The start of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s direction for 2019 begins this morning at Korakuen Hall.
New Year Dash will feature a number of matches, usually multi-man tag team bouts featuring stars who completed the previous night at the Tokyo Dome. There usually isn’t anything noteworthy about the matches themselves. But in recent years, big angles have taken place on the show that pave the way for the rest of the year.
Some big angles that have gone down in the last couple of years include Jay White rejecting Kenny Omega’s offer to join the Bullet Club (later siding with CHAOS, then restructuring the Bullet Club under his command) and the return of Suzuki-gun after an extended leave of absence.
Most matches won’t be announced until the show begins. However, a NEVER Six Man tag team title match has been confirmed for the show. Former tag team champions The Guerrillas of Destiny and new Jr. heavyweight champion Taiji Ishimori will defend their titles against the makeshift team that won yesterday’s pre-show gauntlet: Togi Makabe, Toru Yano and Ryusuke Taguchi.
The action begins at 4:30 a.m. ET. There will be English commentary.
The main event will feature the return of YOSHI-HASHI, who was been out most of the fall following a concussion after a bad fall. He will team with Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi against Jay White, Bad Luck Fale and Gedo.
None of the Elite stable are on tonight’s card.
Roppongi 3K and Rocky Romero defeated KES and Takashi Iizuka
Stunningly, Suzuki-gun quickly take it to the outside, resulting in a brawl. Archer chokeslammed Romero onto the apron. Iizuka came in and bit everyone. Heels controlled a lot of this one, with DBS even scoring a nearfall after a powerslam off the middle rope.
Rocky turned the tides with a suicide dive to the outside, taking out Archer. Iizuka went in and started to bite everyone, but he went to the well once too often as YOH grabbed him and rolled him up for the surprise win.
DBS was not happy after the match, destroying a young lion with a powerslam on the floor. Archer took out some as well.
Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi defeated Tomoaki Honma and Toa Henare
Before the match, Chase Owens indicated and he and Yujiro were done with Hangman Page and I guess the rest of the Elite. They’re still wearing Bullet Club gear despite being away from that group for months so who knows about these two.
Owens and Yujiro were in control for a bulk of the match. Even Pieter got involved. Honma got back and made the hot tag. He’s been protected in a lot of these tag matches but you can tell his best days are over just by seeing the way he moves in the ring.
Honma hit a kokeshi as Henare and Chase were tagged in. Owens put Henare in an ankle lock but Honma broke it up. Yujiro helped take Honma out as Henare went for a backslide. Owens countered with a superkick then pinned Henare with the package piledriver. Pretty decent.
Juice Robinson and David Finlay defeated Best Friends by DQ
Baretta gave a shout out to his mom, who was in the crowd, before the match. At one point during the match, he exited the ring and gave his mom a hug, which Chuckie T didn’t like.
Baretta gave Finlay a double foot stomp as he was draped on a guardrail. They continued to work on him, including a cool looking northern lights suplex when Finlay was on the top rope. The champion and future challenger went at it, exchanging chops.
Robinson countered the dudebuster then blocked a high knee with a punch. Finlay tagged in and was getting the better of Beretta when Chucky T ran in again with a chair for the DQ.
Chucky grabbed more chair and he was laying waste to Finlay. Robinson took away a chair, and as he and Beretta were arguing Chucky threw a chair at Robinson, taking him out. Beretta tried to get Chucky to the back, but then he fled back and gave Finlay a piledriver on a chair.
Will Ospreay, Tomohiro Ishii and Hirooki Goto defeated Yuji Nagata, Jeff Cobb and KUSHIDA
KUSHIDA and Will Ospreay started things off. Ospreay tagged in Ishii, who didn’t sell KUSHIDA’s offense. KUSHIDA was worked over until he springboarded onto Ishii and Ospreay and tagged in Nagata.
Nagata and Ishii went at it, pummeling each other with punches and kicks. Cobb and Goto followed, KUSHIDA and Ospreay had a great sprint, with Cobb coming in and giving a great assist with a wheelbarrow into a moonsault by KUSHIDA for a near fall.
KUSHIDA tried for the back to the future but Ospreay cut him off and with Ishii hit a standing corkscrew moonsault, then soon followed with the stormbreaker for the win. Judging by taking the fall here I guess you can bring up questions about KUSHIDA’s future, as rumors have been swirling. This was a really good match, by the way, better than it had any right to be.
Ishii and Nagata had to be seperated after the match. Cobb and Goto also exchanged words, so those are future programs.
Guerrillas of Destiny and Taiji Ishimori defeated Togi Makabe, Toru Yano and Ryusuke Taguchi to retain the NEVER six-man tag team titles
One of the stories of the match was that Tama Tonga has turned over a new leaf, and is now going by The Good Guy Tama Tonga, so he was apprehensive in doing anything heelish. Taguchi and Ishimori went it, with Jado doing his spot with the kendo stick on Taguchi.
Makabe went for a pinfall after hitting Loa with a lariat, but Ishimori pulled the referee out of the ring. Jado came in, but was taken out by Yano. Makabe was going for the King Kong knee drop, but Owens and Yujiro came in to interfere, with Owens laying out Makabe with the package piledriver. Loa then hit his finish on Makabe for the win.
Owens, Yujiro and the rest of the Bullet Club reunited after the match, so there’s your answer on them.
Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Taichi defeated Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA, Shingo Takagi and BUSHI
Taichi started by match by hitting Naito square in the head with a chair. Cool. Suzuki and SANADA brawled into the hallway as Taichi choked Naito with a chair on the floor. Sabre and Suzuki worked as a team, doing a double leg scissors on BUSHI.
After spending a lot of the match brawling around the ring, SANADA and Suzuki wrestled in the ring. Sabre and EVIL followed, then Taichi and Naito again. Taichi distracted the referee as Taka introduced the IC title into the ring. Taichi grabbed it, hit Naito with it and hit the black mephisto (air raid clash) for the win.
So yes, Tachi is probably next in line for an IC title shot. First reaction to that is repulsion. Second reaction is morbid curiosity.
Desperado and Kanemaru laid out Shingo and BUSHI, while EVIL and SANADA were taken out by Sabre and Suzuki. So those two are your future programs.
Taichi grabs a microphone and mentions how easily it was to beat Naito tonight. He said to hand the belt to him and he’ll control it. Suzuki then said Suzuki-gun is ichiban.
Jay White, Bad Luck Fale and Gedo defeated Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi and YOSHI-HASHI
YOSHI-HASHI was tagged in soon after the bell and went after White, but it soon went to the outside with everyone trading blows. Gedo ended up hitting YH with chairs on the insider then posted him before sending him back in the ring.
Heels worked over YH until he made a hot tag to Okada, who immediately took care of Gedo. Tanahashi and Jay White went at it soon after. White issued a challenge to Tanahashi after last night’s main event, so that is likely the big match next month.
It went back to YOSHI-HASHI and Jay White. YH built offense, but White cut him off and went for the blade runner when Okada ran in. Tanahashi laid out White as YH hit a lariat and hit a new move, a brainbuster into a death valley driver for a nearfall.
YH went for karma but White grabbed the ref. YH responded with a superkick but couldn’t hit karma, with White drilling him with a suplex then pinning him with the blade runner for the win.
White says he’s better than Tanahashi and this his his era and the belt he has is his. He called him an old man as he walked back to the ring. Like a dope, Tanahashi walked into the ring with Fale right there and ended up getting jumped by Gedo. Okada ran in for the save, but Fale took him out with the grenade, so we’re seeing that again soon in what feels like an annual tradition.
White held up the IWGP title and emphasized this was his new era as the show closed.
A good, fast paced show. Unless you want to paint Owens and Yujiro rejoining the Bullet Club as a big angle, there wasn’t one this year. The big story of this show is Jay White and the Bullet Club -- they’re going all the way with White as the top guy, which...I’m not too sure of. But that’s their goal for this year.
Really interesting there were no members of the Elite present; the biggest story here is probably about who wasn’t here more than anything else.