This morning's New Japan show puts current champion and potential new ace of the promotion Kazuchika Okada against perennial challenger Hirooki Goto. While Goto has had many opportunities at grabbing the top title in New Japan, he always seems to be just one win away from the coveted prize. He's been on a more rebellious streak as of late, taking out Okada at every opportunity, including press confrences. Is this the edge he needs to win the gold?
Also tonight is Katsyuori Shibata taking on Tomohiro Ishii for the NEVER title, Toru Yano and the Briscoes defending their six man NEVER titles against Bullet Club members Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga and Yujiro Takahashi, as well as several matches aimed at building towards the next New Beginnings show, set to be held on Valentines Day.
Coverage provided by Dave Meltzer starts at 12AM PST tonight.
JAY WHITE VS. DAVID FINLAY
I loved this match Just a perfect prelim opener, technically awesome. Like usual with New Japan openers, it was too short. White caught Finlay doing a cannonball, turned it into a half crab, then a full crab and finally a lion tamer for the submission.
JUSHIN LIGER & TIGER MASK & RYUSUE TAGUCHI VS. KAZUSHI SAKURABA & YOSHI-HASHI & GEDO
Lots of buffering issues during this match. Liger & Tiger & Taguchi won. I think Gedo lost the fall, which would make sense. During intermission they'll probably show a replay. It looked fine, just like a usual match in that spot on the card.
YUJI NAGATA & MANABU NAKANISHI VS. SATOSHI KOJIMA & HIROYOSHI TENZAN
The match was good when Nakanishi wasn't in. Unfortunately, he was in a lot. About what you'd figure from these guys in this spot. The crowd liked it. Kojima & Tenzan used the 3-D on Nakanishi and Kojima pinned Nakanishi after two lariats. They all shook hands after. Nagata then issued a challenge and Kojima seemed to accept. They all shook hands again. The crowd popped for the mic work and all four stood on he ropes in four corners as the crowd cheered.
MICHAEL ELGIN & KUSHIDA & JUICE ROBINSON VS. TETSUYA NAITO & EVIL & BUSHI
The heels won when Bushi blew mist and nailed Kushida with a toipe and Evil used an STO on Robinson for the pin. Before the match, Naito started bullying TV announcer Shimpei Nogami and tore his Blue Justice shirt. Elgin's power moves when he tagged in for the first time got over bigger than anything. He pressed Bushi and then held him up for one arm before dropping him.
MARK & JAY BRISCOE & TORU YANO VS. BAD LUCK FALE & TAMA TONGA & YUJIRO TAKAHASHI FOR HE NEVER SIX MAN TITLES
Fale & Tonga & Yujiro won the titles. They started off doing comedy and kind of lost the crowd and never got them back. I think they feel the need to elevate the other Bullet Club members right now. The finish saw Fale hit the grenade on Jay. Yano gave Fale & Yujiro both low blows, but Tonga then gave Yano a low blow and a double arm DDT for the pin.
MATT & NICK JACKSON DEFEND IWGP JR. TAG TITLES AGAINST RICOCHET & MATT SYDAL AND BOBBY FISH & KYLE O'REILLY
Lots of streaming issues here. Best match so far but how good I couldn't really tell. Ricochet & Sydal won the titles with Ricochet doing a shooting star press on Nick and Sydal doing the same move at the same time on Matt. Cody Hall interfered a few times and carried Kyle O'Reilly to the back before the finish. Ricochet seemed the most popular. A lot of good moves and dives, a tower of doom spot.
KATSUYORI SHIBATA VS. TOMOHIRO ISHII FOR NEVER OPEN WEIGHT TITLE
This was fantastic. The usual hard chops, elbows and clotheslines, cool submissions, no sell spots that you'd expect. They were slapping the hell out of each other, Shbiata used a choke and then the penalty kick for the pin to retain. Ishii was bleeding from the mouth from about halfway into the match. Ishii doing his super sell job as he was carried to the back. They did spots early where each guy allowed the other to suplex and then the guy would get up after being suplexed. They did this about seven times and some great exchanges. The crowd was more into Shibata. Shibata also did a great flying armbar and triangles and armbars on the ground. You got the sense Shibata is going to get the position Nakamura had.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI & TOGI MAKABE & TOMOAKI HONMA VS. DOC GALLOWS & KARL ANDERSON & KENNY OMEGA
This sets up the IC and tag title match on Valentine's Day in Niigata. The Bullet Club had to win this one. They pretty much destroyed them Omega worked over Tanahashi's bad shoulder. After the match they destroyed Tanahashi. They used chair shots to the shoudler, Matt Jackson came off the top with a chair to the shoudler. Omega came off the top rope with a high fly flowwhile Tanahashi's arm was held over a garbage can with the splash on the arm. It was a total post-match destruction They did what they had to do to get Omega over in the spot he's in For the match itself, Anderson used the gunstun on Honma, then they laid out Makabe with the Magic killer and Omega used a reverse Frankensteiner on Tanahashi before Omega finally used the one winged angel on Honma for the pin. Pretty good, not off the charts.
KAZCHIKA OKADA VS. HIROOKI GOTO FOR IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
Goto is all painted up like Hakushi. Very good match but this never got to the level of most IWGP title matches. It's really clear watching this show how much losing Nakamura hurts. Okada kept going for the rainmaker and Goto kept head-butting him. But finally Okada hit it, then followed with two more rainmakers and got the pin Goto had nearly won with the shouten kai, but Okada barely got his hand on the rope. I don't think people believed Goto could win. Gedo is now doing a promo for Okada. Now Okada is doing the promo One thing about this match is that the crowd was completely behind Okada but didn't seem to care much about Goto.