By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Year Dash”
January 5, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan at Ota City General Gymnasium
Streamed live on New Japan World
This is essentially New Japan’s version of “the Raw after Wrestlemania,” as we move forward with new storylines coming out of Wrestle Kingdom. Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton and Gino Gambino provided live English commentary from ringside.
In an unusual move for New Japan, the full lineup for the Dash events are not announced in advance. The only match we know for sure is a four-way for the KOPW trophy, based on the four finalists of the “Rambo” royal rumble at Wrestle Kingdom. “You will find out the card when we find out the card,” Kelly said.
1. “House of Torture” EVIL, Dick Togo, and Yujiro Takahashi defeated Tomoaki Honma, Ren Narita, and Tiger Mask at 8:34. Kelly said the HoT had a terrible 2022, which is an understatement. The heels attacked at the bell. Togo tried removing TM’s mask. Tiger Mask hit a Tiger Bomb on Yujiro. Narita finally made the hot tag at 4:00 and hit a Northern Lights suplex on Yujiro. Honma entered for the first time at 5:30 and hit EVIL with chops, but he missed a Kokeshi falling headbutt.
Moments later, Honma hit the Kokeshi and got a nearfall. Yujiro hopped in the ring and hit Honma with his cane. EVIL and Togo hit the team Magic Killer spinning faceplant on Honma for the pin. A blah start to the show.
* The HoT continued beating down Honma. Minoru Suzuki hit the ring to make the save, getting a huge pop. El Desperado joined him, and they chased off the House of Torture. It appears a new faction is being formed of Suzuki, Desperado and Ren Narita, although Narita seemed cautious and uncertain.
2. Taichi, Douki, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru (w/Taka Michinoku) defeated “United Empire” TJP, Francesco Akira, and Will Ospreay at 9:14. Taka is dressed in a suit with glasses, and it appears he is transitioning to be a manager. Taka got on the mic and said the four of them would make big changes to NJPW this year. So, Suzuki-Gun is gone, but these guys are essentially “NWO White with Horace Hogan.” TJP and Akira emerged first, then the crowd popped when they saw Ospreay. “The crowd didn’t expect Will Ospreay to wrestle tonight, after the war he went through last night,” Charlton said.
TJP and Kanemaru started. Akira hit a Doomsday Senton on Kanemaru at 3:00. Ospreay entered and brawled with Kanemaru. Kanemaru dropped him with an enzuigiri. Taichi entered and hit some Kawada Kicks on Ospreay at 6:00. Ospreay hit an enziguri; Taichi hit a clothesline, and they were both down. Akira made the hot tag and traded offense with Douki. Douki hit a nice Northern Lights Suplex for a nearfall. The UE hit triple kicks in a corner on Douki. TJP hit a plancha. Akira hit a snap German Suplex on Douki. However, Douki rolled up Akira out of nowhere for the shocking pin. The UE beat up their opponents after the loss.
3. “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Zack Sabre Jr., Mikey Nicholls, and Shane Haste defeated Yoshi-Hoshi, Hirooki Goto, and Tomohiro Ishii at 7:56. Sabre joined TMDK after winning the TV title at Wrestle Kingdom. Goto and Haste started. Haste snapped Goto’s arm across the top rope and began targeting it. Ishii entered at 4:00 and hit a back suplex on Sabre, and they traded stiff forearm shots. Nicholls and Yoshi-Hoshi tagged in for their teams and squared off with forearm shots. Haste and Nicholls hit their team second-rope DDT to pin Yoshi-Hoshi. That was really entertaining for the time given. Haste and Nicholls held the tag titles above their heads, indicating they want a shot. Sabre and Ishii continued to jaw, so maybe Ishii is the first challenger for Sabre’s NJPW TV Title.
* The three TMDK guys grabbed Young Lion Kosei Fujita, who was seated at ringside, and they put a TMDK T-shirt on him, indicating they are welcoming him to the team. They all got in the ring and celebrated. I expected them to beat him up, but they didn’t, as the foursome walked to the back together. (Every team in NJPW needs a designated jobber, and that will probably be Fujita’s role.)
4. Shota Umino, Yoh, Ryusuke Taguchi, and Togi Makabe defeated “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Tetsuya Naito, Bushi, Sanada, and Hiromu Takahashi at 13:40. All eight brawled at the bell. Taguchi hit his buttbump on Bushi. The LIJ guys got Taguchi alone in the ring and beat him up. Togi made the hot tag at 5:30, but LIJ quickly beat him down too. Shota tagged in and traded blows with Sanada. Shota hit a head-scissors takedown and a dropkick, then a fisherman’s suplex for a nearfall at 7:30.
Sanada tied Shota in the Paradise Lock, then kicked him in the butt to break it. Naito entered and hit a basement dropkick on Shota’s knee. Naito and Shota traded mid-ring forearm shots, and this is entertaining. Shota hit an enziguri, so Naito hit one. Shota hit a suplex, and they were both down at 10:30. Yoh tagged in and traded quick offense with Hiromu. Yoh hit a Falcon Arrow for a nearfall. Hiromu hit a hard clothesline for a believable nearfall. Hiromu hit a Death Valley Driver into the corner, then a superkick. Yoh nailed a Poison Rana and a Superkick, then a neckbreaker over his knee. Yoh then hit a double-arm DDT to pin Hiromu! Looks like Hiromu has a new #1 contender.
* Yoh got on the mic and said “I just beat the champion,” and he wants more. He told Hiromu he wants a one-on-one match for the belt.
5. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Master Wato, Hikuleo, and Tama Tonga (w/ Jado) defeated “Bullet Club” Jay White, El Phantasmo, Kenta, and Taiji Ishimori (w/Gedo) via DQ at 11:39. White yelled at the commentary team as he walked by. Wato and Ishimori started. Tanahashi and Kenta entered at 1:30. Hiroshi hit a second-rope twisting crossbody block. Kenta hit a DDT. White entered and twisted Tanahashi’s knee, and the Bullet Club took turns working Tanahashi over. Hikuleo made the hot tag at 7:00 and traded blows with Jay White.
Hikuleo hit a double clothesline on Kenta and Ishimori, then he leveled White with a loud chop. Hikuleo hit a running Bulldog Powerslam for a believabe nearfall. White hit a chop block on Hikuleo’s left knee, then a DDT at 9:00. Phantasmo and Tama Tonga entered and they immediately traded stiff forearm shots. Tama hit a Stinger Splash. Hikuleo hit a powerslam on White. Tama hit the Tongan Twist faceplant on ELP. Gedo got in the ring, so Tama hit him with a Stun Gun. However, Phantasmo grabbed a title belt and hit Tama with it, causing the DQ. White hit Hikuleo with several chairshots to the back.
* Jay White got on the mic and said he would make sure Hikuleo never enjoyed the spoils of the successes White created in New Japan in the Bullet Club. “I’m going to make sure you don’t get any of those moments.” White challenged him to a one-on-one, “loser leaves Japan” match. He then hit him with more chairshots to the back, then a Blade Runner swinging faceplant. White seemed absolutely unhinged after losing his title.
6. Shingo Takagi defeated Great-O-Khan, Toru Yano, and Sho (w/House of Torture) in a four-way to win the KOPW 2023 Trophy at 12:51. Again, these four qualified by being the finalists in the “Rambo” match a day ago. Yes, there is now a title belt, not a trophy, because NJPW apparently needed another title. (Eye roll.) Shingo and O-Khan started while the other two stalled on the floor, and they traded forearm shots. Sho and Yano entered the ring and traded offense; Sho tossed Yano to the floor, where the rest of the House of Torture put the boots to Yano.
Sho hit a suplex on Shingo at 4:30. Shingo got tossed to the floor, where Yujiro Takahashi hit him with a chairshot to the gut. In the ring, Shingo hit a DDT on Sho at 7:00, then a senton. Sho hit a clothesline with little effect. Sho got his wrench, but O-Khan blocked him from using it. Sho hit Yano with a chairshot to the back. Shingo and O-Khan rolled to the floor at 10:00 and they worked together to beat up the House of Torture, who have tried interfering the entire match.
In the ring, GOK hit a Mafia Kick on Sho. O-Khan hit his Mongolian Chops on Shingo. Shingo hit a Pumping Bomber clothesline on O-Khan, then one on Yano. O-Khan hit a Mafia Kick on Shingo, then his Eliminator chokeslam on Yano for a believable nearfall, but Shingo made the save. Shingo then hit the Last of the Dragon modified Death Valley Driver to pin Yano.
7. Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada defeated “United Empire” Jeff Cobb and Aaron Henare at 13:36. Cobb and Henare came out first. Omega’s right eye is definitely swollen, and the crowd popped for his appearance. The commentary team assumed that Don Callis was going to team with Omega. However, when Okada’s music hit, the crowd went nuts, and Omega’s face showed even he didn’t know who was his teammate. “I don’t believe this!” Kelly said, adding it is a first-time-ever pairing. “It is the most unlikely tag team you could ever imagine!” Both Omega and Okada had their title belts, and they ‘clinked’ them together.
Omega and Cobb started with an intense lockup. Kelly said that Callis must have already left Japan because “there’s no way on God’s green earth he would have allowed Omega to be in this match.” Okada entered at 2:00 to face Henare. Okada hit a running back elbow, but he clutched his stomach, indicating he’s sore there. Henare saw it and immediately hit punches to the gut. They fought some more on the mat with Henare hitting some kneestrikes to the gut. Cobb entered and surfed on Okada’s back at 5:30. He hit a standing moonsault for a nearfall.
Cobb made the ‘goodbye and good night” hand gesture toward Omega, while they continued to beat up Okada in their corner. Okada hit a neckbreaker over his knee on Henare, and the crowd was hot. Omega made the hot tag at 8:30 and immediately traded stiff blows with Cobb. Cobb hit a suplex. Omega hit a forward Finlay Roll, then a second-rope moonsault for a nearfall on Henare. Okada entered and hit a flapjack on Henare for a nearfall.
Henare hit his football tackle on Okada for a nearfall at 11:30; he went for a fisherman’s suplex but Okada blocked it. Okada nailed his dropkick, a bodyslam and a top-rope elbow drop. Henare ducked a Rainmaker, but Omega hit him with a V-Trigger. Okada then hit a Rainmaker to Henare’s front while Omega hit a V-Trigger to the back! Okada then hit one more Rainmaker to pin Henare. That was a blast. Omega and Cobb continued to jaw, and it appears Omega has his first challenger.
* Omega left, and Okada got on the mic and started to thank the fans. However, Shingo Takagi came to ringside and got on the mic. He said he won the KOPW belt. He pointed out he is wearing an Antonio Inoki T-shirt, and he said Inoki would accept any challenge. Okada said Shingo already has a belt. Okada said he has never held the KOPW belt. Okada finally accepted the challenge.
Final Thoughts: This was a good follow-up show to Wrestle Kingdom. I don’t think anyone would have been surprised if Okada, Omega, Ospreay or White had the night off after all competing for more than 30 minutes each a day earlier. Not only did they all fight, but we had the pleasant one-time teaming of Omega and Okada.
We are moving forward with Shingo-Okada which we knew. Jay White-Hikuleo, Yoh-Hiromu, Omega-Cobb, TMDK-Bishamon, Ishii-Sabre, Tama-ELP, and hopefully Naito-Shota were established as new feuds. Suzuki and Desperado seem to have a new partner, and new faction, with Ren Narita.
Despite the win for Taichi’s newly-formed team from the remnants of Suzuki-Gun, I just don’t have a lot of hope for that squad.
I don’t know how you fix the House of Torture. That faction should have disbanded along with Suzuki-Gun. EVIL’s title reign is as distant of a memory as Jinder Mahal’s run in WWE.
The positives definitely outweigh the negatives here.
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