It’s the evening after the night(s) before as the New Year Dash sees New Japan set pieces up for life after WrestleKingdom.
Yuji Nagata submitted Gabriel Kidd in 7:58 (**¾)
Minoru Suzuki & DOUKI pinned Yuya Uemura & Tiger Mask in 10:45 (***)
Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan & Will Ospreay pinned Yota Tsuji, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan in 9:56 (**½)
El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa pinned Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado, Zack Sabre Jr & Taichi in 11:35 (**¾)
Tomohiro Ishii, Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano pinned Jay White, EVIL, Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi in 13:47 (***½)
BUSHI, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi pinned Master Wato, Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, SHO & Rocky Romero in 17:23 (***½)
Coming out of WrestleKingdom, two big news items broke – with Kota Ibushi wanting to unify the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental titles… while Jay White stated that “if they want me,” New Year Dash would be his final night in the company.
We’re at the Tokyo Dome City Hall for this mystery card – and we once again have English commentary from the trio of Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton.
Gabriel Kidd vs. Yuji Nagata
We open with a singles match, with Kidd brushing away Nagata early on.
Nagata stings Kidd with a kick early on, then looked to work the arm as Kidd rolled out and took Nagata down for a wristlock. Kidd turned that into an armbar, then a toe hold, but Nagata countered that by rolling Kidd down into the ropes. A knuckle lock sees Nagata force Kidd down, but Gabe elbows back and goes to the arm once again, before getting taken down with a kitchen sink knee to the gut.
Taking Kidd to the corner, Nagata runs in with a front kick, then went after the arm again, before a dropkick from Kidd got him back in it. A suplex drops Nagata for a two-count, before a half crab from Kidd forced Nagata to drag himself to the ropes for a break.
A butterfly suplex from Kidd’s countered with a back body drop as Nagata came back in with a leaping enziguiri, before an Exploder and a Nagata Lock II crossface forced the submission. Way more even than you’d have expected, with Kidd doing well before a late flurry from Nagata forced the stoppage. **¾
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & DOUKI) vs. Tiger Mask & Yuya Uemura
Uemura wanted to end things by starting against Suzuki… but instead he opens the match against DOUKI.
They start with a tie-up, as DOUKI quickly had to defend a wristlock before coming back with one of his own. DOUKI chains tha twitch a side headlock, but Uemura trips him to the mat and grabbed a side headlock of his own before Uemura was pushed off… and elbowed Suzuki off the apron. Repeatedly. Oh boy.
Suzuki quickly gets his licks in, kicking Uemura in the rope before pulling him with a hanging armbar in the ropes. They head outside, with Uemura going into the barriers, before he’s decked with a clonking elbow. Uemura tries to fire back with elbows of his own, but Suzuki headbutts him to the floor in return!
Back inside, Suzuki toys with Uemura some more, prompting Uemura to try and chop back, but he’s taken into the Suzuki-gun corner ahead of some more elbows. DOUKI’s in with a double stomp for a near-fall, before Suzuki laid waste to Uemura with some open hand strikes and a kick to the back. DOUKI’s back as he tries for a suplex, but ends up eating a dropkick from Uemura. Tiger Mask comes in with a crossbody off the top, before a tiltawhirl backbreaker gets him a two-count. A knee bar’s next as DOUKI needs the ropes to save him as my feed gave out. It’s back as Tiger Mask seemingly went for a Tiger Bomb on Suzuki, before tagging Uemura back in to try his luck with more elbows.
Suzuki just laughs it off before Tiger Mask returned with a rear spin kick. Another forearm from Uemura knocks down Suzuki for a two-count, but Suzuki quickly recovers and traps Uemura in a Boston crab. Tiger Mask breaks it up as Uemura returned with another dropkick, before an inside cradle almost gave us the big upset. Uemura keeps going with roll-ups, before a missed clothesline from Uemura led to a rear naked choke from Suzuki and a Gotch piledriver as Suzuki took home the win. I want to see Uemura vs. Suzuki… hell, give me Suzuki vs. the young lions in singles matches, because that’ll be a real acid test! An enjoyable tag match, even if it doesn’t lead to much. ***
The Empire (Will Ospreay, Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Yota Tsuji
The Empire went 0-3 over both nights of WrestleKingdom, which led to the obvious “Empire Strikes Back” gag…
We’ve a jump start here as the Empire attacked, but it’s Tenzan and O-Khan staying in the ring. Ooh, a battle of Mongolian chops, maybe? O-Khan tries to hit his first, but Tenzan blocks it and headbutts him into the corner before busting out some regular chops. A brainbuster’s next out of Tenzan, which gets him a two-count, but O-Khan’s quickly back with some Mongolian chops.
Tenzan replies in kind, knocking O-Khan down, before he indulged in some choking on the mat. Tenzan looks for an Anaconda Vise, but O-Khan countered out into an armbar, forcing Tenzan into the ropes for a break. O-Khan stays on the arm with more Mongolian chops in the ropes, before he took Tenzan into the corner and had a seat.
Cobb finally tags in as Tenzan was left in the corner. Headbutts and stomps keep Tenzan there for a spell, before Cobb charged him across the ring and into the turnbuckle pad. Ospreay tags in next to keep the momentum going, standing on Tenzan’s throat too as we passed the five-minute mark, but eventually Tenzan gets free and hits a spinning heel kick to take down Ospreay.
Kojima tags in and clears the apron, then went after Ospreay in the corner with Machine Gun chops, but Ospreay cuts him off for the second part, before falling for a DDT. A punch to the gut from Ospreay stops Kojima briefly, before a rolling elbow and a suplex dropped Kojima in the middle of the ring.
Cobb tags back in and maintains control, but loses Kojima on a slam as a Koji Cutter took the big man down. Tsuji tags in to try and build anew, clobbering into Cobb before landing a splash in the corner. A shoulder charge is next, then a big splash off the ropes, before Tsuji slipped out of a Cobb suplex.
From there, Cobb catches a crossbody off the ropes and turned it into an Oklahoma Stampede for a near-fall, with Kojima and Tenzan making the save. Cobb avoids a TenKoji Cutter, as the ring filled up for a Parade of Moves, with Ospreay singling out Tsuji for an elevated OsCutter… and that’s enough for the win. This was largely one-sided, with the Empire getting their heat back from the past 48 hours. **½
Post-match, the Empire continue the beatdown, with O-Khan dropping Tenzan with the Tenzan Tombstone Driver, before they put the boots to Kojima as he tried to protect his tag partner. Ospreay then took the mic and claimed that 2021 is the year that the “United” Empire takes over… while O-Khan I guess said the same, just without a mic.
Tenzan gets stretchered out afterwards, selling that TTD like a mother as commentary put this over as serious as they could, seemingly writing out Tenzan for now. Hey, if the Empire’s going to be laying out everyone, then stretcher jobs really add extra emphasis, and quickly made you forget them losing at the Dome…
Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Bullet Club (El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori & Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
An interesting blend of junior and heavyweight tags, which probably points to the next short-term directions.
We’ve a jump start before the introductions could get going… and it’s bedlam from the off. Taichi chokes away on Tanga Loa… then Ishimori and ELP, then Jado, as he was furious with his missing Iron fingers. Sabre joins in too as Tama Tonga’s choked into the corner, with the rest of the Suzuki-gun lads helping out too.
A cravat and a neck twist has Tama Tonga, as Kanemaru then tagged in to hit a running boot into the corner. Desperado comes in, but gets cracked in the back with a Kendo stick as the Bullet Club took over… and Jado gets in another stick shot to DOUKI on the outside.
Desperado’s choked in the corner by ELP and Ishimori, before Tanga Loa tagged in and headbutted him down to the mat. ELP tags in and hits a frog splash back rake as we begin that part of the match. Ishimori leaps in with a back rake too, before a neck twist to Desperado wound up ZSJ some more.
Sabre tags in and launched himself at Tanga Loa, following up with uppercuts, only to get dropped by Tanga’s right hand. Sabre ducks a clothesline to come in with a guillotine choke, which Tanga tried to break up as he charged Sabre into the corner. Zack clings on as the rest of Suzuki-gun ran in to clear the apron, leading to a hattrick of submissions.
Eventually Tanga Loa powers free, but has his arm caught with an overhead kick before he speared Sabre to the mat. Phantasmo’s back in with Kanemaru, but Kanemaru uses the referee as a human shield, then caught ELP with a low dropkick. There’s another dropkick from Kanemaru as ELP ate a back suplex, then a reverse DDT.
Phantasmo escaped a Deep Impact as we started a Parade of Moves – featuring a spinebuster, a Tongan Twist, and an Axe Bomber, before Kanemaru’s attempt to clock ELP with the whiskey bottle came to nought. They trade roll-ups for near-falls, before ELP raked the eyes… he took an enziguiri seconds later before ELP loaded his boot for a superkick of doom… and that’s enough for the win. It’s corny as hell, but I kinda like the old school “loaded boot” gimmick – it adds another layer of things to get mad at ELP at. **¾
Post-match, Ishimori dropped Desperado with a Mistica as ELP and Ishimori ran off with the junior tag belts… while Kanemaru sold the loaded superkick like it was death.
Bullet Club (Jay White, EVIL, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
Commentary was at pains earlier in the show to tell us that Jay White’s comments yesterday were more based on him “losing his love for wrestling” rather than any contractual issue.
White was heavily taped-up after his match yesterday, and was a little out of sorts as Owens and Yano started us off. Chase rolls outside and threatens to chuck Yano’s trophy away, before tags brought us to Goto and Yujiro… the latter of whom indulged in some biting, that brought in YOSHI-HASHI to make a save.
Eventually a double shoulder tackle from Goto and YOSHI-HASHI took down Owens… then fale as the CHAOS team were pulling ahead. EVIL runs in and gets clobbered like a fool, before Dick Togo, fresh off of elbow dropping a table, got some too. Things settle down as the Bullet Club took over again, but a DDT from Okada took EVIL down for a two-count.
Togo tried to grab Okada’s ankle, but the distraction allows EVIL to clothesline Okada to the outside, where he grabbed some chairs and hit a home run. Back inside, EVIL tries to go for a pin, but referee Red Shoes Unno refuses… which made Jay White scream at him a bit. White tags in amid a slight applause, before Owens returned to elbow Okada in the corner for a two-count.
The Tongan Massage Parlour spot keeps Okada down by the ropes, and earns Fale a two-count, before White came back in with shoulder charges to Okada. Patting Okada on the head, White dives in with a face rake as the Bullet Club cornered Okada… forcing Ishii to come in and clear the decks.
White and Owens pull Okada to the outside as the guard rails come into play once more, before the 5-on-1 assault led to a splash from Fale in the corner, and an EVIL Fisherman suplex that nearly put Okada away. Okada retaliates with a Money Clip, but it’s quickly broken up as Okada instead found more luck with a neckbreaker slam. Ishii tags in to try and force a way through… he swings for Jay White, then went back and forth on a suplex before White was taken down with a scoop slam. White’s peppered with moves as a German suplex nearly put him away, before Gedo distracted Ishii as White looked to be in more trouble.
White lands a DDT to buy him some time, following up with a Blade Buster for a two-count. A Dragon screw followed before Toru Yano pulled White down by the hair… then Owens… before a low bridge took Fale outside. Yujiro keeps the Parade of Moves going, before a superkick-assisted ushigorishi and a sliding lariat almost put White away. EVIL makes the save from that pin, as White quickly recovered to hit a sleeper suplex on Ishii.
Ishii countered out of a Blade Runner… then quickly puts White away with a sheer-drop brainbuster for the win. This was wild and fun, with both teams not quite looking on the same page – Jay White “leaves with a loss”, but there’s a lot more to be told on this story, I feel. ***½
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi) vs. Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Rocky Romero, SHO & Master Wato
After last night’s main event, SANADA challenged Kota Ibushi to a shot at the gold… so this is your natural main event.
SHO and Hiromu start us off, trading right hands, going back-and-forth before ducked clotheslines led to SHO charging down Hiromu. Boots from SHO choke Hiromu into the corner as Rocky tagged in, taking Hiromu into the corner for some Forever clotheslines, which nearly gets him the win – albeit after a springboard uppercut from Wato.
A chop from Rocky starts some more back-and-forth with Hiromu, but Naito just trips Rocky as LIJ hit the ring, taking everyone to the outside. It’s a cramped ringside area, so Rocky and Hiromu return to the ring as the new Junior champion choked away on Rocky, then tagged in BUSHI. A chinlock from BUSHI grounds Rocky, before Shingo came in and made a beeline for Tanahashi, knocking him off the apron before dropping an elbow on Rocky.
Some Danielson elbows leave Rocky down for another two-count, before Naito tagged in and whipped Rocky into the corner for a Combinacion Cabron. Eventually Rocky fired back with some elbows, but Naito just rakes the eyes before BUSHI came in from behind to keep the onslaught going. A double ‘rana from Rocky finally gets him free as he looked to tag out to Ibushi, and of course, SANADA tagged in first. SANADA blocked the tag, but got taken down with a tijeras from Rocky as Ibushi finally came into play, clearing the apron before throwing elbows at SANADA. A leaping mid kick takes SANADA down, as did a kick to the gut, before a standing moonsault landed for a two-count.
Ibushi pushes free of a Paradise Lock, but couldn’t avoid it at the second attempt as SANADA had him in a heap… then dropkicked him free. SANADA floats over Ibushi with a leap out of the corner, but ends up trading Skull Ends with Ibushi before SANADA opted to hit the ropes for a springboard dropkick.
Tanahashi and Shingo tag in next, so I’m sort-of expecting that to be a direction for the NEVER title. They trade elbows before a Dragon screw from Tanahashi left Shingo down. A Slingblade looks to be next, but instead Tanahashi hits a Twist and Shout before he got caught with one in return from Shingo.
A back elbow from Shingo led to the eventual conclusion of his combo as he clotheslines Tanahashi down, before BUSHI tagged in. Master Wato wants in too, but instead BUSHI hits a missile dropkick to Tanahashi before he was caught with a Twist and Shout. Wato finally tags in and kicks away on BUSHI, knocking him down with a back elbow before a gamengiri knocked BUSHI away.
Wato springboards back in with a European uppercut for a two-count, before more kicks left BUSHI laying. Naito runs in to help turn the tables as LIJ flooded the ring once more, leading to a Fisherman’s neckbreaker from BUSHI. The MX looks to be next, but Wato avoids it as Rocky Romero ran in to start a Parade of Moves, with SHO blocking a ‘rana from Hiromu before he ran into a superkick. Wato takes care of Hiromu, before a roundhouse kick took down BUSHI.
From there, Recientemente looked to be next, but BUSHI escaped… then took a back fist. Shingo runs in to make the save as LIJ overwhelm Wato, leading to a back cracker for a near-fall from BUSHI. Another Recientemente attempt is countered by BUSHI, who rolled through for a near-fall, before he hits MX for the win. This was a decent enough main event, as we closed out with Hiromu and SHO, Shingo and Tanahashi seemingly issuing each other challenges. ***½
New Japan is scheduled to return on January 17 at Korakuen Hall for the start of the Road to the New Beginning – but there’s speculation that may change as Japan prepares to issue a State of Emergency declaration.
The expected cool-down from WrestleKingdom brought us back to the “norm” with New Japan, with a few slight tips of the hat in terms of new directions. Jay White’s future wasn’t decided – nor should it have been here – while the Empire’s post-match near-execution of Hiroyoshi Tenzan re-establishes that trio after this week’s losses.