NJPW New Year Dash

January 5th, 18:30 from Korakuen Hall, Tokyo

After Wrestle Kingdom 12, a new year begins in New Japan. Let’s get to it.

Some of you may wish to know that tickets Strong Style Evolved in LA go on sale January 29 (10am pacific, 1pm eastern). More here

Here we go…

Ren Narita, Tetsuhiro Yagi, Tomoyuki Oka & Shota Umino vs. Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Manabu Nakanishi

The trainees looked good here and were given ample opportunity to impress between beatings from the veterans. Umino became over-eager and gave Kojima a slap and in return received a lariat which put him down for the three-count.

Suzuki-gun (Takashi Iizuka, TAKA Michinoku, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado) vs. Togi Makabe, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV, Henare & Hirai Kawato

A brazen showing from Suzuki-gun, who indulged in their worst excesses, but why would you expect any different? Makabe ran wild after Henare had been subject to abuse, then the fiery Kawato flew around the ring and almost got the win his corkscrew enzuigiri. Unfortunately for him, he then received a parade of finishers from Suzuki-gun and was pinned by El Desperado. Post-match, Iizuka jabbed him with the metal mitten. Poor kid.

Katsuya Kitamura vs. “Switchblade” Jay White

Challenging the Ace of the Century was a bold move, but it failed, and now we’re left to wonder where Jay White goes from here. First up: Young Lion Cup winner and actual monster Katsuya Kitamura. White wisely decided a cheap shot would be the best way to take control and attacked Kitamura’s right leg to keep him down, but Kitamura fired back with chops and a gutwrench suplex followed by a spear. White blocked the Jackhammer and applied the crossface, then used the trapped elbows and Blade Runner to put Kitamura to the sword/blade. White going the Lone Wolf route is going to be tough for him, but I hope it pays off long-term.

The Elite (Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) & Cheeseburger (w/ Rocky Romero)

Matt and Yoh had a hilarious exchange where both men were unable to do anything to the other because of the back injuries they suffered last night. The fresh Cheeseburger then took advantage of his opponents’ weakened states and ran wild, but naturally was cutoff with a trio of superkicks. From there, The Elite largely took control, much to the crowd’s delight, and we got plenty of entertaining spots along the way. In the end, Cheeseburger tried a diving crossbody, but got caught, and The Elite put him away with a  pop-up Indietaker. Despite most of these guys looking clearly suffering after their Wrestle Kingdom efforts, this was a lot of fun.

Bullet Club (Cody, Marty Scurll, Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens & Leo Tonga) (w/ Brandi) vs. Taguchi Japan (Ryusuke Taguchi, Juice Robinson, David Finlay, KUSHIDA & Kota Ibushi)

Juice went at it with the massive Leo Tonga to start, then Chase Owens cheekily stole Taguchi’s hip attacks and paid the price when he received the same from every member of the opposition. After that, the match spilled to the floor, where Bullet Club took control. Poor Taguchi has his derriere targeted by Scurll and Yujiro, but the hot tag was made to Kushida, who cleared the ring. He and Scurll had a good exchange, which culminated in Scurll snapping the fingers, then in came Ibushi and Cody. Finlay was next, but subjected to the Bullet Club Train of corner offence, and after his teammates each missed planchas, he was left alone with Cody. Brandi again made her presence felt and Cody capitalised by cinching in the American Nightmare for the submission win.

Post-match, Cody targeted Ibushi and was going to hit him with a chair, but here was Kenny Omega to stop him! Wow. He and Cody pushed each other around, but Cody eventually relented and went to the back.

Omega got on the mic, pleaded for unity and said he wanted Bullet Club to be No.1 again. So he had an idea: “Switchblade” Jay White! White came out to the ring, Omega offered him a t-shirt and White accepted it, but as they hugged White delivered the Blade Runner to leave Kenny laying! It looks like Omega has his next opponent. 

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship

CHAOS (Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Beretta) (c) vs. Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Bad Luck Fale)

A nice exchange between Tama and Beretta started us off, forcing Tama to the floor, then Yano didn’t fancy his luck with Fale and was proved right – he slapped Fale on the head, which was a terrible idea, and got suplexed out of his boots. The beatdown continued for a few minutes until eventually Ishii was in to run wild, only for Fale to stop him in his tracks. Beretta was back in to face off with Tama and earned a near-fall off a tornado DDT, but Bullet Club cleared the ring, allowing Tama to nail a Headshrinker DDT for a near-fall of his own. Everyone rushed the the ring, with Ishii even German suplexing Fale(!), then Tama and Loa hit the double-team Tongan Twist on Beretta. Beretta avoided a diving headbutt, superplexed Tama and looked for the Dudebuster, but Tama rolled through and planted him with the Gun Stun cutter! One, two three! Fale and the Guerrillas of Destiny are champions again – CHAOS reigned for approximately 24 hours.

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr., Lance Archer & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin & War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe)

Shaven-headed Suzuki looks weird and perhaps even more deranged, but his team was working well nonetheless, quickly isolating Raymond Rowe. Naturally, there were plenty of shenanigans on the floor courtesy of the Suzuki-gun juniors, but the heavyweights in the ring did a good job of keeping Rowe away from his corner. Eventually the hot tag was made to Elgin, who pummelled Sabre, earning a two-count with a Blue Thunder Bomb. They continued with an very good back-and-forth exchange until Davey Boy was tagged, meanwhile Suzuki smashed Tanahashi with a chair to keep him out of the match. The match broke down and finally here was Tanahashi, but Suzuki quickly dragged him to the floor with kneebar. In the ring, the big boys trade signature offence and the wiry Sabre suffered a War Machine double-team. Hanson did his best to fight off KES, but soon succumbed to a Killer Bomb for the three-count.

Post-match, Suzuki continued to ruin Tanahashi’s knee in the ring then held up the Intercontinental title. Oh yes.

Los Ingobernables de Japón (Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito) vs. CHAOS (Gedo, Will Ospreay, YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada)

The answer is yes – Okada was still wearing the trousers. IWGP, NEVER and Junior heavyweight titles in the CHAOS fold, not a bad haul. Off to the races with super-fast exchange between Ospreay and Hiromu, ending with a springboard forearm from the champion. Bit of showing off from CHAOS then before Gedo was made to pay for having such a long beard. Naito whipped Okada into the guardrail while Sanada had Gedo in the Paradise Lock, but the tag was eventually made to Goto, whose bulldog on Evil earned two. Evil replied with a senton and some discus elbows, but an Ushigoroshi brought in Naito and Okada! They had a fantastic extended sequence, complete with duelling chants from the crowd, culminating in Okada’s big boot. In came Yoshi and CHAOS cleared the ring, leaving Naito all alone. Yoshi got a two-count off a powerbomb, but LIJ finally got it together and scored offence on every one of their opponents, including team side kicks to Okada. Destino to Yoshi-Hashi! One, two, three!

Post-match, LIJ hit their finishers (Evil > Goto, Hiromu > Ospreay), and it was Sanada who left Okada laying with the TKO and Dragon Sleeper! They kicked CHAOS out of the ring and Naito got on the mic, admitting that he lost and has no excuses. Naito stayed in the ring to soak up the moment…

And here was Chris Jericho!

Huge pull-apart brawl, with big Y2J chants and Jericho calling Naito “a son of a bitch” until he was dragged to the back. Naito sat in the ring with his back to Jericho encouraging him to bring it on! 

And we’re out. 

Final thoughts: Let’s see, we’ve got Naito vs. Jericho, Suzuki vs. Tanahashi, Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi, Young Bucks vs. Roppongi 3K, White vs. Omega and possibly Okada vs. SANADA and Goto vs. EVIL set for the The New Beginning shows. That’s plenty to be getting on with, I think.

If you have been, thanks for reading my Wrestle Kingdom stuff over the past few days. I’ll be back to cover the NJPW/CMLL Fantastica Mania joint shows in a few weekends. See you then. 

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