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The card has been set for New BEGINNING in Osaka on February 10. The center of attention will be a series of five singles matches between CHAOS and Los Ingobernables De Japon, and of these the most important will be for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
At WRESTLE KINGDOM 12, the world was witness to Kazuchika Okada’s dominance as IWGP Heavyweight Champion, as he withstood the challenge of LIJ leader Tetsuya Naito. His reign could be poised to break all known records; Okada already has the longest title run in IWGP history, and with nine successive defences, is closing in on Hiroshi Tanahashi’s record of 11 victories as champion. But on January 5, SANADA left Okada incapacitated with the Skull End, declaring backstage in Korakuen that Okada was ‘next’ and making the first IWGP Heavyweight challenge of his career. Under the condition that SANADA and EVIL put the IWGP Tag Team Championships on the line the week before, Okada accepted SANADA’s challenge. The LIJ member has a lot to overcome; a 0-3 singles record against Okada, and the IWGP Champion’s recent defeats of both EVIL and Naito chief among them. The imposing SANADA is in an unfamiliar position as underdog, but Okada would be foolish to overlook Cold Skull.
In the semi main event, Hirooki Goto defends his freshly won NEVER Openweight Championship against EVIL. Goto vanquished Minoru Suzuki at Wrestle Kingdom, capturing the NEVER title and shaving the former champion’s head in the process. Yet the next night, Goto would be laid out by EVIL. The King of Darkness vowed that he would send the new champion ‘spiralling into hell again,’ as he promised to take back the title he lost in Singapore in 2016. These two have a history going back to EVIL’s debut over two years ago, and both men’s fiery tempers seem set to boil over in Osaka.
The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship will also be on the line in Osaka as Will Ospreay defends against Hiromu Takahashi. Ospreay came out on top of a spectacular four way match at WRESTLE KINGDOM 12, finally pinning long time rival Marty Scurll in the process. Yet Hiromu has long desired a singles confrontation with Ospreay, and finally secured his right to challenge the new champion at New Year’s Dash as he was able to lay out the Aerial Assassin with the Time Bomb. Hiromu declared that he ‘needs’ the Junior Heavyweight Championship, but Ospreay will want to cement his reign with a big initial defence against a formidable foe.
Then, YOSHI-HASHI takes on two time Tokyo Sports MVP Tetsuya Naito. El Ingobernable may have come up short in his challenge against Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom, but his popular status with the fans seems unshaken. His opponent is someone Naito has known since their days training at the legendarily tough Animal Hamaguchi Gym. YOSHI-HASHI would state at Korakuen that ‘I know you better than anyone else in this business, but I don’t like what you’ve become. He talks about being setback; I’ve had more setbacks than anyone, but I never complained about it(…) My heart remains. Face me one on one.’
Ever since Naito and YOSHI-HASHI first underwent the New Japan tryout together it seemed the now LIJ leader has left the Headhunter trailing. Then, Naito was the only one of the tryout group to be allowed into the New Japan Dojo, while YOSHI-HASHI had to try again. Yet that persistence is what drives YOSHI-HASHI, and could lead him to the biggest win of his career.
The fifth CHAOS versus LIJ singles match in Osaka sees Gedo face BUSHI. Two smaller athletes with enough expertise to make opponents of any size sweat, it’s a battle of the impactful MX and the intricate Gedo Clutch.
Also in Osaka, we’ll see match six of Katsuya Kitamura’s seven match proving series as he faces Yuji Nagata. It’s student versus teacher, as Kitamura will look to show how far he’s come against his notoriously strict trainer.
Whether you’re live in Osaka, or catching all the action on NJPW World, you will not want to miss an unforgettable night at New Beginning! Sign up for https://njpwworld.com/