Wrestling Review: NJPW New Japan Cup (2022) (Day 12 & 13)

[Please note: This review begins the quarter finals, and therefore spoils all previous rounds. I have reviewed the first round here and here, the second round here and here, and the third round here and here.]

All four quarter final matches of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual tournament will take place across two nights, as the final four will be decided in the New Japan Cup. On Day 12, the main event will see the reigning IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada, face off with the most unexpected opponent in CIMA. On the same day, Tetsuya Naito and Jeff Cobb will also collide, and the two winners of those matches will be set to meet in a huge semi-final. For day 13, Will Ospreay and Zach Sabre Jr. will meet once more, as they refresh their globe-trotting rivalry. And finally, it is friends and stablemates meeting in the ring, when two members of Los Ingobernables de Japon, Shingo Takagi and Hiromu Takahashi, stand across from each other for the first time ever in singles competition. Once again, whatever is left of the two winners of these matches will meet in the second semi-final.

+ Will Ospreay vs Zack Sabre Jr. (New Japan Cup 2022 Quarter Final Match): perhaps unsurprisingly, this was really good with a very interesting ending. It’s strange to me that Sabre is becoming more and more of a top fan favourite; I kind of just presume all British wrestlers are natural bad guys. But I guess when your opponent is Ospreay – the definition of a British wrestling bad guy – you get some leeway. As mentioned, the ending was really clever, and I really look forward to where it goes in the future, but the matches itself was really good as well
+ Hiromu Takahashi vs Shingo Takagi (New Japan Cup 2022 Quarter Final Match): it’s kind of frustrating, becuase if any match showed that Hiromu is not yet a heavyweight, it was this one. The difference in style between Hiromu and Shingo was immediately apparent, and while both the crowd and I were going nuts in our own ways while watching, I never got the feeling that Hiromu was going to defeat Shingo, no matter what wild things Hiromu pulled out. Maybe I was wrong, and maybe I wasn’t, but it was a bold – and incorrect – choice to have Hiromu’s journey to heavyweight include a match against Shingo. Still, this was GREAT, and I think if the crowd was able to make noises, they would have blown the roof off
+ Kazuchika Okada vs CIMA (New Japan Cup 2022 Quarter Final Match): this was good, but probably the weakest of the four quarter finals. It’s weird, and I understand this: I just cannot get behind Okada winning while he is already the champion. CIMA defeating the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion, whether he goes on to win the Cup, the title, or any matches of note in NJPW, is infinitely more interesting than the alternative. That Money Clip old of Okada’s just sucks the air out of the building every time he attempts to use it, and I think maybe the crowd was not still not as familiar with CIMA as intended. But as I said, still good
+ Tetsuya Naito vs Jeff Cobb (New Japan Cup 2022 Quarter Final Match): really good, with Cobb back at his offensive best. I would say that Naito is also at his best when he is playing defence, and those two propositions met wonderfully to have both men play to their strengths. This was not a match of the year, or even a match of the tournament, but both men looked good, the crowd was into it, and the ending made sense

> This is probably the most behind in a NJPW tournament I have been in years. When did life get so busy?

Should you watch this event: Both of the matches on day 12 were ‘good’, but both of the matches on day 13 were must see matches. Hiromu/Shingo and Sabre/Ospreay may be two of the best matches I’ve seen in NJPW in a long time, but you won’t go wrong with any of the matches.

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