Thursday, January 5, 2017

NJPW New Year Dash Review

NJPW New Year Dash
January 5th, 2017 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan

New Year Dash works as New Japan’s equivalent to the Raw after WrestleMania. It happens the night after their biggest show of the year and features some major angles. Just last year, Kenny Omega took over the Bullet Club from AJ Styles and proclaimed himself a heavyweight. One year later, he headlined the Tokyo Dome. Another fun part of this is that the show has a mystery card.

I’m trying this show with English commentary, which I usually avoid. Kevin Kelly makes me regret this decision almost instantly. I also muted the ring announcer when he ran down the card so it can be a complete surprise.

David Finlay, Kyle O’Reilly and Ricochet def. Henare, Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask IV in 6:17
Ricochet wore a crown to the ring. All three men on the team dropped titles yesterday. Henare is the young lion, while everyone else competed in the BOTSJ last year. Liger took a bit of a beating from the opposite team, who worked some crisp group offense. Tiger Mask took things to a lull but I enjoyed Henare coming in. He slapped on the Boston crab and refused to break it even when Ricochet kicked at him. He, Liger and Tiger Mask all did submissions at the same time following that. Finlay and Ricochet came back and won after hitting Henare with a Finlay roll into a Shooting Star Press. Fine little opener that had some fun moments. I’ve grown to love the pairing of Finlay and Ricochet. Way better than Sydal and Ricochet. **½

After the match, Finlay ran into the stands to huge his mom and yes, Finlay was sitting next to her.

Hangman Page and Yujiro Takahashi def. Billy Gunn and YOSHITATSU in 6:39
No ladies for Takahashi here so I’m back to not giving a shit about him. Billy shouting “I’M A PIMP TOO” at Yujiro instantly made this better than all previous YOSHITATSU/BC matches. That isn’t hard though. YOSHITATSU took the heat, with Takahashi trying to avoid Gunn at all costs. At one point, Page grabbed Gunn’s junk because this was a strange match. Page used the Right of Passage to defeat TATSU. Kelly and Corino mocked TATSU for losing again, which is odd. He did get mad at CNJ for losing and he isn’t doing much better. This was inoffensive at least. *

Billy Gunn got into a stare down with one of the young lions. I’m sorry, but I’m honestly not sure who it was. He looked familiar though.

CHAOS (IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Roppongi Vice and YOSHI-HASHI) def. The Bullet Club (ROH World Champion Adam Cole and ROH World Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks) in 9:57
The Bucks and Cole were up to their usual antics. ROH referee Todd Sinclair officiated this. RPG Vice argued a bit since Trent shoved Rocky to stop him from diving, remembering how he crashed and burned at WK11. They made up quickly before the Bullet Club took over. Trent’s taped back was a target by Cole. He slapped on a camel clutch before the Bucks faked out the fans (they do this spot often) and kissed Cole on the cheek. The Meltzer Driver was cut off, so Cole nearly did it for Nick but also got stopped. Rocky got a hot tag and did his thing until running into superkicks. The final few minutes were typical fast paced stuff until YOSHI pulled Cole into a small package for the three. PUT THE ROH TITLE ON TACOS PLEASE! Fun despite my disdain for the Bucks. **¾

Adam Cole attacked and, with help from the Young Bucks, laid out YOSHI.

Cheeseburger, Hiro Saito, Scott Norton and TenKoji def. The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, BONE SOLDIER, The Guerillas of Destiny and Kenny Omega) in 9:59
TEAM 2000 SHIRTS! That was awesome. Omega got a great hand from the crowd for his performance in the Tokyo Dome. Corino said there’s a good chance Fale eats Cheeseburger here. I believe it. Norton started for his guys and Omega did the same. When Omega realized what he had done, he regretted it. Omega told Norton to think about the nWo and said the BC are just like that. He offered him a spot and Norton agreed before crushing Omega’s hand. Norton launched Cheeseburger into the BC, who caught the lightweight and threw him back in. They all had fun with Cheeseburger throughout this. Omega calling BONE SOLDIER by the nickname “BONER” throughout was excellent. A flurry of offense capped by a Kojima lariat ended BONER. Not the most technically sound match but a fun nostalgia trip that the crowd loved. They had a blast here and I enjoyed the hell out of it. ***

KUSHIDA and Michael Elgin def. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi and IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito in 13:42
Naito was still selling the leg from Wrestle Kingdom during his entrance. Bless him. After the event last night, Elgin got in Naito’s face, looking for revenge and the IC Title. Naito avoided altercation here, but Elgin still ended up hitting him with a baseball slide and then press slammed KUSHIDA onto their opponents. All four men worked at a fast pace. Kudos to Naito for taking these bumps after a grueling match the previous night. Elgin’s hot tag saw him move the ring with his power based offense. He and Naito went at it down the stretch, with Elgin looking like a rejuvenated beast since the injury. Naito kicked Elgin low and looked for Destino but DRAGON LEE ran in and German suplexed Naito. He then hit a sick dive on Takahashi. Elgin pinned Naito following Burning Hammer. Another fun match with some great interactions. They set up Lee coming back for his rival and the Jr. Heavyweight Title, while also setting up the third Elgin/Naito match. I don’t mind Naito taking the pin either since Lee interfered. ***¼

After the match, Lee posed with the Jr. Title, while Elgin did the same with the Intercontinental Title. KUSHIDA got in Lee’s face because he still wants the Jr. Title back.

Great Bash Heel, Juice Robinson, RPW British Heavyweight Champion Katsuyori Shibata and Yuji Nagata def. CHAOS (NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto, IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, IWGP Tag Team Champions Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano and Will Ospreay) in 14:55
Yano came out with both Tag Titles and the WTL trophies. I’m not a fan of Ospreay cosplaying as Okada. Ospreay got in Shibata’s face, possibly setting up a future RPW Title match, even though Shibata has an upcoming defense against Matt Riddle. They started things off and Will made the mistake of kicking Shibata in the mouth. Corino said “Aww and I liked Will. This’ll be his last tour.” He managed to hang tough with Shibata though. There were other fun interactions throughout this, some great brawling and Yano being Yano. Juice got a tag near the end and did impressive work on Okada. The continued battle between Ospreay and Shibata was a highlight. Goto was left alone with Juice and it seemed like a foregone conclusion. They ran into each other with vicious lariats before Shibata hit Goto with the PK. Then, in a shocker, Juice hit THE JUICE IS LOOSE to pin the NEVER Champion! A cool surprise to cap another fun multi-man tag. ***

All hell broke loose next. You could screams from some fans. SUZUKI-GUN returned and stormed the ring. They beat up everyone on both teams. Roppongi Vice ran out to help but got their asses kicked too. Minoru Suzuki didn’t seem to get involved until Okada started fighting back. He choked him out and hit the Gotch style piledriver. Suzuki then challenged Okada and promised to rule this ring again. They want all the belts like they had in NOAH. 

I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, I love Minoru Suzuki and would love to see him beat the hell out of Okada. I also think the Killer Elite Squad would help a very weak tag division. On the other hand, I don’t care to see Desperado, TAKA or Taichi at all though. Also, the group got played out badly in NOAH and I wish LIDJ was the top heel group. They took an unfortunate backseat to the also tired Bullet Club at the end of 2016 and now this.

NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Manabu Nakanishi and Ryusuke Taguchi def. BUSHI, EVIL and SANADA (c) in 13:23
A terrible decision. Anyway, Nakanishi kicked things off for his team and weathered some attacks from the champions before overpowering them. Eventually, the heels took over after using some dastardly tactics and Taguchi took the heat. He was the obvious choice to do so since Manabu is a big boy and Tanahashi is Tanahashi. Nakanishi showed fire and had the crowd firmly behind him. He countered a SANADA dragon sleeper only to get put back in it until Tanahashi saved him. BUSHI found himself in trouble, taking a bunch of offense from the babyface team. Tanahashi and Taguchi dove onto SANADA and EVIL, leaving Nakanishi to hit the Hercules Cutter and win the titles. I get that it’s a thank you to Nakanishi before he retires but again, LIDJ get their legs cut out from under them. The group can never gain real momentum. These titles continue to get passed around more than Sunny in 1996. The match itself was fine with some cool moments. **½

Overall: 6/10. I rather enjoyed this even but not as much as last year. It accomplished what it set out to do. Lots of fun multi-man tags and setting up some big angles. They managed to set up potential matches between Takahashi/Lee, Lee/KUSHIDA, Elgin/Naito, Juice/Goto, Okada/Suzuki and Shibata/Ospreay to name a few. They also reintroduced Suzuki-Gun, brought in Dragon Lee, had a title change and a steady diet of fun matches. Plus, Team 2000 is must see.