New Japan Pro-Wrestling: New Year Dash 2018 (Review)

After the biggest Wrestle Kingdom of all time, the stars of New Japan Pro-Wrestling descend upon Korakuen Hall, all aiming to make their own statements and set the course of their careers for the next twelve months…

Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroshi Tenzan
Ren Narita, Tetsuhiro Yagi, Syoto Umino & Tomoyuki Oka
(Winners via pinfall: Nakanishi, Nagata, Kojima & Tenzan)

Hirai Kawato, Tiger Mask, Jushin Thunder Liger, Henare & Togi Makabe
Taka Michinoku, El Desperado, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Iizuka
(Winners via pinfall: Michinoku, Desperado, Taichi, Kanemaru & Iizuka)

Jay White
Katsuya Kitamura
(Winner via pinfall: Jay White)

Cheese Burger, SHO & YOH
Nick Jackson, Matt Jackson & Kenny Omega (“The Elite”)
(Winners via pinfall: The Elite)

Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA, David Finlay, Juice Robinson & Kota Ibushi
Leo Tonga, Marty Scurll, Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi & Cody Rhodes
(Winners via submission: Tonga, Scurll, Owens, Takahashi & Rhodes)

Beretta, Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii
Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale
NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
(Winners and new champions: Loa, Tonga and Fale)

Hanson, Raymond Rowe, Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi
Davey Boy Smith Jr., Lance Archer, Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki
(Winners via pinfall: Smith Jr., Archer, Sabre Jr. & Suzuki)

Gedo, Will Ospreay, YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada
Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI, SANADA, EVIL & Tetsuya Naito
(Winners via pinfall: Takahashi, BUSHI, SANADA, EVIL & Naito)


Typically, New Japan Pro-Wrestling‘s multi-man tag team matches are filler, used to pad out the first half of NJPW‘s shows, but featuring the big stars who people want to see, but who aren’t scheduled for big singles matches on that particular night. They’re normally easy enough to watch, never excelling, but rarely disappointing. When the card for New Year Dash 2018 was announced prior to the show, I’d be lying if I said that the prospect of seven of the eight matches being multi-man tag matches wasn’t both underwhelming, and somewhat terrifying.

That said, on this occasion these matches were all good value for money. Riding on the hype that surrounded Wrestle Kingdom 12 the night prior (you can read our review of that fantastic show here), the stars of New Japan brought an energy and excitement to this show that made it compelling viewing from start to finish, and quite a quick watch.

Typically, with Wrestle Kingdom out of the way and many storylines and chases now over, this show is the one that sets up things to come in the immediate future, and not so immediate future. That was the case here too, and whilst there wasn’t anything noteworthy to discuss about the wrestling on show, there was certainly some big moments that do need our attention.

Most notably, Chris Jericho returned at the end of the show to attack Tetsuya Naito. Going into Wrestle Kingdom 12, many had hoped Jericho would stick around for more than the one Kenny Omega match, but we had no indication that this would be the case. We got that confirmation at New Year Dash, however, as the former world champion set his sights on fan favourite Naito. A match pitting Jericho against the 2017 G1 Climax winner was merely a hopeful dream for many, but this attack suggests that the match will in fact happen, and may happen very soon. One would assume it will happen at Strong Style Evolved, given the show takes place on US soil and Jericho would help move tickets, but you can never be sure, and it’s possible Jericho might face Naito before then and set his targets even higher at the US event (looking at you, Kazuchika Okada). Jericho is doing wonderful work in NJPW, and I can’t imagine there’s any wrestling fan out there who wants his run with the company to end. Here’s hoping he sees out 2018 with them, or at least the first six months of it.

The other significant moment came when Kenny Omega and Cody Rhodes got into a near-scuffle following Omega’s save of Kota Ibushi from a potential brutal attack with a chair by Rhodes. Omega and Rhodes are partners in Bullet Club currently, but this rivalry has been teased for over nine months, and one can only assume that they’ll pull the trigger on it at some point this year (Cody would certainly make for a good second IWGP United States Champion, given how high is stock is right now). That Omega’s previous relationship with Ibushi was used as the spark to jumpstart this conflict was very smart creative, and one can only assume that Omega and Ibushi are set to face off at some point down the line, regardless of the save from Omega here.

That would-be Bullet Club meltdown led to Omega calling out Jay White, offering him a Bullet Club t-shirt, and stating his belief that White was the man who could unite the faction properly. White seemed to accept, before he wiped out Omega and made it clear that he now has his sights on Omega’s championship, after losing his attempt at Hiroshi Tanahashi’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship one night earlier.

This angle was incredibly entertaining, but I’d be lying if I said that I had an interest in Jay White at this point. I don’t buy into his look, and his match with Tanahashi was a snorefest. He’s being afforded a lot of opportunities right now, and one hopes that he can make the most of them, because there are a lot of viewers out there who are currently unconvinced by him. Angles like these will certainly help get him over though, as will working with people like Omega, and more.

It would be wrong to say that New Year Dash was a typical New Japan show, because in many ways it wasn’t. It lacked the killer singles match (or matches) that lights up social media, and there was obviously very little build going into it given most rivalries wrapped up the night before. But that aside, the story progression here was wonderful, and there were some fun segments littered throughout the show. Okada and Naito coming to blows again also got the crowd pumped, and suggested that we aren’t completely finished with that feud yet.

There was a lot to see here, and if you watch NJPW beyond its annual Tokyo Dome show, you’ll find this a fun and necessary watch.

Match of the Night

Beretta, Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale



Click here to watch this show on

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