NJPW New Year Dash 1/5/2015

Written by: Kevin Pantoja

New Year Dash
January 5th, 2015 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan

One night after their biggest show of the year, New Japan Pro Wrestling ran New Year Dash. It’s set up like a house show, with many multi-man tag matches but should set the stage for the upcoming New Beginnings Pay-Per-View.

Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi, Shiro Koshinaka, Sho Tanaka and Yuji Nagata def. Cheeseburger, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV, Yohei Komatsu and Yoshiaki Fujiwara in 10:13
If you read my review of Wrestle Kingdom, you’d know that I found the New Japan Rumble to be a blast. This was more of the same as a lot of the guys involved were used here, with a mix of legends and Young Lions. Much like in the rumble, this was ridiculous fun. Cheeseburger was again a highlight, with his act already being over with the crowd. Fujiwara hilariously slapped him at one point, getting annoyed with his offense since it failed against the likes of Nakanishi and Nagata. Komatsu ate the pin in a fun little match that did well as an opener. **½

Ricochet and Matt Sydal def. David Finlay Jr. and Jay White in 6:46
The newest team in the junior tag division, Ricochet and Matt Sydal, get themselves a little showcase here. While I enjoy them, they aren’t really adding anything new to a stale division. David Finlay Jr. and Jay White have blossomed into a nice little team actually. They have one of the worst win/loss records in history, but that’s expected from the Young Lions. They are a unit I’d like to see move into the ranks of the division. This was kept short so they were able to go at a really fast pace, which benefitted them. Solid stuff here. Stereo shooting star presses did the deed. **¾

Non-Title Match: ROH World Champion Jay Lethal w/ Truth Martini def. Juice Robinson in 7:11
At Wrestle Kingdom, Jay Lethal was introduced to the Japanese audience by retaining the ROH World Title against Michael Elgin. Here, he faced the former CJ Parker in a fine little match. Juice has been trying to find his footing in NJPW, but I think this was his first actual singles match. I think this would have been better suited on the Road to Tokyo Dome to familiarize the crowd with Lethal but I get that the timing wouldn’t work with Lethal’s US dates. Anyway, this was solid though it featured a bit too much Martini interaction. Lethal shouldn’t need help to beat someone in Juice’s position on the card. Fun fact, it was Martini who trained Juice. He got to do a fun little airplane spin spot to him before falling victim to the Lethal Injection. **½

Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson, King Haku, Tama Tonga and Yujiro Takahashi def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion KUSHIDA, Satoshi Kojima and IWGP Tag Team Champions Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma in 11:10
Yup. MOTHERFUCKING King Haku wrestled in this match and looked pretty damn good too. He got involved in the brawling and got to team with his son, Tama Tonga, which has to be cool. This was a fun multi-man match, with everyone being on their game. It was the usual Bullet Club tag but with something just making it better. Maybe it was having Haku involved, but they seemed fired up. I mean, Haku did a fucking piledriver. Despite the talk about them leaving, Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows scored the win on Honma, most likely setting up a rematch at New Beginnings. That could be their final match. Fun match with the rating bumped up a notch because of Haku. ***¼

BUSHI, EVIL and Tetsuya Naito def. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Mascara Dorada and Michael Elgin in 11:58
EVIL’s gimmick and entrance is just too over the top. It doesn’t work for me in the way that a lot of other gimmicks do. While he is back in the relative midcard for now, Hiroshi Tanahashi is still insanely over and the tandem with Michael Elgin just works with the crowd. Even with the lackluster ROH Title match at Wrestle Kingdom, he and his power offense is still clicking with the fans. Los Ingobernables won after a ref bump and BUSHI spitting the mist at Dorada. He pinned him with a diving codebreaker. This was more fine work on the show, keeping a consistent tone. Los Ingobernables attacked after the match, leading KUSHIDA to try and make the save. He also got misted and BUSHI challenged him for the Jr. Title. That is a fresh matchup that I’m looking forward to. We may also be getting Tanahashi/Naito again, which doesn’t sound bad but also isn’t exciting. Hopefully Naito comes out on top. ***

AJ Styles and Kenny Omega def. IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura and YOSHI-HASHI in 12:01
When I woke up today, the post-match angle was the big news, but we’ll get to that in a second. First off, the match itself was really good. AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura had some great exchanges early on, reminding everyone of their fantastic Wrestle Kingdom match. Surprisingly, the stuff between Kenny Omega and Nakamura was also very interesting. Even more surprisingly, Omega pinned Nakamura with the One Winged Angel. Then the big angle happened. As the victors celebrated, Omega attacked Styles, hitting him with the One Winged Angel as well. The rest of the Bullet Club ran out to calm things down. As AJ got helped to his feet, Omega and the Young Bucks hit him with a triple superkick. The rest of the group joined in on the assault, ending with Omega planting Styles with a Styles Clash (with superkicks from the Bucks involved). Omega cut a promo about how Styles is fired and that he won’t be challenging KUSHIDA for the title he lost the night before. He calls himself a heavyweight and is going after Nakamura and the IC Title. While I’m not a big Omega fan, this was expertly done as he is now solidified on the fast track to some sort of major role. After the Bullet Club left, AJ Styles was serenaded by chants from Korakuen Hall and he bowed to them, seemingly as a goodbye. If he ever does return, he’ll be a big time babyface. If he doesn’t, it was a thank you for some phenomenal, pun intended, years. ***¼

Hirooki Goto, NEVER Openweight Champion Katsuyori Shibata and reDRagon def. IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, Roppongi Vice and Tomohiro Ishii in 13:19
Oh my goodness, Meiyu Tag and reDRagon together? What a fucking team. The other side isn’t too shabby either. Outside of the previous angle, this whole match was my favorite thing on the card. The interactions between everyone was great. Ishii and Shibata went to war, Roppongi Vice and reDRagon were their usual selves and the stuff between Goto and Okada was great. The best parts of this though, was seeing Okada and Ishii work reDRagon. I would love to see Okada/O’Reilly when Okada visits ROH in a few months. Goto would make Barreta tap out to win for his guys. Before he left though, Okada got on the microphone. I read that he kind of ran down Goto for wanting to unify the IC and Heavyweight Titles a few months back. Goto beat Okada in the G1, but since then, Goto lost the IC Title, which Okada was sure to point out. It looks like Goto/Okada at New Beginnings, which should be fun. ***¾

NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship: The Briscoes and Toru Yano (c) def. Bad Luck Fale and IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks in 11:02
The newest title in NJPW got defended a day after being created. I honestly would have put the Okada/Goto stuff on last. I get that this was a title match, but it doesn’t feel like a main event to me. This was good old fashioned fun. I’ve gone on record many times in saying I don’t like the Young Bucks, but the Briscoes and Toru Yano are enough to make up for it. Yano was his usual self, calling for BREAK after BREAK and having fun at Fale’s expense. The exchanges between the Bucks and Briscoes were fine but nothing new for them. I like the addition of the Briscoes, especially Mark, so far. They retained with a Jay Driller/Froggy Bow combination to cap a fun little main event. ***

Overall: 7/10. If you hadn’t noticed by my words, this was a really fun show. Nothing about it was MOTY contender level, but that’s fine because it wasn’t supposed to be that kind of event. It did a great job of giving us really fun matches and setting the stage for future programs. It was one of the more noteworthy non-PPVs I can think of in New Japan. An easy three hour watch

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