Reviews

NJPW New Year Dash 2016

Air Date: 5/1/16

New Year Dash is always an interesting show as it sets up the big matches for the upcoming New Beginning tour and sort of acts as a “RAW after Wrestlemania”, however it’s even more interesting this year with rumours of AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, and Shinsuke Nakamura giving notice to leave NJPW everyone will be watching to see how NJPW’s booking reacts.

Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi, Shiro Koshinaka, Sho Tanaka, and Yuji Nagata vs. Cheeseburger, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask (IV), Yohei Komatsu, and Yoshiaki Fujiwara

It’s amazing to see how over Cheeseburger is, I remember thinking he was never going to be anything when I first saw him but the guy has proven me wrong and I couldn’t be happier. This was my first time actually watching the Young Lions as I generally skip their matches but god damn they are good for only having been wrestling for a few years, Sho Tanaka got more chance to shine in this match and looked better but Komatsu was no slouch either. This was just a fun opener with the bulk of which being the older guys beating the shit out of Cheeseburger. Taguchi pins Yohei Komatsu ** ¾

Ricochet and Matt Sydal vs. David Finlay and Jay White

More Young Lion action as we get the gaijin taking on Ricochet and Sydal. Of the two Jay White is clearly the better wrestler but Finlay has a hell of a lot of potential. Ricochet was really the star of this match for me, he is so quick and agile and still completely fluid, not to mention incredibly charismatic in the ring. This was a really fun tag match that made the Young Lions look great. Ricochet and Sydal win with Stereo Shooting Star Presses ***

Juice Robinson vs. Jay Lethal (w/Truth Martini)

It’s interesting that Juice, the former CJ Parker, is the only Young Lion to have a singles match on this show. That’s most likely because of Truth Martini who first trained Juice, much to the surprise of Yoshitatsu. Another solid match, Juice got a lot of offence in this which is a little surprising and he’s pretty good. I am interested to watch his development in Japan. Lethal was his usual great self, although it doesn’t look like the Japanese crowd are getting into him which could be worrying going into the RoH Japan shows in February. Jay Lethal pins Juice with the Lethal Injection ** ½

The Bullet Club (Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Yujiro Takahashi, Tama Tonga, and King Haku) (w/ Amber Gallows) vs. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, KUSHIDA, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, and Satoshi Kojima

It’s 2016 and I am about to review a Haku match, what a time to be alive! Matt Striker was back to his old creepy ways when he saw Amber which I could really do without, especially since she’s supposed to be a heel. This was a really fun match, there was a lot of intensity by everyone involved and things never seemed to slow down. Even Yujiro wasn’t awful here. Haku looked great and like he could still wrestle regularly. Interesting that Anderson pinned Honma given the rumours of him and Gallows leaving NJPW, if I were to guess they are going to work the New Beginning shows at least. Karl Anderson pins Honma with Magic Killer *** ¼

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Mascara Dorada, and Michael Elgin vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, and BUSHI)

The theme for this show seems to be fun matches with guys that are typically hidden in undercard multiman matches that I always skip. BUSHI and Mascara Dorado had a couple of sequences in here that were just pleasures to watch. Dorado may be one of the most misused talents of NJPW this year as he spent almost all of his year in pointless six man tag matches when he could’ve been a great junior heavyweight for the company. Elgin and Tanahashi were on great form for this, as was Naito. EVIL was probably the weakest person in this match but he was never in the match long enough to really hurt the match. The mist is one of my favourite things in wrestling so I love that BUSHI is using it regularly. BUSHI pins Dorada with a codebreaker after the mist *** ¼

Post-match Los Ingobernables de Japon attack the faces and unmask Dorada. KUSHIDA comes out to make the save and gets hit with the mist for his troubles. BUSHI/KUSHIDA is fine first defence for KUSHIDA, not a huge match but something that could be good.

The Bullet Club (AJ Styles and Kenny Omega) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and YOSHI-HASHI

Another really solid match. We got a lot of interactions between AJ Styles and Nakamura which I was a little surprised by since they just had their match the night before. Obviously the biggest talking point of this match was the post-match angle. Kenny Omega pins Nakamura with the One Winged Angel ***

Post-match Bullet Club kick AJ out of the group, Omega declares his intention to become a heavyweight and himself the new leader of Bullet Club. This obviously all but confirms that AJ is on his way out of NJPW and heading to WWE, with rumours of debuting as soon as the Royal Rumble. There’s a lot to unpack here, Kenny Omega going to heavyweight has always been what most people wanted and it opens up a lot of possibilities. After the Nakamura feud, which I imagine Omega is winning, the obvious way to go is have him feud with Ibushi given their past. Hell, if you can’t have Ibushi complete his arch of moving to heavyweight by beating Nakamura why not have him beat his former partner for Nak’s title? I am not as sure about Omega becoming the leader of the Biz Cliz, he has a tendency to veer towards the more comedy side of the spectrum which might not work at the top of the card. Even in his promo on this show he was more comedy than serious. What we do know is that AJ Styles has had an incredible run in NJPW and proven himself as one of the best wrestlers in the world.

Hirooki Goto, Katsuyori Shibata, and ReDRagon vs. Roppongi Vice, Tomohiro Ishii, and Kazuchika Okada

We got a lot of Ishii/Shibata stuff in this match which is great since the more I think about it the more I realise how great their Wrestle Kingdom match was. This might’ve also been the first Goto match that I really enjoyed, I was confused why Goto beat Naito at Wrestle Kingdom but it now makes complete sense with him going after Okada’s title. I have no idea how that match will go since I didn’t really like their G1 match and Goto in general just does nothing for me. Goto makes Beretta tap *** ¼

Toru Yano, Jay and Mark Briscoe© vs The Bullet Club (The Young Bucks and Bad Luck Fale) (NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Championship)

This is the perfect use of the six man titles, have random teams go after the titles to give reason to all of the multiman tag matches we see on undercards or headline some of the smaller shows. This was basically a Briscoes/Young Bucks match and was pretty decent. Mark Briscoe pins Matt Jackson with the Froggy Bow ***

The Briscoes and Yano cut a comedy promo post-match.

Overall: 6.5

This was a really good show overall. Nothing was great but everything was at least good and fun to watch. The show flew by and is well worth the watch, even without the newsworthy stuff with the Bullet Club. Even Yoshitatsu wasn’t as bad as he was at Wrestle Kingdom.

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