Saturday, January 30, 2016

NJPW: New Year Dash 2016 Review

Just 24 hours after their biggest event of the year, Wrestle Kingdom 10, New Japan Pro Wrestling delivered their yearly event, New Year Dash. It features the fall out from WK10 and the first title defense of the trios championships for the Briscoes & Toru Yano.

1) Jushin Liger, Tiger Mask IV, Komatsu, Cheeseburger, & Fujiwara vs. Yuji Nagata, Ryusuke Tagachi, Sho Tanaka, Manabu Nakanishi, & Shiro Koshinaka  

A huge variety of talent here as we've got a number of long time in ring veterans like Nagata & Fujiwara, but you also have some extremely fresh talent like Tanaka, Komatsu, & of course, Cheeseburger. Speaking of Cheeseburger, he was shockingly the highlight of this match as the crowd was on fire for him with the chants throughout the match. It really surprised me. Another highlight of this match for me was the team of Liger & Tiger, I've only seen them team a few times as of now, but they always impress me with their double team manuevers. This was a decent enough multi-man opener with a bunch of random characters who weren't on the main card of WK10 the night before. The team headed by Nagata came out on top much to the shagrin of the crowd who was in love with the ultra babyface unit of Liger, Tiger, & Cheeseburger.

Match rating - **1/4

2) Ricochet & Matt Sydal vs. Jay White & David Finlay Jr
This was so much fun. It only went around seven minutes which allowed them to trim all the fat and just have a nice exhibition. These guys are perfect for that type of match so it ruled. Sydal & Ricochet ran through all their stuff to wow the crowd. White & Finlay did get their moments to shine though and they looked good when they did. Double shooting star presses from Sydal & Ricochet earn them the victory.

Match rating - **3/4

3) Jay Lethal vs. Juice Robinson
Non title action for the ROH World Champion in his second ever NJPW match. He meets a fellow gaijin in the form of Juice Robinson, the former CJ Parker of WWE NXT. Much like the previous tag, this was another short but sweet match. In fact, I enjoyed this more than I did the Lethal/Elgin match from WK10, oddly enough. Looking back, they tried to pack way too much in the time they had whereas here, they did what they did and it was great. Some fun exchanges, cheap heat garnered by Truth Martini resulting in pop worthy moments like Lethal diving onto Juice out of nowhere and Juice getting his hands on Truth later on, and a sick finish with Lethal springing off the second turnbuckle with a Lethal Injection.

Match rating - **3/4

4) Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Tama Tonga, Yujiro Takashi, & Haku vs. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Satoshi Kojima, Hiryoshi Tenzan & KUSHIDA
Anderson & Gallows are pissed about losing the IWGP Tag Titles the night before so they jump the babyfaces before the bell, a team featuring the new champions, Makabe & Honma. Haku is an honorary BC member for the night as he is Tama Tonga's father and he gets his moment as he delivers a piledriver to Makabe during the final few minutes of the match. This didn't last long at all and was straight to the point. The closing sequence was really good and saw Anderson get a pin over the men who took the titles from he & Doc at WK10. Looks like a rematch will be coming soon. Anderson & Gallows run their mouths on the way to the back and grab the headset from Kevin Kelly in the process. Machine Gun is phenomenal on the mic so that was quality stuff.

Match rating - **1/4

5) Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin, & Mascara Dorado vs. Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, & BUSHI
Awesome mix of talent here with American, Japanese, & Mexican wrestlers all involved along with a number of totally different characters. Of course, Naito's squad are the villains and the opposing trio are all beloved in their respective roles despite coming from different backgrounds so this was bound to be a lot of fun. The best part of this had to be the exchanges between Elgin & EVIL. After their past meetings combined with what they did in this match, I've come to the conclusion that they have a special chemistry. They did a tease with Elgin pulling EVIL off Tanahashi which led to a face to face showdown which made the crowd erupt. That led to both men getting the hot tag and going to war. In the end, it'd come to down Dorado & BUSHI who had an awesome lucha exchange before mist being spat in the eyes of Dorado allowed BUSHI to get the win for his team.

Match rating - **3/4

Post match, Los Ignorables all attack the babyfaces and have the gall to unmask Mascara Dorado. The beating & embarassment continue and KUSHIDA HITS THE RING TO MAKE THE SAVE! The junior heavyweight champion sadly meets the same fate after getting mist spat in his eyes as well. BUSHI grabs the mic and vows to take the junior title from KUSHIDA. YES! Looks like we're getting that match in the future and I'm stoked for it! Good way to start some new rivalries here. KUSHIDA/BUSHI and more Elgin/EVIL confrontations is what I'm hoping to get coming out of this.

6) AJ Styles & Kenny Omega vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & YOSHI-HASHI
This match will go down in history as the last match for AJ Styles in NJPW so it's a must watch for that reason alone plus the fact that power changed hands following the contest as Kenny Omega officially joined the heavyweight division and seemingly became the new leader of Bullet Club. With Nakamura heading to WWE soon, this will also likely be the closest we ever get to a Omega/Nakamura singles match and they worked it as such so you got all the fantastic counters, near falls, & false finishes you'd want from those two. Great stuff despite me watching it weeks after it happened, I can only imagine the suspense when watching it live as it happened. Omega pins Nakamura to get the victory.

Match rating - ***1/2

Most of the buzz around this came after the match as mentioned above, as Kenny Omega turned on AJ Styles as did the rest of the Bullet Club after they played opposum like they were there to help AJ. Omega is one of my favorite mic workers of the new age so I really enjoyed his promo after the match as he is entering a new era of his career thus transforming his character even further. Once Bullet Club finished their spill, AJ Styles took multiple bows to the crowd in an emotional moment that served as the perfect farewell. The crowd chanted Styles' name as he left and it was an awesome sight. Off to WWE goes the Phenomenal One!

7) Katsuyori Shibata, Hirooki Goto, Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish vs. Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Rocky Romero, & Trent Beretta
Tons of styles meshed into this match and bah gawd it made for loads of fun. I got one of my dream match confrontations in O'Reilly & Ishii and they gave me just what I wanted as they traded bombs which led to Kyle going for the NIGEL. Shibata & Ishii locked up multiple times which lit the crowd up thanks to their banger the night before at WK10. Seeing Okada work O'Reilly & Fish was cool as well even if it was momentary. This contest was mainly used to elevate Goto as the next challenger to Okada's title and while it did that, we got some really good action along the stretch as well. Solid eight man that sees the team of Meiyu Tag & ReDragon get the win. Goto calls out Okada post match and says he will take the IWGP Heavyweight Title from him.

Match rating - ***1/4

8) The Briscoes & Toru Yano (c) vs. The Young Bucks & Bad Luck Fale - NEVER Open Weight Six Man Tag Titles Match
The first defense of the trios titles has arrived. The Briscoes & The Bucks have locked up numerous times over the years so you knew this would be highly entertaining. This made up for the anti climatic inagurual six man title match that took place at WK10 although they didn't necessarily go all out here despite being in the main event. It's still a hot match worth watching though. They did an awesome spot in the finishing sequence with Matt flipping out of the Doomsday Device and nailing Jay with a superkick. The Bucks are on fire from that point forward which is always class, but Toru Yano stops them from hitting the Meltzer Driver which allows The Brisoces to capitalize and retain the belts. Good way to cap off this show.

Match rating - ***1/4

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