[Please note: due to moving house and having no internet, I am incredibly behind. To save time, I will review only the tournament matches themselves, and split them into as big a chunk as I can. So here are the four matches from the quarter finals.]
[Please note: there are full spoilers for the first three rounds of the tournament, which I reviewed spoiler-free beginning here.]
New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual openweight tournament the New Japan Cup is upon us, and for the first time 32 men will fill out the tournament brackets, with the winner receiving a IWGP Heavyweight Championship match against current champion, Jay White, at the Madison Square Garden joint-show with Ring Of Honor. The quarter finals feature four matches, including two interesting CHAOS in-fights, as YOSHI-HASHI faces Tomohiro Ishii, and Kauzchika Okada faces the man he brought to NJPW in Will Ospreay. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Zack Sabre Jr face off in a rematch of last year’s final, and SANADA looks to take the final step in his ascendance as he gets in the ring with the most unlikely of competition, in Colt Cabana.
+ Will Ospreay vs Kazuchika Okada (New Japan Cup Quarter Final): technically this was good, but some interesting camera work gave away so much as to how the wrestlers position themselves and expect incoming strikes, including Ospreay bracing himself and leaning in far too often. Camerawork aside, this was good, and both the winner and loser looked great coming, especially considering their opponent. That hook kick from Ospreay is fantastic, every time
+ YOSHI-HASHI vs Tomohiro Ishii (New Japan Cup Quarter Final): this was really good. YOSHI-HASHI has had the best series of matches in his career (and the snippits of tag team action I’ve seen on non-tournament days have been good, too). I can freely admit I am hugely behind Ishii through this whole tournament, and always, but damn if YOSHI-HASHI didn’t make me a fan in this match. This was easily one of the better matches in tournament
– Zack Sabre Jr. (w/ TAKA Michonoku) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi (New Japan Cup Quarter Final): this was a rematch of last year’s tournament final, and frankly the sequel was not as good as the original. I am firmly back on the ‘old man Tanahashi shouldn’t be in these matches anymore’ train, and this match has only cemented it for me. Tana played a good hero in distress against the otherworldly submission skills of Sabre, but it was Sabre doing all of the work
– SANADA vs Colt Cabana (New Japan Cup Quarter Final): unfortunately, this did nothing for me. A combination of my never believing Cabana stood a chance (whether he won in the end or not) and the clash of styles just left too much to be desired. At least if it were Yano there was the possibility of an upset, or the ‘serious Yano’ winning, but I’m a big flabbergasted as to why Colt Cabana got to be at this point in the New Japan Cup. If anyone out there honest to God, gun to their head, hand on their heart though Cabana was going to win, then all the more to you, but I can’t believe it
Should you watch this event: I don’t think it was coincidence that the two CHAOS vs CHAOS matches were my favourite, considering Ishii is one of my favourites, and Okada is the best wrestler in the word, and each of their opponents had something to prove, either in- or out-of story. Conversely, the other side of the bracket were just matches for the sake of it, and even the potential for something big in Tanahashi/Sabre in last year’s final rematch fell completely flat.