NJPW New Year Dash
January 5, 2017
Watch: NJPW World (English or Japanese commentary)
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan
I guess I have a new tradition. Every year, I watch the Dome show with Japanese commentary but then choose to watch New Year Dash with English commentary (that over-delivers with low expectations from myself). Maybe I’ll watch Wrestle Kingdom 12 in English next year. New Year Dash is NJPW’s Raw after WrestleMania show. The entire card is kept secret until the ring announcer goes over the card prior to bell time. There’s shock wins, direction headed into the partner shows with CMLL–Fantasticamania, as well as February/New Beginning. Last year’s show saw Kenny Omega shock the world, turning on stablemate AJ Styles’, as well as forming The ELITE in the process. Would anything from this year possibly be able to top that?
Kyle O'Reilly, Ricochet & David Finlay def. Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask & HenareHenare is wicked
This was a nice showcase opener for all involved. English commentary from this point on, aka the start of the show, was very good. This also bumped the match up for me, as I expected meh-alright commentary, but Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino supplemented everything without getting in the match’s way. Liger was used throughout the entire match as after all, he’s the most popular guy in the grouping by far. Henare came in fired up, and as someone that’s only seen a few matches of his, he’s wicked! He has the right frame and can move very fast for someone his size. It’s obvious why New Japan paired him with Nakanishi, seeing as they have running parallels. Henare had Finlay in a Boston Crab, but Ricochet came to save the day, hitting a big boot, YET HENARE HULKED UP BROTHER. Ricochet did an unexpected gun taunt to Henare’s head, taking his head off with another boot. After that, a Finlay Roll/moonsault combo picked Team Violent Finlay Jr. Artist the win. Post-match saw Finlay hug his mother, with Fit sitting next to her. D’awwwhhh.
Adam Page & Yujiro Takahashi def. Billy Gunn & YoshitatsuYujiro wasn't actually that bad?
This wasn’t much, extremely mild. A lot of the highlights came from Mr. Ass himself, taunting a young lion at ringside who he’s been picking on since he’s arrived in NJPW. Also from Hangman Page, as he’s always crisp in-ring, able to tell a story, be wacky, or deliver in a terrible predicament to be in, like this. The soul reason for that? Yoshitatsu. Yujiro buried Yoshi with a DDT on the floor, which made me indifferent to him as opposed to “why god must you have this man, in this company?” There was a Gunn hot tag which led to some “SUCK THIS” comedy, also a phrase in his theme song. I’m not even sure if the match lasted longer than, say, 6 minutes, as Adam Page thankfully got the rub with a Rite of Passage on Tatsu for the win. Gunn proceeded to flex on the young lion after the match, with the flex-victim having none, just staring at him like he’s some freak.
CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI & Roppongi Vice) def. Superkliq (Adam Cole & The Young Bucks)The Bucks in six mans = $
As you see in the sub-heading, The Young Bucks are at their best in six man tags. It’s such a perfect match-type for them, because they can extend their moveset to combinations with who they’re tagging with (example: Fatality finisher with AJ Styles, running the ropes only to kiss Adam Cole on the forehead). With a trio, you can depend on the third guy to keep it refreshing, but also blending in with The Bucks to provide entertainment. After that mini-rant, it’s so obvious that I thought this was a really good match. Everything about this did what I explained, it kept it refreshing, didn’t rely on too many “greatest hits” spots, being unconventional. The only constants we got were the trademarks of everyone’s offense. There were tons of fun counters and callbacks such as Rocky not wanting Trent to do a dive because of what happened at Wrestle Kingdom. An odd thing here is that Corino said a NJPW World producer told him that TEN THOUSAND SUBSCRIPTIONS happened over the course of a day thanks to the “buzz” of Wrestle Kingdom. WWF inflation, anyone? Other highlights included a Meltzer Driver being countered twice by Cole and Nick’s feet being dragged out from underneath them, as well as a piledriver counter from Trent. YOSHI-HASHI was left stranded, but managed to catch the now 3-time ROH Champion in a roll-up for the win. On top of the really good match, we had GREAT booking. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get YOSHI vs. Cole for the ROH Title.
Bullet Club (Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Bone Soldier def. Team 2000 (Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Hiro Saito, Scott Norton & Cheeseburger) Bullet Club against NWO kind of
This is a fun way for all of these elements to combine, with Omega getting a much needed mini-match-rest after another legendary performance. The premise of this is that Cheeseburger took to nWo Japan’s side back at the New Japan Rumble, which led to him getting admission into the new “Team 2000” group, to take on Bullet Club–well, in a match that a lot of marks fantasy book! Bullet Club vs. nWo…kind of. It’s insanity to see Kenny Omega’s two, two day stretches in about 6 months. From Tetsuya Naito to Hirooki Goto; from the biggest match of his life to being in a squad with Bone Soldier, facing nWo Japan as a comedy heel. Cheeseburger was the emphasis of this match, as he’s ridiculously over in Japan. There’s no word on if his merch sold out this time. What I can confirm, is that, in 2017, Scott Norton and Bullet Club played catch with Cheeseburger. Tiger Hattori also kicked him out of the nWo Japan photo-op pre-match. In a spot where all Club members were dragged into corners, Cheeseburger did Mongolian Chops to Fale for a solid 45 seconds. The rest was par for the course, sans Omega calling Bone Solider, BONER. Kojima was in peril, only to fairly easily make a comeback and put away Bone Soldier with a lariat. Fun times. This was a great choice for a pre-intermission match.
KUSHIDA & Michael Elgin def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & Tetsuya Naito)Dragon Lee and a Burning Hammer
Aside the main event, this was the most brilliant match/angle/thing to come out of New Year Dash. The way this was laid out, everyone’s roles, and the return of Dragon Lee leading into the finish of the match was all brilliantly executed. Even when the match first kicked into gear, seeing Elgin launch KUSHIDA onto both guys, and hearing the subsequent clacking of the barricade, was so satisfying. KUSHIDA spent a lot of the match out of action, with Hiromu tearing into his shoulder more; everyone knows what the results in. KUSHIDA with some of the best selling in the world. Another lent hand to this match is the fact that Elgin and Takahashi have prior chemistry, working together back in PWG, in a big vs. small match that was well done. That translated to this tag as well. Naito always does these little things that pop me, like smacking Elgin, lightly at that, in the face as he’s trying to recover in the corner. The finishing stretch left little to the imagination as they tore it up. Elgin got Naito in the corner and hit a running DVD on Hiromu, landing on Naito. He also hit a massive superplex on Naito, but we shortly after had a ref bump happen. Naito hit a low-blow on both, and just as you were expecting for the typical LIJ victory, Dragon Lee ran-in out of nowhere, hitting his amazing suplex on Takahashi and an extra large dive onto Hiromu. The rivalry is re-ignited once again. Elgin hit the Burning Hammer on Naito for the victory. Post-match, Elgin and Dragon Lee embraced, holding up the titles they will be challenging for. Tremendous.
Katsuyori Shibata, Yuji Nagata, Tomoaki Honma, Togi Makabe & Juice Robinson) def. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Will Ospreay)I mean, solid, but the finish RULED
We got a hot exchange pre-bell as Ospreay pointed at Shibata’s
dong, British Heavyweight Championship, which would explain for all the forthcoming exchanges in the match. I watched this at around 12:30 am after a workday, so maybe my tiredness affected the totality of the match, but I still enjoyed every major point being put across, and a lot of the work. It’s just that in a multi-man with some stars (take that both ways I guess, rating and stardom), GBH eating up a lot of the match makes sense, but isn’t exactly what I want. We did get lots of Ishii too though, and that crop all work well together, it just wasn’t anything to get invested in. Shibata vs. Ospreay for the RPW British Heavyweight Title is a confirmed banger based on the prelude sequences. Whether it was Ospreay flipping around to avoid Shibata, or a bullet-speed dive onto Shibata, or Ospreay getting his lesson with corner offense–they mesh so well together and evoked a response out of the crowd that any other tag sequence didn’t reach during the night. Juice was far and away made out to be the star of the match. Okada was preserved until he hopped in with Juice, and one would think that’d be the finish of the match. Nope. Juice hung in there which brought forth the final blitz with everyone hitting their moves~! Juice hung in there for Shibata to hit a PK on a downed Goto. An Unprettier was hit and Juice Robinson is now the next NEVER Openweight Championship Contender, after pinning Hirooki Goto clean! What a time to be alive. Yet another instance of well done shock booking to build towards February.
Post-match saw the biggest angle to happen on this year’s show. Suzuki-gun are back after months of rumors and Iizuka fear mongering. K.E.S. took it right to Ishii and Yano, as that’s the next IWGP Tag Title program. After the secondary tier of Suzuki-gun helped K.E.S. destroy CHAOS, Minoru Suzuki stepped in the ring to a monster reaction, hitting the Gotch-style piledriver on Okada. CHAOS have officially been laid out by the returning Suzuki-gun, in what is yet another stable-war feud to come, but works because of all the multi-man possibilities as well as big matches. It’s going to be fun to have Dragon Gate level unit wars in that NJPW are really pushing for many stables at once–LIJ, Bullet Club, CHAOS, Suzuki-gun, and whatever other tags and alliances form.
NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi & Manabu Nakanahi def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL, BUSHI & SANADA) (c)all hail the best da, Nakanishi-sann
This match was utter brilliance. Everything meshed so well, unlike you’d expect it to. I never realized that LIJ would be working over Taguchi’s ass, but Taguchi’s main weapon is such. When he was hit with a chair or countered with a SANADA atomic drop, he sold it as if he had no offense left in the tank. He was going to be killed off and the team would only be down to two. Instead of comedy, he intertwined both, and that’s why Ryusuke Taguchi is very good, even in this character. It’s also comedic in the sense that you’re seeing a dude that exclaims “everything is EVIL” basically playing around with another dudes’ ass. Anyways, Tanahashi put in work yet again, even if he was out in the beginning and middle, it was because his leg was so torn apart. EVIL took the chair to hit, he smashed it against the guardrail. The effects of such pop me because….it’s tremendous limbwork working off of prior injuries. EVIL also did something great, having hit the leg, then swoop into his trademark Fisherman’s Buster. EVIL then proceeded to play with his mouth on camera. This match review has taken a sexual turn as well as a EVIL love fest turn. It all came down to my man, Nakanishi. LIJ kept cutting him down just when you think he’d be preparing to hit the Hercules Cutter. It was a great story of a group of punks against a mean-spirited grump who wants another title in his arsenal. Skull Ends were traded as Tanahashi saved Mr. Monster Morning, yet SANADA came back to hit a dragon screw on him. Tanahashi was so good selling the leg. The finishing stretch protected LIJ but eventually fizzled them out. Nakanishi caught BUSHI in a chokeslam position earlier on, but was still broken up. Everything came full circle to the faces standing tall with Nakanishi hitting the Hercules Cutter on BUSHI for the win. MANABU NAKANISHI IS A CHAMPION IN 2017, THANK YOU BASED KIDAKI AND GEDO. I WILL NOT COMPLAIN ABOUT BONE SOLDIER. Well, maybe.
NJPW NEW YEAR DASH 2017
Strong Effort - 7/10
New Year Dash 2017 was a breeze to watch, with shocking moments and fun ranging from Suzuki-gun returning to Kenny Omega playing a comedy heel on the other side of Scott Norton after the biggest match of his life to Juice Robinson getting a shock pin to become a challenger for a title to Dragon Lee returning to MANABU NAKANISHI BECOMING A CHAMPION IN 2017. This was a booming success, and even if the in ring wasn't the focus of the show, there are moments that will stick with me for a long while. Overall, this was an uber-fun showcase of professional wrestling that allowed NJPW to fully build to Fantasticamania, as well as the February New Beginning shows. It's going to be another year of NJPW proving people wrong. Hell, they already have.