NJPW New Year Dash Highlights w/ The Chairman
After watching one of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest events Wrestle Kingdom 13, they immediately kick it into gear the next night with New Year Dash. While it’s nowhere near as epic as Wrestle Kingdom, there are definitely some big things that can happen at New Year Dash to setup 2019. Here are some of the highlights of the event.
Will 2019 Become the Switchblade Era in NJPW?
The main event featured Switchblade Jay White, Bad Luck Fale, and Gedo taking on the team of new IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, and a returning Yoshi-Hashi. White of course is coming off a huge win against Okada at Wrestle Kingdom just adding to his impressive list of achievements since returning. The other major story was the return of Yoshi-Hashi. I didn’t see the big deal personally because I don’t understand the aura around Yoshi-Hashi. However he’s been out of action a few months and it was somewhat a mystery if he’d return to Chaos with Okada or take on the guidance of Tanahashi or even defect to following Jay White. The final moments of the match seen Yoshi-Hashi almost defeated Jay White, but White managed to survive and hit Blade Runner to secure the win. With the post-match promo, White called out Tanahashi and told him he wanted his title. White berated the Ace as old and that didn’t set well with Tana. Tanahashi returned to the ring to confront Switchblade, but it was a trap. Gedo, Bad Luck Fale, and Jay White attacked the champion and Okada tried to make the save, but the odds were too much to overcome. There is definitely unfinished business between Jay White and Hiroshi Tanahashi and now we have to wait and see how long it’ll be before we see these two have an epic clash for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and whether or not the Switchblade can stay true to his word and take the title.
Suzuki-Gun Makes a Statement
Wrestle Kingdom was not a good night for the members of Suzuki-gun except for Zack Sabre Jr when he defeated Tomohiro Ishii for the Rev Pro British Championship. Sabre, Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado, and Taichi took on the team of Los Ingobernables de Japon featuring new IWGP Intercontiental Champion Tetsuya Natio, new IWGP Tag Team Champions Evil and Sanada, and new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Bushi and Shingo Takagi. While Suzuki-gun didn’t have a great night with Suzuki losing in the pre-show with Killer Elite Squad in the #1 contender match for the NEVER Openweight Six Man Championship, Kanemaru and Desperado losing the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, and Taichi getting completely left off the Wrestle Kingdom card, L.I.J. won gold in all three matches they pIntercontiental articipated in. The tide changed though in this match right from the start. Taichi crushed Naito with a chair right in the skull and L.I.J. struggled in the majority of this match to Suzuki-gun. Naito though wouldn’t quit and tried to fight back, but Suzuki-gun took advantage and distracted the referee with Taka and Taichi crushed Naito with the IWGP Intercontiental Championship belt. Taichi managed to secure a pinfall victory over Naito and after the match challenged Naito for the belt. More than likely Naito will want revenge against Taichi and we’ll see these two face off for the IWGP Intercontiental Championship sometime in the future.
Bullet Club Grows Again
There have been quite a few changes in Bullet Club the past few months. It was mentioned earlier in the show the team of Yujiro Takahashi and Chase Owens were on their own after being exiled from Bullet Club in their tag team match against Toa Henare and Tomoaki Honma. However it looks like their exile was short lived. Takahashi and Owens played a key role in Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, and Taiji Ishimori’s defense of the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship against Toru Yano, Togi Makabe, and Rysuke Taguchi by helping the Bullet Club retain the titles. After the match the group all embraced meaning Yujiro Takahashi and Chase Owens are back in Bullet Club,
Don’t Sleep on This Match
Personally I thought one of the best matches on New Year Dash was new NEVER Openweight Champion Will Ospreay, Tomohiro Ishii, and Hirooki Goto taking on KUSHIDA, Jeff Cobb, and Yuji Nagata. Chaos had an edge to them you usually don’t see. They seemed more aggressive then usual isolating KUSHIDA for the early stages of the match. The encounters between Nagata and Ishii were memorable during and after the match. These two will hopefully go to war sometime soon. The close of the match featured rivals Ospreay and KUSHIDA in the ring. Ospreay had that edge he carried with him when he destroyed Kota Ibushi at Wrestle Kingdom. Ospreay finished KUSHIDA with the Storm Breaker giving Chaos the win.
No Elite Wrestling
If you watched New Year Dash, then you know there were quite a few wrestlers that didn’t participate on this event, but did at Wrestle Kingdom. Cody, Young Bucks Nick and Matt Jackson, Marty Scurll, Hangman Page, and Kenny Omega. It’s no surprise Cody would be dropping the IWGP United States Championship and the Young Bucks wouldn’t be leaving with the IWGP Tag Team Championship being the three of them made a major announcement earlier in the week to shake the foundation of wrestling by forming All Elite Wrestling. Scurll and Hangman Page teamed with Yujiro Takahashi in a number one contender gauntlet match for the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship, but were unsuccessful. Hangman Page of course is also heading to All Elite Wrestling and more than likely Marty Scurll will in the spring when his Ring of Honor contract expires. The biggest one that wrestling fans had their eyes on though was Kenny Omega and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. With Omega dropping the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to Hiroshi Tanahashi, it’s all but certain Omega is leaving NJPW. However nothing is 100% confirmed yet and this is all pure speculation, but Omega’s contract does expire soon. Does Omega follow his Elite friends to All Elite Wrestling or does he end up going to WWE? The rumors will run wild, but this is an exciting time for wrestling fans. It’s hard to say whether or not the AEW wrestlers will make guest appearances in NJPW or not, but whether this group comes back or not, I’m pretty confident NJPW will continue on just fine.
What did you think of New Year Dash? Any bold predictions for 2019 regarding NJPW? Hit me on Twitter @ChairmanSV and let me know your thoughts and as always thanks for reading.