New Japan Cup Final, March 20:
Tomoyuki Oka vs Hirai Kawato – Time Limit Draw
This was a great match. Kawato went after the knee of Oka. Oka had the size and power advantage, which made Kawato the underdog. Oka targeted the taped left shoulder of Kawato. Oka used a half crab on the knee. Oka dropped Kawato on his shoulder with a big suplex and locked in a crab, but Kawato made the ropes. We had some good near falls with roll ups until the bell rang as the time limit expired. This was the best showing yet from either of these guys.
David Finlay, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV defeated TAKA Michinoku, El Desperado & Takashi Iizuka
This started with the usual ringside brawl you get from Iizuka. Liger battled back into the match with a superplex on Desperado. Tiger & Finlay both picked up the pace when they got into the match. A chair shot from Iizuka allowed TAKA to get a near fall on Finlay. Finlay got the win with a stunner on TAKA.
Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan defeated Katsuya Kitamura & Yuji Nagata
This was a very fun match. Kitamura had another impressive showing. He won a shoulder block battle with Kojima and generally looked like a monster. Anything between Nagata & Kojima is always fun. There were some good near falls between the veterans. Kitamura locked in a crab on Kojima, but Tenzan made the save. Kitamura then hit Kojima with an amazing delayed vertical suplex. Kojima finished him after a Cutter and a lariat.
Jado, Gedo & Hirooki Goto defeated Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Minoru Suzuki
We had strong hints at a Goto vs Suzuki match, possibly for the NEVER title. They whet back and forth. Suzuki almost choked out Goto, but Goto countered into an Ushigoroshi. Taichi used his microphone to nail Goto & Jado, but his pin was broken up by Gedo. Gedo then hit some low blows and a mic shot of his own, allowing Jado to submit Taichi to a crossface. Jado & Gedo will soon challenge for the IWGP Jr Tag titles that Taichi & Kanemaru hold.
Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI defeated Juice Robinson, Ryusuke Taguchi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin & KUSHIDA
This was another red hot LIJ multiman tag. These matches have been going on forever, and they never get stale. It’s speaks a lot of the talent and creativity of these guys. KUSHIDA looked great here. At one stage he took out almost all of LIJ on his own and has more great exchanges with Hiromu. Elgin showed off his power and everyone else got their few minutes to shine. The last couple of minutes were impossible to keep up with. Juice mounted an attack on Naito until he was low blowed and finished off with Destino. After the bell KUSHIDA & Hiromu continued to brawl.
Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI defeated Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga, Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi
This was another really good tag match. Lots of non stop action and some good interactions that you don’t normally see. Ishii was great here, no selling a Tonga dropkick and Tonga then hurt his own head head butting him. Omega was a ball of fire in this one. He didn’t slow down at all. He and Okada got to square off once again. The last few minutes were non stop with bodies in and out of the ring quicker than you can watch. There was lots of double and triple team from Bullet Club until it came down to Okada pinning Loa after a Rainmaker.
New Japan Cup Final
Katsuyori Shibata defeated Bad Luck Fale
Not a classic match, but a really good New Japan Cup Final. Fale dominated the start of this, taking Shibata into the crowd and working over the taped shoulder. Shibata flight his way into the match with strikes and submissions, wearing the bug man down with a triangle choke. Fale blasted him with a stiff lariat and got a near fall with The Grenade. Shibata countered the Bad Luck Fall into a sleeper, but Fale powered out with a side walk slam. Shibata popped back up and again popped up after another lariat. Shibata finally downed Fale after several slaps, another sleeper and a PK. After four years of waiting, Shibata is finally getting his big push. After the match he challenged Okada to an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match and it will take place on April 9th in Sumo Hall at Sakura Genesis. NJPW have kept Shibata & Okada apart purposely since 2013, and their match in just a few weeks has classic written all over it.
This show is available now at NJPWWorld.com with English commentary from Kevin Kelly & Don Callis.