suplex but Nick lands on his feet. Nick gets the takedown, then the “Cease” Sharpshooter! Sho endures but drags himself towards ropes. Matt and Omega keep White and Yo back, respectively, while Nick drags Sho away from ropes. White pushes Matt away then kicks Nick to end the hold. Omega returns, lunges in but White avoids V-Trigger to respond with a stiff forearm smash. Matt returns to SPEAR White! Yo returns, but Matt rallies on him and Sho.

He runs but RPG3K take him down with double knees. Nick returns, but Sho catches him into a backstabber, that feeds him into Yo’s shotgun knees! The fans fire up for RPG3K, Sho pops Nick up for Yo, but Nick counters with a tornado DDT!

Omega returns to V-Trigger Sho! Nick officially tags Omega in, and Omega rallies the fans. He fires up and says, “BANG!” for Sho. Omega runs and hits an even bigger V-Trigger!

That’s not all, he brings Sho up and onto his shoulders. Omega wants One Winged Angel but White returns! Sho slips down and feeds Omega into Switchblade position, but the Bucks double SUPERKICK White from behind!

Yo returns, he turns Nick’s kick into Matt, then dragon screws Nick. Omega gets up and rocks Yo with a forearm. Yo yo-yos back in to SUPERKICK Omega! But then Yo takes double SUPERKICKS from the Bucks! Nick feeds Yo into Matt’s tombstone piledriver position, and Omega helps pop Nick up for the Indietaker!

Cover, The Elite wins!

Winners: The Elite (Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks)

Omega and The Bucks all win together, but will be facing White and RPG3K separately later in the Sapporo event, all defending their IWGP championships. Will Omega defeat Chaos’ Switchblade 1v1? Will the Young Bucks throw a Superkick Party against the duo formerly known as the Tempura Boyz?

But wait! White attacks from behind!

He gets Omega with the Switchblade driver! White gets away clean, having once again gotten the drop on the IWGP United States Champion. Will he do it again to The Cleaner when the title is on the line?

 

Jay White regroups with Chaos backstage.

“Forgive me if I’m a little off at the moment.” Chaos has started a war with Bullet Club, but White promises to “bring all new kinds of chaos to New Japan.” He hopes they’ll be with him. He wants them to think about this: Yes, Okada leads Chaos now, but he’s holding Chaos back. Has Sho gotten a chance against Will Ospreay? Yes, the team of RPG3K wants tag team titles, but even Yo could challenge for Ospreay’s championship.

Rocky Romero points out Chaos doesn’t work like that, but White says it’s not about breaking Chaos apart, it’s about everyone doing their best to be the best. That way, NJPW can take over the world. Omega wants to change the world, but Bullet Club aren’t the ones to do it. Chaos will. White will. He will do Omega’s work for him, whether or not he has someone backing him. “I am the Switchblade, and everyone will breath with the Switchblade.” White’s newfound edge is making him a bit scary, but can that be exactly what he needs to change the wrestling world?

 

IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Minoru Suzuki!

Suziki makes his entrance.

The time has come! Accompanied by Suzuki-Gun, the Man with the Worst Personality in the World wants to make up for losing the NEVER Openweight Championship by taking away the Ace’s. How far will the ruthless Suzuki go to hold gold again?

The “Ace” of New Japan heads to the ring.

As is customary, the challenger is shown the belt he fights for before it is put aside.

With that, the formal introductions finish, and the match begins. The fans already chant as the two circle. Suzuki and Tanahashi feel each other out as they tie up. Tanahashi powers Suzuki back to the ropes, then gives him a clean break. He and Suzuki tie up again, and Tanahashi gets the wristlock. Suzuki reverses into his own wristlock, then the hammerlock. Tanahashi drop toeholds and floats to a headlock then facelock. Suzuki powers his way up and puts Tanahashi against the ropes. This break is tense, but clean. They circle again, and Suzuki lunges in for the waistlock. Tanahashi gets the standing switch, but Suzuki counters into the wristlock. Suzuki brings Tanahashi to a knee, but Tanahashi gets back up to his feet to roll and takedown Suzuki. Tanahashi holds onto that foot, then drops into a leglock, but Suzuki counters with a leglock!

Suzuki has the Achilles hold but Tanahashi drags himself to ropes. Tanahashi gets the ropebreak, but Suzuki doesn’t let go! He drags Tanahashi back to the center of the ring and drops down again. Tanahashi stands up and gets his toehold back on, then transitions into a seated knee wrench. Suzuki endures the bending while trying to grab Tanahashi. Tanahashi bends the leg more, but Suzuki starts to power his way out. With that, Tanahashi stands up and goes after the hamstring with stomps and knees. He drops an elbow and puts the toehold on again. Suzuki responds by grabbing Tanahashi’s hair and pulling back.


He seems to be talking trash in order to intimidate Tanahashi, but Tanahashi doesn’t give in. Instead, he continues to wrench and bend Suzuki’s leg. Suzuki gets frustrated, but Tanahashi keeps on his knee by grinding in his own, then stomping the joint. Tanahashi stomps and stomps, but Suzuki just laughs, egging him on. Tanahashi grabs both legs and knots them, but Suzuki resists. Even so, Tanahashi gets a standing Deathlock!

Suzuki endures as Tanahashi bends and pulls the legs. When it is clear this won’t make Suzuki quit, Tanahashi lets the hold go and stomps the thigh. Tanahashi walks around and brings Suzuki up, but Suzuki hits back with body shots. Tanahashi hits back, then puts on a headlock. Suzuki works to bring Tanahashi down to a knee, and then gets a headlock of his own. Tanahashi powers out but Suzuki grabs his hair! Suzuki uses the hair to bring Tanahashi into a headbutt. Suzuki whips Tanahashi but Tanahashi reverses. Tanahashi sees Suzuki hold onto the ropes, so he rushes in, only to be caught into Suzuki’s hanging triangle!


The referee, “Red Shoes”, counts Suzuki, and he lets go at 4. He grabs Tanahashi’s leg, but Tanahashi fights him off. Suzuki hits barriers, and the champion catches his breath, while we go to break.

NJPW on AXS returns, and Suzuki stands up to drag Tanahashi out of the ring after all. He whips Tanahashi into the guard rails, rocking the barriers. Suzuki opens the gate to go around and confiscate a chair! He heads back to Tanahashi and jabs that chair into Tanahashi’s ribs. Suzuki raises that chair high over the crawling Tanahashi, to SMACK him across the back!

Tanahashi writhes while Red Shoes takes that chair away. Suzuki doesn’t care, he just brings Tanahashi up to bump him off the apron. Then he kicks Tanahashi against the barriers like he’s a heavy bag. Tanahashi collapses, and Suzuki returns to the ring to let the 20-count climb. It gets halfway before Tanahashi gets to his feet. Tanahashi beats the count at 12, and the fans applaud his heart. Suzuki, however, toys with The Ace, even kicking him while he’s down. The fans rally for Tanahashi as he takes more kicks, and Tanahashi responds with right hand palm strikes. Suzuki responds with his own overhand chop, then waits for Tanahashi to chop back. Suzuki swiftly chops three times, then catches Tanahashi’s counter into a Fujiwara armbar! He bends Tanahashi’s arm back but Tanahashi endures.

Tanahashi crawls around and gets a ropebreak with his foot. However, Suzuki continues to bend the arm! Suzuki lets go at the referee’s count, but comes back to kick and stomp Tanahashi. He wrenches that arm, then kicks it, letting Tanahashi feel that pain. He kicks Tanahashi again, and Tanahashi falls back against ropes. Suzuki kicks again, Tanahashi fires up and dares him to do it again. Suzuki obliges, kicking and kicking and kicking. Tanahashi fires off forearms in return, but then Suzuki kicks again.

Suzuki’s next kick is caught, and Tanahashi fires off more forearms, then body shots and a European Uppercut. He whips but Suzuki reverses, Tanahashi knocks Suzuki down with a flying forearm smash! The fans applaud while Suzuki checks his nose. The fans rally as Tanahashi scoop slams Suzuki. He then hops up, and hits a second-rope somersault senton!

Cover, TWO, but Tanahashi is not deterred. He gets back up and brings Suzuki to his feet. Suzuki fights back with body shots and knees, but so does Tanahashi. Tanahashi backs Suzuki down into the corner, then whips him corner to corner. Suzuki reverses and runs in for a boot in the corner! Suzuki snapmares Tanahashi and kicks away on that back. He then runs, Penalty Kick CAUGHT. Tanahashi stands up, but Suzuki punches him away. Tanahashi throws in a forearm, but Suzuki comes back with one of his own. They go back and forth with heavy rights, and Tanahashi starts to stagger. He still hits back, but Suzuki doesn’t back down.

They both laugh as they continue to brawl with forearms. Tanahashi starts to fade, but he fires back up to keep going. Suzuki keeps laughing as he and Tanahashi speed up with forearms! Tanahashi swings, misses, but blocks Suzuki’s kick to counter with a dragon screw! Both men are down while the fans applaud, and cheer for Tanahashi. Suzuki clutches his leg, so Tanahashi grabs it for a grounded dragon screw. Tanahashi keeps on that leg, even as Suzuki is on his stomach, and dragon screws the other way. Suzuki rolls away but Tanahashi keeps on him. Tanahashi knots the legs and rolls Suzuki into the Cloverleaf!


Suzuki endures the bend, and drags himself to the ropes for the break. Tanahashi lets go, then stomps on Suzuki. Suzuki eggs him on, so Tanahashi keeps stomping. Tanahashi drags Suzuki up from the outside and then grabs a leg. Suzuki senses what’s coming, and fights Tanahashi with right hands. When Tanahashi refuses to let go, Suzuki grabs handfuls of his hair and headbutts away. That still doesn’t back Tanahashi down, and he hits the dragon screw between the ropes! Suzuki tumbles into the ring, but both men are down. Tanahashi gets up first and gets running, but runs into a powerful dropkick from Suzuki!

The fans applaud as both men go down again. Suzuki stands up first, then drags Tanahashi up and into the sleeper hold! Tanahashi endures and backs Suzuki down, but Suzuki holds on. Tanahashi snapmares Suzuki off but Suzuki comes right back with a stiff knee to the stomach. Suzuki puts on a facelock for the front choke, but Tanahashi slips out and spins around to hit Suzuki with a swinging neckbreaker! He brings Suzuki up for a second swinging neckbreaker! Then a third!

The fans applaud the trifecta, but Tanahashi doesn’t cover here. He calls for something big, gets running, and hits the Slingblade!


The Ace isn’t done there, he climbs up top. He takes aim as Suzuki stands up, and hits the flying crossbody! Still no cover, as Tanahashi’s leg bothers him again. Red Shoes checks on the champ while we go to break.

NJPW on AXS returns, and the fans are rallying while Tanahashi clutches that bad leg. Red Shoes also checks on Suzuki, but both men are okay to continue. Suzuki stands up but falls back while Tanahashi gets himself back to a corner. Tanahashi climbs up, takes aim again, High Fly Flow splash!

But into Suzuki’s knees!


Then Suzuki gets that bad leg into the Kneebar! And then, the full Heel Hook!

Tanahashi endures the torturous combination of holds, but practically tears his hair out. The fans rally for Tanahashi but Suzuki just bends that foot back more. Suzuki goes so far, that foot looks to be facing the wrong way! Tanahashi refuses to give in, and uses Suzuki’s legs to help him roll to ropes.

However, Suzuki drags Tanahashi back the other way, and wrenches that foot ever further! Suzuki shouts for Tanahashi to quit, but instead, Tanahashi slips around and grabs those ropes for the break! Suzuki lets go, but then drags Tanahashi back out, for a Figure Four leglock!


Tanahashi endures this new hold, but won’t give up, even as Suzuki uses his arms for leverage. Suzuki twists the foot as part of the hold, but Tanahashi won’t give up. Tanahashi works to roll, and gets some of the pressure off. The fans rally again but Suzuki rolls it back into his favor. Suzuki wants Tanahashi to give, but Tanahashi refuses. One more extra bridge and wrench, but this still doesn’t make Tanahashi give up.

Tanahashi grits his teeth and pries at the hold itself. Suzuki and Tanahashi talk back and forth, but Suzuki rolls it back the other way. Tanahashi uses that to roll it back in his favor. Sweat drips off Suzuki’s face but he won’t let this beat him, either. They roll again, Tanahashi gets another ropebreak!

Red Shoes helps undo the leglock, and Suzuki dares Tanahashi to get up. The fans continue to cheer for Tanahashi as he slowly gets to his feet. He grits his teeth and brawls with Suzuki, but Suzuki fires off nearly endless strikes, both to body and head. Tanahashi is dazed, and Suzuki puts him back in the sleeper hold! Suzuki squeezes tight, and Tanahashi fades, but then springs back to life. He reaches, but fades again.

Tanahashi fades, and fades, but Suzuki won’t let it end with that. He spins Tanahashi around and puts him into position and puts on the Gotch grip, but Tanahashi resists! Tanahashi uses all his strength to keep that piledriver away, but Suzuki lifts him up! Tanahashi flails and gets back on his feet, then takedown to the Cloverleaf! Suzuki resists the turn, but Tanahashi still gets it back on!


Suzuki endures a submission now, but he drags himself little by little. Tanahashi walks forward to drag Suzuki away, but Suzuki grabs hold and pops out into a small package cradle! TWO, into SLINGBLADE! Cover, TWO!! Tanahashi was so close and he knows it. The fans are thunderous as he brings Suzuki up. He puts on a full-nelson but Suzuki breaks it. Suzuki mule kicks that bad knee! But Tanahashi hits back with a left palm strike. Suzuki staggers back and Tanahashi catches his breath while the fans rally again. He runs at Suzuki and rocks him with a forearm smash at the ropes. He throws more forearms, then fires up to run again. That bad leg slows him down, and Suzuki dropkicks it out! Both men are down while we go to break.

NJPW on AXS is back once again, and Suzuki has the Kneebar-HeelHook again! Tanahashi endures the torture all over again, and his foot is twisted all around again. Tanahashi rolls but that only eases some of the pressure. He reaches and gets the ropebreak! Suzuki lets go again, but he waits for Tanahashi to stand. Red Shoes wants space to check but Suzuki pushes Red Shoes aside to kick away at the bad leg! Suzuki kicks and kicks all around the ring, and doesn’t stop, even after Tanahashi falls to the mat. Suzuki brings Tanahashi back up for palm strikes, then drags Tanahashi into position. He puts the Gotch grip on, and lifts Tanahashi, for the Piledriver!!


But no cover, Suzuki goes for the KNEEBAR HEEL HOOK! He wants it to work this third time! Tanahashi endures, grabbing Red Shoes in desperation. Suzuki wrenches as deep as ever, and the fans are so loud for The Ace. Tanahashi doesn’t want to, hates to, but Suzuki is doing everything he can to get Tanahashi to. Red Shoes asks, Tanahashi shakes his head “NO!” But he can’t even get away as Suzuki has his legs in a Deathlock knot on top of everything else.

The fans rally for Tanahashi once more, and he desperately reaches for ropes. He drags himself around, but Suzuki rolls him away! Suzuki gives it all he has, and Tanahashi holds on with everything he has. The hold is released, only so Suzuki can drag Tanahashi further away from ropes and reapply the Kneebar. Red Shoes pleads with Tanahashi, but when there’s no response, Red Shoes has to call it! Suzuki wins and is the new IWGP Intercontinental Champion!

Winner (new IWGP Intercontinental Champion): Minoru Suziki

He takes the belt that was once Tanahashi’s, and stands over him with it as if to add insult to injury.


Suzuki-Gun joins him in the ring again to celebrate his victory while medics tend to Tanahashi.

Minoru Suzuki speaks.

“Hey, Tanahashi, you asked me to make it exciting, right?” Suzuki takes offense that Tanahashi, “injured all over”, yet thinking he could beat Suzuki. “Even if you performed a miracle by reviving a New Japan on the verge of collapse,” Tanahashi won’t get a second miracle. Suzuki says “Power is the only thing that matters!” He’ll find any excuse to beat you down. Suzuki dares Tanahashi to come back and try again, he’ll “beat your ass once more. You can count on it!” Then Suzuki turns on Sapporo, asking “what the hell are you clapping about?!” Suzuki mocks the “dopes” sitting at ringside. They thought this was a good match, right? But now he has their “precious Intercontinental belt”! And he made sure that “your other treasure, Hiroshi Tanahashi, will never stand in the ring again.” Go ahead and tell everyone how bad it hurts. Suzuki says his knee and ankle joints “made the most delightful sounds a moment ago.” Snap crackle, pop! But that’s right, only those who have “battled in the ring” know that sound. “Idiots who will never set foot in the ring have no right to criticize!” Suzuki-Gun is NUMBER ONE! Cannons fire to rain streamers down on the victorious Suzuki.

Meanwhile, Tanahashi is taken away on a stretcher. After all the damage Tanahashi endured, what is the state of his legs? When will he be able to return to action?

 

Suzuki-Gun has a post-match press conference.

With both his IWGP Intercontinental Championship and Rev-Pro Wrestling Undisputed British Tag Team Championship on the table, Suzuki shakes up and cracks open a beer.

The NJPW belt, THE IWGP IC belt, is now his. And he’s coming after those who “stepped on my head”. “This won’t go the way you think. You’ll see. I’ll show all of you. And remember, Suzuki-Gun is NUMBER ONE! He leads his team in spraying even more beer on the reporters. Suzuki is now the Champion with the Worst Personality in the World. What more sadistic damage and destruction will he and his faction inflict on the rest of NJPW?

 

My Thoughts:

This is my first time covering and even watching a full NJPW program, but I have always been pretty aware of the major players. I was surprised to see even just part of the Six Man Tag from this same night, but even just part was great. The Elite wins to keep themselves established in the trios divisions, but then White drops Omega to keep things even going into their IWGP United States Championship match coming up. White’s press conference promo was great to help us understand his new mindset as “The Switchblade”, as well as his missing. Having covered ROH where he went on “expedition”, I know White is a great talent and could be champion easily. I also had the fortune of seeing Minoru Suzuki when he faced Cody in ROH. Just that one match gave me an idea of how cutthroat Suzuki was, and this match upped that even more. The story told in the ring was incredible on both sides, with Tanahashi fighting through the pain while Suzuki wants to sideline Tanahashi to get back at him and everyone in NJPW. I really do expect Suzuki to do more of the same to anyone and everyone put up against him next.

My Score: 8.8/10


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