New Japan Cup First Round, March 11:
El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku defeated Hirai Kawato & Ryusuke Taguchi
Kawato was worked over mainly by TAKA until Taguchi got the tag and got the momentum back for his team. Kawato took it to Desperado, hitting a nice missile dropkick and got a great near fall with a backslide. Desperado got the pin after hitting La Guitara.
Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Jushin Thunder Liger defeated Tomoyuki Oka, Tiger Mask IV & Manabu Nakanishi
Nothing much to report here, just you basic New Japan undercard match. Tiger hit a Tiger Driver on Kojima, which was impressive. Oka hit a good belly to belly on Kojima before he fell to a Koji Cutter and a Lariat.
Kenny Omega & Yujiro Takahashi defeated YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii
This was a preview of tomorrow’s first round matchas Ishii faces Omega. This was a very good tag match with plenty of good action. Omega & YOSHI have great chemistry together. Ishii was having none of Yujiro. He was suplexed on his head late in the match. YOSHI missed a Swanton on Omege who hit a V-Trigger knee and the One Winged Angel to win the match.
SANADA, Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI defeated David Finlay, Katsuyori Shibata, Juice Robinson & KUSHIDA
Shibata being thrown into the mix of these LIJ vs babyface matches added a freshness to it. This didn’t slow down for a minute. It was quick tags for the duration. Juice pelted Naito with a stiff lariat and a spin kick, which Naito sold like death. Shibata & SANADA showed great chemistry and left me wanting a singles match. Everyone got their stuff in and looked good here until SANADA submitted Finlay to Skull End. After the match Naito continued his attack on Juice.
Kazuchika Okada, Jado, Gedo & Hirooki Goto defeated Taichi, Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Takashi Iizuka
Lots of brawling and cheating from Suzuki Gun. Okada & Suzuki squared off again and exchanged strikes. Suzuki had Okada set for the Piledriver only for Goto to interrupt it with a lariat. Taichi struck Okada with his cane and got a good near fall, but CHAOS regained control and allowed Okada to finish Taichi with the Rainmaker.
Yuji Nagata defeated Tanga Loa
This was a good physical match. The crowd weren’t into it at the beginning, but they were pulled into it by the end. This was Loa’s first singles match in NJPW and Nagata was a great opponent to bring out his intensity. Loa is always improving. He got in some good near falls and looked really competitive. He kicked out of some of Nagata’s suplexes. Nagata went after the arm, but Loa managed to escape. Nagata won with the Back Drop Hold.
Toru Yano defeated Tama Tonga
This was more of the same from Yano. His act has gotten very predictable and old. This saw all his usual silly antics. Avoiding Tonga, running around, low blows and cheating in any way he could. He won with a low blow and roll up. Tonga should have won this.
Bad Luck Fale defeated Michael Elgin
This has to be considered an upset. This started with Elgin ramming Fale with shoulder blocks until he fell out of the ring and that was the theme of the match. This saw Elgin throw everything he had at Fale to take him off his feet. He managed to suplex him and hit a sickeningly stiff lariat. Fale used his size advantage to over power Elgin at times. This was a good old fashioned hoss battle. Fale won with The Grenade. This was a major surprise as I thought Elgin would go far in the tournament. However, the New Japan Cup is known for its upsets.
EVIL defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi
The upsets continued here as EVIL scored a monumental victory and the biggest of his career to eliminate the Ace of NJPW in the first round. This was an outstanding match, not that you’d expect anything less from Tanahashi. EVIL has the upper hand for a lot of the first half of the match. Tanahashi mounted a brief attack on the knee and hit a High Fly Flow to the floor. The ref was taken out which saw EVIL introduce a chair. Tanahashi turned it around and struck EVIL. This pissed off Tanahashi, who got so mad that he shoved the ref away. Some great counters and near falls in the closing minutes. Tanahashi almost went out to a submission. EVIL in the end misted Tanahashi and hit the STO to advance to the next round.
New Japan Cup First Round, March 12:
This show saw the second half of first round matches in the New Japan Cup take place.
Yuji Nagata & Jushin Thunder Liger defeated Tiger Mask IV & David Finlay
Solid opener. It was a basic tag match with Nagata making Tiger submit to the Nagata Lock. He doesn’t win with that move, so that was good to see.
Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga & Bad Luck Fale defeated Hiram Kawato, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
Bullet Club jumped Kawato before the bell. There was a lot of focus on Loa here. He hit a great Blue Thunder Bomb and and it was Loa that picked up the win on Kawato after hitting a Rikishi Driver.
EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI defeated Ryusuke Taguchi, Michael Elgin, KUSHIDA & Hiroshi Tanahashi
These LIJ eight man tags are always just so much fun. It’s non stop and everything I so crisp and fluid. Lots of focus on EVIL here after his big win yesterday. We had a brief exchange between Takahashi and KUSHIDA ahead of their upcoming Jr title match. The finish saw EVIL pin Taguchi after an STO.
Toru Yano, Jado, Gedo, Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto defeated El Desperado, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku, Takashi Iizuka & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Gedo was worked over by the Suzuki Gun team until Okada got the hot tag. Goto got his turn with a hot tag and hit lots of his power moves. The finish saw Yano low blow everyone in sight and roll up Desperado.
Juice Robinson defeated Yujiro Takahashi
Robinson was really laying in the heavy lumber in the early part of this match and completely outclassed a guy who is an NJPW veteran at this stage. Juice kicked out of some big moves including the Miami Shine. Juice got the win with the Pulp Friction. It was a decent match and great to see Juice continue his rise in NJPW.
SANADA defeated YOSHI-HASHI
This was great! SANADA hit a TKO and locked in Skull End, which YOSHI battled out of. YOSHI missed a Swanton, but got the Butterfly Lock, and this time SANADA got to the ropes. YOSHI hit the Swanton for a near fall, and tried to follow up with Karma, but SANADA countered into Skull End again. YOSHI battled free until SANADA moonsaulted into the hold again and got the submission win. This was great stuff from two of NJPW’s brightest young stars.
Katsuyori Shibata defeated Minoru Suzuki
As you’d expect, this was a war. Taichi got involved early and attacked Shibata on the floor. This was physical and intense. They both applied submission holds until it turned into a heated exchange in the corner. There was a forearm battled that lasted for a good 90 seconds with neither going down. It turned into slaps and then boots. Suzuki put Shibata down with a sleeper and tried to turn it into a Piledriver, but Shibata blocked it. Shibata hit a stiff Death Valley Driver. He finished Suzuki with a hard slap that set up the PK. This is something you need to see.
Tomohiro Ishii defeated Kenny Omega
Out of all the upsets so far in this tournament, this one topped them all! What a match this was. Another match of the year contender from Omega and a classic performance from Ishii. This one built and built. Omega injured the neck of Ishii with a series of moves. A spike DDT, a dive to the floor, a German suplex, a gut wrench powerbomb and a knee. Ishii kicked out of it all and fired back by shrugging off Omega’s strikes. Ishii hit several lariats and a frankensteiner! For every lariat Ishii hit, Omega hit as many V-Trigger knees. I lost count of both. Omega hit a beautiful snap Dragon suplex and Croats Wrath when Ishii fought out of the One Winged Angel. Ishii countered the move a second time, into a stunner, which was brilliant. Ishii scored the upset with his Brainbuster. After the match Omega went to get back into the ring, but decided against it and walked away in defeat.
This was a shocker. Where does Omega go from here? We know a split from Bullet Club could be soon, so maybe a fully fledged babyface turn. As for Ishii, he deserves to win this tournament. He still hasn’t gotten his title shot after beating Okada in the G1. This might be his way of getting there.
This show is available now at NJPWWorld.com.
The quarter finals will be:
Yuji Nagata vs EVIL
Bad Luck Fale vs Toru Yano
Katsuyori Shibata vs Juice Robinson
Tomohiro Ishii vs SANADA
They take place between March 13th & 17th. Each will be uploaded on NJPWWorld.com.