Kat’s Thoughts on the NJPW New Beginning Shows

New Beginning in Osaka + New Beginning in Sendai

The Bullet Club heavy show in Osaka gradually transitioned to a more balanced New Japan show in Sendai but the overall message is that the Bullet Club is large and in charge once again within the promotion. As someone who marked out hard for Prince Devitt during his New Japan run, it is easy to keep falling under the Bullet Club spell, especially being a Westerner. Devitt was of course the initial face of the Bullet Club. I was immediately interested in the story line and went along with the Bullet Club ride from the start. Since Devitt’s departure from the Bullet Club to attempted WWE glory, I have gravitated more toward the Chaos faction due to my love of watching the Japanese talents Okada and Nakamura glorify the promotion with the sheer natural force of their talent. However, I will always have a huge soft spot for the Bullet Club because I admire the way Devitt and Karl Anderson built the opportunity the Bullet Club storyline presented into the special clique it is today. The Bullet Club has become a force so huge, you’re seeing the shirts turn up at almost every big wrestling event here in the U.S and the faction just may be capable of helping to usher in New Japan farther into North America.

I can never be really be disappointed with a big push for the Bullet Club because every push for the Bullet Club receives by New Japan shows further confidence that they are reaching a deeper North American market for their product. Besides, I have been very much impressed with the work A.J. Styles has accomplished after being entrusted with the top position in such a prestigious and critical heel clique for their North American venture. A.J. still doesn’t mesmerize me the way Prince Devitt did with his command of artistic and personal expression in his character and his matches, but he has been a worthy replacement. His presence in and out of the ring is something that the Bullet Club sorely needed to keep the faction stable and strong.

AJ’s match against Tanahashi in this show was yet another classic. I will never forget the way both men worked that match to perfection even with Tanahashi’s accidental crimson mask and the distractions for the interference from Team Bullet Club. Both of these men know how to make their partner look great without diminishing themselves, so when they come together, it accentuates the best in them both.

Though Wednesday’s show was pretty much a Bullet Club showcase, I truly enjoyed the match between Homna and Ibushi, two men that I believe are performing at their peak, or at least close to it. Homna was on point, showing off that talent to a heated crowd that vigorously cheered him on…so much that I came to the conclusion that Homna has to be one of the most over guys right now with the live crowds. It was extremely difficult not to cheer Homna on too in that atmosphere, even as a fan of Ibushi. Though Homna’s flops are always a little excessive, they have clearly helped win the attention of Japanese fans. Yet, the perfect Phoenix Splash put a beautiful and appropriate ending to this enjoyable match.

Red Dragon is honestly one of my favorite tag teams because I am a big fan of Kyle O’Reilly and I enjoy his chemistry with Fish. Obviously, that means I wasn’t a fan of their losss to Young Bucks even though I can never be completely angry with a Bullet Club win. The Young Bucks are highly talented but I think Red Dragon have charisma without being a comedy act, which is what I think the Young Bucks kind of are since they employ a variety of gimmicks. Still, I was happy enough with their performance too to say that this match was definitely worth seeing. The Bullet Club rally continued with Kenny Omega defeating Taguchi in a decent, but not particulary memorable match. I’m personally not a big fan of Omega despite his current association with the Bullet Club. Even though I would never claim he is anything short of talented, I guess I wasn’t as hyped for this match because I am a bigger Taguchi fan and had zero doubt that Omega was going to take it home for the Bullet Club. Take my opinion for what it’s worth in this case but I believe it was a solid but very forgettable match. The Bullet Club rally only continued with the Anderson and Gallows victory later on in a solid match vs Shibata and Goto; this wasn’t one of my favorite matches by Anderson and Gallows, but they have never truly disappointed me as a tag team and I certainly appreciate what they bring to the Bullet Club.

I was satisfied that my favorite wrestler in the promotion, Okada, was able to receive a much needed victory over against a Bullet Club team in a tag team matchup. The promotion has kicked Okada off his high horse a little in order to build him back up again, no doubt. I think this victory is definitely building to a face storyline in which Okada takes the Bullet Club down for a while, especially since Okada seeks to take out Bad Luck Fale in a match soon.

In the second show, I enjoyed the NWA involvement in the promotion as usual. Nonetheless, I was of course shocked that Japanese champions are now the faces of both of their Junior and Heavyweight titles. I especially enjoyed the match between Tenzan and Conway. In my opinion, they both brought their A game and gave a memorable performance for being early on in the night. I would definitely recommend it despite its position on the card. In my opinion, this was some of their best work recently. In part two, the Japanese wrestlers were able to gain their revenge victories this night although none of the titles were regained or relinquished so quickly.

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Nakamura’s victory later on solidified that there is still a lot of strength in Japanese factions such as Chaos, which successfully balanced the Bullet Club sweep in the previous show. Though I always enjoy Nakamura and of course loved his title match with Nagata, (which painted an excellent story before, during and after the match), Ishi and Homna stole the show. Homna continued his hot streak in the ring and with the crowd when he stepped up for this NEVER Title Match. Ishi and Homna would be a match in which you would expecting hard hitting and “strong-style” attitude and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Homna also successfully used his flops for both comedic and dramatic effect in order to effectively use this as his trademark. I was skeptical of Homna because of some of his gimmicks but he’s really stepped up to prove himself to me and apparently, other fans as well. Though I understand the reasoning behind his losses, it’s time for a real Homna victory. He’ready New Japan.

Overall, New Japan was able to build up the Bullet Club as the reigning faction again without tearing down the Japanese talent. In that way, the shows balanced one another wonderfully. I think that’s quite the accomplishment. It’s another example of what makes New Japan so great to watch versus other promotions like WWE.