By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
New Japan Pro Wrestling New Year Dash 2020
Tokyo, Japan at Ota City General Gymnasium
Broadcast live on New Japan World and FITE.TV
The ring announcer announced the matches in the ring to open the show… The English broadcast team was Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero, Gino Gambino, and Chris Charlton…
The Jushin Liger retirement ceremony took place. There were babyface wrestlers wearing Liger shirts in the ring with Liger, who was wearing his ring gear. They all posed for a photo. Hiroshi Tanahashi presented Liger with flowers. The wrestlers all took turns shaking Liger’s hand. The Chaos faction came out wearing Liger shirts. Kazuchika Okada presented him with another bouquet of flowers and more photos were taken. NJPW executives Harold Meij and Naoki Sugabayashi presented Liger with flowers.
Liger’s wife and son joined him and presented more flowers. Tanahashi was among the wrestlers with tears in his eyes. A video message aired from Antonio Inoki. Liger spoke and thanked his mother and noted that she is in poor health, yet she made it to the Tokyo Dome and this event. He also thanked his wife and son and said it was a lonely life on the road, but now he’s coming home and they have to put up with him. Liger thanked everyone for coming and the fans applauded and chanted his name.
There was a ten bell salute. The crowd remained silent as the bell rang while Liger stood alone in the ring. Liger’s music played and the fans and wrestlers clapped along to it. The wrestlers entered the ring and tossed Liger into the air a few times while Kelly explained that it was a Japanese tradition that he’s seen done in Japanese baseball. Tanahashi took the mic and encouraged the fans to sing Liger’s theme song. The song played again and the fans clapped and sang. Liger left the ring and took a lap around the ringside area where he slapped hands with the fans and the broadcast teams before heading up the aisle and slapping more hands. Liger made it to the stage, took a bow, and then headed backstage.
Powell’s POV: A truly classy ceremony with a very nice speech from the man of honor.
A video package recapped the results of the Wrestle Kingdom events and Kenta attacking Tetsuya Naito after the night two main event.
1. Alex Coughlin, Karl Fredericks, and Clark Connors defeated Toa Henare, Yota Tsuji, and Yuya Uemura. Fredericks forced Uemura to submit to a single-leg Boston Crab.
2. Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado defeated Sho & Yoh, Hiromu Takahashi & Bushi, and Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo in a four-way tag team match. Bushi tried to spray mist at Desperado and ended up catching Sho with it instead. Desperado rolled Sho into a pin.
Powell’s POV: Kanemaru and Desperado are now first in line for a shot at Sho and Yoh for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles.
3. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Juice Robinson, and David Finlay beat Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Bad Luck Fale, and Chase Owens. Ibushi caught Owens with a knee strike. Owens was shot into the ropes and then kicked by Ibushi while Tanahashi followed up with a sling blade clothesline. Ibushi followed up with a Kamigoye and scored the pin for his team. After the match, Tanahashi indicated that he and Ibushi want a shot at the IWGP Tag Titles held by Robinson and Finlay, who seemed to agree to the match.
Powell’s POV: The broadcast team played up Ibushi getting a win after taking two tough losses at the Wrestle Kingdom shows, so this was meant to be a bounce back match for him.
4. Shingo Takagi and Evil beat Tomohiro Ishii and Hirooki Goto. Late in the match, Goto performed an assisted GTR on Takagi and had him pinned, but Evil broke it up. Takagi came back and hit a version of the GTR and followed up with Last of the Dragon and scored the pin. After the match, Takagi noted that he and Ishii are 1-1 against one another and called for a rubber match. Takagi challenged Goto to put his title on the line.
Powell’s POV: This was very simple in terms of the purpose, as Takagi pinned the new Never Openweight Champion and made himself first in line for a title shot. With Kenta moving onto feud with Naito, Goto needed a new dance partner. A very good match and the best of the night thus far.
5. Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, Yoshi-Hashi, and Robbie Eagles defeated Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Lance Archer, and Taichi for DQ. Okada wore tape on his back and neck. In the end, Taichi hit Okada with the iron glove for the DQ. Romero said it wasn’t about getting a win, it was about Taichi making a statement. Taichi set up for a move on Okada, but Jon Moxley’s music played and he entered through the crowd carrying his IWGP U.S. Championship. Taichi fled, but Suzuki entered the ring when Moxley did. They jawed at one another and then traded strikes. Moxley laughed and then slapped Suzuki, which led to a war of palm strikes. Moxley ended that battle by kicking Suzuki in the gut and then performing a Death Rider DDT. Moxley blew Suzuki a kiss and then played to the crowd. After Moxley left the ring, the camera showed Suzuki smiling while lying on his bat. “He loves it,” Kelly said.
Powell’s POV: The iron glove is awful and I can’t say that Okada vs. Taichi does much for me. Sure, it’s Okada and therefore it will likely be a good match, but hopefully it will be a quick program. Meanwhile, Moxley vs. Suzuki looks awesome on paper and the build on this show and last night has been really strong.
6. Tetsuya Naito and Sanada defeated Kenta and Jay White (w/Gedo). White went for a Bladerunner, but Sanada escaped and countered into a rollup to get the win. Afterward, White low blowed Sanada and worked him over in the ring while Kenta attacked Naito at ringside. All four men ended up in the ring. Kenta and White worked over Naito and Sanada with chairs.
White took the mic and said it looked like a huge opportunity presented itself to him. White said he would bring Sanada back to reality by reminding him that “you are not better than me.” White handed the mic to Kenta, who spoke in Japanese and was translated by Charlton. Kenta walked over Naito while asking him if he enjoyed himself at the Tokyo Dome. He said he had a hell of a lot of fun. Kenta said he likes it when the fans are so angry. Kenta walked over Naito again and told him that he was going to take his two title belts. Kenta picked up the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental title belts. White told Kenta that he looked good with the belts.
Kelly noted that 74,149 fans attended the two Wrestle Kingdom events and New Year Dash. Kenta taunted the fans as he left, then Naito and Sanada were helped backstage to close the show.
Powell’s POV: The Empire Strikes Back style closing angle the night after the Wrestle Kingdom events with the heels getting big heat going into their singles programs. The Liger ceremony was terrific and the rest of the show did a good job of setting up the new programs coming out of Wrestle Kingdom.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Frank Zarrillo discussing his film "The Wrestler: A QT Marshall Story", which includes appearances by Matt Riddle, Damian Priest, Gerald Brisco, Kevin Kelly, Steve Corino, and many more, the involvement of Marshall's wife and mother, and much more. Stick around after the interview for Powell's audio review of Wednesday's AEW Dynamite television show...