After the excitement of Wrestle Kingdom, New Japan Pro Wrestling has its annual New Beginning Tour. These shows are the first real tour of the year bringing in new storylines and exciting title matches.
This first New Beginning tour was in 2011. Since then, these shows have created some spectacular moments in New Japan history. These shows have normally been main-evented by some of the biggest names in the company.
Here is a look at the top five moments from New Japan’s New Beginning shows.
5. Shinsuke Nakamura v Hiroshi Tanahashi in Hiroshima – 2014
When someone mentions New Japan, two of the names that will always be associated with the company is Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi. Both men made their way through the dojo system sticking with New Japan during it’s darkest days and driving it into the product we know and love. Their rivalry is also one of the most popular with high calibre matches from their debut until Nakamura left in 2016.
One of these matches was during the 2014 New Beginning in Hiroshima show for the Intercontinental title. This belt was the centre of many of these battles drawing the crowds into a mixture of Nakamura’s Japanese Strong Style and Tanahashi’s hybrid offence. With a capacity crowd, the atmosphere was electric as two of the company’s favourites battled for the belt.
The match itself was fast-paced and dynamic from the minute the bell rang. With the crowd firmly behind champion Tanahashi, it was up to Nakamura to prove why he deserved to win back the belt he cherished so much. It was a mixture of strikes, submissions and daredevil antics between two men who complemented each other perfectly. The crowd was loving every single second of it.
In the end, after several failed High, Fly, Flows, Tanahashi hit a magnificent bridging suplex to retain the Intercontinental title. Although it was merely another page in a chapter between two of the best but is part of a much longer story between both men.
4. Jay White beats Kenny Omega for the IWGP US Championship – 2018
Jay White returned from excursion in 2017 and straight away challenged Hiroshi Tanahashi to an IWGP Intercontinental match at Wrestle Kingdom 12. Although Jay failed to beat the Ace, he made an impact on New Japan fans and the wrestlers. At New Year’s Dash, Bullet Club’s leader Kenny Omega invited Jay to join the faction. However, instead of accepting his offer, White instead hit Omega with a Bladerunner and made a challenge for the United States belt
For many, the match was average. It was a combination of storytelling and wrestling allowing Jay White to showcase his talent to many new fans. As expected, Kenny started the match with an air of arrogance and belief that this match would be an easy win. However, all that did was spur White on who showed everything from suplexes, Muta locks and blistering chops.
The match went on for just under half an hour. Despite mixed reviews of the match itself, there is no denying that its result was shocking. With a single Bladerunner, White had managed to beat one of the best wrestlers in the world.
Nobody expected someone like Jay White to beat Kenny Omega, especially considering all the moment Omega had that year after winning the title and his defence against Chris Jericho. With this win, it gave the Switchblade momentum that only got stronger throughout the year.
3. Zack Sabre Jr v Will Ospreay for the Rev Pro Heavyweight Title – 2020
For fans of the UK independent scene, the rivalry between Zack Sabre Jr and Will Ospreay was a staple of British Wrestling. They are two men who could not be more different from their personalities to their in-ring wrestling style. Over the years, the men have had their fair share of wars across the world in different promotions.
However, when Ospreay challenged ZSJ for his Rev Pro Heavyweight title, it felt more important and significant. Firstly, both men have a long history with this title having battled over it many times before. Secondly, it was the first time in NJPW history that two British wrestlers competed for the Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship.
The match started methodically emphasising the traditional British style focused on grappling and submissions. This should have been a distinct advantage for ZSJ. However, Ospreay showed that he was a versatile wrestler able to adapt to his opponent quickly. Ospreay also ensured that he also had the chance to dictate the style and speed of the match. Due to the history between the two, it felt like each man had a counter for every move thrown at them. There was never a wasted moment.
In the end, in a match just under 30-minutes, ZSJ won via referee stoppage after locking Ospreay in a vicious submission. This was the perfect finish to the bout with ZSJ exerting his dominance and proving that, on that occasion, his submission style was superior. It was nothing short of a showcase of British Wrestling.