NJPW wraps up in Sapporo as Tetsuya Naito defends the IWGP Intercontinental Championship! Will he stay Tranquilo against the treacherous Taichi?
This coverage of New Beginning in Sapporo will be as aired by AXS TV.
Gifs can be found courtesy of http://frentique.tumblr.com/
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: Bushi & Shingo Takagi VS Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru; Bushi & Takagi win and retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships.
- IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito VS Taichi w/ Miho Abe; Naito wins and retains the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
PLAY BY PLAY
NJPW and AXS set the scene for this Sapporo finale!
Tetsuya Naito and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship have had a “love-hate” relationship for years, but no matter how hard he tries, they always seem to find each other. They got back together again after Naito defeated Chris Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom 13. However, the Sliest Wrestler wants to take that title from Naito and “treat it right”. Will Taichi bring gold to Suzuki-Gun? Or will the belt stay Tranquilo with The Ungovernable Charisma?
Meanwhile, the story of Los Ingobernables de Japon and Suzuki-Gun continues as Shingo Takagi and Bushi defend the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships. After losing the belts in a Triple Threat where LIJ pinned Roppongi 3K, Desperado and Kanemaru want a 2v2 rematch to prove they’re the rightful owners. Will the Black Mask and Muscle Dragon have something to say about that?
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: Bushi & Shingo Takagi VS Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru!
The war between LIJ and Suzuki-Gun seems to have no end in sight. Will a score finally be settled in this rematch for the tag team championships?
The match begins with Shingo and Kanemaru. They tie up and Shingo pushes Kanemaru to the ropes. Kanemaru turns it around and he kicks low. Shingo dares Kanemaru to keep hitting him, and Kanemaru does. Shingo stays standing after every hit, so Kanemaru runs. They collide shoulders but Shingo doesn’t budge. Shingo chops but Kanemaru grabs hair. Kanemaru kicks and runs but into a fireman’s carry! He slips out but Shingo suplexes. Kanemaru slips out, Shingo runs but he avoids Kanemaru’s dropkick. Kanemaru dodges Shingo’s back senton but runs into Shingo’s scoop slam! Shingo catches his breath while Kanemaru crawls away. Fans rally up but Desperado wants them to calm down.
Desperado and Bushi tag in, and they fire off forearms! Both men grab at each other’s masks! Desperado knees low then snapmares Bushi, to go after the mask! The referee reprimands Desperado and Bushi kicks back. Bushi snapmares and goes after Desperado’s mask! The ref reprimands Bushi, so Bushi just kicks Desperado. Desperado kicks and clubs back, then whips Bushi. Bushi comes back with headscissors but Desperado blocks. Bushi slips out of the powerbomb to dropkick Desperado down! Desperado rolls to ropes but Bushi stomps away. Bushi tags Shingo, and Shingo blasts Kanemaru. Shingo rams shoulders into Desperado in a corner, then whips to follow with a knee. Shingo suplexes Desperado hard! Desperado gasps for air while Shingo drags him up and over to the LIJ corner. Tag to Bushi and LIJ stomps a mudhole into Desperado!
Bushi drags Desperado out but Desperado hits back! Desperado runs but into Shingo’s spinebuster! Shingo catapults Desperado into Bushi’s chop! Bushi adds a dropkick then covers, TWO! Shingo eggs Kanemaru on before he stomps Desperado. Bushi chokes Desperado with a shirt while the ref is busy with Shingo! Bushi stomps and runs, but Desperado dumps him out. Desperado hits Shingo while Kanemaru puts Bushi on railings. Kanemaru runs and leaps up for a guillotine leg drop across the rails! Kanemaru stomps Bushi more but the referee scolds him. He puts Bushi in the ring for Desperado and Desperado drags Bushi into the ropes. Desperado stretches Bushi back but Shingo saves him! Shingo drags Desperado for headbutts, then runs, but into Kanemaru’s dropkick!
Kanemaru takes Shingo outside and throws him into railing. Desperado does the same to Bushi on the other side. Kanemaru dropkicks Shingo’s leg against barriers! Desperado bowls Bushi into chairs! The ref keeps them from using chairs but Kanemaru tortures Shingo’s leg between railing. Desperado and Kanemaru leave Shingo and Bushi to the mercy of the ring count. The count passes 10 before either LIJ member makes it to ringside. Bushi staggers in at 14, but Kanemaru is on him with a choking foot! Kanemaru lets up at 4, but he laughs as he drags Bushi over. He elbows Bushi down then tags Desperado in. Desperado brings Bushi around to the apron, and Kanemaru dropkicks Bushi’s head! Cover, TWO! LIJ is in trouble while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns and Desperado stalks Bushi to a corner. Desperado toys with Bushi but Bushi CHOPS back! Bushi throws chop after chop but Desperado rakes the eyes. Desperado whips corner to corner but gets a boot. Bushi hops up and leaps to huricanrana Desperado down! Bushi and Desperado crawl but Desperado stomps Bushi out. Desperado knees and runs but Bushi enziguris him down! Bushi and Desperado crawl again, hot tag to Shingo! Shingo rallies on Suzuki-Gun, even with a bad leg. Shingo whips Kanemaru and begins clothesline trains on them both! Complete Shot and DDT combo! Shingo fires up with the fans as he goes after Desperado. He drags Desperado up but Desperado rakes the eyes! Desperado runs, but into Shingo’s knee!
Shingo runs but Desperado dodges to SPEAR Shingo down! Desperado fires himself up and brings Shingo up. He tries to suplex but Shingo fights out. Desperado still gets Shingo up for a shin breaker! But he runs into a back elbow! And a jab, and a lariat! Shingo crawls for his corner, hot tag to Bushi! Bushi climbs up and leaps at Desperado for a missile dropkick! Bushi-rooni! He hits Kanemaru for good measure before running in at Desperado. Double knees, feed to Shingo, spinebuster backstabber combo! Cover, TWO! LIJ keeps focus as fans fire up. Shingo drags Desperado but Kanemaru boots Bushi. Desperado back suplexes, dropkick combo! Kanemaru hits Bushi then feeds to Desperado’s spinebuster! Kanemaru adds a basement dropkick! Desperado brings Bushi up, torture rack bomb! Cover, TWO!
Fans rally for Bushi while Desperado keep his focus. Desperado drags Bushi up for double underhook, but Bushi resists. Bushi powers out and SLAPS Desperado. Desperado slaps back, and now it’s a brawl! Bushi kicks, misses, but heel kicks! He catches Desperado in the swinging neckbreaker! Both men are down but fans fire up. They crawl, hot tags to Kanemaru and Shingo! Kanemaru throws haymakers and kicks but Shingo just grits his teeth. Shingo misses his chop, but then fakes Kanemaru out for double ax handles! Shingo back suplexes Kanemaru hard! Cover, TWO! Fans fire up with Shingo again as he drags Kanemaru up. Underhooks but Kanemaru slips out to dropkick the leg out! Kanemaru stomps Shingo out but Shingo grows stronger. Shingo blocks, fires forearms from all sides, then runs, but the ref is used as a shield!
Kanemaru tilt-o-whirl DDT! Desperado hits Bushi while Kanemaru scoop slams Shingo. Kanemaru climbs, moonsault! Cover, TWO!! Kanemaru tries again, leaping at Shingo, but into the Northern Lights! But Kanemaru’s right back up, only to get Shingo’s German Suplex! Both men are down but moving. Shingo drags himself up and fans fire up again. Kanemaru follows, dodges, but runs into pop-up Death Valley Driver! Cover, but Desperado breaks it. Bushi throws Desperado out and stomps away on the outside. Shingo lifts Kanemaru but Kanemaru slips through to a sunset flip! TWO, and Shingo gets Kanemaru up, Noshigami!! But Shingo can’t make the cover, his leg slows him down. Shingo gets moving, Pumping Bomber! Cover, but Desperado drags the ref out!
Desperado scurries away and gets a chair! Shingo shouts for the ref but Desperado jabs him! Bushi kicks the chair from Desperado to take it. Bushi jabs Desperado but Kanemaru turns Bushi around. Kanemaru spits his whiskey, but Bushi shields himself with the chair! Bushi spits the green mist in Kanemaru’s face in return! Shingo clotheslines Depserado out! Bushi DIVES on Desperado! Shingo aims at the blinded Kanemaru, corner clothesline, to Pumping Bomber! Cover, TWO?! Kanemaru survives!? Shingo can’t believe it, but he fires himself back up. Bushi puts Desperado into railing and Shingo hauls Kanemaru up. Wheelbarrow to code breaker, Rebellion!! Cover, LIJ wins!
Winners: Los Ingobernables de Japon, Shingo Takagi pinning; still IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions
Their first defense is a success! With EVIL & SANADA still the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, both LIJ tag teams have titles. Will their charismatic leader maintain the golden status quo?
IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito VS Taichi w/ Miho Abe!
Suzuki-Gun’s most dramatic performer not only feels he is more deserving of the title, but he owes Naito for mocking him time and again. Will Taichi make dreams come true when he wins the title back for Miho? Or will Naito continue to frustrate the Prima Donna?
Naito casually drags the title belt like he did before. But Taichi smirks as someone attacks Naito from behind! They smash Naito with a short ladder! It’s Takashi Iizuka!? Isn’t he supposed to be retired?! Seems he’s still willing to do favors for his old stable. Naito looks to be out cold, and Taichi simply plays dumb. Young Lions defend Naito but Iizuka goes after them! Iizuka wipes the Lions out then moves aside as Taichi fetches Naito. Taichi stands Naito up for another SMASH from Iizuka! Taichi drags Naito up again, for a Black Mephisto on the ramp! Iizuka leaves, having done his part, while Taichi picks up the belt. Taichi leaves Naito for dead as he takes the belt to the ring.
Red Shoes and trainers check on Naito. Naito stirs while Taichi tells the fans, “shut up, you assh*les!” He says the match is over! Taichi says the main event is canceled! Now get out of here! Fans boo and jeer as Young Lions help Naito up and to the back. Is the match really over? Find out after the break.
NJPW on AXS returns and Taichi’s still waiting for someone to officially declare this match his. Red Shoes and the directors talk ringside. Taichi again insists if Naito is unable to compete, he should win by default. Red Shoes clutches the belt as Taichi pulls at him. Wait! Naito is returning! He has Bushi helping him but the champion isn’t going to lose the belt like this. Trainers try to reason with Naito but he doesn’t care. Naito heads to the ring as fans rally behind him. Red Shoes tells Naito he shouldn’t do this, but Naito doesn’t care. Naito wants the match! Taichi laughs at Naito’s guts, but if Naito wants it that bad, then fine. The bell rings and the match happens!
Naito throws forearms, but they do nothing to Taichi. Taichi smirks as Naito keeps trying, only to tire himself out. Fans cheer Naito on but Taichi stomps him out. Taichi laughs as he circles Naito like a vulture. Taichi kicks Naito around, talking trash. Naito manages to sit up but Taichi slaps him around. “Come on, you son of a b*tch!” Naito fires more forearms but they still don’t do much. Taichi eggs Naito on, and Naito keeps throwing forearms. Taichi laughs as he easily clubs Naito back to the mat. Fans rally as Taichi claims this is over. Taichi runs corner to corner at Naito, but into a boot! Taichi kicks but misses, but then gets Naito on the second. He runs but into Naito’s dropkick! Taichi goes down and fans fire up!
Fans rally for Naito as he clutches his bad arm. Taichi is up first and he stalks Naito. “What the Hell are you doing?” Taichi doesn’t understand why Naito’s still trying. He stands over Naito as he slowly drags himself up. Taichi back kicks Naito right back down. Taichi buzzsaw kicks Naito to the mat! He doesn’t even cover, he tells the trainers to check Naito. Naito can barely respond, so Taichi mocks Tranquilo. Taichi tells Naito to just quit, but Naito forces himself to sit up. Taichi goes to kick, but gets caught! Naito elbows the knee, then hits a backbreaker and dropkick! Fans rally again as Naito drags Taichi up. Naito whips Taichi to a corner, then jump kicks, only for Taichi to clobber him on the apron!
Naito is folded on the apron while Taichi goes out and searches under the ring. Taichi brings out a table! He stands it up nearby, then drags Naito over. Taichi picks Naito up and waistlocks, but Naito holds onto the ropes! Fans cheer Naito on as he fights back with his good arm. Taichi clubs Naito again, then wants another Black Mephisto! Naito slips out, gets a piledriver lift! He positions Taichi, and JUMPS! Piledriver through the table!! Both men are down and out while we go to break!
NJPW on AXS returns again as both men slowly stir. Red Shoes starts the ring count, but it passes 10 before either sits up. Naito is first and he gets in at 13. Miho begs Taichi move but the count passes 15! Taichi stands at 16 and manages to get in at 18! Taichi barely moves after that but Naito drags him up into the corner. Naito hoists Taichi up high and climbs up to join him. Naito leaps, SUPER STEINER! Cover, TWO! Taichi lives but Naito isn’t done with him. Naito drags Taichi up again, hammerlocks, but Taichi powers out. Taichi boots but Naito back elbows, Taichi enziguris! Both men are down while fans cheer. Naito and Taichi stand back up, and Taichi runs to rabbit clothesline! Then saido suplex! Taichi roars as he gets back up, and tears off the pants!
Taichi takes aim from the corner as he focuses himself. He thrusts but Naito counters with a roll! Things speed up and Taichi clotheslines Naito! Cover, TWO! Taichi drags Naito up quick for a dragon sleeper! Fans rally up as Naito endures the squeeze and wrench! Taichi keeps wrenching and pulling, and Naito starts fading! Taichi lets Naito out to cover, TWO!! Naito barely escapes! Taichi grows frustrated as he paces about. He sits Naito up for fast kicks, then powerbomb lifts, only for Naito to huricanrana! Naito pops Taichi up for a SPINEBUSTER! Both men are down again as fans are thunderous. Naito stands first while Miho coaches Taichi up. Naito drags Taichi up, hammerlock, but Taichi clubs free! Taichi runs, but into a tornado DDT! Naito keeps going, hammerlock, GLORIA! Cover, TWO!!
Naito is too sore and exhausted to be frustrated. He just gets back up and drags Taichi around. Naito wrenches but Iizuka returns to attack Bushi! Iizuka heads for the ring but Naito hits him first! Naito gets payback as he whips Iizuka into the railing! Bushi keeps the mad man back but Taichi grabs the belt. Taichi lies in wait for Naito, and swings the belt! Naito ducks and enziguris Taichi down! Naito picks up the belt, but simply puts it aside. Instead, Naito takes Taichi’s microphone stand! Fans fire up as Naito aims at Taichi with a big grin. Naito JAMS the mic into Taichi’s head! Naito isn’t done there, he takes aim again, but Taichi begs for mercy!? He gets none as Naito SMACKS him with the stand.
Naito takes aim, but Taichi has a chair! Taichi JAMS Naito with the chair! And SMACKS him across the head!! Taichi breaks the chair on Naito’s head! Taichi clears the ring of evidence before Red Shoes returns. The Sliest Wrestler laughs again as he drags Naito back up. Taichi saido suplexes Naito hard! Cover, TWO!! Naito still lives and Taichi can’t believe it! Fans reach a fever pitch for Naito while Miho panics on Taichi’s behalf. Taichi glares as he drags Naito up again. Taichi lifts Naito again, but Naito resists Mephisto. Naito grabs ropes but Taichi pulls on him back. REVERSE-RANA! Naito has a wild look on his face as he runs at the floundering Taichi. Destino denied, and Taichi shoves Red Shoes so he doesn’t see the low blow kick! Gedo Clutch, TWO!! Naito escapes and Taichi is beside himself.
Taichi and Naito are down from exhaustion as fans continue to cheer. Miho coaches Taichi back up but Naito follows. Taichi focuses his power, SUPERKICK!! Cover, TWO!? Naito survives again! Taichi vows to finish this and he drags Naito back up. Taichi powerbomb lifts, but Naito slips out the back! Naito shoves Red Shoes now so that he can low blow kick Taichi! Then DESTINO! Cover, TWO!? Taichi survives and shocks Naito now! Naito poses and gives a thumbs down. He drags Taichi up again, wrenches, DESTIN- Fireman’s carry, to Air Raid position, but Naito Reverse-Ranas again! Naito scoops Taichi, Black Dragon brainbuster! Cover, TWO!? Taichi is proving to be superhuman! But Naito tries again, wrench to DESTINO! Cover, Naito wins!!
Winner: Tetsuya Naito, by pinfall; still IWGP Intercontinental Champion
Finally, after so much from both men, Los Ingobernables de Japon’s leader keeps hold of the title! Naito keeps LIJ golden, what will it take to stay golden?
Naito recovers and speaks to Sapporo.
With LIJ in the ring with him, Naito tells the world, “As long as I’m holding this IWGP Intercontinental title, I’ve decided to also go after the IWGP Heavyweight belt.” Fans applaud Naito’s ambition. Therefore, watch and wait for Naito to take on “this massive challenge”! For until the day he achieves this feat, “Tranquilo, chill out.” Naito thanks Sapporo for supporting LIJ. This is the second time doing the cheer in Hokkaido. And perhaps the final time in the Heisei Era! So please, shout along with all your might! EVIL! BUSHI! SANADA! HIROMU! TAKAGI! AND NAITO! “Nosotros Los Ingoberrrrnables! De Japon!!” The role call is complete and the streamers fly! With a golden LIJ making it through Sapporo, what is next for them in 2019?
What a great last bit for the Sapporo coverage. Naturally LIJ closes it out, and they are definitely the strongest faction in NJPW today. They get the complete sweep in Sapporo and against Suzuki-Gun, and now they’re only going for more gold. The Junior Heavyweight Tag Team title match was really good, Shingo did a great job selling his leg. I’m glad to see they turn away Desperado & Kanemaru, but I won’t say “once and for all” yet. Aside from them and Roppongi 3K, I don’t see any Junior Heavyweight tag team coming up to challenge for those titles, let alone take them. Perhaps NJPW can invite teams from other promotions to try, such as ROH or CMLL.
Then the main event was incredible just on the story. Iizuka always seems to come back when Taichi needs him to do his dirty work, and he does it here again. Naito sells the ladder attack well but even Taichi shows some insane levels of toughness. I thought the match was going to end a couple minutes sooner than it did, but Naito and Taichi kept kicking out. Naito wins to finally move on from Taichi, and I’m liking that Naito wants to be a dual champion. Those don’t happen often in NJPW, and with as much Face momentum as Naito has, he might be the one to do it with two top titles. Needless to say, LIJ is poised to take over NJPW, as they should.
My Score: 8.6/10