SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NEW JAPAN CUP 2021
MARCH 6, 2021
OTA CITY GENERAL GYMNASIUM
AIRED LIVE ON NJPW WORLD
(1) BULLET CLUB (JAY WHITE & CHASE OWENS & TAIJI ISHIMORI W/GEDO) vs. TOA HENARE & YUYA UEMURA & DAVID FINLAY
Uemura hit a belly to belly suplex on Ishimori late in the match for a nearfall. The fans really fired up, but Ishimori fired back with a knee strike to the jaw for a nearfall. Ishimori then hit the Bloody Cross on Uemura for the win.
WINNERS: Jay White & Chase Owens & Taiji Ishimori at 9:38.
(Radian’s Analysis: This was fine for what it was. Uemura got some nice shine late in the match before falling to Ishimori.)
(2) TETSUYA NAITO & BUSHI & SANADA vs. THE UNITED EMPIRE (GREAT-O-KHAN & WILL OSPREAY & JEFF COBB W/BEA PRIESTLEY)
Cobb and O-Khan took turns working over Naito during the early going. Later in the match, Cobb wiped out Naito with a lariat and he went to the floor. Cobb had Bushi isolated in the ring. Bushi tried to mount a comeback on Cobb, but he fell victim to Tour of the Islands.
WINNERS: Will Ospreay & Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan at 10:55.
(Radican’s Analysis: This was another paint-by-the-numbers tag match. The United Empire looked strong in victory here.)
Naito smirked from the floor at O-Khan as he made his way to the back.
(3) MINORU SUZUKI vs. TOMOAKI HONMA – NEW JAPAN CUP FIRST ROUND MATCH
Both men glared at each other in the middle of the ring and the fans fired up. They began trading overhand chops. The fans clapped with each chop. Honma hit a series of double chops and slammed Suzuki. He went for a Kokeshi, but missed. He went for another Kokeshi, but missed again. Suzuki got the upper hand and they went to the floor. Suzuki worked a crossface on Honma using the guardrail for leverage. He then worked a modified cravat on the floor before slamming Honma back into the guardrail. Suzuki continued to work over Honma’s neck a short time later back inside the ring. Honma tried to no-sell some big strikes, but he collapsed to the mat. Suzuki nailed him with a couple of big kicks to the chest, but Honma no-sold him. He eventually blocked a running kick and hit a DDT and the fans fired up.
Honma went on the attack and hit a belly to back suplex. He hit a running bulldog a short time later. He went for a Kokeshi off the ropes and connected and the fans fired up. Suzuki fired back with some slaps and he went after Honma’s neck and Honma went down. Suzuki set up for the GSP, but Honma blocked it. Honma eventually backdropped Suzuki and the fans applauded. Suzuki hit some strikes and Honma began to fire up from his knees. Honma continued to fire up as Suzuki nailed him with forearms. Suzuki went for a strike, but Honma blocked it with a short Kokeshi and the fans fired up with both men down on the mat.
Honma got up and hit a series of forearms. This time Suzuki began to walk forward into his strikes. Suzuki put his hands behind his back, but Honma sent him into the corner. Honma finally sent Suzuki down to the mat. He followed up with some big elbows and he put Suzuki up top. They battled up top and Honma hit a jumping headbutt to the chest from the apron that sent Suzuki down to the mat. Honma then hit a Kokeshi off the turnbuckle on a standing Suzuki for nearfall. Honma tied up Suzuki’s leg on the mat and grabbed his head and arm in a combination submission. He then made a cover for a two count.
Suzuki no-sold a clothesline and told Honma to bring it. Suzuki hit some big slaps to Honma’s face, but he wouldn’t go down. They began trading forearms a short time later and the fans fired up and clapped as they went blow for blow. Honma began to stumble and went down to one knee after a short forearm. Suzuki hit another short forearm and glared at Honma. They continued to trade and Honma staggered, but would not go down. Suzuki grabbed a choke. The fans really fired up as Honma began to fade. The ref checked Honma’s arm a couple of times. Suzuki let go of the choke and went for the GSP, but Honma countered it into a pinning combination for a nearfall. Suzuki hit a pair of strikes and he got Honma up for the GSP and it was good for the win. What a war!
WINNER: Minoru Suzuki at 14:54. (****½)
(Radican’s Analysis: Amazing match. These two brought the strong style and fighting spirit. The fans were awesome clapping along as they went strike for strike. Honma was amazing here. He has been through the ringer with injuries and doesn’t get many singles matches anymore in NJPW, but he dialed back the clock here and put on an amazing and memorable match with Suzuki that exemplified New Japan strong style.)
(4) KENTA vs. JUICE ROBINSON (W/DAVID FINLAY) – NEW JAPAN CUP FIRST ROUND MATCH
Juice Robinson came out for the match dressed like Richard Simmons down to the hair. I don’t know if that’s what he was going for, but the resemblance was striking. Kenta methodically worked over Robinson for a long period of time. Robinson fired back and hit a spinebuster to turn the tide. Kenta snapped Robinbson’s neck over the top rope and hit a diving lariat off the top for a two count. Kenta went for Game Over, but Robinson escaped. They went back and forth and Kenta booted Robinson off the apron and he crashed into the guardrail. Kenta backdropped Robinson over the guardrail onto a table. He went up top, but Robinson cut him off. Kenta raked his eyes and jumped off the apron, but Robinson caught him and turned it into a DVD on the floor! WOW!
The fans fired up after Robinson landed his first significant offensive blow of the match. Kenta fired back and hit a hangman’s DDT inside the ring a short time later and both men were down. The fans fired up as Kenta began crawling to the corner. He measured Robinson and hit his signature kick/corner dropkick sequence. They went to a big sequence where Robinson ducked a spinning backfist and nailed Kenta with a gutbuster. They traded blows and Robinson blocked a backfist attempt and caught him with a straight right. Robinson set up for Pulp Friction, but Kenta countered it and went for Game Over. Kenta cranked on the hold as the fans fired up. Kenta really cranked back on the hold and Robinson tapped.
WINNER: Kenta at 17:15. (***½)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was pretty one-sided, so it was surprising to see Kenta get the win in the end the way the match was laid out. Robinson got some offense in, but Kenta constantly cut him off and regained the upper hand during the match.)
(5) KAZUCHIKA OKADA vs. SHINGO TAKAGI – – NEW JAPAN CUP FIRST ROUND MATCH
Okada worked on Shingo’s head and neck during the early going. He dominated until Takagi fired back on the floor driving Okada into the guardrail and into the apron back and forth. Takagi eventually hit a big DDT on the floor and the fans fired up. The pace picked up inside the ring and Okada hit his signature DDT for a two count. Shingo went for a Rainmaker, but Okada blocked it. He hit a flapjack a short time later and the fans fired up with both men down on the mat.
They got up and went right to a big strike exchange. They traded a string of counters and eventually Okada went for the Money Clip. He went for a backslide next, but Takagi countered it into Noshigami. Okada got the Money Clip a short time later. Takagi struggled, but managed to get his foot on the bottom rope. Okada hit a slam and sold his back. He was slow to go up top and Shingo cut him off. Shingo eventually hit a superplex and Okada rolled around in agony on the mat. The fans fired up and clapped with both men slow to get up. Shingo hit a sliding lariat a short time later for a two count. Both men traded counters. Shingo blocked a Rainmaker attempt and turned it into Made In Japan for a nearfall.
Shingo set up for Last of the Dragon, but Okada blocked it. Okada caught Takagi by surprise with a dropkick as he came off the ropes a short time later. Okada couldn’t get the MC, so he let it go and hit a tombstone. Okada then applied the MC in the middle of the ring. Shingo teased tapping and the fans clapped. He sat up and began inching towards the ropes. Takagi finally made a desperate lunge and managed to get his foot on the bottom rope. Shingo no-sold a shotgun dropkick and hit a big clothesline, but Okada didn’t go down. Okada hit a Rainmaker and he held on and went for a second, but Takagi blocked it. Shingo then blocked a spinning Rainmaker and hit a Rainmaker of his own and both men were down. WOW!
Shingo got up and hit a Pumping Bomber. Okada blocked a Last of the Dragon attempt and got a pinning combination for a near fall. Takagi then managed to counter Okada and he hit a big back breaker over his knee. Takagi then followed up with a Pumping Bomber, but Okada kicked out at the last second! Takagi went for Last of the Dragon again, but Okada countered him and went for a Rainmaker. Takagi got another counter and hit Last of the Dragon and it was good for the win. WOW!
WINNER: Shingo Takagi at 23:57. (****½)
(Radican’s Analysis: This would be shocking if it wasn’t for Dave Meltzer’s report in The Wrestling Observer that Okada has been working for quite some time with two slipped discs in his back. Shingo worked Okada’s back from start to finish here and it paid off. This is a big upset that is likely to leave a lot of New Japan Cup brackets in shambles.)
Takagi cut a show closing promo in Japanese to end the show.
Contact Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SR_Torch