NJPW NEW YEAR DASH REPORT (1/5): Lansdell’s report on Moxley & Okada & Danielson & Ishii vs. TMDK, LIJ vs. Just Five Guys, more

by Chris Lansdell, PWTorch contributor


January 5, 2024

Announcers: Walker Stewart, Rocky Romero, and Chris Charlton

The gimmick behind this show is that we won’t know the card until wrestlers make their entrances. The show was a complete sellout at the Sumida City Gymnasium, which is a good sign for New Japan.

(1) RYUSUKE TAGUCHI vs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI – NJPW World Television Title Match

Originally the match was supposed to be non-title, but Taguchi got on the mic before the match and asked for a title shot. President Ace did not hesitate in obliging.

The match started off with some comedy as Tanahashi whipped Taguchi into the ropes and then kept sidestepping him and pushing him into the ropes again. This led to an exhausted Taguchi collapsing into Tanahashi’s crucifix for a near fall. Tanahashi then used a couple of Taguchi-style hip bumps, but ran into a flying hip attack from Taguchi.

Tanahashi rolled to the floor and was met there with a slingshot plancha by Taguchi. Back inside the ring, Taguchi connected with the Three Amigos, albeit with great effort. He measured Tanahashi for the Bummer Ye, and hit it for a near fall. Taguchi turned the kickout into an ankle lock, which Tanahashi escaped at the five-minute mark.

The pair worked through a series of rollups and reversals, including another comedy spot which gave us rather more of a view of Tanahashi’s presidential posterior than we would have expected to receive. Tanahashi locked up a tight rollup reversal to pick up the win.

WINNER: Hiroshi Tanahashi via pinfall in 6:00 to retain the NJPW World Television Title. (*1/2)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: It wasn’t meant to be a wrestling classic, and it was not. I got a chuckle out of it at least, but this was here to get Tanahashi on the card early and to show us the prevailing mood of the night: fun.)

– After the match we got a video introduction for Matt Riddle, the King of Bros, who challenged Tanahashi for the TV title. Tanahashi took the mic and said he would accept the challenge any time, but he had no idea who that guy was and he would have to go do some research. Ouch.

(2) KAITO KIYOMIYA & RYOHEI OIWA vs. BISHAMON (Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi)

Well this could be an interesting matchup. These two teams did not face off in World Tag League, but both were on the losing side yesterday.

Oiwa and Yoshi-Hashi started the match, but Kiyomiya didn’t leave it long before coming into the ring and hitting a tandem dropkick on Yoshi-Hashi. Soon after Goto returned the favour and helped Yoshi-Hashi pummel down Oiwa. A series of chops got a two-count for Yoshi-Hashi, who tagged in Goto.

Oiwa fired up and hit a brainbuster, and made the tag to Kiyomiya. He had dropkicks for both members of Bishamon, and a big lariat for Goto. Goto escaped a suplex attempt and then hit a lariat of his own. Oiwa tagged in and prevented Goto from making a tag. Kiyomiya and Oiwa took turns hitting running forearms on Goto in the corner, before Goto reversed a double team move and hit a spinning wheel kick and a back suplex.

Yoshi-Hashi came in to interrupt further double-team shenanigans, and they dumped Kiyomiya to the floor. One Violent Flash and Shoto later, and Bishamon picked up the win.

WINNERS: Bishamon via pinfall in 8:00 (**)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Not much to see here. Bishamon needed the win to get themselves back on track and in contention, and Oiwa was always the likely fall guy. Commentary took great pains to explain the losing that Kiyomiya and Oiwa have been doing, saying it was because Kiyomiya wants to give Oiwa every chance to prove himself. An admirable attempt, but I didn’t buy it. This was decent, but there wasn’t enough offence from Kiyomiya and Oiwa in my mind.)


The Young Lions did not sprint to the ring, which was interesting. We found out that this was their send-off match as they are going on excursion. I believe I called that. Nakashima especially looks very ready.

We started off with the fun prospect of Hikuleo and Leube facing off. Leube actually sent Hikuleo over the top to the floor with a clothesline, before he and Nakashima took turns hitting ELP with charging attacks in the corner. A tandem big boot to ELP got a two-count. Nakashima applied a Boston Crab to ELP, and while in that hold Leube hit a big leg drop. Nakashima transitioned to a high-angle crab until Hikuleo broke the hold.

Hikuleo tagged in and called fo Leube to tag in too. The two behemoths faced off mid-ring and exchanged forearms. Leube got the upper hand but then decided to run at Hikuleo. It ended in a large shoulder tackle by Hikuleo, and a vertical suplex for a two-count.

ELP tagged in and dropped an elbow off the second rope for two. Another quick tag to Hikuleo and a DDT got another two-count for the champs. Leube hit a stunning dropkick, getting up high enough to catch Hikuleo on the jaw, then tagged in Nakashima. He took down ELP with forearms, but got a little too exuberant and ran into a crossbody. ELP tried a lionsault but Nakashima got his knees up. Nakashima attempted a series of rollups for a series of near falls, until ELP decided he had had enough and hit the UFO for a near fall. Hikuleo intercepted Leube’s intervention attempt with a snap powerslam and a chokeslam. Superkick from ELP to Nakashima! Chokeslam to Nakashima! The Super Thunderkiss ‘86 to both men (helpfully stacked on top of each other by Hikuleo) ended the bout.

WINNERS: Guerillas of Destiny via pinfall in 6:00. (**1/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: The young guys put on a decent showing, as you would expect in their send-off match, and the tag champs gave them a lot. Nothing much to see here.)

– After the match, ELP encouraged the Young Lions to pose for the crowd. After the Young Lions left the ring, Chase Owens jumped ELP and hit the package piledriver on him before taking a microphone. He challenged GoD for the IWGP tag titles, and said his partner would be Kenta. Hikuleo accepted the challenge.

(4) SHOTA UMINO & EL DESPERADO & MASTER WATO & TAMA TONGA & TOGI MAKABE & TOMOAKI HONMA vs. HOUSE OF TORTURE (Evil & Sho & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Dick Togo & Yujiro Takahashi & Ren Narita)

There are too many people in this match. On the bright side, you can’t interfere in a match if you’re part of the match. Commentary did mention that Tama Tonga would be leaving New Japan soon, which is somewhat surprising for them to mention.

To the surprise of nobody, everyone attacked everyone before the bell. Sho and Kanemaru ended up in the ring with Desperado, but Wato soon came to his friend’s aid and broke up the double team. Things settled down with Honma and Kanemaru in the ring. Honma missed Kokeshi and…oh look it broke down again.

Evil tagged in and whipped Honma into a corner, where of course Togo had removed the padding. Takahashi tagged in and started choking Honma on the mat. Takahashi continued the beatdown until Honma was able to hit a DDT and tag in Makabe.

Evil tried to blindside Makabe but was cut off by Tama. Tama and Makabe each hit the corner ten-spot punches on their respective foes, and Tama took Evil to the outside. Takahashi countered an attempt into an inverted DDT, leading to both Umino and Narita tagging in.

Umino charged his rival and hit a big dropkick for a two-count. He borrowed from his mentor Jon Moxley’s playbook with the 12-6 elbows. Narita blocked a Death Rider attempt and hit a Ruff-Rider-style knee attack. All six members of House of Torture came in and ran through Umino, and then things degenerated again. When the dust cleared Umino connected with Death Rider for the win.

WINNERS: Umino & Tonga & Makabe & Honma & Wato & Desperado via pinfall in 9:00. (*)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: What a mess. There was one nice sequence near the end with people just hitting one big move and leaving the ring, but that’s it. This match existed only as a vehicle for the post-match beatdowns.) 

– After the match, House of Torture put a beating on their opponents. Narita choked out Umino with the push-up board from yesterday. Evil handcuffed Tama Tonga and cut his hair. Kanemaru and Sho took out Desperado with a belt shot. Well there are your title feuds.

(5) UNITED EMPIRE (Henare & Jeff Cobb & Francesco Akira & TJP & Will Ospreay) vs. BULLET CLUB WAR DOGS (Clark Connors & Drilla Moloney & Gabe Kidd & Alex Coughlin & David Finlay)

This is an excellent matchup full of feuds. There’s also the added intrigue of who will take over the leadership of United Empire once Ospreay leaves, which the commentary team mentioned.

Naturally we started with a full-on brawl as all ten men fought out into the crowd. Akira went to the balcony on the second floor of the gym and jumped onto the other nine men, which looked a lot more dangerous than it probably was.

Finlay and Ospreay made it into the ring, and Ospreay connected with the springboard forearm for a one-count. Kidd and Coughlin nailed him from behind and hit a tandem clothesline/German suplex combo. Henare interrupted and took down Kidd with a berserker bomb, while Cobb blitzed Coughlin and flattened him with a dropkick. Coughlin was sporting a nasty bruise from the table spot last night. Moloney and Connors took out Cobb from behind, but Henare took them down with a double clothesline. Coughlin caught Henare in mid-air and tossed him overhead with a suplex. TJP returned to the ring, leading to the referee being sandwiched in the corner before Coughlin hit TJP with a gutwrench throw.

Coughlin and TJP were left in the ring. Coughlin got himself a chair but he ate a pair of superkicks from Akira and TJP. He was able to shrug them off and clothesline both halves of Catch-22. He attempted to waffle Henare with a chair, who blocked it with a fist before cleaning Coughlin’s clock. The ref returned to the ring just in time to prevent a Henare chairshot to Coughlin. Connors gouged Henare’s eyes from behind, then got into a shoving match with the referee. Connors speared the ref! Somehow that is not a disqualification?

Cobb got revenge for the referee with a huge overhead throw. Kidd then waylaid him with a brainbuster. Akira tried his luck with Kidd and got beaten down and bitten in a corner. He did however drop Kidd on an exposed turnbuckle face first. Finlay tried to take out Akira but was foiled by a headscissors.Kidd leveled Akira with a lariat, and we saw from that Kidd was busted wide open from the turnbuckle.

Then things got really chaotic. Bullet Club started throwing furniture into the ring, including some of the fans’ seating. At least one chair struck the replacement ref. Barricades soon followed, and the referee called for the bell

WINNERS: No Contest at 7:00 (No Rating)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Again this was only here to get us to the post-match activities. There’s too much animosity between the groups for this match to have unfolded without some form of chaos, but nobody expected what followed.)

– After the match, absolute chaos ensued. Kidd mounted Ospreay and pummeled him, sending him to the floor for Finlay. Moloney and Connors gouged the eye of Akira with a fork. Ospreay was busted open. Cobb and Ospreay broke up the forking, Ospreay hitting a springboard cutter to pull Moloney off the turnbuckle where he was busy stabbing Akira. Finlay and Ospreay slugged it out, with Ospreay hitting the Os-Cutter and setting for Hidden Blade. Gedo stopped that with a low blow. Finlay and Gedo set up a table in the corner while beatings continued outside the ring. TJP broke up the powerbomb attempt by Finlay, and Cobb launched Kidd with Spin Cycle.

In the end, TJP misted Finlay and hit the Final Cut as Ospreay powerbombed Gedo through a table to have United Empire stand tall. Well, except Akira who was having his eye bandaged. Ospreay took the mic and said Feb. 11 was his last match in NJPW, and he would fight side by side with his brothers against Bullet Club in whatever match Finlay chose. Finlay said if he can pick the rules, how about no rules? How about no escape? It will be a steel cage match. If that does in fact happen, it would be the first cage match in New Japan in 20 plus years, and the first with fans in attendance.

(6) JUST FIVE GUYS (Taka Michinoku & Douki & Yuya Uemura & Taichi & Sanada) vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi & Yota Tsuji & Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito)

I am a little surprised, I kind of expected a Naito and Sanada team-up tonight. Uemura and Tsuji started us off and Tsuji just dominated Uemura, cleaning his clock with a big boot and countering two offensive attempts with a headscissors and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Uemura did come back with a sweet dropkick and an enzuigiri, and both men made the tag.

Douki and Hiromu squared off in a high-paced exchange. Hiromu blocked Daybreak into a Time Bomb, which Douki escaped. A series of reversals ended with a basement dropkick by Hiromu and a tag to Naito. Douki countered a tandem clothesline attempt with a springboard back elbow, then tagged in Sanada.

The former champ cleaned house, and tied up Tsuji in the paradise lock. A charging Shingo was caught with a drop toehold and fell face-first into the rear end of Tsuji. Naito came in and got caught with a magic screw. Bushi cut off the momentum and rolled Sanada into a kick from Naito.

A brief brawl led to Taichi and Shingo in the ring together as legal men. Shingo leveled Taichi with a clothesline and told everyone it was his time…but apparently it was his time to be kicked in the back. Taichi kicked Shingo in the head, Shingo clotheslined Taichi, and Taichi kicked Shingo in the head again leaving both men down.

Bushi and Taka tagged in and Taka quickly applied his Just Facelock submission. The hold was broken up by Naito, which led to four of LIJ hitting a basement dropkick on Taka at the same time. The ring cleared out leaving Taka and Bushi…Michinoku Driver! 1…2…3!!!

WINNERS: Just Five Guys via pinfall in 6:00 (*1/2)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: It’s getting an extra half a star solely for the fact that Taka got the pin and we got to hear his old WWF theme. The fact that the two lowest members in terms of card position were involved in the decision tells you that this entire feud is not done.)

After the match both units faced off, with Tsuji and Uemura having the most tension. Sanada took the mic and proposed that they make things a little more interesting between the factions. Sanada challenged Naito to a rematch, though the champion did not immediately respond. Sanada then said that Just Five Guys won the match, and asked LIJ to kindly take their leave. Taka took the mic and said that it was a year ago that Just Four Guys was founded, and now a year later they are still here as Just Five Guys. They started with nothing and they have nothing now, but they were going to change the world of pro wrestling.

(7) YOH vs. TORU YANO vs. TAIJI ISHIMORI vs. GREAT-O-KHAN – NJPW King of Pro Wrestling Provisional Championship Scramble match

There was a ten-minute time limit on this match, with pinfalls legal throughout, and the last person to get a pin before the time limit leaving as the provisional champion.

The other three men stomped down O-Khan to start the match and sent him to the floor. Yoh and Ishimori double dropkicked Yano to the floor and then decided to wrestle at a million miles an hour with a series of rollup reversals. O-Khan returned to the ring and schoolboyed both of them for a near fall.

Yano got up to Yano things, removing a corner pad before being whipped into said corner by O-Khan. O-Khan sat on Yano’s head in the corner but was headscissored off the top by Ishimori. Yoh then got a quick pin on O-Khan to put himself in the driver’s seat.

Ishimori hit a shoulderbreaker on Yoh but charged into a superkick. O-Khan tried to decide who to pin, but in the end got a two-count on each of the two. He tossed Yoh to the floor and then countered a leaping DDT by Ishimori, throwing him to the floor as well. then applied the Claw to the head of Yano. The match was pinfalls only, so a submission wouldn’t have counted. Tombstone connected for O-Khan for a near fall. He then applied the head and arm choke on Yano. Another near fall for O-Khan.

O-Khan put down Yano with the Eliminator, but Yoh interrupted the pin with a superkick. O-Khan blocked a second superkick and hit the Eliminator on Yoh for a pin. For some reason he decided to pin Yoh a second time and got another three-count. He rolled Yoh to the floor, and with a minute left Ishimori nailed O-Khan in the lower abdomen and got a very quick three-count.

With 30 seconds left O-Khan rolled Yano in the ring and tried to cover him but Ishimori broke it up. Ishimori then fled to ringside, grabbed the belt, and ran into the crowd with 15 seconds left. O-Khan decided to chase him instead of pinning Yano, and time expired with Ishmori bravely running away.

WINNER: Taiji Ishimori via survival in 10:00 (**1/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: This was fun, but honestly they could have done so much more with that stipulation. I liked the finish, and Taiji Ishimori as champ could be interesting. I always thought he could be a heavyweight, maybe this is the gateway.)

(8) TOMOHIRO ISHII & JON MOXLEY & KAZUCHIKA OKADA & BRYAN DANIELSON vs. TMDK (Zack Sabre Jr. & Shane Haste & Mikey Nicholls & Kosei Fujita)

The smile on Danielson’s face as he came out was enough to warm my very sleep-deprived heart. We had been told all through the show that he was on a plane to the US already. I tried and failed to imagine how Ichiban Sweet Main Event Boy must have felt in the ring with these legends, but good grief.

Danielson and ZSJ opened the festivities. As expected they did a lot of mat work and reversals, culminating in a leg kick exchange and a standoff. Okada and Nicholls tagged in and ran into each other a few times. Okada hit a drop toehold and his whole team hit charging attacks in the corner on Nicholls.

Nicholls connected with a back suplex and tagged in Haste, who laid in some shots before tagging in ZSJ. One neck crank later and Fujita tagged in. He went after the arm of Okada, then decided to toy with him. Fujita hit a series of forearms but charged directly into a big boot.

Fujita tagged Nicholls in and cut off Okada’s tag attempt. Okada countered a whip and hit a flapjack, then tagged in Moxley. Cutter from Moxley to Nicholls. He went to the floor and whipped both Haste and Fujita into the barricade, then returned to the ring and battered Nicholls in the corner. A superplex connected for Moxley, and he applied a cloverleaf that was quickly broken up by Shane Haste.

Haste and Nicholls hit a tandem back suplex/neckbreaker combo on Moxley. They went for Highway to Hell but Moxley countered into a double DDT, then tagged in Ishii. Ishii leveled Haste twice with shoulder tackles, then followed up with a back suplex for a two-count.

ZSJ came in and locked in a sleeper from behind on Ishii. Danielson did the same to ZSJ, who then reversed it. Danielson leveraged him to the floor then hit a flying knee off the apron. Haste and Nicholls went to work on Ishii, and Fujita slid in to cut off Okada from making the save. They hit a three-person suplex on Ishii, but Okada broke up the fall. He disposed of Haste and Nicholls, then hit a dropkick and air raid crash to send Fujita to the floor.

Haste hit a high kick on Ishii, then a Falcon Arrow for a near fall. Nicholls rejoined and they went for a Tankbuster, but Moxley broke it up. Moxley and Ishii hit German suplexes on Haste and Nicholls, then Okada and Danielson took out ZSJ. Ishii leveled Haste with a lariat for a near fall, but Fujita interrupted the brainbuster attempt. He then flew over the top with a tope con hilo to Okada on the floor.

Danielson locked in a crossface on Danielson, leaving Ishii and Haste to battle. Nicholls interrupted and they hit Tankbuster on Ishii! ZSJ reversed the hold to cut off Danielson as Haste pinned Ishii for the win!

WINNERS: TMDK via pinfall in 14:00. (***1/2)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: The one match that was supposed to impress actually did, and it set up all of TMDK to do impressive things in 2024. Everyone had a chance to look great here, and the result was a massive surprise.)

After the match ZSJ told Danielson he wants his rematch, and next time he will tap Danielson out. Fujita took the mic and said that he, Haste and Nicholls wanted the Six-Man titles currently held by Okada, Ishii and Tanahashi. Okada said (without the mic) that Fujita is in no position to challenge him. Fujita then turned to Tanahashi (who was ringside doing Japanese commentary) to issue the challenge instead.

In backstage comments, we had Shingo challenge Jon Moxley for Battle in the Valley on Jan. 13 in San José.

Final thoughts: New Year Dash is meant to be a night of surprises and dream teams and story development. We got all that, and a solid main event match to boot. All the way down the card there was something being built or developed. Tanahashi has a debuting Matt Riddle coming for him, likely in San José. Bishamon put themselves back in the picture with a strong tag team showing. Two Young Lions got their send-off and Guerillas of Destiny have their first challengers. House of Torture basically declared their intent to come after everything, and Narita vs. Umino is just getting heated up. United Empire and Bullet Club is now a genuine literal blood feud. Sanada is not done with Naito, and Uemura is not done with Tsuji. Ishimori could be going heavyweight. And the main event set up a lot of intriguing concepts, not least of which the ascension of Kosei Fujita. Definitely an eventful night, if not a stellar one in the ring. Things are about to get interesting.

You can contact me at lansdellicious@gmail.com or on Twitter @lansdellicious . Thanks for joining us!

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