This is my show review for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s New Year Dash show. This show was live from Ota city General Gymnasium and is available to watch on njpwworld and Fite TV.
Our commentary team for this show is Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton and Gino Gambino.
The show opens hot with a loud crowd in the Ota City General Gymnasium and an announcement for tonight’s card. This show was unannounced as tradition with New Year Dash shows.
Before any wrestling, Jyushin Thunder Liger’s retirement ceremony starts.
A video tribute plays for Liger that lasts about five minutes or so. It shows Liger’s debut, famous matches, outfits, famous wrestlers and so on. It was good. Then the actual ceremony starts. Liger comes to the ring on his own, then some words are said by the ring announcer and a large number of wrestlers make their way to the ring to Tanahashi’s music. They take pictures and Tanahashi hands flowers to Liger. Then Chaos come to the ring, they get pictures taken and Okada takes his phone out to take a selfie which he posted. Then NJPW presidents gave Liger flowers. This was followed by Jyushin Liger’s wife and the designer of the Liger character, his son. Tanahashi is seen crying lots. Then a special message from the man himself, Antonio Anoki. These videos are all in Japanese and I hope they release a translated version soon. Liger spoke to the crowd, Hiromu Takahashi and the fans that have supported him to say thank you. Liger said a few personal words to his wife and son about the lonely life they have lead because of professional wrestling. We then had a ten bell salute to Liger and as he left was brought back by Kazuchika Okada and they all hoisted Liger in the air three times. Liger shook hands with everyone in the ring then Tanahashi called for a sing-along to Jyushin Liger’s theme music. This was incredibly emotional. It was happy but sad, so much happened while not much happened at all, it was all about Jyushin Thunder Liger but everyone was involved. This was fantastic and it will probably become something I watch from time to time. I certainly haven’t watched all of his career by any stretch, but Jyushin Thunder Liger is a true inspiration and I fell honoured to have been a fan for the time I have. The wrestlers may be gone but the legend of Jyushin Thunder Liger lives on forever. Thank you Liger.
The show resets and we see a video package of Wrestle Kingdom 14 moments and a full recap of all the winners, including the new IWGP Intercontinental champion and IWGP Heavyweight champion, Tetsuya Naito. Finally, KENTA attacking the new double champion.
Alex Coughlin, Karl Fredericks & Clark Conners vs Yuya Uemura, Yota Tsuji & Henare
- Uemura starts with Conners. They wrestle back and forth but Conners seems to get the better of his Japanese equal. Coughlin tags in and so does Tsuji. Tsuji has the size on Alex but Coughlin chops very hard. The LA Dojo Young Lions start to work over Yota Tsuji. Fredericks tags in too and he chops just as hard, if not harder. Tsuji must have a blistered chest by now with all these very hard chops. Tsuji hits a scoop slam and tags Henare who takes out everyone. The three LA Dojo guys eventually work down Henare who has to tag out to Uemura. Uemura faces Fredericks. After a bit of a battle, Uemura turns Fredericks over for a Boston Crab. Coughlin gets in to break it up. Fredericks hits a big elbow and a single leg Crab. This finish looked like a shoot as Fredericks grabs Uemura’s leg, flips him over, puts a knee in his back and folds him. Good opener again. Winners: Karl Fredericks, Clark Conners and Alex Coughlin in 10:41.
4-Way Tag Match – El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori vs BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi vs El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs SHO & YOH
- This non-title match starts as Ishimori and ELP jump the new champions, Roppongi 3K. R3K gain some ground but then it breaks down early. It isn’t long until Bullet Club get heat on Takahashi. Minutes later both Bullet Club and Suzuki-gun stomp Takahashi down in the ring as fans boo. Desperado gets a camel clutch with an eye rake on Takahashi. It feels like everyone gets heat on Takahashi until Hiromu finally tags BUSHI. This match changes quickly with tags to everyone. This gets wild with everyone in the ring at once. It turns out to be SHO and Desperado are legal and after a good showing by SHO, BUSHI gets in to spray Desperado with mist but hits SHO instead. El Desperado rolls up a black faced SHO and the referee, looking right at the black mist on the face of SHO, and counts to three. Good match with lots of action, too much to recap all of it. Winners: El Desperado and Kanemaru in 13:29.
Gorillas of Destiny, Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale w/ Jado vs Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson & David Finlay
- Ibushi and Chase start but after Chase tries to get Ibushi to join BC again, Ibushi turns him down. An aggressive Owens attacks Ibushi .about a minute in Ibushi hits a dropkick and tags Tanahashi. This breaks down about two minutes in and people fight all over the arena. Chase stands in the ring as Fale stomps on Tanahashi. Fale tags in after throwing Tana back in. Tanahashi fights back and goes for a bodyslam but can’t get it on Fale. This is another action packed match with things happened all over ringside most of the time. Kota and Tanahashi work great as a team and Kota gets the victory with Tanahashi’s help. Kota kicks Chase then Tanahashi hits a Slingblade. Kota then hits a Kamigoye on Chase for the win. Good match. Winners: Kota Ibushi, Tanahashi, Chase Owens and Juice Robinson in 11:39.
After the match, Tanahashi seemingly issue a challenge to Fin-Juice for the belts. Fin-Juice seem to accept and they slap hands.
EVIL & Shingo Takagi vs Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii
- Ishii and EVIL start and they maul each other immediately. Quickly Ishii starts throwing bombs. They both hit big moves early, the headbutts, then clotheslines, and they both go down. Shingo vs Goto is something I definitely want more of, they work great together. At ringside, EVIL wraps a chair round the head of Ishii and bats it off. Shingo and Goto brawl to ringside. Shingo beats up Goto and takes him back in the ring. Shingo stands on Goto and tags EVIL. EVIL hits a bronco buster on Gotothen Shingo tags in. Strong suplex from Shingo for a two count. Shingo winds up Goto with slaps and kicks to the face. Goto fires up and hits a close but EVIL tags in. Goto takes care of him and finally tags Ishii. Ishii chops and forearms EVIL in the corner over and over. Shingo lariats Goto and holds him outside as EVIL holds Ishii in a scorpion deathlock. EVIL hits Darkness falls on Ishii but Ishii kicks out. There is a spot where all four men lariat someone and everyone is down. Great spot and fans cheer. In an incredible climax to a fabulous finish, Shingo struggles to get Goto where he wants him, but does, and hits the Last of the Dragons on the Never Openweight Champion and pins him clean. Winners: Shingo Takagi and EVIL in 16:28.
After the match, Shingo gets the microphone and calls out Goto who is laid out still and Shingo says he wants a title shot.
Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Lance Archer & Zack Sabre Jr vs Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI, Robbie Eagles & Will Ospreay
- Surprisingly, Suzuki-gun don’t get a jump start. Will Ospreay and Zack Sabre Jr start the match. This breaks down quickly with Suzuki-gun taking all of the other four to ringside and around the arena. Back in the ring Suzuki and ZSJ double team the arm of Eagles. Suzuki tortured Eagles then back to ringside. All of Suzuki-gun bend Eagles’ arm around the ring post. Robbie Eagles tries to fight against Archer but gets bulldozed by the giant. Archer tags out and all of Suzuki-gun torture Eagles even more. Eagles has taken a lot in this match. Then Suzuki starts hitting Eagles with killer forearms. Suzuki targets the knee of Eagles. Finally Robbie Eagles tags out to YOSHI-HASHI. YOSHI-HASHI runs wild for a few minutes then tags out to Okada. Taichi gives Okada a very high angle Saito suplex which looked horrible. Everyone starts taking out others while people run in the ring, then as it gets really good, Taichi kicks Okada low in front of the ref and hits him with the metal gloves. As Taichi picks up Okada, Moxley’s music plays. Moxley gets in the ring and faces off with Minoru Suzuki. They trade hard shots then Moxley hits a double arm DDT on Suzuki. Moxley grabs his belt and kisses the camera on his way out. Suzuki is laughing as he lays looking at the lights. Winners: Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI, Robbie Eagles and Will Ospreay by DQ in 15:28.
“Switchblade” Jay White & KENTA vs SANADA & Tetsuya Naito
- Naito goes straight after KENTA without taking his suit off. With the help of Gedo at ringside White gets the better of SANADA in the ring, then KENTA jumps Naito when Naito has taken his suit off. Naito beaten up at ringside, KENTA and White get heat on SANADA in the ring. Naito gets to the apron and KENTA immediately attacks him, throws him into the barrier again and stands on his throat. Just gone six and a half minutes of heat on SANADA and Naito tags in. Tetsuya Naito takes it to KENTA. Naito holds KENTA in the corner and spits on him. The finish came when Naito and KENTA fight at ringside. Switchblade and SANADA trade reversals from Skull End to Bladerunner but in the end, SANADA rolls up Jay with the same pin he lost to the night before and beats Jay White. Winners: SANADA and Tetsuya Naito in 13:59.
After the match, Jay and KENTA beat down SANADA and Naito in the ring with chairs as fans boo. It seems we will get Naito vs KENTA and Jay White vs SANADA. Jay and KENTA cur promos after the beat down. Bullet Club celebrate then someone plays SANADA’s music and KENTA calls out for his music, so they play it.
And that was the show. The new direction for NJPW looks to be interesting and I looks forward to covering another year of the product.