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NJPW New Year's Golden Series live results: Okada & Tanahashi vs. LIJ

EVIL also defends the NEVER title against Tomohiro Ishii on today's show.

NJPW's New Year's Golden Series hits Osaka today at the EDION Arena, headlined by a tag preview of next weekend's top two title matches.

IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada and IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi team against their next challengers, Tetsuya Naito and SANADA of Los Ingobernables de Japon. Tanahashi defends against SANADA on Saturday, February 19, while Okada vs. Naito for the World title closes the tour on February 20. 

In the semi-main, EVIL will defend the NEVER Openweight Championship against Tomohiro Ishii in a lumberjack match. 

A pair of singles matches will preview the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag title match set for later this week, as Robbie Eagles faces Taiji Ishimori, while Tiger Mask takes on El Phantasmo.

In a trios match, Toru Yano, Master Wato, and Ryusuke Taguchi will face Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, and TAKA Michinoku. LIJ's Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi, and BUSHI take on Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and DOUKI in another six-man. 

Great-O-Khan faces Togi Makabe in a singles match. Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, and YOH take on Yujiro Takahashi, Dick Togo, and SHO in the main card opener. 

In a pre-show match, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, and Ryohei Oiwa face Yuji Nagata, Tomoaki Honma, and Kosei Fujita. 

Our live coverage begins with the pre-show at 2:30 a.m. Eastern time.

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Ryohei Oiwa, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan defeated Kosei Fujita, Tomoaki Honma, & Yuji Nagata

This was an appealing little tag match.

Nagata and Kojima opened the match with some basic back and forth. Things turned in Kojima’s favour after Fujita tagged into, prompting Oiwa to enter on behalf of his team. The young lions traded strikes with each other, but Oiwa paid special attention to his senior opponents, throwing forearms multiple times as they stood on the apron. Once Honma and Nagata tagged in, Oiwa was punished for his petulance.

Eventually, Kojima and Nagata shared the ring again, and again the pair went back and forth; this continued with the Kojima and Honma pairing. Tenzan tagged in for the first time, coming toe to toe with Honma. Honma gained a slight lead before tagging in Fujita, who scored a near fall after a falcon arrow. After the kick-out, Fujita turned Tenzan into the Boston crab but couldn’t finish the match. Tenzan turned the bout back around with a quick lariat and a Boston crab of his own that forced Fujita to submit. 

YOH, YOSHI-HASHI, & Hirooki Goto (CHAOS) defeated SHO, Dick Togo, and Yujiro Takahashi (House of Torture)

This felt less awful than an average HoT match, so that’s something.

This match started when YOH rushed SHO, inciting a brawl. SHO and YOH were left alone in the ring early on, but SHO escaped by tagging Togo into the match. The CHAOS squad pummeled away at Togo and Yujiro before turning their attention to SHO. Once Togo and YH were left alone, the HoT used distraction to take back the lead.

YH reversed a fisherman buster before a tag to Goto that let CHAOS back into the match. HoT interfered just enough to distract Goto, allowing Yujiro to reset the match with a double lariat. Togo and YOH tagged in, but all of HoT beat down on YOH. SHO tried an attack with his wrench, Yujiro with his cane, and Togo with his wire; YOH stopped them all. A miscommunication from HoT and a well-timed CHAOS rally allowed YOH to win the match with a bridging pin on Togo.

Great-O-Khan defeated Togi Makabe

This match was fine for what it was, nothing blow away, but a strong showing for O-Khan.

Makabe and O-Khan opened the match with a typical sequence that soon spilt to the outside. After slamming Makabe into the barricade, O-Khan was in a strong position. Makabe challenged O-Khan with a lariat that led to an offensive stint of his own. O-Khan interrupted Makabe on the top rope, but slamming him to the mat had little effect. O-Khan locked in a sheep killer and dropped an elbow, but again, Makabe was unphased. Finally, O-Khan secured a face claw that turned into the eliminator; this was enough to finish Makabe. 

BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, and Shingo Takagi (Los Ingobernables de Japon) defeated DOUKI, Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Suzuki-gun)

This was a by the book tag. With nothing really on the line, not much was explored with any interesting singles implications. Regardless, Shingo and Taichi seem to have something to settle.

Shingo and Taichi began by trading strikes. After Shingo won out, BUSHI tagged in, but he couldn’t maintain LIJ’s early lead. Suzuki-gun worked to cement Taichi’s control by attacking LIJ as Taichi held down BUSHI. Kanemaru and DOUKI traded tags to keep Suzuki-gun’s momentum going.

A hot tag to Hiromu led to a brisk sequence where he temporarily took out all of his opponents, but eventually, the numbers got the better of him. After escaping the DOUKI chokie, Hiromu connected with a powerbomb. A tag to Shingo prompted Suzuki-gun to hit the ring, but Shingo withstood the onslaught. A pumping bomber to DOUKI finished the match, leaving Shingo and the rest of his team with a win.

After the match, Shingo and Taichi stared each other down.

Toru Yano, Master Wato, and Ryusuke Taguchi defeated TAKA Michinoku, El Desperado, and Minoru Suzuki (Suzuki-gun)

Yano started the match by rushing Suzuki on the outside. After failing in his attempt to lock Suzuki in a dog cage, Yano returned to the ring. Yano tried to gain advantage by throwing Suzuki into an exposed buckle, but again he failed. Suzuki pulled Yano back to the outside but also failed in throwing Yano in the dog cage. Once things were back in the ring, Suzuki-gun beat down Yano. The beatdown finally ended when Yano reversed a piledriver and landed an atomic drop, allowing Wato to tag in.

Wato gained a quick lead over Desperado. Desperado responded with a spinebuster to turn things back in his favour. After a double tag, Suzuki-gun gained advantage over Taguchi. Michinoku let this lead fade. A double team facebuster allowed Taguchi to pin Michinoku to close the match.

Sometime during the last sequence, Suzuki got Yano in the cage. The ringside young lions had to save Yano. Suzuki then handcuffed Oiwa and Fujita for daring to interfere.

Tiger Mask defeated El Phantasmo

I quite liked this match. It was focused and to the point, while not forgetting its purpose of selling the upcoming junior tag title match.

TM opened the match with leg kicks that sent ELP to the outside. Back inside, a toss took ELP to the mat, allowing TM to keep working on the legs. ELP rolled to the outside again, prompting TM to attempt a tope; ELP stuffed the dive with a kick to the head. ELP landed a tree of woe for a dropkick before attempting to walk the ropes. TM sent ELP crashing into the ropes before meeting him at the top. An arm drag from the top rope left TM in control once again.

ELP landed a crossbody to send TM to the outside. ELP capitalised with a dive that slammed TM into the barricade. A pair of springboard moonsaults left ELP with a near fall. TM managed to rally with a quick kick followed by a tiger driver, but ELP stayed in the match. A tombstone piledriver led into a flying headbutt attempt from TM, which ELP avoided. ELP responded with thunder kiss ‘86, resulting in a near fall of his own.

TM ducked a lariat and transitioned into a crucifix pin. After ELP kicked out, TM turned the pin into a submission. With ELP staring down defeat, Taiji Ishimori hit the ring to beat down TM. The referee called for the disqualification. Robbie Eagles made the save just as Ishimori unmasked TM.

Robbie Eagles defeated Taiji Ishimori

This was a perfect follow-up to the previous match and a fun watch all around. 

This match started fluidly as the last ended. Ishimori used underhanded tactics to gain a quick lead and maintain it in the early going. Ishimori paid special attention to Eagles arm, slamming it into an exposed corner multiple times.

It took a while, but Eagles eventually began to rally, focusing Ishimori’s leg. Eagles tried for the turbo backpack, but couldn’t connect due to his arm. Ishimori took advantage, locking in a submission before slamming Eagles into the ring post and landing a shoulder breaker. Ishimori locked in another submission that forced Eagles into the ropes.

Ishimori paused after a forearm, prompting a strike exchange. The pair then went back and forth, trading reversals before Eagles eventually landed the turbo backpack. Eagles then landed a 450 to legs and locked in the Ron Miller special. ELP tried to break up the hold, but TM made the save; with nowhere to go, Ishimori tapped out.

After the match, Master Wato and Ryusuke Taguchi walked to the ring and began cutting a promo. Then Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Desperado walked to the ring and cut a promo of their own. Eagles then picked up the match, announcing a four-way tag team match for the junior belts. 

Lumberjack Match, NEVER Openweight Championship: EVIL (c) defeated Tomohiro Ishii

This match, unsurprisingly, was far too busy, at least for my liking. Regardless, this was significantly better than their Wrestle Kingdom match, especially in the last act.

The lumberjacks were equal parts CHAOS, equal parts House of Torture. The match opened with EVIL rolling to the HoT side, but CHAOS worked to get him back in the ring. EVIL gained advantage with help from HoT, who removed the turnbuckle pad and beat on Ishii mere moments into the match. This chicanery continued as the match developed.

Ishii eventually fought off all of HoT by himself as CHAOS distracted the referee for some reason. The CHAOS lumberjacks then helped Ishii by pounding on the back of EVIL, before sending him back into the ring. Ishii landed a big shoulder tackle before trying for a superplex, but HoT fought to stop this from happening. Yujiro power bombed Ishii from the top rope before Togo and EVIL hit the magic killer for a near fall. EVIL landed a superplex for another two count.

Ishii landed a superplex of his own for a near fall. Then EVIL threw the referee into Ishii and a spear from SHO sent the referee crashing. After a brawl with all the lumberjacks, EVIL lined up a shot with the NEVER title; Ishii saw it coming, connecting with a lariat that sent the belt flying. Ishii hit a dragon suplex and a sliding lariat for another near fall. EVIL responded with a pair of suplexes of his own.

EVIL and Ishii traded clotheslines before an Ishii enziguri dropped EVIL and an Ishii lariat yielded another near fall. As Ishii looked for a finish, EVIL reversed his brainbuster attempt and transitioned into everything is evil. EVIL then pinned Ishii to retain the belt. 

SANADA & Tetsuya Naito (Los Ingobernables de Japon) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada 

Tanahashi and SANADA opened the match with some chain wrestling. After the pair proved to be on equal footing, Okada and Naito tagged in. Okada and Naito also started their exchange with grappling. Okada gained advantage by focusing the knee, and in retaliation, Naito attacked the knee of Okada. As Naito and SANADA traded tags, they continued the assault on Okada’s knee.

Tanahashi eventually got the hot tag and took control for his team. This lasted until SANADA avoided a sling blade and connected with a rana for a match reset. A neckbreaker to Naito bought Tanahashi enough time to tag back into Okada.

Naito immediately caught Okada, turning his attention back to the knee. In response, Okada landed a dropkick to create some separation, and a DDT to the floor left Okada ahead. Naito answered with a neckbreaker for another match reset. The pair then traded strikes before a rope-assisted DDT left Naito in control once more. Naito tried for Destino, but couldn’t connect; instead, Okada landed a dropkick and both men tagged out.

SANADA and Tanahashi traded dragonscrew leg whips prompting Naito to hit the ring. Naito ate a leg whip of his own before retreating to the outside. On the outside, Okada positioned Naito and SANADA, allowing Tanahashi to leap from the top rope for a high fly flow to the floor. Tanahashi then landed more dragonscrews on SANADA before locking the cloverleaf; Naito tried to make the save, but Okada caught him in the money clip. After a long struggle, SANADA found the bottom rope.

After a quick exchange, SANADA slipped Tanahashi into skull end; Okada made the save. Tanahashi avoided a follow-up moonsault and connected with twist and shout. Naito tagged in and took over the match once more. Okada made the save with a dropkick, but SANADA landed a TKO. Tanahashi landed a pair of sling blades, one on each opponent, for a near fall.

When Tanahashi tried for high fly flow to end the match Naito rolled out of harm’s way. Naito tried for Destino, but couldn’t connect. Okada hit the ring and tried for a rainmaker, but Naito avoided it. Instead, Naito hit Okada with Destino. In quick succession, Naito also hit Tanahashi with Destino to close the match.