The Big Takeaway —
In an incredible performance, Tomohiro Ishii upset Kenny Omega to advance to the next round of the New Japan Cup. Katsuyori Shibata, Juice Robinson, and SANADA all advanced as well, setting up the second round matches that will take place over the next few days.
It was announced before the card started that Manabu Nakanishi was suffering from the flu, so as a result the midcard had been shuffled a bit.
Non-Tournament Results —
– Yuji Nagata & Jushin Liger defeated David Finlay & Tiger Mask when Nagata submitted Tiger Mask with the seated armbar.
– Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa defeated Hirai Kawato, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan when Loa pinned Kawato with a sit-out piledriver.
– EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi & Michael Elgin when EVIL pinned Taguchi with the STO.
This match in particular was pretty good, and got great heat towards the end.
Toru Yano, Hirooki Goto, Kazuchika Okada, Jado & Gedo defeated Desperado, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taka Michinoku & Takashi Iizuka when Yano pinned Desperado following a low blow and a roll-up.
New Japan Cup Opening Round Results —
Juice Robinson defeated Yujiro Takahashi
Yujiro cut off Robinson with a clothesline and a suplex on the outside. Yujiro worked on Robinson until he made a comeback. Robinson went for the Pulp Friction but Yujiro reversed it into an inverted DDT. He followed that with the Miami Shine but didn’t get the pinfall.
Yujiro was about to go for the Pimp Juice DDT but Robinson cut him off and landed a powerbomb. He followed with the Pulp Friction to pick up the win in a pretty good match. The crowd wasn’t there at times, but the work itself was solid.
SANADA defeated YOSHI-HASHI
SANADA took out YOSHI-HASHI early by throwing him throat-first into the barricade on the outside. He tried for the Skull End but YH reversed it into his float-over neckbreaker. They had a great forearm battle that ended with SANADA gaining the advantage and sinking in the Skull End, though YOSHI-HASHI made it to the ropes. He tried for it again but YH lowered himself to the floor and rolled up SANADA for a cool near fall.
YOSHI-HASHI followed with a lariat and a shoulder breaker. He went for the swanton bomb but SANADA got his feet up. YOSHI-HASHI then tried for the butterfly lock but SANADA escaped. YOSHI-HASHI took him back down and hit the senton but SANADA still kicked out.
YH tried for Karma but SANADA escaped and went for the Skull End but didn’t get it. He instead went to the top rope and flipped over YH from behind, locking in the Skull End. This time, YOSHI-HASHI had no alternative but to tap.
Very good match; both men looked great and this turned into a nice back-and-forth contest with some cool counters.
Katsuyori Shibata defeated Minoru Suzuki
They started off chain wrestling, with Suzuki going to the ropes but Shibata fired back and they unleashed hell on one another. Suzuki grabbed Shibata’s arm and started working on it, stretching it over the ropes and stomping on it outside of the ring. Taichi came in and freely interfered.
Suzuki continued to work on Shibata’s arm until Shibata fired back with shots, hitting the running dropkick in the corner. They traded some really tough headbutts and elbows until Suzuki smacked Shibata with a big boot and went for the sleeper. Suzuki tried for the Gotch piledriver but Shibata wouldn’t budge, instead hitting Suzuki with a German suplex.
Shibata tried for the PK but Suzuki countered. They exchanged sleeper attempts until Shibata hit a Death Valley Driver and followed with the PK for the win.
I wish the crowd was more heated for this, and I think my expectations were loftier than what the match actually was, but this was still very good.
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Tomohiro Ishii defeated Kenny Omega
They brawled to the outside, where Omega went for the One Winged Angel really early into the match but Ishii escaped. Omega threw him into the barricade, got on said barricade, and launched off with a reverse DDT.
Omega worked on him a good while until Ishii made a comeback. He took Omega to the top rope where they battled until Ishii landed a headbutt and hit a hurricanrana off the top rope. Yes, that happened!
Ishii hit a press powerbomb and continued to gain momentum. Omega dodged a sliding D attempt, countering and eventually landing a DDT. He followed that with a tope con hilo. When they got back to the ring, Omega unleashed a dragon suplex, big boot, and a superkick but Ishii countered with a lariat…only for Omega to unleash a knee strike and a powerbomb.
A great, frenetic sequence followed with Ishii getting the better of things after a German suplex. He hit the sliding D but Omega kicked out. Omega blocked Ishii twice and hit a knee strike, but Ishii fired back with a lariat. Ishii went for a brainbuster; Omega countered but Ishii struck back with forearms until Omega hit another knee strike.
Omega lifted him for the One Winged Angel, but instead had Ishii land on his feet and drilled him with a German suplex for another near fall.
Another incredible back-and-forth sequence of finisher attempts ended with Omega hitting a reverse rana. Omega went for the One Winged Angel, but Ishii countered with a stunner, of all things. He blocked a knee strike and landed a headbutt. A big time lariat followed, though Omega still kicked out. One brainbuster later finally scored the win for Ishii in an incredible match.
This wasn’t as good as the Wrestle Kingdom main event or anything, but it was easily one of the better matches of the year so far.
New Japan Cup Second Round Matches —
EVIL vs. Yuji Nagata
Bad Luck Fale vs. Toru Yano
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Juice Robinson
Tomohiro Ishii vs. SANADA
Final Thoughts —
This was a good card highlighted by a fantastic main event. I wish the crowd got into the show more at times, but they were there in the end.
There were a lot of interesting results booking wise, so it will be interesting to see how everything works out in the next week leading to the semifinals and finals. At this point, everyone and anyone is fair game to win the tournament.