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Kevin’s NJPW New Year Dash 2021 Review

January 6, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
New Year Dash
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Kevin’s NJPW New Year Dash 2021 Review  

NJPW New Year Dash
January 6th, 2020 | Tokyo Dome City Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 1,019

I came away very pleased with Wrestle Kingdom 15, as it delivered some huge matches and both nights were great. Let’s see how the upcoming shows get set up by the usually enjoyable New Year Dash.

Gabriel Kidd vs. Yuji Nagata
I’m big on Gabriel Kidd. He has impressed me whenever I see him, more than a lot of Young Lions. Meanwhile, I’m always here for some Yuji Nagata. Our Blue Justice Dad is consistent. You know how this went. Kidd brought fire and showcased that potential while Nagata played the hits. That’s just what it needs to be and it worked that way. It doesn’t serve much of a purpose on this show but it was fine. I did like Kidd getting to kick out of the Exploder. It showed that he was quite tough. Then he tapped to the Nagata Lock II after 7:59. A solid yet unspectacular way to start a show. [**½]

DOUKI and Minoru Suzuki vs. Tiger Mask IV and Yuya Uemura
Minoru Suzuki gets to beat on a Young Lion. It must be his birthday. Uemura actually stood up to him and wanted to fight him, which was appreciated. He’s out to prove himself and showed no fear. I always like when a Young Lion does that. This match worked whenever they interacted but lacked whenever it was DOUKI and Tiger Mask IV. I loved how sadistic Suzuki was, taking joy in kicking the ass of this young kid. Suzuki put him down with the Gotch Piledriver in 10:45. Give me Suzuki vs. Uemura right now please. [**½]

The Empire vs. TenKoji and Yota Tsuji
The Empire is coming off of an 0-3 run at Wrestle Kingdom. While this match itself, like the rest of the show so far, was solid, it was more about the revamped aggression of the stable. Pissed about their Tokyo Dome failures, they came out with a vengeance. Even the toughness of Tenzan and Kojima couldn’t weather the storm of Cobb and O-Khan. Garbage person Willy had some quality exchanges with Satoshi Kojima. I miss having Kojima as a regular. Poor Yota Tsuji was basically murdered with a triple Oscutter to end this in 9:44. Pretty good and did what it had to. [**¾]

After the match, The Empire continued the assault and Ospreay said 2021 would be their year. It didn’t get off to a good start. Tenzan did a stretcher job to put them over.

The Dangerous Tekkers, El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. El Phantasmo, The Guerrillas of Destiny and Taiji Ishimori
I am here for Suzuki-Gun basically being babyfaces. It was interesting that they didn’t seem to use that many heel tactics. It really felt like a group of faces, though Kanemaru is still hard to like. A lot of this match was solid but nothing more. The idea seemed to be to set things up going forward while also reliving G.O.D. vs. Tekkers. The finish saw ELP beat Kanemaru with a loaded boot in 11:35. It was a good match that sets up ELP & Ishimori against the Jr. Tag Champions, especially since the Bullet Club boys ran off with the titles. [***]

Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, EVIL, Jay White & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Hirooki Goto, Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI
Obviously, the big story coming out of Wrestle Kingdom was Jay White’s promo. Commentary made sure to note that he lost his love for wrestling and isn’t leaving NJPW for another company. Given the CHAOS guys involved, this was as good as you’d expect. Goto, HASHI, and Ishii have been pretty great in recent months and that continued here, while Yano was fun, and Okada did his thing. Jay was the most interesting thing on the Bullet Club side, as always. There wasn’t a ton of hinting at major dissension between EVIL and Jay, which surprised me. Tons of really fun exchanges throughout this one as you might expect. The interesting bit was the finish. Jay kind of ended up fighting off everyone for a bit and then fell to Ishii’s Brainbuster at the 13:47 mark, completely clean. No fanfare or anything. He just left and looked dejected. They also seemed to hint at EVIL/Okada down the line. I’m so hooked on this Jay White stuff. It’s the most I’ve invested into NJPW since Naito from 2016-2018. [***¼]

BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Master Wato, Rocky Romero & SHO
The main event is here to help hype up SANADA/Ibushi, which was set up after the Tokyo Dome main event. I may not dig Master Wato but these are two ridiculously good and enjoyable teams. AND THEY GAVE ME HIROMU/SHO! I need more of them battling because they’re incredible. While the focus was SANADA/Ibushi, this match also managed to set the stage for two more interesting sounding bouts. SHO/Hiromu and Tanahashi/Shingo. Honestly, just Tanahashi facing Shingo is wild but Tana in a NEVER Title match is awesome on paper. This was a great main event just for what it set up going forward. The exchanges themselves were as fantastic as you’d expect given the guys involved. I was intrigued at the lack of shine for Naito. He might be chilling back for a bit before ramping up come G1 or New Japan Cup time. Surprisingly, BUSHI scored the win by hitting Wato with MX after 17:23. Best match of the show and a fitting main event. [***½]

The final score: review Average
The 411
In terms of match quality, nothing really stood out here. There was also no big angle, though that makes sense given the uncertainty of the times. That said, this was a solid, easy watch that set up some intriguing programs going forward.

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NJPW New Year Dash, Kevin Pantoja