Welcome to the faction wars edition of The New Beginning! Osaka has had a nice lead in, with Chaos and LIJ establishing themselves as the top factions, but also fighting over who is number one. Neither of these two groups like each other, except Hiromu and Ospreay, they are the most cordial and adorable enemies outside of an anime. This event is headlined with Okada vs. Sanada, and there is no Bullet Club in sight.
The Osaka crowd tends to lean heavily towards LIJ, so has the booking gone towards making the fans happy? Will we see a split decision with the IWGP Heavyweight Title as the tie breaker, ala, WWE? Can Sanada beat Okada? It’s questions like these, that make this show an important watch. So with all that said, it’s time to see how it all shook out.
Yuji Nagata vs Katsuya Kitamura
Kitamura’s sixth match, of his best of seven series. Even though he’s 0-5 so far, the point isn’t to win, the point is to prove where he’s at in his ability before an excursion or staying on main roster.
The match itself contained a lot of stiff strikes and saw Kitamura being a little more reserved, and slowly started to strategize more and build confidence as the match went on. Sadly for Katsuya, he falls again and can’t seem to overcome any of the legends or mid carders he’s been faced up against.
Good opening match, and definitely showed a progression in Kitamura’s approach after only a few matches.
Rating: ** 3/4 (Silver I)
Roppongi 3k vs El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Well this was a great match to set up a future title shot. Roppongi 3k has put on some athletically impressive matches with the Young Bucks, but Suzuki-Gun doesn’t care about impressive moves.
Kanemaru and Desperado take numerous short cuts, and the fact that they softened up Sho’s back, so he wasn’t 100% played into the match. We saw the ending come with Kanemaru putting Sho in a Boston Crab and Desperado going crazy with CHAIRSHOTS since the ref wasn’t watching him. If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying and Kanemaru and Desperado more than likely just got themselves a shot at the Junior Tag belts.
Decent enough match, but more of a story telling match. A few spots seemed mistimed, but nothing glaringly terrible, just kinda there.
Rating: ** 1/2 (Silver II)
Ryusuke Taguchi, Kushida, Michael Elgin & Togi Makabe vs TAKA, Taichi, Iizuka & Minoru Suzuki
Well as is the usual with Suzuki-Gun and most 8+ man matches, it begins with a big mess of a fight. Most of these men have stories with each other and they pair off as is expected.
Numerous weapons and heel tactics ensue, but eventually Makabe and Suzuki meet back up in the ring and we get some actual wrestling. The Intercontinental match that they’re going to have will definitely be something to watch. You can see both men dislike each other and it shows in the strong style moments and body language.
Makabe gets the pinfall victory for his team on TAKA while staring down Suzuki to send a message. There was a small promo directly after the match, but you’re going to have to find a translation since my Japanese isn’t that good. The match progressed storylines decently, but as a match itself it was…passable?
Rating: ** 1/4 (Silver IV)
Henare, David Finlay & Juice Robinson vs Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Jay White
A few story threads in this one, mainly with Finlay / White and Henare trying to cut his teeth on Ishii. But this was another one of the usual decent multi-man tags, but nothing to write home about.
Finlay showed a little more aggression than usual, Jay took some punishment for a while, but it all ended up in a way to make a point. Jay hits the Blade Runner, cuts Henare open and then instead of pinning him, crucifixes the arms and lays in elbows until the referee stops the match.
*Biggest news so far after the match* Rey Mysterio shows up via video package and challenges Jushin Thunder Liger for Long Beach.
Rating: ** 1/2 (Silver II)
Gedo vs Bushi
So the story of the match was simply a grudge match where Gedo has taken every opportunity to unmask Bushi in the last two shows leading up to this. Bushi brought out hedge clippers as a way to say “You keep taking my masks, I’ll take your beard”.
But it was due to the set up, that the match was just weird. The wrestling was just a lead in to trying to get to a spot for Gedo to untie the mask. The most note worthy spot was Gedo took the loose strings of the mask and tied Bushi to the ropes so he couldn’t get a hold of Gedo until a Young Lion brought the hedge clippers to cut him out (the spot took too damn long to set up though, Gedo needs to learn how to tie shoes better).
Since Bushi was playing the face in the match, it made sense for him to finally get vengeance. Bushi connects with the MX and wins via pinfall.
Rating: ** 1/2 (Silver II)
Yoshi-Hashi vs Tetsuya Naito
Yoshi-Hashi came out like a house on fire and attacked Naito during his ring entrance and stayed aggressive the entire match.
Even though the disparity in their resumes was even being mentioned by the English Commentary team, Yoshi made the match very close. There were numerous times when he had a believable chance to win the match, especially when Naito was stuck in the Butterfly Lock for over a minute. The match really was better than I think anyone anticipated.
However, logic paid off and Naito wins after back to back Destinos. The talking point comes from the fact that Taichi attacked Naito as he was exiting up the ramp and literally just dragged him away. I figure the Chris Jericho confrontation was coming soon, but Taichi is an unexpected wrinkle. Maybe they face each other at the Anniversary show March 6th?
Rating: *** 3/4 (Gold I)
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match: Will Ospreay vs Hiromu Takahashi
The opening video package…holy hell, watch it, it’s hilarious. It has a cat narrate that Hiromu has the mind of a cat but Ospreay has the agility of a cat.
As for the match, I mean, Hiromu is amazing and Ospreay adds a lot of sizzle to his matches. Neither wrestler kept an edge for very long and Hiromu tried to focus on Ospreay’s neck. A bunch of big and flashy moves, though the match wasn’t without a few odd spots and a little repetition towards the end. Hiromu countering Ospreay’s move into a Canadian Destroyer was an impressive highlight.
Still though, not a fan of that Beheading move, looks really corny. Damn good match, and easily the best of the night thus far, but not quite a classic.
Rating: **** 1/2 (Platinum III)
NEVER Openweight Title Match: Hirooki Goto vs EVIL
The beginning of this match was a little odd. EVIL wraps a chair around Goto’s head and drives him into the ring post, and Red Shoes refuses to count (Japanese refs are instructed to avoid DQs and use their discretion). So there was about 30 seconds of Goto laid out on the floor, and the energy of the match came down to a halt.
With that said, both of these men are fantastic wrestlers, so a few stiff strikes and trading lariats back and forth woke everyone back up. We saw a lot of big moves, EVIL trying to use chairs repeatedly, but Goto stayed resilient. It was thanks to his resilience that we got to our ending sequence.
Both men reversed the other’s finishing move 2 or 3 times, before Goto finally hits the GTR on EVIL for the pinfall victory. Good match, what you basically expect from a Goto match though. This match ties Chaos and LIJ at 2 wins a piece. So it all comes down to the final match, on which faction wins the battle and has the Heavyweight champion.
Rating: *** 3/4
IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match: Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA
The final faction match and also the final heavyweight standing between Okada and a clean sweep on LIJ.
Sanada maintained his usual persona for the early goings of the match, cold, seemingly disinterested and his usual too cool for school body language. It was as soon as Okada started kicking Sanada in the head mockingly, the crowd booed him loudly. The crowd was pro LIJ all night, but at that point Okada had the crowd hating him, and Sanada capitalized with a nice sequence ending in a dive to the outside that made the whole building erupt in cheers.
The expressions on Cold Skull were starting to show surprise and desperation when he found 2 innovative ways to apply the Skull End. First out of an Asai Moonsault from the corner, and then he basically did a Destino, but instead of a DDT, stopped at the end for the Dragon Sleeper and dropped down into Skull End. Even with how impressive Sanada looked, he was doomed as soon as the desperation took him over.
He cut the Skull End short and went for a Moonsault, in which he jammed his knee and got a 2 count. With no other idea what to do, he tried another moonsault, which Okada countered. This lead to the ending sequence where Sanada countered at least 3 Rainmaker attempts before he got caught by the Jumping Tombstone and then a Rainmaker finally connects for the pinfall victory. Also gives Chaos the 3-2 victory in the faction war.
Tremendous match, anyone who was unaware of Sanada’s potential…this was his coming out party.
Rating: ***** (Diamond V)
Well this show was what most people expect from a Japanese show. A decent undercard, with title matches that deliver in bringing home a strong ending. There are two more pieces of news after Okada’s match. Firstly, he challenged Will Ospreay for the March 6th Anniversary show. Second piece of business was he expressed an interest in participating in the New Japan Cup.
In the following press conference, Ospreay accepted the challenge; it will most likely be a “special” match where neither belt is on the line since there’s a history of New Japan doing that for the Anniversary show. So has Okada finally transcended booking so far that he’s going to find every opportunity to locate new opponents?
10 championship defenses, 600 days and counting, who in the bloody hell is going to beat Okada?
Chris King: One More Spear and Jackhammer for Goldberg?
After his WWE Super ShowDown with The Undertaker wasn’t well received, is there room for Goldberg to have more “proper sendoff” to end his career?
By now you’ve heard the troubling news that during Goldberg and The Undertaker’s first-ever-match something went terribly awry; Goldberg smashed his head square into the ring-post, instantly he began bleeding profusely and was knocked out. What followed was extremely hard to watch; several signature maneuvers were horribly botched, and I was 100% concerned for both superstars’s health and well-being. This is not what we hoped would occur, and this should not be the last image of Goldberg that we witness in WWE.
There was speculation that Undertaker was furious at Goldberg for his performance that appeared absurd to me; how could Undertaker a locker room leader held in such high respect get into a screaming match backstage? On top of that there was also rumblings about Vince McMahon the CEO of WWE, was fuming, and had to break things up between the legends. He apparently told both superstars they were finished wrestling careers were over.
Thankfully the rumors were quickly refuted by not only WWE officials who were in Saudi Arabia, and TalkSport’s Alex McCarthy, and Mike Johnson on PWINSIDER.
Goldberg has admitted he was knocked out during his match with Undertaker at #WWESSD and that is why the final minutes were what they were.
Undertaker was angry with how the match went, but reports suggesting things got heated backstage with Goldberg aren't true, I'm told.
— Alex McCarthy (@AlexM_talkSPORT) June 8, 2019
Mike Johnson confirmed that after chatting with WWE officials he can confirm that after the bout Goldberg was too weak to muster up the energy to engage in a heated altercation.
Johnson said: “I have not heard one person with any legitimacy claim this as being true. In fact, when I asked about that rumor, it was quickly shot down by those who were actually in Saudi Arabia, so I tend to think that story is 100% fiction.”
Goldberg the WCW veteran was last seen in the squared circle on the Post-Mania-Raw, twenty-four hours after dropping the Universal championship to Brock Lesnar. The WWE Universe gave him a standing ovation for his love for the business throughout his illustrious twenty-year pro wrestling career.
Goldberg has battled some of the biggest wrestlers in WWE; The Rock was his first feud after his arrival in 2003 at the Backlash pay per view, followed by his almost year-long rivalry with HHH and “Evolution” where he won the World Heavyweight championship. He finished his initial run in the company in 2004 in a “Battle of Behemoths” with Lesnar. In 2019, there are many new powerhouses since he left the company in 2004. Below I will be listing the 5 Potential Opponents for his final match in WWE.
5 Best-Suited Opponents For The Final Goldberg Match
5. Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar
Brock Lesnar toppled Goldberg for-the-first-time in his WWE career at WrestleMania 33; after a humiliating loss at 2016 Survivor Series, in a “Shocking” one minute and twenty-seven seconds. This was Goldberg’s first official match in WWE in twelve years; the two powerhouses have had a total of three encounters, they have manifested a buzz that surpassed all the other matches on the pay per view card. Despite the fact that Goldberg and Lesnar faced in each other only two years ago, it doesn’t rule out the possibility that Goldberg won’t come back for retribution. While this contest in the past has not been well-received by the WWE Universe, there’s still a sliver of a chance these Titans’ will go to war one final time.
With Lesnar as “The Beast in the Bank” his adversary could once again cost him the Universal or WWE Championship cash-in; reminiscent to 2004 No Way Out pay per view where Eddie Guerrero was challenging Lesnar for his WWE championship, and Goldberg (who had been given a front row ticket by Raw commissioner Stone Cold Steve Austin). He would then deliver a “Devastating” spear to cost Lesnar his championship, which led to their first clash at WrestleMania XX. Goldberg could cost Lesnar his opportunity and the two competitors could then revisit this hard-hitting personal rivalry.
4. Bobby Lashley
It’s still surreal to me that these two powerhouses have never crossed paths in both of their WWE tenures. Bobby Lashley returned to WWE after making an “Impact” (Pun intended) on the Raw after Mania 34. Despite being the fan-favorite to dethrone Lesnar at 2018 SummerSlam, Lashley was upset by Roman Reigns who eventually captured the Universal Championship. Goldberg vs. Lashley will still be a “Big Money” match that will put butts in seats and sell out arenas. This the kind of “once in a lifetime” physical confrontation contrary to Rock/Cena at WrestleMania 28 that people from all over the world would tune in to watch. The WWE Network could see a “massive” increase in subscriptions, and the weeks leading up to their collision we would most certainly be a pull-apart brawl and someone could likely to be taken to jail.
3. Goldberg vs. Lars Sullivan
“The Freak” Lars Sullivan has been leaving a pile of bodies on his path of destruction since his arrival on Monday nights. Currently, he’s annihilating the Lucha House Party, but after he’s finished bullying smaller wrestlers “,” Sullivan is going to be hungry for “Real” competition. Enter Goldberg. This wouldn’t do much for the WCW titan but it sure would be a “Huge” rub for the recent draftee. Sullivan was penciled into battle John Cena at WrestleMania 35 “,” but due to health reasons, it never happened. This victory over a legend of this caliber could catapult “The Freak” to the top of the food-chain in WWE.
2. Braun Strowman
To say “The Monster Among Men” has been mistreated would only be the tip of the iceberg. Strowman was the “Hottest” wrestler in 2017 with his horror-themed assaults on Roman Reigns. Unfortunately for Strowman, his name wasn’t “Roman Reigns” and despite his best efforts he never captured the Universal Championship.
Strowman was on a path of destruction until he went toe-to-toe with Universal champion Lesnar at 2017 No Mercy; in what should have been his coronation as the next champion, Strowman was crushed within a matter of minutes. Last year at WWE Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia he was heavily-favored to walk out with the vacated Universal championship; and instead WWE thought it was wise to start a lengthy program with Baron Corbin (who clocked Strowman in the back of the head with the title), and Lesnar dropped “The Monster Among Men” with 5 F5’s to start a second title-reign with the Universal championship. To say Strowman deserves a “Monumental” win would be a HUGE UNDERSTATEMENT!
1. Goldberg vs. Roman Reigns
The announcement of this match is enough buzz to sell-out WrestleMania 36. “The Big Dog” Roman Reigns has done it all in his short eight-year career, some accomplishments other wrestlers only dream to achieve. He defeated the seemingly-unbeatable Undertaker in his second loss in decades. Reigns is a Grand-slam champion, a three-time WWE Champion and former Universal Champion. Ever since the two crossed paths on the road to WrestleMania 33; and delivered a double-spear to Strowman on January 12, 2017, I believe this dream match has been quietly penciled in. Now that there may be “One More Match” for Goldberg before he calls it quits, this is the only true contest!
Rob: Let’s Talk About Shane McMahon
He’s the Best In The World!
Shane McMahon is a hot topic among WWE fans, and Rob is here to chime in on the rumors that Shane could become WWE Champion in 2019.
Yeah, it’s time to talk about the Best in the World Shane McMahon. Shane has become a real thorn in the side of many on wrestling twitter and not in the way that Vince intended. A lot of you guys don’t like the amount of TV time he gets (even I’ll admit that this week was a bit much), don’t like that he got a win over Roman Reigns at Super Showdown (I don’t either but so long as things play out the right way in the end I’m willing to see it as a needed piece of a bigger story), and really got nuts when the NEWZ sites starting ‘reporting’ rumors that he may become WWE World Champion down the line. Some of you guys are even threatening that you’re done if it happens, and I believe you this time. And this all makes me wonder if certain aspects of wrestling storytelling are just not viable in 2019 anymore. Because this is the kind of thing that would have been a layup for mega heat back in the day but now seems to only result in scorn towards the bookers, or in this case Vince, from a lot of you guys for even considering it.
Now I can’t tell you guys what to like or not like, but there are a lot of times when I see the takes being thrown around on Twitter and wonder if I’m watching the same TV show that you guys are. I also wonder, often out loud and in this space, just what it is some of you guys want. Because I see people complain about emotional investment but from my earliest days as a fan one of the quickest ways to get emotional investment was to do something that would make people angry. But it seems like in 2019 way too many people on Wrestling Twitter don’t ever want to get angry, and take that as a crime committed by Vince McMahon and not a storytelling piece. And I don’t know how you rectify that.
Who knew this would lead us to “The Best In The World,” Shane McMahon???
By my estimation, someone like Shane McMahon getting the title is perfect for the ‘You Deserve It’ era, because he obviously doesn’t deserve it. And to win it dirty off of someone like Kofi Kingston who toiled for 11 years to just get a chance to win it should be a heat magnet. But instead all I see is that it’s bad booking, that it’s a sign that Vince hates the fans and needs to go, etc. So again I have to ask just what is it that some of you guys are looking for? Heels are part of wrestling, and heels have to prevail sometimes. A lot of you guys won’t boo Kevin Owens no matter low he stoops in turning on or assaulting people. And one of the few guys who gets booed from the crowd because the people there don’t like him, Baron Corbin, gets ripped every day by ‘smart’ fans for being a bad choice to even put on television.
Maybe I’m out of date here but for me part of having heels is that at least every now and then something has to happen that you don’t want. The people you root for have to lose, the people who should be champion have to be denied, somebody has to do something that you find to be beyond the pale, etc. And it can’t just happen when you expect it or are ready for it, it has to happen at a time when you aren’t ready for it to get the maximum effect so that you’ll get angry enough at the perpetrators to want to see them get their comeuppance. But it seems that getting mad at the characters is a bridge too far on Wrestling Twitter, that the point of a heel is to get shout outs on Twitter for ‘good heel work’, and that anything or anyone that you find truly loathsome is now grounds to change the channel. Thus the constant ‘Corbin has go away heat’ takes on Twitter. Where I’m from Go Away Heat meant ‘can somebody please come out and get this guy outta here? and not ‘why is he on my TV, what else is on?’
I mentioned before that we’re in the ‘You Deserve It’ era, and what I mean by that is that a lot of ‘smart’ fans are judging what they watch based who’s in it and whether or not they ‘deserve’ to be there. And deserving it is almost entirely based on their personal career journey or perceived skill level. Workrate guys and gals deserve it, as do those who went down some long, grueling road to get there. Even if they’re playing a heel some of us cheer them based on how good they are in the ring or what they had to go through to get there, while on the flip side anyone who doesn’t meet our technical standards or didn’t suffer enough should be relegated to supporting roles or just removed from our television altogether. The fastest way to get someone booed now it seems is for ‘smart’ fans to find out that they didn’t have to struggle hard enough (by their measures) to get a big spot. Hell, we just had a WrestleMania main event where the winner’s whole elevation came despite acting like a heel because the personal career story of the woman behind the character was deemed more important than the actions of her character on screen.
So now back to Shane. If you can’t get some people to boo heels over sneak attacks, cheating to win (don’t get me started on the whole ‘heels are fine but they shouldn’t cheat too much’ takes I’ve seen…..smh), etc. and the thing some fans get most consistently upset about is whether or not the ‘most deserving’ people are in the right places, then putting someone in the highest position who absolutely does not deserve it seems like an inevitable choice. I’m not telling you that you’re not a real fan if you don’t like it, but I am telling you that there is some very sound logic behind it if they go that route. And all the arguments against it – that Shane is not a full time wrestler, that he’s the boss’s son, etc – seem to me like just more reason to go ahead and do it.
Anyhow……until next week, everyone.