NJPW New Beginning In Sapporo Night 1 Top Match Ratings From Sean Ross Sapp

With NXT Takeover and Royal Rumble this weekend, I wanted to give match ratings for Sapporo night one and night two as well. These are focused on the top matches on the cards, as opposed to all the tags.

Night One

Last Man Standing And 8-Man Tag Announced For IMPACT Rebellion

Michael Elgin defeated Katsuya Kitamura

  • We're at a spot in time when a New Japan hoss battle is way less exciting than probably the 5th or 6th best WWE could put on.
  • This is a "trial series" for Kitamuta. He gets a full membership to the Elgin Suplex Express, though. Okay, I'll stop.
  • There's a nice suplex reversal series, but Elgin wins.

NEVER Openweight  Six Man Tag Titles
Bullet Club (Guerrilas of Destiny & Bad Luck Fale) defeated Togi Makabe, Toa Henare and Ryusuke Taguchi


  • For a guy not that heavily pushed, Tonga Loa no sells a lot of stuff. Why isn't he IWGP Champion if hardly anything hurts him?
  • Anyway, he ends up getting beaten up by Taguchi's ass.
  • Tama Tonga is somewhat of an enigma. He's so quiet throughout the battles for power among Cody and Omega. I get the feeling he'll be a big factor this year. He eventually picks up the win with a Twister, which is Matt Riddle's submission finish.

The Elite defeated Jay White and Roppongi 3K

  • Earlier in the night, Cody, Marty Scurll and Hangman Page had a really entertaining match and story set up that weaves into this since Ibushi was involved.
  • Kenny Omega is on fire tonight. These six match up really well.
  • The genius of the Elite is something to behold. I love their rope assisted swanton.
  • They win very easily. They kicked the shit out of these guys. Jay White, even. This has been a curious build of a new guy. He didn't get pinned though.
  • Just as I think that, White slides in and gets Blade Runner on White. No heat though. Not a good start for White

IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Minoru Suzuki defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) to become IWGP Intercontinental Championship

  • A really slow pace to start this. Even though we're dealing with an aging Suzuki and a hampered Tanahashi, I expect both to pick it up and deliver for the main event.
  • Suzuki working over the injured bicep, and throws some sick kicks to the throat of Tanahashi.
  • There is some masterful, methodical, psychological work going on here. Suzuki has his unprotected leg worked over, but turns the tides with a sick heel hook on Tanahashi.
  • Suzuki's insistence on finishing his matches with the Gotch Piledriver at all expense is a cool story, and I buy it every time. This time has a twist, because he hits it, then rips Tanahashi's knee apart.
  • Red Shoes starts tapping the ground, because he always loves disrupting flow and production. Really, this guy consistently messes up stuff like this .
  • Tanahashi struggles for several minutes in a heel hook. Finally Red Shoes stops the match. This was good stuff.
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