After such a big show yesterday at the Tokyo Dome, New Japan goes to the more intimate environment of Korakuen Hall for New Year Dash, the promotion’s RAW after Wrestlemania. We aren’t looking for a match of the year, but some stories are set to be told. I’m no Korakuen expert, but the venue looks extra packed since there is no projector on the wall. I could be wrong though. I’ve heard how much of a hot ticket this show is, which only makes sense since you can only put so many of those 30 something thousand from the Tokyo Dome into this small building.
Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr. (Great Bash Heel) & Takashi Iizuka vs. Rocky Romero, SHO & YOH (RPG3K)
The first fight of the evening was RPG3K versus Suzuki-gun members. Right off the bat, the heels took RPG3K to outside the ring. Rocky started off against Archer in the ring. He got him outside the ring but when going for a dive was caught and thrown down. When Archer tagged in Iizuka he took off his mask, which made him go around and bit everyone. Of course, the ref had no real authority over this. Later on, Rocky was getting pummeled by Smith Jr., until he made a hot tag after doing the BUSHI kick. Both SHO and YOH came in to fight Smith Jr. The three members of Suzuki-gun got rid of SHO and then singled out YOH. YOH was Powerslammed off the second rope, but SHO broke it up. YOH escaped a Killer Bomb with the help of SHO once again. Smith Jr. was given triple stereo knees and then reversed a move into a Double Belly-to-Belly Suplex. Iizuka was tagged in once again, biting everyone. While trying to bite SHO he reversed it into a roll-up to win the match. They ran to the back to avoid possible death from their opponents. Smith Jr. beat up a ringside member, Powerslamming him onto the floor. The commentary team told us about how in their first meeting they also won via fluke, so this is a good way to continue the trend.
Yujiro Takahashi w/ Pieter & Chase Owens vs. Toa Henare & Tomoaki Honma
It was a surprise to me that we were getting a two on two match here. Although I guess it is three guys who are pretty fresh since they weren’t fighting last night. Early on Honma tried for a Kokeshi but Owens rolled out of the ring. When Henare and Takahashi were in, Henare was the most dominant wrestler. Honma got the hot tag late in the bout against Takahashi. He tried for a Kokeshi after a combo, but Yujiro dodged it. Takahashi hit a Fisherman Buster for a close count. On the second attempt, he finally landed the Kokeshi. Owens and Henare were tagged in next. Henare hit a Shoulder Tackle and then lifted Owens for a Samoan Drop, not before hitting Yujiro with him. Owens gave Small Package Piledriver for the win after giving him a mini-Superkick, countering a roll-up. Not a bad match, with some really good wrestling from Owens at the end.
Chuckie T & Berreta (Best Friends) vs. David Finlay & Juice Robinson (FinJuice)
This match was Juice’s first match after winning the US Heavyweight Championship. He seemed eccentric in his entrance. Early on in the match Berreta went into the stands and hugged his mother. Heading back to the ring the self-proclaimed “Best Friends” had some pushing and shoving before Berreta got back in the ring. Both members of FinJuice did a Crossbody to the outside. Finlay got hung on the guardrail at ringside, letting Berreta do a double stomp off the apron. When it was Juice and Berreta in the ring, Juice escaped a Dude-Buster but got hit with a kick to the head. He couldn’t connect with the Pulp Friction and got hit with a Shotgun Knee for all his troubles. Finlay got the tag against Berreta. Finlay hit a backbreaker for a close count. Chuckie T came in with a chair against Finlay to throw away the match. The storyline that Kevin Kelly was pushing was that Chuckie T has lost his mind. Juice came in to attack Chuckie T. Once Juice got hit with a chair as well, Berreta was shouting at Chuck, trying to figure out what happened. As they were leaving Chuck went back in and did a Piledriver to Finlay on a chair.
KUSHIDA, Jeff Cobb & Yuji Nagata vs. Will Ospreay, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii
This next match is Ospreay’s first one after becoming the new NEVER Openweight Champion. There was a good spot late in this match where Nagata and Ishii were trading blows. Those two battled it out in the ring where everyone else stayed at ringside. When Cobb got tagged in he had a great combo of moves with Goto. They both clotheslined each other to set up for another hot tag. KUSHIDA and Ospreay came in next. KUSHIDA landed a dropkick after some counters and took out both of Ospreay’s teammates. Will hit a Springboard Forearm. He tried for the Os-Cutter, but Cobb came in to catch him and take him down. KUSHIDA got suplexed onto Will by Cobb for a two count. That spot was very cool. After numerous reversals, KUSHIDA gave Ospreay a DDT. A Back To The Future was reversed by Ospreay, and he did a flippy move off of Ishii’s back. Ospreay gave KUSHIDA a Storm Breaker to end the match. This match was some real fun. Just wild stuff being done by KUSHIDA and Will, with the help of everyone else. Nagata and Ishii slapped each other after the belt, making others pull them apart. A similar thing happened with Goto and Cobb.
Ryusuke Taguchi, Toru Yano & Togi Makabe vs. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa (Geurillas of Destiny) Taichi Ishimori w/ Jado (NEVER Openweight 6-Man Championship Match)
The only title match on this card was Taguchi Japan challenging three Bullet Club members for their 6-man belts. They won the opportunity on the pre-show of Wrestle Kingdom last night. Just like last night, Yano got distracted because he would wait for Taguchi to call a play. Yano untied a corner pad while in there with Tama Tonga. GoD claims that they are no longer cheats. Tonga proved this by putting Yano into a normal corner instead of the corner with the exposed buckles. When Taguchi was tagged in he tried for a Three Amigos, getting two of the three suplexes. Jado hit Taguchi with a kendo stick when he went on the ropes. I guess Jado doesn’t share the same philosophy as GoD. As the ref was counting a pin on Tonga Loa, Ishimori dragged the ref out. Jado came into the ring to try to hit Makabe with a kendo stick, but Yano came behind and gave him a low blow. Makabe fought off both GoD members, bringing it back to just him and Tanga Loa. He slammed Loa and then went to the top rope, but Yujiro Takahashi and Chase Owens came out. Takahashi pushed him off the ropes, and Owens gave him a Small Package Piledriver. Loa hit his finishing move to let the team retain. I love this gimmick. That the Guerillas of Destiny don’t cheat, but their buddies do. All of the guys too sweeted after the match, so I guess all is good with them. Though really, it shows that Bullet Club is really bad at cheating. Jado couldn’t give them an advantage, so two more were needed.
El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. w/ Taka Michinoku & Minoru Suzuki vs. Shingo Takagi, BUSHI, SANADA, EVIL & Tetsuya Naito
In a 10-man match, Suzuki-gun faced Los Ingobernables de Japon. There was lots of gold carried into the ring, as all LOS members have belts. As Naito was still getting ready for the match, Taichi clubbed him in the head with a chair. The camera shot was perfect so that you didn’t see this coming. Right off the bat, this match turned into chaos. Taichi and Naito started the match. Naito was really selling the chair shot. Naito was thrown into a press table, and Suzuki took SANADA into the hallway of Korakuen. Naito somehow got the hot tag later against Taichi, despite being beaten to a pulp. Taichi hit Naito with his IC title while the ref was distracted, and then hit his finishing move to win the match. It looks like that will be the next program for Naito. After the match, Taichi called out Naito and threw his belt. I liked this segment. It’s obvious that Taichi won’t actually become champ, but it’s a fun angle to do in the meantime.
Gedo, Bad Luck Fale & Jay White vs. YOSHI-HASHI, Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi
In the main event, we got the return of YOSHI-HASHI. Along with that, we also saw the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Hiroshi Tanahashi. Early on Gedo took a chair to Yoshi. He was in no way given a slow return. Okada was given a hot tag and had a face-off with Gedo. Okada fought off Bad Luck Fale before tagging in Tanahashi against Jay White. White gave Tanahashi a Snap Side-Suplex but got hit with a Swingblade after talking to the crowd. YOSHI-HASHI got the tag against White, hitting a Huricanrana. Moments later White hit a Rock Bottom and then called for the Blade Runner. Okada came in to stop it. White tried again for a Blade Runner but it got reversed into a Twist & Shout. YOSHI-HASHI came back in to do a clothesline and a suplex for a two count. He picked up White again and tried for a move but White escaped by hurting the ref. YOSHI-HASHI did a Superkick but got his move reversed into a German Suplex. White hit the Blade Runner to win the match. Welcome back, YOSHI-HASHI. After the match, White called out Tanahashi. This made him come back to the ring. He got jumped but the Bullet Club once he was in the ring. Okada came in to try to save Tanahashi but got hit with a Grenade from Bad Luck Fale. White did his Blade Runner move to Tanahashi. As the show was ending he hoisted the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Pretty good promo from White.
In general, this show was short and sweet. No huge surprises on the show, but I left satisfied. It’s obvious based off who was left off this show that a lot of people are either gone or still in question. We got two solid angles set up from this show, with other smaller ones also being showcased. New Japan returns on the 11th for the first televised event of the NJPW/CMLL Fantasticamania tour.