Mascara Dorada, Tiger Mask IV & Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Jay White, KUSHIDA & Jushin Thunder Liger
This was one hell of an opener from the juniors. Tiger & Liger out wrestled each other to continue the story of how well they know each other ahead of the NWA Jr title match in a few weeks. Dorada had a new look with a new mask just covering his face, exposing his hair. Dorada continues to be mesmerising in everything he does. No matter how many times I see it, it always amazes me how he can pirouette across the middle rope from one side of the turnbuckle to the other. His chemistry with KUSHIDA will hopefully be built on. Jay White looked as good and as comfortable as anyone else in the match. Dorada pinned White after he walked across the top rope to deliver a moonsault and followed it up with a Cradle Shock.
Yohei Komatsu & Satoshi Kojima defeated Sho Tanaka & Yuji Nagata
The young lions got a huge spotlight here again with the two most under-utilised veterans on the roster. Komatsu & Tanaka took shots at the veterans as the were on the apron, not showing any intimidation. The exchanges between Kojima & Nagata were great, but the bulk of the match was given to the young lions. Komatsu made Tanaka submit with the rolling single leg Boston Crab, just like he did one week ago. Really good match.
Semi Final Match:
Hirooki Goto defeated Togi Makabe
This was a decent match, but nothing special between two of NJPW’s heaviest hitters. Goto worked over Makabe’s knee while Goto still had his arm taped up from his battle with Shibata. They threw lots of heavy bombs with Goto hitting a nice neck breaker as Makabe hung from the top rope after a failed Spider German attempt. Makabe is known as brawler, but he can wrestle too, something that people forget until he pulls out something like a picture perfect bridging German Suplex. Goto won just before the match could get into fifth gear as he caught Makabe with the Goto-shiki roll up. Goto advances to the final.
Semi Final Match:
Kota Ibushi defeated Tetsuya Naito
This was incredible. Just an amazing, amazing match. We knew it would be good and it didn’t disappoint. It started slow and built throughout with Ibushi landing on his feet after Naito tried to Dragon Suplex him, catching Naito with a snap Dragpn Suplex of his own. Naito hit Ibushi with a reverse hurricanrana from the top rope and caught Ibushi eventually with the Dragon Suplex for the nearest of near falls. Naito went for a cassadora, but Ibushi caught him mid move and dropped him on his head. Ibushi also nailed Naito with an incredible stiff lariat, something that he has added to his arsenal. Ibushi got the pinball after a sit out Last Ride. Go out of your way to see this one.
Tomoaki Honma & Katsuyori Shibata defeated Cody Hall & Tama Tonga (Bullet Club)
NJPW have stumbled upon greatness with Shibata & Honma as an odd couple tag team. The chemistry between them was priceless. The match started off with them arguing over who would start. It got heated with Shibata eventually tossing Honma out of the ring. After a few blind tags, Shibata got tired of Honma being beat down, so he took matters into his own hands and took out BC himself and slapped Honma to waken him up. Shibata held Hall up as Honma went to deliver a lariat, but Hall moved. A few minutes later they attempted the same move again, with Honma hilariously making sure Shibata had him held on place. It was so funny, even the commentators couldn’t help but laugh. Hall needs work, but again showed potential. He almost killed Honma with a discus lariat. Tama Tonga is under-utilised in his current role. All of a sudden Shibata and Honma got on the same page and hit some amazing combinations with the won coming after a PK on Hall from Shibata and a diving Kokeshi from Honma, as Honma picked up the win. Yes, that’s right. Honma picked up the win. Go and watch this match.
Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi & Captain New Japan
Well, Yano did it again. The great master thief stole another win over Tanahashi. This was an odd combination of characters, with Captain vs Sakuraba being something I never wanted to see. Tanahashi had some decent exchanges with Sakuraba, but the fun started in the last couple of minutes when Tanahashi looked like he had it won with a High Fly Flow, until Yano got his knees up and caught Tanahashi with three of the most convincing near falls you’ll see. NJPW have made Yano’s roll ups look like they can beat anyone. The finish came when Yano blinded Captain by turning his mask around (yes, it was as funny as it sound), Yano tossed Tanahashi into a kick from Sakuraba and Yano stole the win the same way he did earlier in the NJ Cup. The finish wasn’t smooth at all. After the match Tanahashi had a small tantrum. In fairness, I would have too.
Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI defeated Bad Luck Fale, Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson & Yujiro Takahashi
Well, Okada got the win over Fale, but he needed lots of help to do it. This was a really fun match with too much action to recap. Everyone had their time to shine and the last few minutes were chaotic with bodies flying everywhere. It looked like Okada was going to fall again, but he hit the Rainmaker on Fale after Nakamura caught Fale from behind with a knee. Another really fun match. And Yujiro didn’t kill anyone.
New Japan Cup Final
Kota Ibushi defeated Hirooki Goto
This was another hell of a match with Ibushi getting one of the biggest wins of his career. This was brute force vs speed and agility with Goto over powering Ibushi early on by hitting him with a lariat on the apron. Ibushi got back into it with his triangle moonsault and an amazing looking springboard hurricanrana. Ibushi showed that he can do brute force just as well as Goto when he withstood several Goto lariats and hit a huge one of his own. Ibushi won with a Last Ride followed by a Phoenix Splash. Two incredible performances from Ibushi.
Ibushi winning was not only a welcome surprise, but a refreshing one as NJPW chose to propel someone new instead of relying on the same old handful of names. It was expected that maybe Ibushi would challenge Nakamura for the IC title if he won, but no, Ibushi challenged AJ Styles for the IWGP heavyweight championship in what is an absolute must see dream match. Ibushi got the biggest win of his career on this show and in April at Invasion Attack he will have the biggest match of his life.
This was a fantastic top to bottom show and well worth spending your money and time on over at NJPW World. Invasion Attack in April is already shaping up to be an incredible show.