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Kevin’s NJPW New Year Dash Review

January 5, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Kevin’s NJPW New Year Dash Review  

NJPW New Year Dash
January 5th, 2019 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan

It’s New Japan’s “Night After WrestleMania” show. The event where they give us the fallout from Wrestle Kingdom and usually set some stuff up for the coming year. In 2016, Kenny Omega took over the Bullet Club and kicked AJ Styles out. In 2017, Suzuki-Gun made a big return. In 2018, Jay White turned down Omega’s offer to join the Bullet Club. What’s in store following a great Wrestle Kingdom?

The Killer Elite Squad and Takashi Iizuka vs. Rocky Romero and Roppongi 3K
Poor Roppongi 3K got put in there with a heavyweight tag team. Whenever that happens in NJPW, it means the juniors will have trouble getting anything going. That was mostly the case here. Suzuki-Gun attacked early and often, including their usual brawl around the arena. Rocky was isolated and interestingly, the hot tag kind of went to both RPG 3K members. Not literally but they both came in with tandem offense. As always, Iizuka did a bunch of nothing. The surprising result saw YOH roll up Iizuka for the win in 8:34. An inoffensive start to the show. The Suzuki-Gun guys didn’t seem to bring it, but the CHAOS boys gave us fine effort. [**¼]

Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi vs. Toa Henare and Tomoaki Honma
MORE PIETER! Yujiro Takahashi is my favorite wrestler. It seems like neither side of this Bullet Club BS is interested in Chase and Yujiro. Meanwhile, there’s some drama between Honma and Henare over who gets to be Makabe’s tag partner. And Henare was apparently upset he wasn’t on the Dome card. Lots of small storylines thrown into one match. I appreciate that. The match itself wasn’t much. Chase was kind of a jerk during it, trying to hit his own Kokeshi and such. Honma had to show him how it was done at one point. Owens picked up the win for his guys with a Package Piledriver on Henare in 9:24. Solid little tag match, bolstered by some of the ongoing stories. [**½]

The Best Friends vs. David Finlay and IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Juice Robinson
I love the team of Juice and Finlay. Before Juice’s singles push took off, I wanted them to be Tag Team Title contenders. Beretta had his mother in the crowd and went up to give her a hug during the action. RevPro official Chris Roberts was in charge here, by the way. Both teams have strong chemistry with their partners leading to good action. I liked the character stuff, like Finlay and Juice hugging to mock the Best Friends and Juice going in for a kiss only to get rejected. They seemed to tease Beretta vs. Juice for the US Title down the line. It all ultimately led to Chuckie T losing his shit again and using a steel chair to get disqualified in 9:03. I’m not into the ongoing Best Friends angle. However, I enjoyed the match due to the solid interactions. [**¾]

Post-match, Chuckie kicked Juice to lay him out and then hit Finlay with a piledriver on a chair.

Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, and NEVER Openweight Champion Will Ospreay vs. Jeff Cobb, KUSHIDA, and Yuji Nagata
We finally have a match that feels like it matters somewhat. Ospreay and KUSHIDA kicked things off with their usual back and forth. Will may have moved up to heavyweight, but the NEVER Title can get a challenge from anyone. However, I’m good on KUSHIDA/Ospreay matches for a long time. Anyway, the real treat was Nagata against Ishii. There’s no rivalry right now, but Ishii was a dick to him simply because. That led to some awesome exchanges. Anyone who thinks Nagata shouldn’t be featured anymore is bugging. I couldn’t help but smile as he tossed Ospreay with ease on an Exploder. Then, we got the Cobb against Goto battle. It was better here than in their singles match. Gedo, make Nagata and Cobb a consistent team. Your putrid tag division needs it. Ditto for Ishii and Goto. Ospreay eventually got the win for his team by hitting Storm Breaker on KUSHIDA at the 14:09 mark. Where the hell did this come from? It was mostly a random tag, but they brought a wild level of intensity. Everything felt like it mattered, while the Ishii/Nagata and Cobb/Goto stuff ruled. [***¾]

After the match, Nagata and Ishii slapped each other and had to be held back. Their G1 match in 2017 was fantastic. Give me more!

NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship: The Guerillas of Destiny & IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Taiji Ishimori vs. The Most Violent Players (Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe, and Toru Yano)
This stemmed from the Gauntlet match win for the Most Violent Players last night. Tama Tonga was back on his “good guy” schtick. I don’t know if there’s ever been a team I cared less about than the Guerrillas of Destiny. Everything they do just doesn’t work. Yano, always scared of Tama Tonga, got beat up and took the heat for his guys. It’s dull. Ishimori against Taguchi was an improved exchange. It’s about that time Taguchi rises up for one of his random Jr. Title shots on a B or C show. Makabe did his usual thing and had help from Yano hitting Loa with a chair. Jado got involved but was sent packing. Then, as Makabe set up for the King Kong Knee Drop, Yujiro and Owens showed up to knock him off the top. Package Piledriver on Makabe, followed by Apeshit, and Togi surprisingly ate the pin in 11:33. This was pretty lame, as are most G.O.D. matches. [*¾]

Chase and Yujiro officially hugged Tama Tonga and this incarnation of the Bullet Club exists. How does anyone still care about the Bullet Club?

Los Ingobernables de Japon (IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions BUSHI and Shingo, IWGP Tag Team Champions EVIL and SANADA, and IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito) vs. Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and RevPro British Heavyweight Champion Zack Sabre Jr.)
Seeing LIJ all holding titles is beautiful. If only Hiromu was there as Jr. Heavyweight Champion. Naito still treated the IC Title like crap. During Naito’s introduction, Taichi WRECKED him with a steel chair shot. That triggered a massive Suzuki-Gun style brawl around the arena. Taichi’s focus was Naito, meaning that could be our IC Title program. Taichi’s boring, but Naito got a good match out of him last year, so I’m open minded. The more exciting stuff was watching Suzuki and Sabre work together against EVIL and SANADA. I am ALL for that as a Tag Title program. That could bolster things in that division. Taichi won by pinning Naito following a chair shot and Air Raid Crash in 16:45. There were some good moments, but the brawling stuff early on lasted far too long. Give me that Tag Title match, though. [***]

Bad Luck Fale, Gedo, and Jay White vs. IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, and YOSHI-HASHI
It’s the big return of YOSHI-HASHI. I mean, I don’t care, but still. Last time we saw him, Okada and Tanahashi were kind of playing tug of war with him. He also face planted during a run in. It’s kind of wild that we live in a time where Okada and Tanahashi are partners. The crowd popped for YOSHI, but I didn’t. He came in and kind of just got beaten up. I got a kick out of Okada coming in and doing a dragon screw, prompting Tanahashi to give him the thumbs up. He and Tanahashi did well, but once YOSHI got tagged in again, he fell to the Blade Runner in 15:16. A fine main event, but one that was more about establishing White vs. Tanahashi than anything else. [**¾]

Post-match, Jay White officially challenged Tanahashi. The Bullet Club guys beat down Tanahashi and Okada to close things out.

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
I never expect fantastic wrestling from New Year Dash. I usually get good action with several angles being set up. This year lacked that big “wow” moment and most of the matches were kind of just there. From a wrestling standpoint, just watch the Nagata tag. Other than that, I’m looking forward to Tanahashi/White and the idea of Sabre & Suzuki/EVIL & SANADA.