NJPW Road to THE NEW BEGINNING
Event Date: January 17, 2021 (18:00 JST)
aired live on NJPW World
Commentary (English): Kevin Kelly
Commentary (Japanese): Milano Collection AT, Jushin Thunder Liger, Haruo Murata
Ring Announcer: Kimihiko Ozaki (1 – 3), Makoto Abe (4 – 5)
The opening video goes over some of the big matches coming up during The NEW BEGINNING tour.
Great-O-Khan & Will Ospreay (RPW British Heavyweight Champ) w/ Bea Priestley vs Yota Tsuji & Satoshi Kojima
(referee: Kenta Sato)
Result: Great-O-Khan pins Yota Tsuji after The Eliminator
Good match. This was Kojima’s first opportunity to get in the ring with Ospreay and Great-O-Khan since The United Empire attacked Kojima and Tenzan at New Year’s Dash, so Kojima was fighting angry. That anger carried Kojima well through the first part of the match, but the Empire started to overtake Kojima and his young lion partner. It was a valiant effort from Kojima and Tsuji, but this was a dominant performance from Khan and Ospreay, and I expect The United Empire to continue being dominant up to and through their match with Kojima and Tenzan later on this tour.
Jado & Gedo & El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori vs Douki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (IWGP Jr. Tag Champ) & El Desperado (IWGP Jr. Tag Champ) & Minoru Suzuki
(referee: Marty Asami)
Result: El Phantasmo pins Douki after a superkick
Good match. As you might expect from these two teams, there was a whole lot of cheating going on pretty much the entire time. The fight became largely about who could break the rules more efficiently and effectively. Both teams were fairly even in that regard for a while, but Kanemaru got isolated for a long time, and that changed the tone of the match a bit. Suzuki Gun got caught trying to cheat a lot and ended up just making things worse for themselves after a while. This match also continued the speculation of what’s in El Phantasmo’s boot, and that played a central role in the finish of the match.
Dick Togo & Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL vs Tomohiro Ishii (NEVER 6-Man Champ) & Hirooki Goto (NEVER 6-Man Champ) & Kazuchika Okada
(referee: Marty Asami)
Result: Hirooki Goto pins Dick Togo after GTR
Very good match. This had a very nice build to it from zero action (as EVIL waited outside the ring because he wanted nothing to do with Okada) to a bunch of action (with everyone fighting in and around the ring). The focus of the match was to build up Okada versus EVIL, but they were kept apart for most of the match. That meant everyone else got into the action and had a nice free-for-all kind of match.
The ring is cleaned and sanitized during a brief intermission.
Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi (NEVER Openweight Champ) & SANADA vs Tomoaki Honma & Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi (IWGP IC & Heavyweight Champ)
(referee: Red Shoes Unno)
Result: Tetsuya Naito pins Tomoaki Honma after Destino
Overall, this was pretty good, but it was really just the final few minutes that dragged it down. The first two-thirds of the match featured previews of upcoming title matches as Shingo battled Tanahashi and SANADA fought Ibushi. Unfortunately for Naito though, his pairing with Honma tonight didn’t go so well. Something seemed off about Honma, and it looked like he was struggling to stay on the same page with Naito. Moves and counters looked awkward, and after a while it seemed like Naito just called for the finish because things weren’t getting any better. It was an unfortunate end to an otherwise very fun match.
Master Wato & SHO vs BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi (IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champ)
(referee: Red Shoes Unno)
Result: Master Wato pins BUSHI with a bridging prawn hold
Very good match. The best part was easily the fight between SHO and Hiromu. SHO’s action in the match started with him taking a sunset flip powerbomb off the apron to the floor, but he recovered enough later in the match to have a great one on one sequence with Hiromu. It was an extended preview for Hiromu’s upcoming title defense against SHO, and it was great. BUSHI and Wato then had a nice sequence to end the match. Overall this did very good job highlighting upcoming matches while being a ton of fun all on its own.
This was a good show. It’s not one that is vitally important to see because it was all just preview tag action, but I enjoyed it. The show was a bit shorter than usual at just under two hours with only five matches. The reason for the shorter show is because Tokyo recently entered another state of emergency because of rising cases of COVID-19, but really, I think this was a prefect length for a show of this type. It didn’t need to be any longer, and it kept my interest the whole time.
Match of the Night
Master Wato & SHO vs BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi
Well done and fun.
Official Results (Japanese): https://www.njpw.co.jp/tornament/270321?showResult=1