1/5 New Japan’s New Year’s Dash from Tokyo: Takahashi, Nakanishi, KUSHIDA, Ricochet, O’Reilly, Finlay, Cole, Elgin, Young Bucks,

By R.W. Andrews, PWTorch contributor


NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING – NEW YEAR’S DASH REVIEW
JANUARY 15, 2017
TOKYO, JAPAN AT KORAKUEN HALL
AIRED ON NEW JAPAN WORLD STREAMING SERVICE

 

It’s a little late, but cut me some slack.  Hot off the heels of one of the best events I’ve ever seen, we travel down the jam packed streets of Tokyo amidst the glittering lights of a bustling downtown to make our way to Korakuen Hall for New Year’s Dash.  Let me touch briefly on the Wrestle Kingdom after party for a moment.  It was an absolute pleasure seeing “Chopper” Nick Jones – the eye in the sky overseeing this review series – looking dapper as F- in his tux!  Hey Chopper, thanks for the head’s up on Kamaitachi vs. Dragon Lee.  Good lord they can have a great match together!  And a big hello to TJ Spyke, who stopped by to show off two buxom ladies cradled in the nook of his arms.  And how can I forget the smartest man in the room.  As you all know, Sean Radican is a wealth of knowledge with an impeccable record of reporting.  Not only that, but he is just a downright nice guy.  Seriously, I can sing his praises all review.  Now granted, my melodic tone isn’t what you would call classically trained, but I think we can all agree that the lyrics would be gospel.  And while we’re at it, give a follow to @Benfromdapoint, @imexdanny, and @JPAO_KLIQ12.  They were nice enough to read through countless pages of me dipping my undercarriage in Wrestle Kingdom 11 and said, “You know what?  The sauce wasn’t THAT bad.”  I appreciate all of you guys and thank you for dropping so much wisdom on me.  Did I go overboard with the ball washing yet?  Well the love swings back around like a @DynamicBattle retweet.

We’re joined in Korakuen Hall by my new buddies, Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino.  Corino informs us that they are stationed waaaay up in the balcony so they can get a feel for the building and the action contained within its walls.  So we’re basically joined by Statler and Waldorf on commentary for this one.  I know I’ve said this before, but I absolutely love the atmosphere in Korakuen Hall with its tight quarters and dim hue dispersed throughout the crowd.  You really get to press the glass to the wall and hear so much of what’s going on in the stands and see the faces responsible for said ambience.

(1) Ricochet & David Finlay & Kyle O’Reilly vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask & Henare

Two thoughts right off the bat.  1) What the hell have I gotten myself into?  Seriously.  Every match on the card is a tag match AND most will not be of the traditional variety.  Upon realizing this I tried to run the other way, but TORCH Tower’s J. Jonah got on the horn and growled, “You get your ass back in there before I personally fly to your house and burn your next paycheck right in front of you with my Cuban!”  Fair enough.  ((2) Having NJPW World is so rewarding.  I thought that getting to see Liger would be a once in a blue moon type of deal, but here he is!  I kind of feel that way about everyone to be honest.  This is my home team now and I’m thrilled that NJPW World has welcomed me in with open arms.  Well, for a price of course, but it’s worth it ten times over.

Since Korakuen Hall is so cramped in comparison to the Tokyo Dome, it takes each team mere seconds to get into the ring.  The first few tones that played over the speakers when the Liger team came out took me aback.  It sounded JUST like the opening of the old WrestleMania/Linda McMahon theme.  What a strange moment upon initial listen.  My portfolio is expanding quite nicely with Henare being the lone stranger to me.  He’s traveling in good company with Liger.  Tiger Mask?  I suppose.

Liger and Ricochet start out the match.  Take away the New Japan Rumble and I’ve seen some great matchups from Liger – with KUSHIDA a few weeks ago on AXS and Ricochet on this card.  That ain’t bad!  Liger moves in for a collar and elbow tie-up, but Ricochet stuffs his boot into the legend’s abdomen.  Ricochet goes for an early shoulder tackle, met by an immovable Liger.  Liger and Ricochet trade reversals on an Irish Whip, ending with Liger hitting a shoulder tackle with Ricochet kipping up seconds later.  He poses, soaking in the fan’s applause, which leaves his midsection exposed for Liger’s boot.  Liger gets sent to the corner, quickly shuffling sidesaddle to a charging Ricochet, who in turn wall-runs the turnbuckle padding for a twisting backflip.  Liger shoots in and gets tripped up, burying his face in the padding as Ricochet spins between the ropes for a double knee to the face and a diving clothesline on his way back into the ring.

Liger rolls outside, piquing the crowd’s interest as Ricochet hits the ropes and comes back with a leap over the top for a twisting backflip that connects.  It’s Jedi offense fueled by Metachlorians.  Ricochet makes it look so effortless, even extending out his arms to give the visual of soaring through the air.  Could you imagine one of us trying that?  Take a moment to give yourself an honest assessment of your chances.  Not a pretty sight, is it?

Ricochet rolls Liger back in and carries him towards the corner so Finlay can receive the tag.  Ricochet knocks Tiger Mask and Henare off the apron as O’Reilly hops in the ring.  It’s three against one, which is not a good look for Liger who is stranded in the corner.  Finlay hits a spinning uppercut on him, followed by a high knee by O’Reilly, then a jumping double-knee to the face by Ricochet.  O’Reilly and Ricochet slam Liger’s back to the mat with a double suplex before Finlay dives down to connect with a spinning uppercut.  O’Reilly officially becomes legal, holding Liger in a tight clutch to bang his knee against Liger’s ribcage.  Liger counters with a big boot and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker to create enough space so he can tag in Tiger Mask and get the hell out of there.

Tiger Mask comes in theatrically, scoring with a crossbody before Finlay comes in and grabs him.  Tiger Mask flips away, kicking Finlay in the face to break free.  He tries for a crucifix pin on O’Reilly, smartly remembering who is legal, but Finlay breaks it up.  Henare darts into the ring, shoves Finlay outside, and darts back out.  So far he’s left the same impression on me as Yoshi-Hashi, but the match is still young.  O’Reilly hits a belly-to-back suplex on Tiger Mask, transitioned smoothly into a kneebar that Tiger Mask frantically boots out of.  The two exchange forearms and kicks until Tiger Mask hits a Tiger Driver and tags in Henare as Finlay gets the tag for his side.

Henare hits a flying shoulder-tackle for two and immediately slaps on a Boston Crab.  Ricochet’s got Finlay’s back, planting the sole of his boot flush with Henare’s cheek to break the hold.  But Henare holds on, eliciting “Oooooohs” from the crowd.  Ricochet frames up Henare’s face with his hands and delivers another shot.  Henare refuses to break the hold!  Ricochet is equally as determined to break it, hitting the ropes as Liger trips him up and bends him in a Gory Special.  O’Reilly jumps in, finding himself strapped in an Octopus Hold by Tiger Mask.  Finlay finally reaches the ropes, causing a chain reaction where all the holds are broken.  As the illegal men fight outside, Henare and Finlay play a mini-Batsu game where Henare shows some surprising zip to his shots.  After the Batsu, Ricochet and O’Reilly slide back in to kick Henare into exhaustion.  Finlay hoists him up for a fireman’s carry pickup and tosses him back-first for Ricochet to meet him on the way down with a Lumbar Check.  Amazing timing.  Finlay lifts Henare up again in a fireman’s carry, runs to the corner where Ricochet is climbing up top, and completes the MORE section of a More Bang For Your Buck as Ricochet takes flight and semi-hits a shooting star press for the win.

WINNERS: Ricochet, David Finlay & Kyle O’Reilly

After the match, the teams shake hands and hugs as the crowd gives them a nice round of applause.  Corino says that he has it on good authority that Liger was caught trying to pick up one of Takahashi’s escorts from the Tokyo Dome.  It’s Liger, so I’m fairly certain he got it wet.  The camera zooms out to catch Finlay running up the stands to give his mom a hug.  That’s so nice compared to what I just typed a sentence ago.  You get it all in these reviews, Guys!

(Andrews’ Analysis:  Pretty dull.  I get it though.  I couldn’t imagine working a double shift of what these guys have to do for living and seeing how I’d perform on the back nine.  I’m not sure what to make of Henare based on this match.  He didn’t really get the opportunity to show much, but the way he throws a forearm should impress at the Combine for his NEVER Openweight prospects.)

(2) Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & Hangman Page) vs. Bullet Club Hunters (Yoshi-Tatsu & Bill Gunn)

This is terrible right off the bat as Yoshi-Tatsu does the HHH shtick and Gunn does the stripper shtick.  I will say this though, Gunn came out and was having a ball stroking people’s hair and muscling up on a Young Boy.  That’s the Gunn I want to see!  Just havin’ a good time.  Kelly tells us a cool story about Gunn challenging the Rock in a 40 yard dash, to which not only did Gunn beat The Rock, but he did so running the last ten yards backwards.  Stories like that are making me backpedal juuuust a hair on my dislike for Gunn.  It’s not “I want my country back” levels of apology, but it’s an apology nonetheless.

Yoshi-Tatsu and Takahashi start out exchanging headlocks, shoulder-tackles and arm drags.  Page and Takahashi take the fight outside, with Takahashi whipping Gunn into the guardrail while whatever Page did to Yoshi-Tatsu left him damn near motionless on the mat when he’s rolled back in.  Page gets the tag, cutting off Yoshi-Tatsu’s tag with some well-placed chops.  Page hits a dropkick, followed by a slingshot between the first and second ropes.  Page hops in for a double-team legdrop before Takahashi smacks Yoshi-Tatsu with a low dropkick for two.  Yoshi-Tatsu counters Takahashi’s plan of attack, coming off the ropes with a sweeping kick to the chest so he can scamper away and Gunn.

Gunn lights up Takahashi with clotheslines, his emotions spiked from whatever is flowing in those veins by shouting “F- YOU!” when Takahashi tries to kick him back.  God damn it, Bill!  He grabs Takahashi and says “go this way”, before pushing Takahashi into the corner.  Inside voice, Bill.  Page jumps in and is thrown right back out.  Gunn points to his crotch and screams “Suck this!” at Takahashi, carefully staying untangled in the trademark law’s web.  Takahashi refuses to do so, tripping up Gunn before landing a sliding dropkick to the back of the head.  Gunn counters a second Takahashi rush with a powerslam before they separate and tag in their partners.

Yoshi-Tatsu slings some vicious kicks at Page, followed by a spinning heel kick.  Ever the helpful partner, Takahashi drags Yoshi-Tatsu outside and plants him down with a DDT.  Off camera, Gunn yells “Suck this!”, but when the camera focuses on the ring Page has a handful of Gunn’s genitals, squeezing them tight in his grip as both scream at one another.  With that out of the way, Gunn sends Page to the apron, but Page flips back inside and nails Gunn with a lariat that turns Gunn inside-out.  Takahashi rolls Yoshi-Tatsu back in where Page hits the Right of Passage for three.  Oh that’s right!  Yoshi-Tatsu was the legal man this whole time and the ref never started the count.  Who in the hell decides when you count and when you don’t?

WINNERS: Yujiro Takahashi & Hangman Page

After the match, Gunn has a stare-down with the Young Boy from earlier.  Go home and get you’re f***in’ shinebox, Kid.  Is this going to be Gunn’s storyline in NJPW?  If they are going with a reverse Legend Killer role where Gunn takes out all the young boys then I’m all for it.  It’ll give Gunn something fun to do and help the young guys in the ring at the same time.  Here’s hoping.

(Andrews’ Analysis:  Another meh match.  Gunn was the only highlight – calling spots for the building to hear, swearing at a more family-oriented show, and giving some young boy the business.  I hope he keeps showing up because he’s becoming entertaining as hell.)

(3) Bullet Club subdivision Superkliq (Adam Cole & The Young Bucks) vs. CHOAS (RPG Vice & Yoshi-Hashi)

Ok, this is my chance.  I’ve seen two Yoshi-Hashi matches and have witnessed nothing of his in-ring work.  My third match watching him HAS to be the one.  Hell, Kelly even calls the man a “superstar on the rise”.  Please, Yoshi-Hashi, do something this match so I can join the masses that just went nuts when you posed on the turnbuckle.  And yes, I’m aware that I can watch any number of his matches on The World, but dammit I want to see it as I’m reviewing it.  The match is being reffed by ROH Senior Official Todd Sinclair, who I enjoyed during the Cole/O’Reilly match due to that booming voice that carried straight through 25,000 fans to nearly break my speakers.  He can also ref his ass off, constantly on the move yet staying out of the way until it’s absolutely necessary.

Yoshi-Hashi and Cole start out, tying up in the middle of the ring.  Yoshi-Hashi gets backed into the corner as Cole steps backs to scream his own name, Babay.  The two run the ropes, ending with Yoshi-Hashi feigning a duck-under on a leapfrog to chop Cole in the chest.  He brings Cole to his corner, where Beretta tags in, followed quickly inside by Romero.  They whip Cole into the corner, with Romero hitting a running hip attack before being carried back by Beretta for a double knee.  Matt Jackson gets punched in the gut as he tries to sneak in from the top rope.  Nick tries to get in, trips, and gets double-clotheslined out.

The Young Bucks walk alllll the way to the other side of the ring, setting up Beretta to take off.  But Romero stops him!  Thank f****ng God for that.  The man needs a night off after the spill he took at Wrestle Kingdom.  Nevermind.  Beretta shoves his own partner to the mat and takes off for the ropes.  Cole does what Romero was probably thinking after the shove and trips Beretta up before dragging him outside.  It’s much safer that way.  Romero dives through the ropes and plows Cole into the guardrail so he can get him some more of Beretta.  RPG Vice get into a shoving match outside as Yoshi-Hashi looks on, no doubt seeing the potential prize money for tonight slip right out of his grasp.  RPG decides to high-five instead of going to blows, which earns them a diving dropkick from Matt Jackson.

Matt skins the cat, stalling with his legs akimbo for Yoshi-Hashi to dropkick him in the stomach.  Nick superkicks Yoshi-Hashi, who rolls outside with the rest of the masses as Nick hikes up the turnbuckles to flip onto everyone.  That includes Matt, who is holding his jaw and yelling, “You got me too!”  Beretta is rolled in with Cole, with the ROH Champion whipping him into the corner and catching him with a lumbar check on the rebound.  Cole covers for two, which Sinclair makes sure everyone knows with that megaphone voice-box of his.  Cole tags in Matt, which brings in Nick as well, and they hit the ropes on a continuous loop while Cole sits back on a Camel Clutch applied to Beretta.  Corino says that a superkick is coming as The Young Bucks stop, flank Beretta’s face, and scream in his ears as the crowd laughs.

Matt sends Beretta into the corner, but Beretta fights his way out, hollering “F- you!” seconds before he tries a tornado DDT that Matt just throws him out of.  Matt heads to the second rope, puts two finger-guns to his face and screams.  His attempt on a second-rope legdrop is missed, or deleted if I’m not too late to the party.  Trust me, I probably am.  Beretta drags himself across the mat to reach for a tag, but Nick and Cole pull Romero and Yoshi-Hashi off the apron.  As Matt whips Beretta to the opposing corner – who does half a Flair roll-up – Nick and Cole race back and superkick his temples.  Beretta slumps right into a tombstone as Nick steadies himself on the apron for the Meltzer Driver.  Romero catches Nick’s ankles and slams him down, smacking Nick’s chin against the apron.  Matt is still holding Beretta, turning to Cole who is at the ready on the apron.  Nope, Yoshi-Hashi ensures that Cole meets the same fate as Nick.  Beretta reverses the tombstone, leaping up to jam Matt’s spine with a tombstone of his own.  Romero and Nick get tagged in, blazing a trail on the mat as they run the ropes and Romero hits a hurricanranna.  Cole hops inside, met by a straight right by Romero that shuffles him into the corner opposite Nick.  Oh great, Romero does the forever clotheslines.  Sorry, still not a fan.  But I am a fan of Nick and Cole ducking multiple double-forever clothesline attempts to superkick the s- out of Romero’s skull.

Romero gets dropped by The Last Shot and takes a chaser from Nick via running knee for two.  Cole steps outside for about two seconds, just long enough for Nick to tag him in legally.  Romero flips out of another Last Shot, which gets the ire of Cole who retaliates by shooting a snot rocket at him.  Continuing the trend from Wrestle Kingdom 11, code of honor my ass.  Cole hits the ropes right as Beretta sneaks in to help Romero deliver stereo jumping knees.  Yoshi-Hashi gets the tag, dumps the Young Bucks off the apron and heads up top to – I have no idea.  The damn cameraman pulled focus and when it came back Cole is in a sit-up position for Beretta to dive down with a kick to the face.  Yoshi-Hashi, finally showing offense, hits a wicked looking angled senton.  The Young Bucks break up the pinfall attempt and go for a double superkick on Romero, who is laid up in the ropes.  Romero moves and the Young Bucks roll outside, but Cole is still aware enough to superkick Romero.

Beretta gets a superkick to the knee and a destroyer while Yoshi-Hashi recovers and lands a leaping neckbreaker/caress-of-the-back that sends Cole outside.  Nick superkicks Yoshi-Hashi, but is upended by a defending clothesline.  Yoshi-Hashi eats a superkick from Cole, a double superkick from Cole and Matt Jackson, but manages to reverse a Last Shot attempt into a small package for the win.

WINNERS: RPG Vice & Yoshi-Hashi

After the match, as Corino and Kelly talk about Yoshi-Hashi pinning the ROH champion, he and RPG get jumped by the losing team.  Cole picks up Yoshi-Hashi for the Last Shot, calling him a joke while doing so, and the Young Bucks double-superkick him before his neck is driven down on Cole’s knee.

(Andrews’ Analysis: If this match was used to set up Yoshi-Hashi, it didn’t work.  He didn’t really do much in the match…AGAIN.  That’s it!  I’m going to have to dig into the core of The World to see what this guy is all about.  That being said, The Young Bucks were tremendous as always and Cole continues to impress.)

(4) Team 2000 (Scott Norton, Hiro Saito & Hirotoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima & Cheeseburger) vs. Bullet Club (Bone Soldier & Kenny Omega & Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa & Bad Luck Fale)

Tiger Hattori, my favorite Pat Morita look-alike is out to ref the next match.  I dig this guy, and not just because of his look.  He stays out of the way for the most part, but when the time comes to show the stripes he’s not afraid to do so.  Kudos to that man.  Before the match, Team 2000 take a moment to pose together for a group picture, but Tiger Hattori pulls Cheeseburger out of the shot.  It’s all good fun, as Cheeseburger and Tiger have a laugh about it.  Everyone gives a Wolfpac touch, signaling that they were once in the NWO.

Yeesh.  A ten-man tag featuring Bad Luck Fale!?  Actually, hang on.  I’m ready to embrace this guy.  I’m going with the New Year’s motif, determined to start anew.  THIS is going to be Fale’s match.  Right here!  He’s going to turn on the jets and dazzle us, which would be a fine time to start considering Omega should be doing nothing more than eating popcorn on the apron after that unparalleled performance he put on at Wrestle Kingdom 11.  During the entrances, Fale chases the ring announcer out of his ring, but the announcer gets one over on him by STILL finishing his announcements.  Good for him!  Fale actually mopes about it, which doesn’t bode well for my prior statements.  By the way, while all of this is going on, Tama Tonga frisked Hattori before Hattori could frisk him.

Somehow Omega draws the short straw and has to start the match against Norton of all people.  Omega offers Norton a position in the Bullet Club, but it’s rebuked.  I don’t know, I think I’d join.  Gimmick tables, decent run in the company, possibly plucked away by HHH and Vince.  He should have rethought that one.  Norton, the delicious half of the defunct Vicious & Delicious tag team, cleans house until…Bad Luck Fale steps in!  Bad Luck Fale is going to fight???  Bad Luck Fale is going to fight!!!  I really hope you guys got that reference.  Fale gets chopped and clotheslined before rolling out of the ring.  Just a warmup.  Cheeseburger comes in to congratulate Norton, which gets him press-slam-tossed onto the Bullet Club outside.  Cheeseburger is caught and tossed right back to Norton.  Norton’s a little more sympathetic this time, ushering Cheeseburger back to the corner with a really hard shove.  Hey, it’s better than getting passed around like a joint.

Norton tags in Tenzan as Roa slides in.  Roa gets Mongolian chopped by Tenzan, then Kojima jumps in to hit one of his own.  Tenzan tags in Cheeseburger, who hits a big splash on Roa for two.  After the kickout, Cheeseburger finds himself trapped between Roa and the Bullet Club corner.  He gets desperate, diving with his hand outstretched for a tag but is ultimately caught and rammed back to the Bullet Club corner.  Tonga tags in and headbutts Cheeseburger.  Cheeseburger mounts a comeback, drawing an “are you kidding me?” from Tonga who headbutts him right back.  Cheeseburger escapes with his life after hitting a hurricanranna and tags in Tenzan.  Tenzan gets Tonga up for a vertical suplex, crashing him to the mat before talking gobs of s- to the Bullet Club.  Tonga tags to Roa, who hits a scoop slam and tags in Omega.  Omega’s face is wallowing in exhaustion, but he has enough spring in his step to strike with a Great Muta-esque driving elbow.  Omega gets a breather, tagging in Bone Soldier, the bottom bitch of the Bullet Club.

Bone Solider keeps Tenzan in the corner with reasonable looking strikes.  And here comes Fale!  He stuffs Tenzan’s head into the padding and cocks back to blast him in the ribs with a haymaker hook.  Another sweeping, ribcage-rattling hook!  Fale, driven solely on the will to impress the masses, sprints from one corner to the next to crush Tenzan in the corner, but Tenzan escapes at the last possible second to tag in Kojima.  Fale regroups, tagging in Bone Soldier before smartly rolling outside to clear his head.  Kojima chops Bone Solider in the corner, then Omega, but Tonga breaks it up.  Saito blindsides Tonga, tossing him into the opposite corner to drive his boot into Tonga’s gut.  Norton is in, as is Cheeseburger, and everyone lands chops.  Cheeseburger’s chops on Fale are fought off heroically, with Fale coming back to life to toss Cheeseburger to the mat.  Fale rifles Kojima with a clothesline, setting up the Bullet Club to rush the turnbuckle with a varied attack.  Bone Soldier misses a splash and gets sentoned for the error.  Chaos breaks loose in and out of the ring, with Fale fighting off legions of attackers on the outside as Kojima hits a lariat on Bone Solider inside.  He gets the three as “The music is altered due to musical rights” plays.

WINNERS: Team 2000

(Andrews’ Analysis:  It was a comedy match, with Cheeseburger being the focus of most of it.  Omega thankfully got the night off, appearing only in very short bursts.  Fale tried his best and that’s all I could ask for.  Overall bad, yet harmless.)

After the match we get an intermission.  The hard camera shows a young boy running the ropes while the fans get up to stretch the old legs.  I’ll be honest with you, I kind of liked it.  It makes you part of the event.  You want to visit the restroom?  Go for it!  Maybe stroll into the kitchen for a sandwich?  Hey, be our guest!  Are you into people watching?  Lock and load!  I know you can forward through the break, but you know what, I used my time wisely and grabbed a snack.  Alright fine.  I filled up my old-fashioned glass as well.

(5) KUSHIDA & Michael Elgin vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi)

Ahh, Naito.  The mocker of white picket worlds.  How great is this guy?  He and Takahashi come out to his Mega Man track, with Naito making some masked kids’ year by giving him a fist bump.  KUSHIDA has his championship McFly vest on, which is acceptable considering it was the next day.  He wasn’t expecting to lose, so why pack his Color Rush KUSHIDA gear?  Naito scares the piss out of the ringside announcers by lunging at them, then lobs his title in the ring before slowly making his way inside while making a gesture towards Elgin about breaking his orbital bone.  The balls on that guy.  His cup is overfloweth with panache!

Elgin and Naito start us out, giving the junior heavyweights a few extra seconds to rest after what they put themselves through the night before.  If you haven’t seen their match, do so.  You won’t be disappointed.  The crowd breaks out a “Naito!” chant as Naito paws at Elgin before leisurely walking to Takahashi for a tag.  I just realized that Marty is the ref, only noticing after Corino says “I hope Naito beats up Marty.”  Corino is great.  I’ll say it right now, he’s better than Michael Cole’s ass!  As is Kevin Kelly!  Disagree all you want.  It’s one man’s opinion, and my opinion is that Michael Cole is probably a nice guy but the sound of his voice makes me turn the channel, as evidenced by my failed attempt to watch RAW in 2014.  Not that he was the only reason, but it didn’t help.

Elgin and Takahashi lock up, but Elgin is strong.  Takahashi is tossed into the corner, reverses waistlocks with Elgin, and hits the ropes to find himself lifted and held hiiiigh in the air for a press slam.  As Elgin zips forth for a running forearm, Naito kicks him in the back for the apron.  But Elgin is strong!  He brushes Naito’s kick off like it was nothing and belts him with a forearm.  And Takahashi.  Elgin forces a “Gwah!” out of Takahashi as his ridge-hand nearly bursts the poor guys’ pepperonis right off his chest.  Takahashi throws Elgin into the ropes, which is turned into a diving dropkick to Naito.  Elgin is nimble!  Takahashi tries to ambush him, but Elgin shows off his quicks and gets back inside as KUSHIDA hits a springboard heel kick to send Takahashi out with Naito.  Elgin presses KUSHIDA and lobs him outside onto Naito and Takahashi!  It was a horrible game plan as KUSHIDA takes the worst of it as his face and arm slam onto the floor.  He’s in real pain, shuffling away from the wreckage with his arm in a self-sling.  There might have been a real issue here, as Elgin hurriedly sticks his hand outside the ring to high-five KUSHIDA as to say sorry.

Takahashi is rolled back in and into Elgin’s stalling suplex.  Naito boots Elgin in the stomach, but Elgin CONTINUES to hold Takahashi skyward before Naito can pull his partner back.  Naito hits a reverse atomic drop on Elgin, drops him down a level with a kick to the knee as Takahashi hits a low dropkick followed by one from Naito that strikes Elgin in the eye.  Kelly says that it was the same move that injured Elgin in the first place, so now I have an image of what happened to him.  Naito can be seen in the background with KUSHIDA while Takahashi stays on Elgin inside the ring.  Naito roughs up KUSHIDA’s injury by sending him shoulder-first to the ring post.  Takahashi chops Elgin thrice in the chest, met by a “come on” hand gesture from Elgin before that big ass ridge-hand swings towards Takahashi to try and break open his chest cavity.  It was loud, making the crowd “Ooooh” while Corino chuckled.

Naito is back in, digging his fingers into Elgin’s eyes.  Takahashi stays on Elgin with rakes to the eyes while Naito makes Corino’s night by shoving Marty to the mat.  He then strolls to the ropes and slaps his hands together to let Takahashi back in.  I love that for some reason.  Elgin was still out of it and Marty was making his way back to his feet and looking right at Naito, but Naito did the fake tag anyways.  More eye offense by Takahashi before getting caught rushing Elgin in the corner.  Elgin ragdolls him with a release belly-to-back.

KUSHIDA gets the tag, hitting a springboard back elbow on Takahashi and a cartwheeled low dropkick on Naito.  Night after night he refuses to lay off the accelerator.  Takahashi attempts a sunset flip, but his arm is snatched up and spun for The Hoverboard Lock, forcing the newly crowned champ to scurry to the ropes.  KUSHIDA tries to punt Takahashi’s arm, but gets his knee twisted up in a Dragon Screw Legwhip reversal.  Naito is in, eyeing up Elgin before dazzling me once again with the kick in the face to the outside/heel trip/rope-assisted dropkick back inside to KUSHIDA.  He follows that up by spitting at Elgin and telling him “Tranquilo”.  Naito hits an enzuigiri on KUSHIDA, whose body goes into auto-pilot to counter with a Pele kick in return.

Elgin is in, darting corner to corner to unleash two big clotheslines on Naito.  Naito knees his way out of a stalling vertical suplex and takes Elgin with him towards the ropes for a tornado DDT.  But Elgin stops the momentum cold!  He holds up his finger to the crowd before powering Naito up for a beautiful Falcon Arrow for two.  Takahashi runs in and gets German suplexed IMMEDIATELY – his body folded up tight and compact on the mat!  Elgin hits a rope-assisted enzuigiri on Naito, snatching him back up to hit a release German Suplex into the turnbuckles!  Takahashi is barely back on his feet before he’s packed up and given a running Death Valley Driver into Naito!  Jesus!  Naito rolls outside to the apron, but Elgin climbs up to the second rope and drops his hand down like he’s noodling to corral Naito.  Elgin powers him up and over the ropes for a SUPER falcon arrow!  Holy s- this guy!  Takahashi dives into the camera shot to break up the pin attempt.

While Naito lies motionless on the mat, Elgin spins that big ass of his 360 to deliver a nasty discus-chop!  Oooh, you vicious son of a bitch!  Takahashi is scooped up for a powerbomb, saved at the last second by Naito’s low dropkick to Elgin’s right knee.  KUSHIDA tries to enter, but Naito grabs Marty by the belt and collar and chucks him straight at him.  Naito hits a Dragon Screw Low Blow to KUSHIDA.  Then a Dragon Screw Low Blow to Elgin.  Out of nowhere Dragon Lee, as foreseen by Chopper Jones’ timely reference, slides into the ring and hits a beautiful German Suplex on Naito!  He sprints to the ropes, dumping Takahashi outside with a dropkick before leaping over the top ropes and flipping onto him!  Back inside, Elgin cracks Naito with a lariat and a…holy s-…Burning Hammer by Elgin!  1, 2, 3!!!

WINNERS: Michael Elgin & KUSHIDA

After the match, Takahashi rolls back into the ring, followed closely by Dragon Lee.  Dragon Lee flips Takahashi end over end in the air, catching him for a sit-out powerbomb that was far prettier than anything I could ever describe.  He grabs the Junior Heavyweight title as Kelly references Dragon Lee and Kamaitachi (Takahashi) battling it out just a year ago in Korakuen Hall.  Elgin grabs the IC title, raising it in the air as Dragon Lee raises the Junior Heavyweight title.  KUSHIDA slowly gets back into the ring and has words with Lee as the crowd oohs and ahhs.

(Andrews Analysis:  No night off for Naito and Takahashi.  They worked their assess off in this match, with both taking equal shares of Elgin’s offense.  I’m not entirely sure how fair this was considering Elgin got to fart around with Bill Gunn and Nagata in the Rumble while the other guys went through hell the night before.  Either way, this was an awesome match.  Seeing that Burning Hammer reminded me of Brain Kendrick hitting Kota Ibushi with it during the CWC as Daniel Bryan screamed, “Burning Hammer!  Pin him, Brian!!  Do it now!!!”  I love that call.  The inclusion of Dragon Lee at the end has piqued my interest for the immediate future of the Junior Heavyweight title, and you better believe I’m more than excited for Elgin vs. Naito.  I can’t wait to see how their two very different styles gel in a longer format singles match.)

(6) Katsuyoui Shibata  Tomoaki Honma & Yuji Nagata & Juice Robinson & Togi Makabe vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada (w/Gedo) & Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano & Will Ospreay & Hirooki Goto) 

Holy s- its Shibata!  BOTH Goto and Ishii stare him down when they enter the ring before the bell.  It’s like a cop who winds up in prison and is surrounded by those who he put away.  Which I guess makes Nagata Cash to Shibata’s Tango – the reluctant partner who eventually ends up sleeping with Shibata’s sister after the match is over.  Okada heads up the turnbuckles before the bell rings and calls for rain, but all that cascades through the air is some old woman’s glowering stare.  It was an amusing visual – some old biddy scowling with arms folded while awash in fans smiling and cheering Okada on.

Red Shoes gets the call for this match, working himself light-headed with the amount of times he has to bend over to frisk a guys’ boots before standing back up to check the next guy- repeating the whole process over and over again.  Ospreay jumps to the front of the line and points to Shibata’s Rev Pro title, jawing to an unimpressed face staring back at him.  Jesus.  Usually guys step up to Shibata with a cyanide capsule clenched between their teeth just in case.  Not Ospreay.  He’s into it!

We get a taste as Shibata and Ospreay usher their teammates to the apron so they can work.  They launch into mat wrestling, reversing each other expertly until they manage to get back to a standing base and Ospreay is released clean at the ropes.  So far so good.  As Shibata backs up, Ospreay delivers a lightning quick boot to Shibata’s face.  Ospreay is kneed in the gut, drug to the corner, and Shibata unloads on him with some stiff forearms.  Shibata takes off to the opposite corner, possibly thinking of the floating dropkick, but Ospreay races towards the middle of the ring and flings his body feet-first for a dropkick that sends Shibata rolling outside.  Ospreay charges the ropes, springboarding away as Shibata braces for impact, and backflips into a pose.  Shibata is PISSED!  He races back inside and takes a sweeping cut that singes Ospreay’s hairline as he narrowly ducks out of the way.  The crowd pollinates the hall with applause as Shibata rests his hands on his hips.  Deciding that the taste test was a success, he and Ospreay tag out to bring in Nagata and Yano.

The fans bust out a “Yano” chant, which infuriates Nagata, so he rolls outside to ice-grill the crowd.  The crowd IMMEDIATELY switch allegiances and start a Nagata chant.  Simple yet effective.  Nagata, pleased with the support, climbs back in and kicks Yano repeatedly in the thigh.  He misses a standing enzuigiri and gets smacked in the head.  Nagata shoots right back up to his feet, stomping towards Yano who backs himself between the ropes and screams, “break, break, break!”  Red Shoes obliges and turns Nagata away.  Nagata gets that enzuigiri after all and tags in Honma.  They hit a double shoulder-block before Nagata takes his leave.

Honma scoop-slams Yano and lands his falling timber headbutt.  As Honma takes off for the ropes, Yano tries to pulls his hair, but Honma’s haircut is too close to the wood for Yano to grab ahold of.  It was a god bit.  Very subtle.  CHAOS storms the ring and battles the other team in their corner as Yano removes the turnbuckle padding.  Yano slings Honma into said corner as the fight spills into the crowd.  Ishii throws Makabe’s head into a sign that reads “West”, which is hardly enough cushion against the concrete slab behind it.  Inside the ring, Yano tags in Okada, who just appeared out of nowhere.  Seriously.  He was damn near in the crowd a moment ago.  Okada hits the springboard senton onto Honma and takes a second to wipe the oil basted on Honma’s torso off his hands.

Goto gets tagged in, booting Honma in the back upon entry.  He’s in and out like the wind, tagging in Ospreay.  Ospreay rocks Honma with a stiff forearm as Ishii tags himself in.  A BIG chop knocks Honma to his knees.  Honma smacks Ishii’s chest repeatedly to back him off, but Ishii just growls and chops him in return.  He follows up with a clothesline in the corner, the collision providing Honma with a major whiplash effect.  Ishii and Honma battle for leverage on a suplex, ending with Honma getting the vertical hoist.  Yano tries to break up Honma’s attempt to tag out, getting planted skull-first to the mat with a DDT.  Makabe gets the tag, clearing the ring like he cocked back a street sweeper.  He’s got a set of Forever Clotheslines of his own, taking a roundtrip between Ishii and Yano.  Makabe controls Ishii on a Northern Lights Suplex, pressing him to the mat for two.

Ishii backdrops out of a Makabe piledriver and clotheslines his arm.  Ow!  They exchange stiff clotheslines, the last one rocking Ishii back on his heels.  Ishii shoots back, decking Makabe with a swinging lariat.  Ishii roars to the crowd, his mouth covered in blood from the gush flowing down from his nostrils.  Okada tags in, hits a European Uppercut, but pays dearly with a heavy clothesline from Makabe that bounces the back of Okada’s head off the mat.

Juice Robinson gets the tag, who I admittedly forgot was even in the match.  He screams “OKADA!” before clotheslining him in the corner, swiftly followed by a cannonball.  Okada punches his way out of a powerbomb attempt, shooting a wad of Juice Robinson’s spit into the air after lighting him up with a European Uppercut.  Okada rushes Juice, who counters with a Solarplexes Check!  Really well done, Juice!  Robinson gets to cover the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, netting a 2 ¾!  Hey, THAT’S something!  I’m excited for him!  Okada’s had enough screwing around, booting Juice in the face before hitting his package neckbreaker to the knee.  Okada tags in Goto, who hits Juice with a spinning heel kick in the corner, followed by a suplex.  Juice tries to fight back, hitting Goto with alternating jabs and chops, but gets leveled by a NEVER Openweight-caliber lariat.  Welcome to the division, Juice.  Shibata gets into the action, punting Goto in the back to break up a possible three-count.  Ospreay gets in, going straight for Shibata.  Ospreay tosses Shibata outside and sticks him in the guardrail with a suicide dive.

Goto tries for the GTR on Robinson, but Nagata storms the ring and kicks Goto in the face.  He’s wrecked instantly by an Ishii clothesline.  Ishii and Yano get the same treatment from Makabe’s double-clothesline.  Honma hits the falling timber headbutt on Ishii, who was already rolling out of the ring, and Okada comes in to dropkick Honma.  Okada screams at Goto to finish the match before rolling outside.  Goto and Robinson collide into one another with clotheslines, knocking both of them backwards.  They do it again, this time Robinson falling to his knees.  Goto hits the ropes for the kill shot, but Robinson springs back up and lariats the hell out of Goto!  Robinson’s got some fight in him!

Ospreay flies into the ring to knock Robinson out of the way.  Shibata enters right behind him, hitting a big boot to Ospreay’s face.  PK to Goto!  Shibata chases after Ospreay, running him through with a baseball slide outside!  Robinson is back up, hitting Goto with am Unprettier for the win!  Robinson buries his face in his hands, stunned that he just pinned the NEVER Openweight champion!  After it sinks in, Juice jumps to his feet and hugs Nagata as the rest of the team, minus Shibata, enters to celebrate Juice’s accomplishment.

WINNERS: Shibata & Honma & Makable & Nagata & Juice Robinson

After the match, CHAOS enters the ring as Robinson grabs Goto’s title and puts it around his waist.  The crowd explodes as the camera is zoomed in tight on Goto.  Kelly and Corino begin yelling about whatever is happening off camera.  Men decked out in black and white tracksuits hit the ring and attack everyone.  Kelly screams down their names: Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith Jr., Desperado, Taichi, Taka Michinoku, Takashi Iizuka, Kanemaru, and Suzuki!  “They’re back!  They’re back!”  They lay waste to everyone in a full-on beatdown.

“Killer Elite Squad!” Kelly burns through the lining of his esophagus as Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer hit the Hart Attack on Ishii.  They hit a double-powerbomb on Yano.  RPG Vice come out to get burned in the wreckage.  Even Gedo gets his ass kicked!  Okada rolls into the ring and tries to fight off the swarm, but Suzuki locks him in a chokehold as the crowd screams.  Suzuki releases the hold and hits Okada with a “Gotch-style piledriver”.  Holy s-!  He actually leapt into the air before coming down with Okada’s head!  Grizzly!  The turncoat fans begin chanting for the group, completely forgetting that only one night ago they were chanting for CHOAS.  Suzuki grabs the mic and chuckles.  He tells the fans to shut up and challenges Okada, who in all honestly can probably only hear the ringing of his own ears after that piledriver.  Suzuki says that he will rule the NJPW ring again and makes fun of the NJPW fans.  He promises that all of the belts will be theirs.  “Suzuki-Gun, ichiban.”  As Suzuki makes his way to the back, the attack continues until everyone is flat on their backs.  Somehow Yano has a title belt positioned perfectly on his waist.  “I think we’ve found CHOAS’ next challengers,” screams Kelly.  In one of the biggest examples of insult to injury, the crowd sings along to Suzuki-Gun’s theme as CHAOS gets carried to the back.  Heartless, heartless pricks.

(Andrews’ Analysis:  For a ten-man match it was pretty entertaining.  I loved that Shibata and Ospreay went at it from minute one, separated only by tag rules until Red Shoes gave up all hope and it all went to hell.  The moment where Ospreay leapt inside, followed closely by Shibata still looking for a fight, was brilliant.  We need to see these two go at it.  We deserve to see these two go at it.  I honestly thought that Shibata was getting that promotion since he was heavily featured by the cameraman coming into the ring, but Suzuki-Gun saw fit to reinforce that glass ceiling.

Obviously I have no idea who ¾ of that team even is, but hearing Suzuki’s name caught my attention immediately.  I know the name, but have never seen him wrestle.  I had no idea that he was a major figure in pro wrestling circles in 2017.  None whatsoever.  Furthermore, Taka Michinoku!  What a welcomed sight!  From incredible matches in ECW and Calgary Stampede, to Kaientai, to being a player in a major faction about to take NJPW by storm, I am so happy for that guy. And Davey Boy Smith Jr.?  Obviously I know the name, but am clueless on his in-ring ability.  My hopes are high though.  Also, the moment his name was called the first thing that popped in my mind – and maybe yours too if you’re down with the co-chairmen – was one name: Mr. Hitman.  I know it’s in reference to his late father, but every time I see this guy going forward, THAT is going to pop in my head and put a smile on my face.

And how can I forget Juice Robinson and Goto?  Robinson traded shots with Goto and made me want to see them feud for the NEVER Openweight title.  It’s half morbid curiosity to see if Juice can hang and half honest excitement for a new NEVER Openweight feud.  Assuming they have something else lined up for Shibata that is.)

(7) Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANDA & EVIL & BUSHI) (c) vs. Hiroshi Takahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi & Manabu Nakanishi) – NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Title Match

The crowd was silent when Tanahashi’s new music hit.  Its either an indictment of his new music not being quite up to snuff, or more likely, most of the fans in attendance didn’t go the Wrestle Kingdom and were wondering who in the hell was coming out.  I want that old music back please!  EVIL comes out pointing green faux-gamma rays from his fingertips.  I love EVIL the wrestler, but EVIL the showman wouldn’t make it a day on the haunted hayride circuit.  Aha!  Corino says that SANADA is his pick for breakout star of 2017.  You’re stock keeps rising Steve Corino.

Although Nakanishi starts the match against a shirted SANADA, the crowd serenades the ring with a “Tanahashi” chant.  “That SANADA is put together,” Corino swoons as EVIL blindsides Nakanishi.  While he and SANADA work him over, Red Shoes is just fiddle-f****ng around and not doing a thing about it.  Neither is Taguchi and Tanahashi by the way, both making half-assed attempts to get in the ring.  What kind of slapdash team is this?  SANADA and EVIL try to get Nakanishi up for a double suplex, but the big bastard hits a DOUBLE release Northern Lights suplex on both of them.  That was Incredible.  The crowd, especially the girls, squeal as Nakanishi tags in Tanahashi.  The Ace wrenches SANADA in a side-headlock and a throws him at Taguchi’s awaiting rear end.  The Funky Weapon gets the tag and tries for a running hip attack, but it’s countered with an atomic drop.  Great catch and reversal by SANADA.  BUSHI gets the tag, running the ropes for an eternity as Taguchi keeps dropping down.  He finally wises up on the last lap and hits a low dropkick to the side of Taguchi’s head.  Taguchi finally gets his running hip attack, which forces BUSHI outside.  Taguchi gets ambitious, snapping off the ropes to build up steam for another hip attack, but gets himself caught in the ropes as EVIL swings a chair at his cheeks.

EVIL pulls Tanahashi off the apron and lobs him into the guardrail, repeatedly smacking him in the leg with a chair afterwards – most of which occurring off-camera.  While BUSHI strangles Taguchi inside with his t-shirt, a throaty voice shouts “Everything is EEEEVIL”.  Red Shoes tries to count BUSHI off of Taguchi when he reaches the ropes, nevermind the god damn shirt leeched around his neck like a MIntz-Platz c- wrap.  He counts AGAIN, finally realizing that the t-shirt practically melded to Taguchi’s throat shouldn’t be there.  THIS is why Naito bullies his ass!  Not only is Red Shoes a narc, but he’s an absent-minded narc at that.  BUSHI tags in SANADA, who sidesteps a flying hip attack and tags in EVIL.  They double-team Taguchi – SANADA hitting a back elbow and EVIL dropping some serious weight down with a senton.  EVIL covers, but only gets a two.

EVIL is on fire, stunting Taguchi’s comeback attempt with a wicked double-chop to the chest before dashing over to the corner to drop Nakanishi’s neck across the top rope.  Taguchi hits a hip attack on EVIL, snatching him up for a dragon sleeper as BUSHI runs in.  He boots BUSHI, grabs him as well, and drops down for a traditional AND reverse DDT!  That is so much better than a hip attack!  Tanahashi recovers just in time to get the tag from Taguchi, limping his way through a hot tag that sees him fighting all three members of Los Ingobernables until only he and EVIL remain.  He scoop-slams EVIL in the corner and heads to the second rope for a front flip Swanton for two.  Kelly’s stock begins to rise with the revelation that Tanahashi’s new theme song needs to grow on him.

EVIL chopblocks Tanahashi and tags in SANADA.  He misses a dropkick to Tanahashi’s knee and gets pelted by one from Tanahashi in return.  It was a lightning quick comeback and looked terrific.  Tanahashi scoots across the mat and tags in Nakanishi, a man full of all types of piss and vinegar as he screams at SANADA before burying forearms deep into his gut.  He drops SANADA with a clothesline and takes out the rest of Los Ingobernables with double axe-handles.  He does the Hacksaw “Hoooo!” to the crowd’s delight and lariats SANADA for two.  SANADA flips out of a release German, joining EVIL for a double belly-to-back suplex for two.  Everyone jumps into the ring…and just like that the fight goes outside, leaving only SANADA and Nakanishi in the ring.

SANADA hits a springboard dropkick and takes off his shirt.  Corino: “Wow, Kevin Kelly just lost his breath on that one.”  Nakanishi reverses out of Shirtless SANADA’s dragon sleeper, who in turn reverses out of Nakanishi’s Hercules cutter.  That reversal gets Nakanishi trapped in the dragon sleeper, but Tanahashi dives back into the ring to hit a dragon screw neck whip on SANADA to break it up.  And yes, I know it’s a neckbreaker, but I like putting dragon screw in front of moves.  Tanahashi walks to the corner and steps outside, only to lean back in to receive a tag.  F****ng pro.  Nakanishi lunges for the tag, but EVIL trips Tanahashi to the floor before their hands could connect.  Lovely stuff.

BUSHI hits a missile dropkick on Nakanishi, nearly gets caught in a Hercules cutter a moment later, and counters with a kick to the undercarriage.  His heart must have been racing when Nakanishi snatched him up!  BUSHI hits a much safer double-knee drop to the chest of Nakanishi that Ricochet only wished he could have received the night before.  EVIL jumps Nakanishi, but Tanahashi gets back in to dragon screw leg whip him outside.  SANADA runs in, catching Tanahashi’s kick to the gut and turning it into a dragon screw leg whip.  Corino again: “They are so much alike.”  Taguchi runs in, hitting ANOTHER hip attack on SANADA before trading sick enzuigiris with BUSHI that he gets the better of.  Tanahashi catches BUSHI napping, driving the back of his head to the mat with a Slingblade.  Both he and Taguchi dive onto EVIL and SANADA outside as Nakanishi racks up BUSHI before hitting the Hercules Cutter.  And god damn!  It’s good for the win, ending Los Ingobernables reign in less than 24 hours!

Winners: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi & Manabu Nakanishi to win the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Titles

After the match EVIL grabs BUSHI and the ex-champs hit the bricks.  While the new champs help each other strap on the titles, Corino and Kelly mention that it hasn’t been a good night for Los Ingobernables de Japon as well as the Bullet Club.  They run down a list of shows that they/I will be covering, and it is far more events than I ever anticipated.  I’m up for the challenge, though you guys may not be.  Hey, you guys wyHeyHhave made it this far, why not hang in there for a few more?  Seriously.  Hang in there.  The BSD will literally pickle my nuts in a mason jar if I cost the Torch anymore loyal readers.

(Andrews Analysis:  After the match Corino said that Tanahashi, Taguchi, and Nakanishi are the tenth champions in 367 days.  That’s a terrible average reign, bordering on making the titles useless.  YES, six man tags are useless in general, but those titles exist for a reason.  Please, New Japan, at least make them mean something.  A hot potato title, or titles, is not a good thing.  Just ask the old hardcore champions of yore.  The match itself was…oh who the hell are we kidding?  It wasn’t very good.  Take out the Tanahashi and SANADA segments and it didn’t amount to anything more than a butt hitting contest and only one man was competing.  As far as Los Ingobernables’ six-man reign goes, it might be for the best.  Doesn’t it seem like BUSHI would be best served consistently being in the mix for the Junior Heavyweight title?  Or EVIL in the NEVER Openweight division?  OR SANADA possibly, maybe, hopefully sneaking his way in the IC title picture once Naito gets back into the Heavyweight title picture?  I understand giving the faction work in front of a crowd interested in them, but the six-man title is such a waste of their time.  The same goes for Tanahashi, which I am a little confused as to where they are going with him.  Maybe he’s been tasked with giving those titles meaning.  Then again, maybe he’s “rewarded” with being a title holder in order to take a short respite before going back into the IC title scene fulltime to put on those amazing thirty-plus minute wars.  Of course, I’m the new guy in all of this, so I’m sure the keener eye knows better.)

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Factions, factions, and more factions.  That’s what is going on here.  Jump into a faction now before it’s too late.  Suzuki is coming after Okada and Killer Elite Squad have probably bullied their way into a tag title shot, but what about everyone else?  Hell, Los Ingobernables, the most interesting faction in the company are protecting one title and it seems to be in good hands.  We know that Naito has Elgin waiting in the wings, but who is coming after the winner?  CHAOS?  Suzuki-Gun?  And what about the Bullet Club?  I started watching long after the heyday of Prince Devitt and Styles, but it seems to me as if The Bullet Club still has legs as long as they have a competent leader, most notably Kenny Omega as long as he sticks around.  If he doesn’t, does Cody RHODES take over just on the basis that he has a big enough name?  Do they seek out the services of someone signed to the company full-time?  Not to get all JR about it, but those shirts can’t move themselves.  Or, and I hope this isn’t the case, does the group just get disbanded if Omega leaves?  Then there’s the Junior Heavyweight and NEVER Openweight titles.  I’m definitely looking forward to Goto/Robinson and the stand-off between Takahashi/KUSHIDA/Lee.  But more than anything else, what the hell is going to happen to Shibata?  THAT’s the question!

As always, thank you for reading, even if you only surfed the whitewash.  I appreciate you guys stopping by and welcome any feedback that comes with it.  Positive or negative, I thoroughly enjoy all of it.  I even joined twitter, @RWAndrews0, so feel free to ring the doorbell and leave a flaming bag on the doorstep.  Kick a little ass this week why don’t ya.  Just be gentle with mine.

 

1 Comment on 1/5 New Japan’s New Year’s Dash from Tokyo: Takahashi, Nakanishi, KUSHIDA, Ricochet, O’Reilly, Finlay, Cole, Elgin, Young Bucks,

  1. “It was an absolute pleasure seeing “Chopper” Nick Jones – the eye in the sky overseeing this review series”

    As much as I harp on the Torch not covering Japanese wrestling enough, how could I not also speak up positively when that coverage appears? It’s refreshing to read the perspective of somebody who’s relatively unfamiliar with New Japan and just getting into it. 😀

    “Every match on the card is a tag match AND most will not be of the traditional variety.”

    That’s the way NJPW handles the cards of the vast majority of its small shows, and even the undercards of the big ones, as it saves wear and tear on the wrestlers.

    “Henare being the lone stranger to me.”

    He’s a young lion who has only just debuted within the last year, so he has a lot of room to grow. Hasn’t even been off on the standard excursion to Mexico or the ‘States or wherever he’ll be going to train further.

    “I’m going to have to dig into the core of The World to see what this guy is all about.”

    Try YOSHI-HASHI challenging Kenny Omega at Destruction in Hiroshima for Omega’s title shot at WK, it’s his most high profile match to date.

    “Suzuki’s name caught my attention immediately. I know the name, but have never seen him wrestle. I had no idea that he was a major figure in pro wrestling circles in 2017.”

    A few years ago Suzuki was continually floating around as a title challenger (if you want to see a really good match, check out 2014’s G1 Climax where he went up against AJ Styles) and Suzukigun was the big heel stable; however, things got a bit too crowded after Bullet Club’s rise, so they went off to invade Pro Wrestling Noah for a spell. They held all the promotion’s titles off and on, but were soundly defeated at the end of 2016 and sent packing. Not sure how they really fit in New Japan anymore after Los Ingobernables essentially took their exact spot (and with a more interesting crew, to boot), but we’ll see what happens.

    “But more than anything else, what the hell is going to happen to Shibata?”

    Shibata is actually facing allegations relating to potential infidelity right now, so I wouldn’t count on seeing him as a featured performer for a while. That sort of thing tends to be very damaging to careers in Japan.

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