NJPW New Year Dash! Report | aired 1/5/19

New Japan Pro Wrestling presents

NEW YEAR DASH! 2019
January 5, 2019
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo

Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton & Rocky Romero on commentary.

SUZUKI-GUN (Killer Elite Squad & Takashi Iizuka)
vs
ROPPONGI 3K

Suzuki-Gun attacks before the bell – WHAT A SURPRISE! We then get the bell, Iizuka beats down Sho at ringside, Archer is on Rocky and Smith brings Yoh into the crowd. Archer and Rocky back in the ring and Rocky tries Forever Clotheslines, but Archer absorbs each one and keeps coming. Rocky uses speed to dump Archer and looks to fly, but Archer catches a suicide dive and chokeslams Rocky on the apron!

Archer tosses Rocky back in and circles him, then lands a big stalling body slam. Running elbows in the corner on Rocky by Archer, who then unmasks Iizuka and tags him in. Iizuka goes wild and bites Rocky, Yoh comes in but gets bitten, and then same with Sho as Iizuka is BITING FOOLS! Boots to Rocky by Iizuka, who then bites the hand as Smith takes the tag and continues the pressure on Rocky. Double team by KES in the ropes, big Euro from Smith and the crowd chants for Rocky.

Rocky tries to escape and get the tag but Smith cuts him off and lands a big boot. Atomic Leg Drop from Smith, but broken up at 2. Rocky looks to fight back, misses the enziguri but catches him with the back kick, and tags Yoh which brings in R3K fast with double teams. Smith fights both off but they use speed and numbers to get a double kneeling dropkick on Smith. Suzuki-Gun comes back and dumps Sho to begin the triple team on Yoh. Super Powerslam off the middle rope from Yoh, but Sho breaks it up at 2.

HUGE lariat from Archer just takes Sho’s head off, and KES looks for the Killer Bomb on Yoh. Yoh fights it off, Rocky sends Archer outside with a missle dropkick and R3K gets a triple knee strike on Smith, with Rocky taking out Archer with a suicide dive. R3K looks to double team Smith but Smith DOUBLE NORTHERN LIGHTS them and tags Iizuka, who does the wild thing again. Yoh sneaks in a rollup though and gets the quick 3 count and WIN over Suzuki-Gun!

Roppongi 3K defeats Suzuki-Gun by pinfall after a rollup
JAY’S RATING: 2.5 out of 5

This was a fine little opening match to kick us off. Would have liked something a bit more urgent and competitive just to get the juices flowing for the night, but this accomplished everything that needed accomplishing to get the event going, with KES looking strong, and R3K getting a nice win over the bigger scarier team after the relatively quick loss in the WK13 title match. Decent effort.

After the match, Suzuki-Gun goes ballistic, with Smith hitting a Running Powerslam on a Young Boy in the crowd, as R3K bails.

CHASE OWENS & YUJIRO TAKAHASHI vs TOMOAKI HONMA & TOA HENARE

Commentary talks about the uncertainty of where Yujiro and Chase exist between The Elite and BC. Honma and Chase lock up to start, with Honma staying ahead of Chase early on. Slam by Honma and looks for a falling Kokeshi but Chase rolls out of the ring to avoid. Tag to Yujiro, tag to Henare on the other side. Lock up, they back into the ropes, each avoid shots, Yujiro pie faces Henare and bites the hand but then eats big chops. Boot from Yujiro but Henare takes him down with a nice tackle.

Henare runs the ropes but Chase gets the cheap shot allowing Yujiro to take back control. The action spills to ringside, with Pieter getting a slap in on Henare to a pop. Yujiro keeps Henare grounded, tag to Chase who works over Henare’s left leg. Slam by Chase, who mocks Kokeshi and lands a falling one on Henare while swearing at Honma. Tag to Yujiro, who lays a big boot in on Henare in the corner, covers but only gets 2.

Henare tries to fire back, but gets cut off by Yujiro who lands a running low dropkick and covers for 2. Yujiro looks for the Fisherman Buster but Henare uses his power to reverse it into a vertical suplex. Tag to Honma who takes down Yujiro and Chase, chops to Yujiro and a big corner clothesline and facebuster from Honma. Kokeshi attempt misses again, opening up a dropkick and Fisherman Buster from Yujiro, covers but Honma is out at 2.

Yujiro looks for a bomb, Honma reverses and gets a back elbow and falling Kokeshi at last! Yujiro tags in Chase, tag to Henare who absorbs shots and takes out Chase with a big running tackle. Yujiro in but Henare keeps the offense on both, landing a Samoan Drop on Chase for 2. Henare looks to finish, Chase reverses and snatches a gorgeous ankle lock on Henare, but Honma breaks it up. Double team by BC on Honma, but Henare gets a backslide on Chase for 2. Low superkick by Chase stuns Henare, allowing Chase to land the Package Piledriver, cover and thats the 3 count and the WIN.

Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi defeat Henare & Tomoaki Honma by pinfall after the Package Piledriver
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5

Another solid match early in the card, with Chase and Yujiro getting a much needed win. Honma struck me as moving a bit extra slow, which hurt the momentum, and this match didnt really have much to drive it urgency-wise. But at the end of the day it was Henare and Chase who brought enough electricity to keep it interesting, as Henare continues to improve each time out and Chase shows why he is one of the better kept secrets in all of New Japan. Chase is talking about “new year, new Chase”, and I’m hopeful to see a bit of a breakout from him then, because from a pure ability standpoint, he’s pretty great. Happy to see him get the fall here.

BEST FRIENDS vs JUICE ROBINSON & DAVID FINLAY

Commentary talks about Chuckie’s erratic behavior during World Tag League, particularly using a chair which was what got them DQed in their tournament match against Juice and Finlay. Will Chuckie keep it together tonight? Chuckie and Finlay start off as the bell rings. Finlay goes behind, counter wrestling starts us off, with Finlay taking down Chuckie with a tackle. Dropkick from Finlay sends Chuckie outside, and Best Friends regroup and hug.

Tag to Trent. Finlay gets a dropkick on Trent right away and sends him outside too! Trent goes up the stands to get a hug from his mom. Awesome. Trent comes back down to the ring, and Chuckie gets in his face, with Trent saying “I already hugged you” and tensions flare. Back in and Juice gets a blind tag for a double team facebuster on Trent, followed by double dropkicks on Chuckie. Double pescados follow that, and Juice and Finlay hug it out too.

Best Friends get whips to the barricade on Juice and Finlay to regain control. Chuckie drapes Finlay, and Trent gets a running double stomp to the back off of the apron as the ref beginds the count. Trent and Finlay back in, with Trent chopping Finlay down. Tag to Chuckie who lands a big vertical suplex, covers but only gets 2. Dropkick by Chuckie, who tags Trent back in quick. Double team axe handle off the middle rope, Finlay tries to fight back but Trent gets a GREAT reversal into a bridging Northern Lights for 2.

Trent chops Finlay, Finlay fires back but gets cut off by an elbow. Tag to Chuckie, looks for a back suplex but Finlay lands on his feet and lands a back suplex himself! Tags on both sides, Trent and Juice trade shots (Trent is still owed a US Title shot), with Juice getting the advantage with the jabs. Juice looks for the Left Hand of God but Trent dumps him with a half and half suplex, looks for the tornado DDT but Juice pushes him off and hits JOHN WOO and a huge cannonball!

Juice fires up the crowd and looks to climb, Trent evades and looks for Dudebuster, Juice rolls through and evades the running knee, and both collide with lariats. Trent hits an enziguri, but Juice catches the knee and lands the Left Hand of God! Looks for Pulp Friction, reversal by Trent and he hits the Shotgun Knee! Both competitors are down. Tag to Finlay who knocks down Chuckie and stays on Trent. Finlay is on fire, Irish Curse backbreaker and cover but only gets 2. Finlay lines up Trent, but CHUCKIE IS IN WITH A CHAIR SHOT! CHUCKIE IS GOING CRAZY! The ref calls for the bell as we get a DQ.

Juice Robinson & David Finlay defeat Best Friends by disqualification after Chuckie T lands chair shots
JAY’S RATING: 3 out of 5

I get why they did the DQ, I get they are building a “crazy Chuckie” story in advance of Trent vying for the IWGP US title, though for me it did take some of the air out of the end of what was a pretty enjoyable match up to that point that was getting nice and hot toward the end there. Trent is looking GREAT and I think his match with Juice could really deliver some great action. Finlay is becoming one of the more reliable supporting players, showing great fire here again. I dont know what a Best Friends heel turn would bring to the table, given how Trent isnt really doing much to stop Crazy Chuckie T… though I would love to see pushes for both of them individually and collectively. But they play such entertaining faces while delivering such great action, so I just dont know what makes this interesting yet. Perhaps we will see. Nonetheless, really nice work by all here up to the DQ, and credit to the storytelling for keeping Chuckie’s craziness going after the bell. If you’re gonna do it, piledrive someone on a chair after everyone thinks you’re done. Thats what I always say…?

After the bell, Chuckie slams Finlay on the chair, brings in more and looks for a shot, but Juice cuts him off. Trent grabs the chair and gets in Juice’s face, allowing Chuckie to get a chair shot to Juice’s head… and Trent just stood there and let it happen! Trent looks annoyed at Chuckie, as Kevin Kelly says Trent has to get Chuckie under control. Suddenly CHUCKIE IS BACK IN THE RING, and hits a snap piledriver on Finlay onto a chair! WHY CHUCKIE? WHYYYYY???

YUJI NAGATA, KUSHIDA & JEFF COBB
vs
CHAOS (Will Ospreay, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii)

The bell rings and Will and KUSHIDA are starting us off. Big Will chants from the crowd. KUSHIDA chants come in to compete. They lock up, Will gets the arm, KUSHIDA reverses and takes wrist control. Quick counter wrestling from both but KUSHIDA able to keep control of the arm. Big dropkick from Will brings in Ishii and Goto who knock down Nagata and Cobb, and leads to a triple team on KUSHIDA punctuated by a Will running shooting star and a cover, but KUSHIDA is out at 2.

Tag to Ishii who lays in shots and chops KUSHIDA down. KUSHIDA goes nose to nose with Ishii and tries chops, which have no effect, but KUSHIDA doesnt back down and tries kicks instead before getting FLOORED with a chop. Ishii with a half crab, but Nagata breaks it up with a big kick to the back. Ishii gets in Nagata’s face on the apron and they trade slaps and shots, with Ishii headbutting Nagata off the apron as CHAOS uses their numbers. CHAOS keeps the aggression on, with Goto tagging in and keeping the pressure on. A kick and a cover, but KUSHIDA out at 2.

Goto stays on KUSHIDA in the corner, big hip toss and a cover but still 2, then keeps KUSHIDA grounded. Goto with a back elbow, another cover but still only 2. KUSHIDA tries to fight back, hits Goto with big chops but Goto knocks him back. KUSHIDA keeps coming and hits a pele that takes Goto down. CHAOS keeps KUSHIDA from getting the tag, but KUSHIDA answers back with a handspring back elbow taking down Ishii and Will!

Tag to Nagata, who proceeds to kick the shit out of Ishii. Ishii absorbs a kick to the back and stands right in Nagata’s face and takes down Nagata with a tackle. They trade shots, with Nagata getting a HUGE one in on Ishii. Ishii catches a Nagata kick, but Nagata smacks the shit out of him, and keeps the pressure on with strikes. Nagata with mounted strikes on Ishii, dominating Ishii as I havent seen in a bit. Ishii tries to fire back, but Nagata catches him in the Fujiwara armbar and rolls the eyes until Will breaks it up. Nagata catches Pip Pip Cheerio and tosses Will outside with an Exploder.

Nagata keeps on Ishii but Ishii catches him running with a powerslam, and tags in Goto. Nagata with great evasion, and tags in Cobb. Cobb tears through Goto with a big tackle, taking him down. Big chops and shots from Cobb, and a great running elbow in the corner. Goto looks for the lariat, they trade counters, Goto looks for GTR but Cobb evades, they knock each other down and then floor each other with dual clotheslines! Nice sequence.

KUSHIDA and Will get tags, though go fast, Will avoids the cartwheel dropkick but KUSHIDA gets it on the 2nd attempt and takes out CHAOS. Will fires back and lands Pip Pip Cheerio to take down KUSHIDA. Calls for Os-Cutter, but Cobb intercedes, catches Will and throws him. Cobb with a CRAZY throw of KUSHIDA into a moonsault on Will, covers but only 2! WHAT THE HELL. KUSHIDA works on the arm, Will counters out of it but KUSHIDA hits the satelite DDT to plant Will!

KUSHIDA looks for Back to the Future, Will counters into a stunner and Ishii comes in with the sliding lariat! Will steps on Ishii and hits a corkscrew senton off of him onto KUSHIDA! AHHHHH! Covers, but its broken up at 2! Everyone bails outside leaving Will and KUSHIDA, Will gets that look in his eye and thinks about exposing the elbow again… hmmm… but thinks better of it, hits the hooking superkick and hoists KUSHIDA, lands Stormbreaker! Covers, gets the 3 count and the WIN!

CHAOS defeats Yuji Nagata, KUSHIDA & Jeff Cobb by pinfall after Stormbreaker
JAY’S RATING: 3.75 out of 5

This was a really strong 6 man tag, with everyone getting a nice chance to show their stuff, setting up a couple of matches with INSANE potential, further establishing Will’s run and moving a story forward with this dangerous elbow that led to Ibushi’s concussion, which he teased again here. It fits the aggressive side of CHAOS we saw here in general, which honestly felt SUPER refreshing to me as the rest of CHAOS could use something of a direction. Super strong action, great stroytelling, and leaves me wanting more to come from this, which is clearly on the way. Well done.

After the match, tensions flare between Nagata and Ishii. Goto and Cobb as well. YES PLEASE. TO BOTH.

NEVER 6-Man Tag Team Championship
TOGI MAKABE, TORU YANO & RYSUKE TAGUCHI
vs
BULLET CLUB (Guerrillas of Destiny & Taiji Ishimori)

LOVE this new music for GoD. LOVE. IT. Jado out again with the cane. Loa and Makabe start us off. Lock up, Loa gets the headlock, tackles budge no one. Makabe tries again, still no one budges. Again, nothing. Loa ducks a clothesline and hits a tackle, dropping Makabe. Makabe answers with one of his own. Tag to Yano, Loa tags Tama, who Yano is afraid of. Taguchi is calling the play, but Yano doesnt understand so Tama comes in and takes control.

Yano tries to evade, and ducks a shot to run to the corner and undo the pad. He does, but Tama gets a shot behind, and beats down Yano. Tama with a running shot to the head, looks to run but Makabe holds him, Yano looks to hit the ropes but Jado is waiting, Yano catches Jado but turns around into a shot by Tama. Tag to Taiji with Yano in the BC corner. He keeps the pressure on, then tags Loa. Loa stays on him, and whips him into the exposed turnbuckle.

Tag to Tama, who teases whipping him into the exposed turnbuckle, but since he’s a good guy sends him into the other one instead. Applause from the crowd. Nice suplex from Tama, covers Yano but only gets 2. Tama looks for the exposed corner, but Yano reverses the whip and sends Tama in hard and looks for the tag. Tama cuts him off, but Yano uses the hair to take down Tama! Loa in to prevent the tag, Tama back on Yano but Yano uses treachery to escape again, and gets the tag to Taguchi!

Taguchi in hot with hip attacks, knocking everyone down. Hits repeated butt attacks on Ishimori against the bottom rope. Taguchi does the Boma Ye tease, Ishimori tries to cut it off but Taguchi evades and looks for 3 Amigos. He gets 2, Ishimori fights off the 3rd and Jado gets a cane shot in. Ishimori tries to take advantage, but Taguchi gets the ankle lock! Ishimori fights to the ropes to break.

Taguchi looks for Dodon but Ishimori with a rollup for 2. Nice handspring enziguri from Ishimori takes down Taguchi. Tag to Loa who talks shit to Taguchi, but Taguchi gets a nice boot up before eating an atomic drop, but answers back with a hip attack taking down Loa. Tag to Makabe who knocks down Ishimori and Tama, gets Loa in the corner and lands the punches and looks for the Northern Lights, Loa blocks but eats a lariat from Makabe. Makabe with another big lariat on Loa, covers but only gets 2.

Loa tries to fight back, but Yano gets a shot with a chair, Makabe gets another lariat, covers but Ishimori pulls the ref out before the 3 count! Jado is in the ring with the cane, Yano buts him off but Tama takes out Yano as GoD double teams Makabe. Makabe comes back with a double clothesline to take down GoD! Slam to Loa and Makabe climbs, looking for the knee drop, but Yujiro is out and dumps Makabe, Chase Owens hits the ring and gets the Package Piledriver on Makabe! Apeshit from Loa, cover on Makabe and the champs get the WIN to retain.

Bullet Club defeats Togi Makabe, Toru Yano & Ryusuki Taguchi by pinfall after interference and Apeshit
JAY’S RATING: 3.25 out of 5

This was a pretty solid title match with some good action and fun storytelling, Ishimori continuing to look strong and focused and aimed at what could be an entertaining first program with Taguchi, and further evolution of Bullet Club as a stable. There wasnt necessarily much question in who would take this one, but the challengers maintained their urgency and gave some entertaining competition to the champs. Keeping the belts on BC as they evolve the group is a good idea going into the new year, particularly given the Elite shakeup. This moved things forward well for me.

After the match, Ishimori locks Taguchi in the LeBell Lock, as Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi are officially back in the full Bullet Club fold in its current iteration. BC stands dominant.

SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr, Taichi, Y. Kanemaru & El Desperado)
vs
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA, S. Takagi & BUSHI)

Lots of gold on LIJ, as they won all 3 title matches that they were a part of. Naito out dragging the IC belt behind him, staying on brand. And guess what happens? No, really, guess? SUZUKI-GUN JUMPS LIJ BEFORE THE BELL! Shocked? I know. Taichi gets the first shot, crushing a chair over Naito’s head as the action spills, well, everywhere. Taichi tears off Naito’s shirt and lays in boots as we get the bell, and it looks like a target has been placed on Naito and the IC strap by Taichi, playing off the history they had around Taichi’s bump to heavy.

Shingo in hard to cut off Taichi and allow Naito to tag BUSHI. Desperado tagged in but Shingo just dominates EVERYONE, double team backbreaker dropkick on Desperado. BUSHI keeps the pressure on, getting the choke with the t-shirt. Desperado tries to fight back but BUSHI evades, until Suzuki-Gun breaks things down again. Suzuki beats down SANADA in the crowd, with ZSJ on EVIL, and it looks like the tag title targets are set as well. Suzuki USES A GUARDRAIL TO CRUSH SANADA BACKSTAGE. God I love the monster that is Suzuki.

Taichi stays on Naito in the crowd, as Kanemaru crushes Shingo with a chair off-camera (thanks Kevin!). This is pure destruction from Suzuki-Gun. Desperado in the ring and breaks the ref’s count, distracting him as Suzuki and ZSJ get a double submission on BUSHI that looks sick. Desperado stays on BUSHI before tagging in Suzuki. Suzuki plays with BUSHI, who fires back but Suzuki cuts him off hard, laughing as he crushes him.

Tag to Kanemaru, ref is distracted as Desperado tries to unmask BUSHI! Desperado gets close, but chooses to stop as Kanemaru comes back with boots and a nice Boston Crab, transitioning to a single leg version. This is just chaos. Naito has gotten absolutely nothing in. BUSHI tries to fight back, but he has no help. Enziguri finally lands for BUSHI, but Desperado in to cut off any tag attempt. BUSHI answers with a rana on Desperado, and finally gets the tag to SANADA!

Suzuki in to meet SANADA, who takes out his knee and then locks Kanemura in the Paradise Lock and dropkicks him. SANADA catches Suzuki’s leg and looks to get him in the Paradise Lock but Suzuki turns it into an armbar. SANADA gets the ropes but Suzuki keeps the pressure on, stays ahead of a SANADA leapfrog and locks in the choke! Transition to the Gotch, SANADA backdrops Suzuki to escape. Suzuki back to the choke, ZSJ tags in and takes control of SANADA, but SANADA escapes and nails a dragon screw!

Tag to EVIL, counterwrestling with ZSJ, EVIL outsmarts ZSJ and lands a big jumping senton. Calls for the lariat but ZSJ catches EVIL coming with the Cobra Twist, but EVIL reverses it into one of his own! ZSJ goes to the fingers to break out, and works over EVIL’s arm. Full nelson from ZSJ, EVIL breaks it, looks for a Fisherman but ZSJ attacks the arm and manipulates the wrist while applying a body scissors. EVIL gets the leverage and hoists ZSJ up and drops him in a Fisherman Buster! Tag to Naito, and tag to Taichi.

Taichi brings aggression to Naito but Naito catches him coming with an armdrag and low dropkick. Naito looks for a neckbreaker, Taichi counters and looks for a backdrop, Naito counters and its the step up tornado DDT as LIJ takes out Suzuki-Gun. Shingo and BUSHI help Naito take out Taichi, but Naito is showing that he’s hurt. Naito hoists Taich to the top rope and looks for the rana, almost falls and that allows Taichi to look for the powerbomb but Naito is able to snag the rana.

Naito comes at Taichi but eats a high kick, a lariat to the back of the head and a BIG axe bomber, covers and gets a CLOSE 2 count over Naito! Taka distracts the ref as Taichi grabs the IC belt, measures Naito and drills him in the head with it. Taichi picks Naito up, hits Black Mephisto and Taichi gets the 3 count and the WIN, pinning the Intercontinental Champion!

Suzuki-Gun defeats Los Ingobernables de Japon by pinfall after Black Mephisto
JAY’S RATING: 3.25 out of 5

This was a nicely done 10-man tag, with clear storytelling aimed at making Suzuki-Gun scary again for the new year and setting up a bunch of title matches as these groups continue their collision. Taichi is looking better and better, getting more confident in his presence and his moveset (that Axe Bomber is money), and showing a necessary aggression that the rest of the team has had but he has traded in the past for wilyness. With the weight class shift, this change in style feels welcome, and he was able to look dominant over Naito even if it is due to Suzuki-Gun tactics – but hell, its Suzuki-Gun and thats the story they are telling. Plus, the tag title match has the potential to be NUTS, with Suzuki playing the experience edge over the raw athleticism of SANADA perfectly and looking vicious while doing it. And we know the Jr. Tag clash is going to happen again. This was an appetite whetter in many ways, and I’d call it a success at that.

After the match, Suzuki-Gun beats down LIJ, leaving a pile of bodies in the ring and taking out the Young Boys at ringside.

BULLET CLUB (Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Gedo)
vs
HIROSHI TANAHASHI, YOSHI-HASHI & KAZUCHIKA OKADA

Jay White wearing a Clockwork Orange-inspired Switchblade shirt. Awesome. We get the return of YOSHI-HASHI following his faceplant… Gotta admit, Tanahashi looks good with the belt again, though its fascinating seeing him next to Okada. Jay starts off, and Okada asks to start with him, but Jay wants Tana. The crowd chants for Okada (Okada invited that moment beautifully). Jay keeps talking to Tana as the bell rings, and Gedo jumps Okada from behind and dumps him.

Tana comes in to square off with Jay, hits a Euro that turns Jay around into a huge boot from Okada! Tag to HASHI, who gets a dropkick on Jay, covers but only 1. HASHI stays on Jay, but Gedo trips him and pulls him outside as the action breaks down at ringside. Fale sends Okada hard into the rail. Jay gets a shot at Tana. Jay chokes Tana with a camera cable as Gedo gets a chair shot in on HASHI. Jay back in the ring as the ref counts. Gedo tosses HASHI back in to break it.

Nice back suplex from Jay, cover but HASHI out at 2. Tag to Gedo, who tosses HASHI outside where Jay drives him into the railing. Fale joins and they send him into it again. HASHI is tossed back in, cover by Gedo, but HASHI out fast. Gedo rakes the eyes, HASHI gets fired up but Gedo cuts him off with the eyes again. Tag to Fale, who crushes HASHI. Fale puts HASHI in the corner, lands body shots and knocks Okada off the apron. Gedo knocks down Tana, HASHI avoids Fale but Gedo cuts him off, but HASHI is able to land a kick to Gedo’s face and makes the tag to Okada!

Okada in hot goes right for Jay and knocks him off the apron, then takes down Gedo with a hard elbow. Okada with the DDT and kip up, slams Gedo, climbs but Gedo evades thee elbow. Uppercut from Okada but Fale gets Okada with a knee, and gets the tag from Gedo. Okada meets Fale but gets backdropped, cover but only 2. Fale crushes Okada in the corner and looks for Grenade, but Okada kicks Fale away, tries to lift Fale but cant do it. Okada catches Fale’s leg and takes him down with a dragon screw!

Tag to Tana, Jay in to meet him and they trade shots. Tana absorbs a big chop and they go head to head. They start firing them off fast, Tana gets the advantage and takes Jay over with a dragon screw. Tana looks for the cloverleaf, Jay kicks out of it and dumps Tana with the snap Saito suplex, but Tana comes right back with a Sling Blade. Tana rolls to tag HASHI, who stays on Jay. HASHI gets him over with a running rana, lands a running chop in the corner and looks for the suplex-neckbreaker, Jay counters but HASHI gets the running blockbuster for 2.

HASHI looks for a fisherman but Jay fights out and catches HASHI in a big uranage. Jay calls for the finish, but Okada cuts it off before Fale plows through him. Tana takes out Fale, Jay looks for Blade Runner on Tana but Tana turns it into Twist and Shout! HASHI crushes Jay with a lariat, then hits a big fisherman buster style move, covers and gets a CLOSE CLOSE 2 on Jay White! HASHI goes for Karma, Jay blinds the ref, HASHI looks for it again but Jay gets the head and arm suplex, picks up HASHI and plants him with Blade Runner. Cover, the 3 count and the WIN.

Bullet Club defeats Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI by pinfall after Blade Runner
JAY’S RATING: 3.75 out of 5

This was an entertaining match to continue the programs of all involved. Okada’s bad blood is proving a great match motivator, but also telling a great story where he still needs to stop being angry and get focused or White is going to continue staying a step ahead of him. HASHI looks good upon return, though I still think his whole point of view needs greater specificity and clarity or he may fade into mid-card obscurity again. But his ring work is continuing to show greater fire, so I’m hopeful. And Jay White is just getting better and better and better. This was laid out exactly how it needed to be and executed well by all, and we have a clear trajectory for the immediate future while still providing some compelling questions, particularly surrounding Okada’s 3rd-wheel-ness here that carries thoughts of vengeance behind it. Strong ring work and strong storytelling makes this match button things nicely, and the post-match carries us even further…

After the match, Jay takes the mic and tells Okada to keep walking, and then calls out Tanahashi and says he wants the IWGP belt. He talks about how he beat Okada and how he’s better than Tanahashi. It’s the Switchblade’s era and that is his belt. Tanahashi comes back to the ring as Jay keeps mocking and goading him. He calls Tanahashi an old man and baits him in. Chants for Tanahashi. Gedo hits Tanahashi from behind and the beat down begins. Okada hits the ring and takes out Fale, gets shots to the rest but Fale puts him down with Grenade. Jay picks up Tanahashi and puts him back down with Blade Runner, and picks up the IWGP belt. Jay takes the mic and talks about beating both of IWGP’s big stars, and that he will be the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. All you can do is Breathe With The Switchblade, in his new era.

JAY’S THOUGHTS:

This was a solid night of action to carry things forward after WK13. The ring action was solid to quite strong, even if it never quite reached that next gear for me. But this wasn’t about that, this was about what we have to look forward to, and in that arena it gave us a lot of juicy stories across a bunch of levels to keep an eye on, which is exciting. Bullet Club is rebuilding and getting a bit of a spotlight as they do so. Suzuki-Gun and LIJ are on a nice steady and gold-laden collision course, and Taichi has a big opportunity to show us something new opposite Naito. Lets see what happens. CHAOS is getting fired up, and that has me curious. Plus Ishimori/Taguchi might be fun, and lets see how crazy Crazy Chuckie T gets. At the top of the list of course is Jay White/Okada/Tanahashi. Jay White is oozing his way perfectly into this role, and is thankfully being booked in such a way where he could give a fuck about the rules and allegiances and what anyone thinks – he’s playing a great sociopath – but where he can also WIN. CLEAN. Which is important if he’s going to be seen as a future World Title-holder, and as such a face of the company. It’s classic Triple H, which I think is an IDEAL approach to someone like Switchblade. He’ll take the shortcuts, but that doesnt mean he isnt also fucking good enough to back it all up. His baiting of Tanahashi is fantastic, and I genuinely look forward to this program between them. It will be interesting to see where Okada fits in this equation. I see a world where he interferes in such a way that draws the ire of Tanahashi… but my issue there is that I’m not sure we need another chapter of Tanahashi/Okada right away… down the road, maybe… but lets not lose this freshness we have in the title picture right now, which is why Jay White as a first challenger makes a ton of sense. However it goes, this match shows that we have a lot of interesting stuff to watch main event-wise between this lot going into 2019. And that has an enormous amount of exciting potential. Lets go 2019.

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