New Japan follows up Wrestle Kingdom 13 by issuing a ton of new angles at Korakuen Hall for New Year Dash!! Factions grow in numbers and several titles have their next challengers. This is a must-see show for anyone planning on following New Japan’s immediate programs as we head into The New Beginning. Let’s get started!
Roppongi 3K & Rocky Romero def. Killer Elite Squad & Takashi Iizuka @ 8:55 via YOH Roll Up on Iizuka – **1/2
K.E.S., embarrassed over last night’s loss, come out swinging. They lay waste to young lions upon their entrance and attack their opponents before the bell. Romero breaks up a Killer Bomb with a springboard dropkick, Archer takes a triple knee from the entire team and upon a bite from Iizuka, YOH rolls him up for the win. K.E.S. continue to struggle, this time losing to a team full of juniors.
Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi def. Tomoaki Honma & Toa Henare @ 9:24 via Owens Package Piledriver on Henare – **
Both Owens and Yujiro clowned on their opponents. Owens had fun mocking the Kokeshi, even hitting one of his own. Henare had a flurry but Owens escaped his pin attempt, fired a Superkick and finished him with a Piledriver. This wasn’t the last time we’d see Owens and Yujiro tonight.
FinJuice def. Best Friends @ 9:03 via Disqualification – ***
With Beretta’s mom being in attendance, he pointed and waved to her before the match. Later on he’d walk the bleachers to give her a hug which upset Chuckie T. There was a great exchange between Juice and Beretta. The two look to be the next U.S. title program. They traded chop for punch, Beretta ducking a punch and delivering a half & half suplex. Juice would fire back with a John Woo dropkick into the corner and follow with a Cannonball. With the match turning to their favor, Finlay would take advantage and drop Beretta with a Urange backbreaker but before he could finish, Chuckie T. would hit him with a chair, causing a disqualification. Juice tried to defend his friend but wound up eating a chair from Chuckie instead. Chuckie would act as if he was done, only to then piledrive Finlay onto a chair. Beretta may be the next program for Juice or maybe Chuckie just added his name to the top of the list.
Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & Will Ospreay def. Yuji Nagata, Jeff Cobb & KUSHIDA @ 14:09 via Ospreay Storm Breaker on KUSHIDA – ****
Reported speculation coupled with the result last night has lead many to wonder if KUSHIDA is out the door. After this match it feels all but certain. Ospreay and KUSHIDA started the match with a series of callbacks to their three year feud. Gone was the strike-heavy Ospreay of yesterday and back was the flippy athleticism which added to the feeling of this being the KUSHIDA send off. Nagata and Ishii had a great back and forth that lasted all match and got even more heated after the bell. They traded strikes which lead to heavy strikes across the face. After the match, Ospreay and KUSHIDA fist bumped with Ospreay inside the ring and KUSHIDA standing outside. The match itself was great. The fire was there from all six guys but as someone who’s deeply invested in the Ospreay/KUSHIDA rivalry, I can’t help but to wonder if this was the end of an era.
NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
Guerrillas of Destiny & Taiji Ishimori (c) def. Togi Makabe, Toru Yano & Ryusuke Taguchi @ 11:34 via Loa Apeshit on Makabe – ***
Last night’s gauntlet winners received their title match, taking on G.O.D. who lost the heavyweight tag titles and Ishimori, the newest junior champion. New leaf, ‘Good Guy’ Tama Tonga, looked to continue his new ways. He admonished his brother for bad behavior and lead by example by not taking shortcuts. What that got him was Yano doing whatever it took, from exposed buckles to hair pulling. Ishimori and Taguchi had smooth transitions in and out of holds. Lookout for that to be a junior title match sometime down the line. The match turned for the challengers when Makabe took to the top for the King Kong Knee Drop and then out of nowhere, Yujiro comes out and shoves him off the ropes. Owens joins in, dropping Makabe with a Piledriver and Loa finishes with Apeshit. Tama embraces Owens and Yujiro with a hug and they all continue the beatdown. Owens and Yujiro are now aligned with the Cutthroat Era.
Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado def. Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA, BUSHI & Shingo Takagi @ 14:46 via Taichi Black Mephisto on Naito – ***1/2
All five members of LIJ get their spotlight to show off their newly won titles. Before the bell can ring, Taichi smashed a chair over Naito’s head. A brawl breaks out and we’re on our way. SANADA tries to goof on Suzuki by applying the Paradise Lock but Suzuki manages to grab a hold of his wrist and transition to an armbreaker. Suzuki ducks SANADA’s dropkick and locks in a Sleeper. Sabre catches EVIL in a Cobra Twist but EVIL is able to reverse the hold into his favor before eventually dropping Sabre with a Fisherman’s Buster suplex. Naito and Taichi make their way in the ring where LIJ help Naito ground Taichi. He takes Taichi up top for a Hurricanrana but Taichi escapes, looks for a Powerbomb but Naito transitions back into a Hurricanrana. Taichi is quick to get up, drills Naito with the Ax Bomber, TAKA distracts the referee and Taichi smashes the IC title over Naito’s head before finishing him with Black Mephisto. Post-match, Taichi takes the title and says Naito doesn’t even care about the title. He claims to be more vicious than Jericho so he wants a title opportunity. Each member of Suzuki-Gun hit their finish on a member of LIJ. The Suzuki-Gun Ichiban call echoes throughout Korakuen.
Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Gedo def. Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi & YOSHI-HASHI @ 15:16 via White Blade Runner on Y-H – ***
YOSHI-HASHI makes his return from injury to the approval of Korakuen. He spends the majority of the match taking a beating from his opponents but debuted a new move which is a Fisherman Buster Driver. Okada and Tanahashi ham it up, both hitting a Dragon Screw Leg Whip and shooting a thumbs up at one another. White was able to isolate Y-H, kick out of his finish and drop him with Blade Runner for the win. Post-match, White calls Tanahashi back to the ring. He calls Tanahashi an old man and that this is his era. Before Tanahashi can respond, Gedo attacks from behind. They beat him down, causing Okada to come for the save, only to instead be dropped with a Grenade by Fale. White then drops Tanahashi with a Blade Runner, poses with the title and says the “Breathe with the Switchblade”.
A flat ending to one of the most popular events on the New Japan calendar. The main event didn’t have the intensity of the LIJ/Suzuki-Gun brawl or the high quality of wrestling seen between Ospreay and KUSHIDA. There was plenty to sink your teeth into overall though. Owens and Yujiro have joined the Cutthroat Era, Taichi is the next IC challenger, both Beretta and Chuckie seem to be in the mix for the U.S. title and this may have been the final encounter between Ospreay and KUSHIDA. White has issued the challenge to Tanahashi which comes as no big surprise but nonetheless makes sense to be the next match. Plenty of good angles moving forward and a successful show all around. From the third match on, every match contains something with immediate angles so they’re all must-see for anyone planning to follow all of the upcoming programs.
Ishii, Goto, Ospreay vs Nagata, Cobb, KUSHIDA
LIJ vs SZKG
Bullet Club vs Tanahashi, Okada, Y-H
FinJuice vs Best Friends