Following all of yesterday’s action, New Japan Pro Wrestling presents the second half of the first round matches for its annual New Japan Cup. The four final first round matches will see Kenny Omega versus Tomohiro Ishii, Katsuyori Shibata vs Minoru Suzuki (holy crap, that will be good), SANADA vs YOSHI-HASHI and Juice Robinson vs. Yujiro Takahashi. The overall winner of the single elimination tournament can choose to challenge for any one of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the IWGP Intercontinental Championship or the NEVER Openweight Championship. Day Two will also feature a handful of tag matches featuring competitors from eysterdays action, as well as current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, as well as the rest of the members of CHAOS, the members of Suzuki-gun, Los Ingobernables de Japon and the Bullet Club.
Unfortunately, my stream cut out during the SANADA vs YOSHI-HASHI and the Juice Robinson vs Yujiro Takahashi matches, so I can’t say how the matches went. I’ll update this once I can see a replay
Update: I’ve added in my thoughts below.
+ Kenny Omega vs Tomohiro Ishii (New Japan Cup First Round Match): Omega’s sometimes goofy expressions soon give way to a multitude of massive strikes, with Ishii only happy to repay in kind. This is a match which has been in my mind for a long time, and both Omega/Ishii knew many fans felt the same. Back and forth, hard-hitting and full of fantastic near-falls, this was worthy of being the final match on the card
+ Katsuyori Shibata vs Minoru Suzuki (New Japan Cup First Round Match): holy crap I was pumped for this one, and it absolutely did not disappoint. Suzuki is a legend for a reason, and I am personally a massive fan of Shibata’s wrestling style. Back and forth strong-style elbows and forearms sent dull thuds echoing around the arena. A phenomenal ending sequence had the crowd in a frenzy and me out of chair
+ SANADA vs YOSHI-HASHI (New Japan Cup First Round Match): SANADA must be one of the most captivating wrestlers around at the moment, not least of all that I am a sucker for a good Dragon Sleeper. Something about absolutely screams “star power” to me, but I can’t quite say what it is. This was a battle between noted submission finishers, although there were still enough hard shots and surprising high flying to go around. A handful of relatively minor timing mistakes did bring me out of the action, but the ending was surprisingly slick and overall left a good impression
+ Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi & Tetsuya Naito) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA, Michael Elgin & Ryusuke Taguchi: a staredown between opponents from yesterday, Tanahashi and EVIL was great, and show why yesterday was the correct outcome. So many match-ups — Elgin/EVIL, Naito/Elgin and the classic Naito/Tanahashi — made me so hyped for what may come next. The entirey of LIJ is fantastic at what they do. I would have liked a bit more from KUSHIDA, but Elgin, EVIL, Tanahashi and Takahashi had really good showings
+ CHAOS (Gedo, Hirooki Goto, Jado, Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano) vs Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku, Takashi Iizuka & Yoshinobu Kanemaru): much like the LIJ match previously, this was a really solid match, but I would have liked some more from some of them. Okada in particular seemed to spend more time on the floor than on the apron, let alone in the ring. Either way, this was entertaining, with a finish that I enjoyed
– Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) and Hirai Kawato: This was very short, even for the opening match, and overall not really worth mentioning. Even so, as seen by yesterday’s showings, Tama Tanga and Tanga Lao are significantly better tag team workers than they are singles competitors
– Juice Robinson vs Yujiro Takahashi (New Japan Cup First Round Match): Juice has made such waves since coming to NJPW, and Takahashi has a lot more going for him than just his (incredibly hot) entrance. I don’t know how much I buy Takahashi as the guy giving beatdowns, but at least Juice is a convincing underdog. There were some very convincing strikes, one vicious dingle leg dropkick in patricular, but overall this lacked something to bring it to the next level; maybe it was just the participants, but I’d think either of these two against a bigger star would have been better for them
> I would have liked to see some more from some in the tag matches. Whether that was in the tag match, or if they had separated some teams into regular two-on-two affairs I can’t say which would be better
> Aww boy, that bunny girl. Thank you camera man
Should you watch this event: After going back to catch the two first round matches I missed, I stand by my original assessment. Compared to the first day, this was a much more well rounded show. Shibata/Suzuki and Omega/Ishii were phenomenal, and though lacking something, SANADA/YOSHI-HASHI and Juice/Takahashi were both okay, and both the Bullet Club/CHAOS and 10-man tag team matches were very solid, while still leaving room to do more in the future.