Here is a question I have been asking myself since January 5th. Was NJPW’s New Year Dash event lackluster ? It was kind of my feeling after what I thought was a tremendous Wrestle Kingdom event. Without expecting a show of the same level, I had been quite used to some big moments happening on the day following the Dome event.
Therefore, let’s take a look back at what happened at New Year Dash and see if this is a question worthy of being asked.
The first thing I want to say is that, again, on an undercard some people would see as nothing really interesting, New Japan not only gave us good matches, but some events which spiced things up a bit and caught people’s attention, mine included. We had the continuity of Chuckie T beating his opponents up with chairs, costing wins to his team with Beretta. Where does that lead to ? Is it linked to the “mole” inside of CHAOS that Jay White mentioned a few months ago ? Let’s not forget that it is likely that Juice Robinson’s first defense in his second reign as US champion happens against Beretta, most like in the New Beginning in USA event.
We had a very good three on three match between Yuji Nagata, Jeff Cobb and KUSHIDA, facing Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto and Will Ospreay, the new NEVER Openweight champion. Outside of the pure quality of the match, we witnessed Nagata and Ishii going at it during and after the bell rang. Who knows if that will lead to a match or if there was an actual beef between the two men. I will gladly take a Ishii vs Nagata match, though.
The last “big” thing which happened during the undercard was the NEVER Openweight 6-man championship match between Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa and Taiji Ishimori facing Togi Makabe, Toru Yano and Ryusuke Taguchi (who won the gauntlet match the day before). The champ retains, but we got to see both Yujiro Takahashi and Chase Owens rejoin Bullet Club, as they helped the champions keeping their titles.
One last thing I have to mention because this has been going on for a while as well, Roppongi 3K (with Rocky Romero) grabbed another win against Killer Elite Squad and Takashi Lizuka. Then again, who knows if that’s going to lead to something in the future.
Now it’s time to talk about the more serious matter, as first with the semi-main event, we had yet another Los Ingobernables de Japon vs Suzuki-Gun five on five match. The faction lead by Naito may be full of championships, it didn’t stop their opponents from beating them in the most Suzuki-Gun fashion possible. The biggest fallout of this match is that we will have Tetsuya Naito defending the IWGP Intercontinental championship against Taichi. I personally see this match as a test for Taichi, after giving more than decent performances against Hirooki Goto and Will Ospreay around the NEVER Openweight championship not that long ago.
We also get two tag team matches, as El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru will challenge Shingo Takagi & BUSHI for the Junior Heavyweight tag team championships.
Lastly, and definitely not the least, EVIL & SANADA will face off against Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr, first in singles matches being SANADA vs Suzuki, and EVIL vs ZSJ. I was not a big fan of going back to Suzuki-Gun and LIJ feuding together, but the match-ups are actually more than appealing, so in the end, this is a good point.
Lastly, the main event was CHAOS featuring Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Bullet Club match. Teaming with the new IWGP Heavyweight champion ? Kazuchika Okada and a returning Yoshi-Hashi. The trio would face Jay White, Gedo, and Bad Luck Fale. Let’s get this out of the way : Yoshi’s return didn’t feel special at all. Not only that, but guess who took the pin for the losing team ?
And don’t get me wrong, he got more than a decent showing during the match, but taking the pin on your return match feels odd. I wasn’t even expecting a huge upset like Yoshi pinning Jay White, but what does that mean for Yoshi ? Back to being CHAOS’ Chase Owens and be some sort of filler in the G1 ?
That’s quite disappointing.
Now the other big thing coming out of this match, and the biggest thing coming out of this event is the continuation of the Jay White vs Hiroshi Tanahashi feud. The two men will face off in Osaka for the Heavyweight championship, and this match is incredibly uncertain. On one hand, you kind of expect Tanahashi to retain on his first defense, but on the other hand, Jay White has been sneaking up wins left and right and kept growing and becoming better. If anyone could pull off the upset, that’s the main who pinned Kazuchika Okada in the Tokyo Dome. Let’s not forget that, last year at New Beginning (In Sapporo, that time), the Switchblade pulled of what was, at the time, nearly unthinkable, as he defeated Kenny Omega to claim the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship.
With all of that in mind… Was New Year Dash really lackluster ? I will say no because some of the top matches for the New Beginning tour are something I personally look out for a lot, but the event itself had this big moment feel I missed compared to previous years. The show still gave what I objectively think is enough, I know I wouldn’t have minded if we got a little bit more.
Now tell me, what did you think of this year’s New Year Dash ? Are you looking out to the New Beginning events ?