New Year Dash, Korakuen Hall, January 5th:
David Finlay, Ricochet & Kyle O’Reilly defeated Henare, Tiger Mask IV & Jushin Thunder Liger
This was a very good action packed opener. Finlay & Ricochet looked good as a team. There was a cool moment where Henare refused to break a Boston Crab despite Ricochet kicking him in the face. The finish saw Finlay hit the Finlay Roll followed by a shooting star press from Ricochet. It’s possible that they may be next in line to challenge for the Jr tag titles. There was a cool moment after the match where Finlay ran into the crowd to hug his mother, who was there with his Dad, Fit Finlay.
Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi defeated Yoshitatsu & Billy Gunn
Gunn looked like a beast here. Tatsu seems to be dropping the Triple H routine, but again, he left a lot to be desired. Yujiro looked awful, especially against Gunn. Page looked really good again and has a tremendous upside. He could be in for big things in 2017. He got the pin here on Tatsu after the Right of Passage, so NJPW definitely seem to be high on him.
YOSHI-HASHI, Rocky Romero & Beretta defeated Adam Cole & The Young Bucks
This match was extremely entertaining. There were lots of big dives and so many superkicks. Cole & The Bucks did all the mockery and antics you’d expect from them, such as The Bucks kissing Beretta on the cheeks as Cole held him in a camel clutch. The finish saw Cole set up YOSHI for his finish, only for YOSHI to counter into a small package and score a big win over the ROH champion. So it looks like YOSHI will be in line for a title shot. After the match Cole & The Bucks attacked YOSHI and dropped him with Fatality.
Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Cheeseburger, Hiro Saito & Scott Norton defeated Bone Soldier, Kenny Omega, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Bad Luck Fale
Well if you ever wished to see the team of Scott Norton & Cheeseburger, today was your day. This was completely whacky. Cheeseburger was flung around the ring by just about everyone, including Norton who used him as a weapon to throw out of the ring onto Bullet Club. Cheeseburger was way over with the crowd and played the James Ellsworth role better than Ellsworth. We saw Burger attempt some Kojima chops on Fale only to be swatted away. The finish saw Kojima hit the Lariat on Soldier to get the win. Bullet Club could have done with the win, but what does it matter in a ludicrous match like this.
Michael Elgin & KUSHIDA defeated Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi
This was great stuff and very newsworthy. Naito hit Elgin with the same kick that broke his orbital bone, this led to the LIJ team working over Elgin with the target being his eye. KUSHIDA was on the receiving end of the hot tag. He went after the arm of Hiromu. From here we saw great exchanges between all four guys until the ref was knocked down. Naito hit both with low blows. Then all of a sudden Dragon Lee hit the ring, nailed Naito and took out Hiromu with a huge dive. This allowed Elgin to pin Naito after hitting a Burning Hammer. Lee then lifted the IWGP Jr title belt. So it looks like The classic Lee vs Hiromu will be continuing in NJPW, which will likely work into the NJPW/CMLL Fantasticamania tour later in the month. This match is well worth checking out and the thought of Lee being involved in the Jr division is very exciting.
Juice Robinson, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Yuji Nagata & Katsuyori Shibata defeated Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay
This was a really heated match. It started off with Ospreay challenging Shibata, with Ospreay looking like he wanted to take the Rev Pro title from Shibata. This was a hell of an exchange and a match that could be huge when it happens. There was a huge brawl through the crowd. We saw Honma & Makabe battle with Ishii & Yano. Makabe & Ishii beat the hell out of each other with Ishii bleeding from the nose. There was a lot of action leading to the finish. A pissed off Shibata nailed Goto with a PK before he was taken out with a crazy suicide dive from Ospreay. This allowed Robinson, who had taken it to Goto minutes ago, to pick up Goto and pin him after an Unprettier. This was a major upset and the biggest win in the NJPW career of Robinson. He will be the next challenger for Goto’s NEVER title. Robinson has gone from ring boy to title challenger in a year, which is quite remarkable.
After this we got the big angle of the show as Suzuki-Gun (Davey Boy Smith Jr, Lance Archer, Taichi, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Takashi Iizuka & TAKA Michinoku) made their return to NJPW after spending the last two years in Pro Wrestling NOAH. They took out everyone, focusing their attack on CHAOS. Okada mounted a comeback, which brought out the leader, Minoru Suzuki, who dropped Okada with a Piledriver and said that Suzuki-Gun were there to take over and challenged Okada for the IWGP title. It looks like straight away we will be getting Suzuki vs Okada, KES vs Ishii/Yano and possibly RPG Vice defending against Taichi & Kanemaru. This return presents so many fresh matches for NJPW over the next year and adds more depth to an already loaded roster.
NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship
Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi defeated BUSHI, SANADA & EVIL
This was utterly bizarre. What was the point of giving LIJ the titles for 24 hours. This only devalued three meaningless belts even further. The match was fine for what it was. Tanahashi sold his knee injury and had it further injured by EVIL. The match dragged badly when Nakanishi was in the ring. The finish saw Nakanishi pin BUSHI after hitting the Hercules Cutter.
This was an extremely lively show with a lot of newsworthy moments. The show is actually available for free right now at NJPWWorld.com.