The New Japan Cup is back, and the winner this year faces IWGP Heavyweight Champion Jay White on April 6th in Madison Square Garden. WrestleMania weekend. New York City. Yup, stakes is high.
If you missed my first round coverage, CLICK HERE. If not, welcome to the NJ Cup 2019‘s second round! That said, there won’t be any reviews for the undercards/build-up mixed tags moving forward.
– Colt Cabana v Toru Yano – HAHAHAHAHA!!! #DVDsCurryAndSupermanPins4Eva ..Seriously, the crowd loved it.. I mean.. they really loved this. So no matter what I say, it got over. At least Cabana should have a better match in the quarterfinal against either Suzuki/SANADA than Yano would have. – 2.5-2.75/5
– SANADA v Minoru Suzuki – Despite being one of the longest matches of the Cup, it was still a very good one. Going very much at Suzuki’s pace, he’d immediately go to the sleeper finish before SANADA worked himself out. The L-I-J stalwart would then go for Paradise Lock, but Suzuki counters with an armbar. On the second try, the leader of Suzuki-Gun would play possum while Taka took the ref’s attention. To prevent a future Muta moonsault, Suzuki worked over the leg, applying a mean draping kneebar with SANADA’s neck hung on the bottom rope. After some brawling, a figure four and another kneebar would follow. Better, SANADA exchanged heavy chops and stiff forearms with the diabolical one, leading to a terrific sleeper-Skull End-rear choke transition. Suzuki pressed the heat on SANADA for the next several minutes, and each time SANADA countered with a suplex, TKO, or backbreaker, Suzuki regained the advantage. Now with a bad knee, SANADA fought vigorously to put Suzuki away with his Skull End until finally had a chance to nail a second Muta Moonsault for the 3. Great selling. Game over. – 3.5-3.75/5
Night 8 Overall = 3-3.25/5
– Hiroshi Tanahashi v Ryusuke Taguchi – The crowd loved the match; I liked the match. Tanahashi even got booed; Taguchi even got serious. The story here was that the Ace would be an Ass.. just to show his in-ring dominance over the comedy man, erstwhile Taguchi would be more the valiant fighter (in Tana’s usual role). They both went after the leg throughout, seeing how Tana’s known for the cloverlear and Taguchi the anklelock. I never for a minute thought the green man had a chance until he did, cradling Tana and countering sling blade. Then, me thinks maybe “hell, Tana’s gonna win by cradle”! He almost did. He would get the 3 via Dragon Suplex, though, completing his mock of ‘Guchi in the process. Fun stuff. – 3.5/5
– Zack Sabre Jr. v Kota Ibushi – You discover you’re a spoiled wrestling fan when.. A.) You’re upset the guy you picked to win the whole thing lost [to another guy you like], B.) You’re upset because 16-minutes just wasn’t enough. Well, on those two points I’d say 16-minutes wasn’t enough to say goodbye to Ibushi in this tournament.. unless.. you know.. he’s taking G1, will face Okada at WK14 and this is a complete diversion (likely). Perhaps the biggest issue with Ibushi losing — beyond my own selfish reasons — is that it makes the rest of the Cup entirely predictable. But there are far worse scenarios than an Okada IWGP title win on U.S. soil. The newly contracted Ibushi will get his chance soon enough. OH! THE MATCH! You don’t need me to tell you how great it was. Sabre Jr. won by countering a pair of kamagoye’s, fighting through pin attempts that followed an Ibushi Bomb and straight jacket plex. ZSJ eventually busted everyone’s bracket via leglock submission. Fucker. – 3.75/5
Night 7 Overall = 3.625/5
– Will Ospreay v Lance Archer – This should have been the main event (but I know why it wasn’t and more on that later). Much like the Os and Fale match, this went about as good as it could be– times two. Thanks to Archer’s underrated dexterity, this Will vs. Goliath contest was at another level. That said, Ospreay carried the match, and carried it through his selling. Yeah, the flippy dive guy from Britian sold the fuck out of everything — from getting snuffed on the outside, to taking wild bumps and looking beyond dead on Archer’s big chokeslams — Ospreay sold it all. Best of all? Following an Oscutter that went to false finish, the Aerial Assassin showed extreme fatigue when he failed to lift Archer in his initial Storm Breaker attempt. That little realistic touch, of just taking a breath or two to recover, was so great! Once Ospreay stalled, Archer would hit the Blackout. Not over. Ospreay hits the Cheeky Popeyes kick to the scrotum leading to a Storm Breaker. He did it! – 3.75/5
– Kazuchika Okada v Mikey Nicholls – Not gonna lie: I sorta zoned out during this. Okada is in my top 3-4 favorite wrestlers in the world and I would never argue against him being the best; but, against that Nick Miller guy from the TMJob team from NXT? Meh. Both in CHAOS, but lacking in drama. Sure, Nicholls pressed the heat on Okada all match.. impressing with a variety of suplexes, and timely counters during Okada’s climactic fighting spirit. Nicholls really is trying to be Karl Anderson 2.0., and that’s not a bad thing. Despite the guy’s tenacity, The Rainmaker hit a pair of those short clothesline finishers of the same name for the win. Yeah– I love Okada. Yet it’s becoming more evident, as expressed in this featured spot on the card and post-match interview, that this is the former IWGP champ’s Cup to lose. I want Ibushi/White at MSG, but that (very likely) ain’t happenin’. – 3.25/5
Night 6 Overall = 3.5/5
– YOSHI-HASHI v Chase Owens – While this was a good match, I absolutely despise the booking. After years of being the Bullet Clun fallguy, Chase hasn’t taken a pin all year. He even beat Juice the other night to make himself an immediate and viable contender for the IWGP U.S. strap. But, instead of making him look strong, Owens loses to the “valiant” Yoshi-Hashi — a guy who keeps winning in tournaments despite having the charisma of a yard-mule. His ability is not in question, but his track record and hurt shoulder shouldn’t have been enough to overcome the hottest guy in BC and Jado. Enough is enough. – 2.75/5
– Tomohiro Ishii v Taichi – I wonder how many fans were turned off by the two match-ups on Night 5 and skipped this one completely. Boy, did they miss a thriller. This match was exceptionally good thanks to the commentary of Rocky Romero and Kevin Kelly. It’s so hard to listen to WWE TV after hearing these two. They were candid about Taichi, his laziness, and inability to get over being a one trick pony who only uses cheating to get heat. Kelly and Romero even made a comment abouy how “Twitter wont believe this.” Hell, tonight, Taichi didn’t need a hot chick in high boots, a bunch of jobber goons, an old iron claw– hell, not even his trusty mic stand. No, he literally threw the weapon down in the ring and went head on with the sturdiest guy in New Japan…
Sure, the World’s Great Lip-Syncher stuck to a slew of eye-rakes and throat thrusts early on. There was the inevitable ref bump. ‘Chi gonna ‘Chi. But as the match went on, Taichi went with skill over cheap thrills. After slamming Ishii with a last ride, Taichi took a mean piledriver. And following heated counters (a low blow, a missed superkick) and crowd-shouting exchanges (a sliding lariat, a turn of brainbusters), it’d be Ishii who wound up a beaten man but not a defeated one, moving closer to the Cup. Outstanding. – 4/5
Night 5 Overall = 3.5/5