It’s time for the semifinals of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual heavyweight tournament, the New Japan Cup. Hiroshi Tanahashi will go up against Taguchi Japan stablemate Juice Robinson in the main event, with the winner advancing to the final match of the single-elimination tournament. Juice has had a handful of title matches, and does hold victories over the likes of Kenny Omega, but there is little doubt this is one of the biggest matches of his career. A huge eight man tag between Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi) versus Suzuki-Gun (TAKA Michinoku, Zack Sabre Jr., El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) takes place in the penultimate match, whilst current IWGP Heavyweight Champion teams with promoter Gedo to face off against current IWGP Intercontinental Champion Minoru Suzuki and the mad man Takashi Iizuka. All this and more tag team contests on Day 7 of the 2018 New Japan Cup.
Please note: I am behind, so both semi-finals have already happened at time of writing. I have no idea who wins, so I might make a few silly comments for those that know the outcomes.
+ Juice Robinson vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (New Japan Cup 2018 Semifinal Match): this was admittedly much slower than I was expecting, and perhaps less exciting, but that did not overall make for a bad match. This was a war between two friends and stablemates, so it was kept mostly within the rules, which I could understand might mean some people may not like the match. I can’t say this was either man’s best match ever, but in the end it was a good semi-final which made the winner look really good
+ Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi) vs Suzuki-Gun (TAKA Michinoku, Zack Sabre Jr., El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru): if this match is anything to go by, SANADA/Sabre in the second semi final is going to be fantastic. Hiromu went at a blistering pace, Naito was used sparingly, and Kanemaru was mostly just the set up for the others. But, come on, it has BUSHI and Desperado AND Hiromu in it, how could this not be good? Not to mention, some fantatic post-match shenanigans
+ CHAOS (Chuckie T, YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto) vs Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) & Kota Ibushi: this felt really short, and I honestly can’t even remember if YOSHI-HASHI was ever even legal, but damn if Chuckie T, Owens and especialyl Goto were not fantastic. As much as I want Oka/Goto in a young lion title match, this made me want Owens/Goto on a big stage even more
+ Toa Henare & Togi Makabe vs CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano): damn Henare and Ishii went smashmouth quick, but it was a chop and elbow exchange later that had me wide-eyed in disbelief. Makabe and Yano were almost supplimentary to the other two, but it made for an incredible match, only marred by one botch towards the end. All I know is I want more Henare/Ishii, and I want it now
+ David Finlay, Michael Elgin & Shota Umino vs Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer): dang Archer was going in STIFF this match, and even the crowd wasn’t safe as Archer scared an adorable little kid. Big Mike busted out some cruiserweight moves, before turning to the power game he knows and loves. Umino and Finlay were both great in their roles, and overall this was a lot of fun to watch
– CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Gedo) vs Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka): despite the bigger names in this match than any beforehand, it never really clicked for me. Gedo and Iizuka arenot really to the caliber of their opponents, and it was definitely the post-match that was the most interesting part. I really did enjoy the commentary for this match, though
– Tetsuhiro Yagi & Tomoyuki Oka vs Bullet Club (Tango Loa & Yujiro Takahashi): it is rare to hear Yujiro’s theme, and thankfully we heard it in the first round match, but we heard it again here, and I still love it. I never really believe the young lions will win, but damn if they don’t get me at least once per match. This was the standard young lion opening tag
> David Finlay joined the English commentary table following his match, and he provided some long-wanted insight from me, including why Fale attacks the ring announcers and just how much the Bullet Club swears (mentioned because Chase Owens was dropping a few F-bombs himself)
Should you watch this event: Despite the main event being a bit different than what I was expecting, overall this was a good show. The 8-man LIJ/Suzuki-gun match was the best match of the show, but it was easily Owens/Goto and Hanare/Ishii that were the best segments. Seek out any match with someone you particularly like, but don’t feel compelled to watch any.