NJPW New Year Dash 2018 (1/5/2018)- Tokyo, Japan
SATSOHI KOJIMA, HIROYOSHI TENZAN, YUJI NAGATA, & MANABU NAKANISHI vs. REN NARITA, SHOTA UMINO, TOMOYUKI OKA, & TETSUHIRO YAGI- 4/10
The Young Lions jump the veterans. I’m sure they’ll be made to pay for this during training. We’ve seen this basic match a million times. I confused Nakanishi for one of the Young Lions several times. His gimmick should be “Old Lion” Manabu Nakanishi.
JUSHIN “THUNDER” LIGER, TOGI MAKABE, TIGER MASK IV, HIRAI KAWATO, & HENARE vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Takashi Iizuka, El Desperado, TAKA Michinoku, & Taichi)- 5/10
Suzuki-Gun jump their opponents before the bell. They dominated most of the match, including obliterating Kawato for the finish. Then, just to be a dick, Iizuka hit him with the Iron Fingers after the match, which got some really good heat.
KATSUYA KITAMURA SEVEN MATCH TRIAL SERIES MATCH #1: Katsuya Kitamura vs. Jay White- 5.5/10
After losing to Tanahashi, White is right back down to the undercard, and wrestling another Young Lion. At least the crowd was into him. White worked the knee a bit, Kitamura used his power. It was fine for the time it got, but nt really the way White should be showcased if they want to make him a star (which they should because he’s an excellent wrestler).
BULLET CLUB (Kenny Omega & the Young Bucks) vs. CHEESEBURGER & ROPPONGI 3K (w/Rocky Romero)- 6.25/10
Omega’s ribs are heavily taped up after last night’s war with Jericho. Dark-haired Jackson’s back and shoulder have some tape on them. When light-haired Jackson seemed to tweak his knee early on, his partners refused to tag in. The story here was that Omega and the Bucks were in a weakened state. There was a lot of comedy here, but not in the offensively stupid way we’d get in other promotions because these guys actually take this promotion seriously.
KOTA IBUSHI, KUSHIDA, RYUSUKE TAGUCHI, JUICE ROBINSON, & DAVID FINLAY JR. vs. BULLET CLUB (Leo Tonga, Chase Owens, Marty Scurll, Yujiro Takahashi, & Cody Rhodes) (w/Brandi Rhodes)- 6.75/10
Chase Owens did a bunch of butt stuff with the babyfaces, but it’s okay because he’s probably had practice doing butt stuff with Gedo before the show. It’s just about the only explanation for his continued bookings in one the best in-ring products in the world despite him being the pro wrestling embodiment of the baseline average of the “replacement player” in the sabermetric statistic of Value Over Replacement Player. Bullet Club then worked over Taguchi’s butt. I sense a theme here.
Taguchi made the hot tag to KUSHIDA and then things started to get pretty good. Marty Scurll insisted that his entire team do the Erick Stevens “choo-choo!” running forearm in the corner, so that made me happy. Cody eventually made Finlay tap.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Still angry after last night’s loss, Cody attacked Ibushi after the match. Juice tried to make the save but Cody reversed Pulp Friction into the Cross Rhodes. KUSHIDA was the next guy to try to make the save but he got intercepted by a big boot from Leo Tonga. Leo and Chase restrained Ibushi while Cody grabbed a chair with which he was going to bash Kota’s head in… when Kenny Omega came out to stop him from killing his former tag team partner.
They argued, while other Bullet Club members tried to make peace between. It didn’t really work. They had a shoving match until Cody eventually stormed off. The rest of Bullet Club then headed to the back, aside from Kenny, who grabbed a mic.
He cut a promo calling for “unity” and for Bullet Club to “be a team again,” saying he was “tired of the infighting.” What infighting? I don’t remember seeing anything even resembling infighting happen since those two days in the G1 when it was Kenny and Tama Tonga who were angry at each other and also everyone else being angry at Chase Owens for some reason.
Kenny said that in order to be a team again they needed Jay White. Huh?
Jay White came out and Kenny told him that he reminded him of himself from 2015 and offered him a place in Bullet Club. White seemingly accepted, but then, after Kenny hugged him, White turned his 2 Sweet into his own “switchblade” throat-slashing gesture and hit Kenny with his Swinging Reverse STO.
This was… odd. It was two very well-executed segments that really don’t make much sense in the way they were strung together. Why did Kenny save Kota? Sure, they were former tag team partners, but the past few years have made it feel like there was no great love for each other, either. Particularly, Kenny doing Kota’s finisher in his G1 Finals victory and having it be kicked out of (along with the finishers of the other former leaders of Bullet Club) before getting the pin with his own One-Winged Angel seemed to say that Kenny had moved on.
Now, if Kenny was going to try to use their past alliance to recruit Kota into Bullet Club this would have made sense, but how the hell does Kenny trying to recruit Jay White have anything to do with him saving Kota? And how would adding Jay White to the group have any bearing on the level of in-fighting within Bullet Club. Everyone performed their roles very well here, but the puzzle pieces just didn’t fit together.
NEVER OPENWEIGHT SIX-MAN TAG TITLE MATCH: CHAOS (Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, & Trent Beretta)(c) vs. Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & the Guerrillas of Destiny)- 8/10
This definitely exceeded expectations. Yano of all people was the babyface in peril. I kept popping every time he kicked out of a pin, but that was just because I wanted to see him get his ass kicked more. Trent Beretta and Tama Tonga were really great together. This match was awesome. Bullet Club won the belts back after losing them just last night, which would be bad on its own, but seems even worse after Kenny just cut a promo saying that Bullet Club isn’t unified and they need a change. Or maybe the idea, is that Kenny is totally wrong about Bullet Club, but that makes him seem like he’s more the heel in their eventual split, and it still doesn’t answer why you wouldn’t just have them retain the belts last night instead of losing them and then winning them back.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI, MICHAEL ELGIN, & WAR MACHINE vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, the Killer Elite Squad, & Zack Sabre Jr.) (w/Suzuki-Gun)- 7/10
Suzuki-Gun jumped the bell on their opponents. They had an action-packed multi-man tag. Suzuki destroyed Tanahashi’s leg on the outside during the match, then continued to do so after the match, including with a chair. He then posed with Tanahashi’s title and cut a promo in which I presume he challenged him to a title match.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, & Gedo)- 7.75/10
The match was what you would expect it to be in terms of action. The big news coming out of it was that Naito did none of his usual LIJ shtick and was now taking things seriously after his loss last night in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom. It worked out well for him because he wound up getting the pin on YOSHI-HASHI with Destino.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- good
LIJ beat up CHAOS. Hiromu got to lay out Ospreay, EVIL got to lay out Goto, and the big surprise was that Naito let Sanada lay out Okada rather than doing it himself. Despite there being (at least) SIX other members of CHAOS in the building, no one came out to make the save. Naito then cut a promo that the crowd reacted to as if he was the top babyface and not the theoretical top heel whose faction had just assaulted the top babyface and his friends after a match. Then the rest of LIJ left and Chris Jericho came out from the crowd to brawl with Naito, so I guess he’ll be around for at least one more match.
This was a pretty standard New Year Dash show from New Japan. We got some big angles and set up some challengers, but there was nothing really blow-away. You’ll enjoy it if you watch it, but you don’t really need to go out of your way to see it.
NJPW, PROGRESS, RevPro, CMLL, etc
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