RADICAN’S NJPW “2018 NJPW CUP” Playlist – top matches to watch from the tournament including Ibushi-HASHI, Sabre-Naito, and the incredible Sabre-Ibushi match

By Sean Radican, PWTorch Columnist

NJPW Dominion matches announced
PHOTO CREDIT: Tokyo Sports


MARCH 9, 2018

Commentators: Kevin Kelly and Chuck Taylor

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Michael Elgin in a 2018 NJPW Cup First Round match. They ran into each other several times during the early going and began exchanging blows. Neither man would give an inch and they each brushed off some big forearms to show their toughness. They went to a big exchange of running shoulder tackles off the ropes. Elgin made Ishii stagger, but Ishii fired back and wiped him out with a big running shoulder tackle. Ishii took several forearms and told Elgin to bring it so he took his pad down and decked Ishii with a huge forearm. Ishii eventually cut Elgin off with a slam off the ropes. They went to another big strike exchange and Ishii finally got the better of Elgin and he collapsed to the mat. Elgin fired back and went on the offense. He hit a deadlift falcon arrow for a 2 count. Elgin chopped away at Ishii in the corner. Taylor remarked that Ishii looked like he was waiting for a bus after he told Elgin to bring it and Elgin hit several big chops. They went back and forth trading strikes in the corner. Ishii finally put Elgin in the corner and chopped and forearmed him down to the mat as the fans fired up. Both men went for clotheslines at the same time. Ishii finally went down. He got right back up and tried to take out Elgin with a clothesline, but Elgin absorbed it and wiped him out with a big clothesline.

Elgin countered Ishii a short time later and hit a blue thunder bomb for a near fall, as Ishii kicked out at the very last second. Both men took turns walking forward into several forearms. Elgin finally got the better of Ishii and hit him with a slam. He went up top, but Ishii caught him with a powerbomb out of the corner. He then folded over on top of him for a 2 count. Elgin went up top a short time later and connected with a splash for a 2 count. Elgin connected with a deadlift falcon arrow for a near fall. The fans fired up and chanted for Ishii. They went to a big exchange and Elgin hit a superkick, but Ishii fired back with a leg lariat and both men were down. Elgin set up for an avalanche powerbomb, but Ishii fought out of it and hit a jumping headbutt. He then hit a big superplex and the fans fired up, but Elgin kicked out at the last second. Ishii hit a huge lariat on Elgin, but he kicked out at 1. Ishii immediately caught Elgin with another lariat for a near fall. They went to another big exchange of blows and Elgin hit a German with a bridge for a 2 count. He held on a release German and the fans fired up. Elgin measured Ishii and hit a HUGE lariat for a 1 count. Elgin hit another big clothesline and then a spinning side slam for a near fall.

Elgin placed Ishii up top at the 25:00 minute mark. Elgin hit Ishii with an avalanche splash mountain sitout powerbomb, but he kicked out at the last second! WOW! Elgin hit a buckle bomb, but Ishii countered the Elgin bomb into a hurricanrana. Ishii then hit an enzuguri and both men were down. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Ishii hit a headbutt that decked Elgin. He followed up with a sliding lariat for a 2 count. Ishii set up for the vertical drop brainbuster, but Elgin countered it into one of his own! Ishii got right up and staggered around the ring! Elgin hit a half and half suplex, but Ishii got up to his feet again! Ishii tried to block a buckle bomb attempt with another hurricanrana, but Elgin blocked it and hit the buckle bomb! Ishii then popped out of the corner and turned Elgin inside out with a lariat before collapsing to the mat. WOW! Elgin fired back and hit the burning hammer for the win. WOW! What a match!!

Winner: Michael Elgin to advance to the second round of the NJPW Cup where he will face Juice Robinson

Star rating: (****¾) – This was a top of the line G1 calibur war between two guys that come off like tough guys. Big strike sequences, big counter sequences, fighting spirit – this match had it all. This is NJPW strong style personified.

Elgin tried to help Ishii out after the match, but he refused his help on the floor. Elgin cut a promo after the match. He said he became a wrestler because he craved competition. He said Ishii was the best competition a man like him could ask for. He said the goal is to win and tonight he got himself back on track with win number 1. He said he would win the NJPW Cup 2018.

They cut backstage to Elgin, who said he redeemed his loss to Ishii in the 2015 G1. He dedicated his win to Jax. He said he fights for Jax and can’t be stopped.

MARCH 11, 2018

This show featured Japanese commentary only.

Kota Ibushi vs. YOSHI-HASHI in a 2018 NJPW Cup First Round match. They had a quick exchange during the early going. Ibushi got the upper hand and went after HASHI’s arm, which was taped around the shoulder. HASHI fired back and hit a dropkick on Ibushi, who was draped over the ropes. They went back and forth and HASHI went for a blockbuster off the ropes, but Ibushi flipped, landed on his feet, and hit a HUGE running knee. WOW! They went back and forth on the apron and HASHI eventually hit a suplex and both men went to the floor. They ended up brawling into the crowd and Ibushi hit a big hurricanrana on the floor. Ibushi climbed into the upper deck and the fans began chanting his name. He led the chant before hitting a moonsault to the floor! WOW! He sent HASHI back into the ring and hit a springboard missile dropkick. He followed up with a half and half suplex for a 2 count. He went for the Kamigoye, but HASHI countered it with a headbutt. HASHI held onto Ibushi’s wrists and hit two more headbutts. WOW! They went to a slap exchange. Ibushi hit several light slaps and HASHI returned fire and tagged him with some HUGE slaps. Ibushi went down to the mat and HASHI hit some with some light kicks. Ibushi stuck his tongue out at HASHI and began to return fire. He ended a big kick sequence with a roundhouse to the back of HASHI’s head.

They went at it again and traded counters. Ibushi hit a HUGE roundhouse kick to the back of HASHI’s head and he went down to his knees. Ibushi went for a powerbomb, but HASHI turned it into a facebuster. He then hit a destroyer for a near fall! WOW! He got the butterfly lock, but Ibushi got to the ropes. He went for kharma a short time later, but Ibushi slipped out at the last second and hit a combination of kicks. He went off the ropes, but HASHI turned him inside out with a HUGE clothesline! WOW! He then hit a sitout powerbomb for a near fall. HASHI got the butterfly lock again and Ibushi REALLY struggled, but he managed to get to the ropes. Ibushi fought out of kharma a short time later and hit HUGE lariat and both men were down with the fans chanting for Ibushi! HASHI tried to counter another Kamigoye attempt, but Ibushi was ready for it this time and he ended up flipping around him and hit a straight jacket German with a bridge for a near fall. Ibushi held onto HASHI’s arms and went right into the Kamigoye for the win.

Winner: Kota Ibushi to advance to the second round of the NJPW Cup

Star rating: (****½) – This was a great match. The fans were WAY into Ibushi and both men delivered an epic level performance. They went all-out here and Ibushi’s moonsault out of the second level back to the floor on HASHI was definitely a memorable moment. HASHI could never hit Kharma during this match and he managed to avoid the Kamigoye multiple times until Ibushi finally hit it to end the match.

Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre Jr. in a 2018 NJPW Cup First Round match. Sabre came out wearing two Rev Pro belts. He was introduced by Taka Michinoku in the ring. He concluded by telling Naito to just tap out. Both men played mind games with each other early ducking lockups. Naito ducked a lockup and Sabre jumped him from behind. Naito fired back and sent him to the floor before hitting his signature fake out dive pose. Sabre blocked Naito’s signature corner dropkick sequence and snapped his arm over the top rope. Sabre worked over Naito’s arm for several minutes. He began twisting his arm over and over. Naito kept hitting him until Sabre released the hold. Naito then it a neckbreaker that left both men down. Naito hit a flurry of offense capped by a dropkick to the back of Sabre’s head. He then hit his signature corner dropkick and made a light cover for a 2 count. Naito continued to target Sabre’s head, but Sabre eventually fired back and floated around Naito before tying up one of his arms on the mat. He tied up Naito’s other arm with his leg, but Naito managed to get his foot on the bottom rope! Naito tried to fire back with a flying forearm, but Sabre countered it and got an octopus and the fans fired up for the slick exchange. Sabre kept blocking Naito from reaching the ropes and he tied him up, but Naito managed to throw himself and Sabre into the ropes to break the hold.

Naito suddenly fired back and hit a tornado DDT off the ropes and both men were down. They went back and forth and Sabre caught Naito’s signature up kick and tied him up in a modified STF. Sabre began going after Naito’s leg with a series of kicks. Sabre had a heel hook, but Naito fired back and hit several slaps and a German that left both men down. The fans chanted for Naito before he went on the attack. Naito went for a quick destino attempt, but Sabre turned it into his double wrist clutch bridging pinning combination for a 2 count. Sabre got up and hit a PK. Naito kicked out at 2 and Sabre immediately applied a knee bar. WOW! Sabre turned it into a kneebar/ankle lock combination and Naito teased tapping. He began to drag himself towards the ropes and the ref checked on him and asked if he wanted to quit. Naito continued to struggle, but eventually got to the ropes! They went back and forth exchanging strikes and kicks. Naito got on track and hit a wrist clutch side slam for a 2 count. Naito hit a flying forearm and went for destino, but Sabre floated around him and got another ankle/knee combination submission. WOW! He managed to tie up Naito’s other leg behind his back in a submission as well. Naito tried to punch his way out of it, but Sabre wouldn’t let go of the hold. Sabre used his leg to really crank on the submission. Naito grabbed the ref when he checked on him, but he didn’t tap out. Naito couldn’t get to the ropes and he ended up verbally submitting to the ref. WOW!

Winner: Zack Sabre Jr. to advance to the second round of the NJPW Cup

Star rating: (****½) – This was an incredible display of submission wrestling from Sabre. He was able to stay a step ahead of Naito the entire match. He avoided the destino and continually worked over Naito’s arm and then leg to finish him off.

Michinoku got on the mic after the mic and put over Sabre. He said Ibushi should just tap out when they face each other in the second round. Michinoku concluded by saying, “He is Zack Sabre. Jr!”

MARCH 15, 2018

Commentators: Kevin Kelly and David Finlay

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kota Ibushi in a 2018 NJPW Cup Second Round match. This is a rematch from G1 last year. Taka Michinoku handled Sabre’s introduction. Ibushi is undefeated in NJPW Cup action. He won in 2018. The winner faces SANADA in the semi-finals. Ibushi beat Sabre during the G1 without using high-flying, as he relied on his striking to overcome Sabre’s mat game. Ibushi didn’t add the Kamigoyi?? until after he beat Sabre during G1. Sabre got the better of Ibushi during some early exchanges on the mat. Ibushi countered a double arm submission and got one of his own. Sabre went to the striking game and Ibushi decked him with one big forearm. Ibushi began nailing Sabre’s legs with kick after kick. Sabre fired back and went to work on Ibushi’s leg.Sabre got a bridging leg submission. He then began twisting on Ibushi’s other leg while maintaining the hold. Ibushi finally kicked his way out of the hold. Ibushi hit a huge kick to Sabre’s back and told him to bring it. Sabre fired back, but instead of hitting a kick to the back, he used his feet to twist Ibushi’s neck. He then did the same thing to Ibushi’s arm.

Sabre went after Ibushi’s arm and really cranked away at it before dropping him with an uppercut. Ibushi fired back with a hurricanrana and a huge kick to the chest and the fans fired up with an Ibushi chant. Sabre got the octopus hold and cranked away on Ibushi’s arm while driving his knuckles into his ribs. Ibushi eventually got to the ropes. Sabre made the mistake of trying to strike with Ibushi a short time later. Ibushi ducked an uppercut attempt and hit a half and half suplex with a bridge for a 2 count. Sabre suddenly fired back with a bridging pinning combination and when Ibushi kicked out he grabbed his leg and applied a modified STF. Sabre went for an uppercut, which only seemed to fire up Ibushi, who decked him with a backflip kick. Ibushi set up for a powerbomb, but Sabre countered it into the triangle calling back to the finish of their G1 match last year! Ibushi lifted Sabre and hit a version of the last ride powerbomb, but this time Sabre kicked out!

Ibushi went for the Kamigoye, but Sabre did this crazy counter into a pinning combination. Ibushi reversed it and got one of his own for a near fall. They went back and forth exchanging pinning combinations until Sabre got a super close near fall! WOW! Both men sat down and began kicking and slapping each other. HOLY S–T! Ibushi told Sabre to bring it and he got up and just stomped on his face. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? They went back and forth and Ibushi ended a big exchange absolutely SWINGING FOR THE FENCES with a HUGE clothesline. WOW! Both men were down as the fans fired up. Sabre blocked a kick from Ibushi, tripped him, and hit a PK. Ibushi blocked a PK and grabbed Sabre’s leg. Sabre slapped the crap out of him several times and Ibushi decked him with an incredible chop to the chest. WOW! Ibushi went for a moonsault off the second rope, but Sabre caught his head with his legs. Sabre hit some elbows and Ibushi stood up and went for the last ride, but Sabre jumped out of it and went right into the octopus. They went back and forth. Sabre countered the Kamigoye, but Ibushi slipped around him while maintaining wrist control. Ibushi then hit a straight jacket German with a bridge for a nearfall. Ibushi held onto Sabre’s wrists and went for the Kamigoye, but Sabre sidestepped it at the last second and applied the octopus hold! WOW! Sabre got the double arm submission and cranked away at Ibushi on the mat. The ref checked on Ibushi after Sabre kicked him several times on the top of the head. Sabre put his foot down on Ibushi’s head and applied the hold. Sabre transitioned the hold deeper and the ref checked on Ibushi. Sabre rolled over with Ibushi still in the hold and he was out, so the ref called for the bell. WHAT A FINISH!

Winner: Zack Sabre Jr. to advance to the Semi-Final Round of the 2018 NJPW Cup.

Star rating: (*****) – This was a masterclass in submission wrestling and storytelling. Ibushi didn’t go to high-flying when he faced Sabre in the G1, so when he went to it in this match, it backfired on him big time, especially when he went for a moonsault during the second half of the match and landed right in a triangle. Sabre was incredible here working Ibushi’s arms and legs. Both men made mistakes strategically, but Sabre was able to overcome his mistakes and win the match in outstanding fashion.

Taka Michinoku cut a promo. He said SANADA will just tap out.

Contact Sean at pwtorchsean@gmail.com. Follow Sean on Twitter HERE. Follow and like Radican’s Wrestling Community Facebook.com HERE

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