SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NEW JAPAN CUP REPORT – NIGHT NINE
MARCH 15, 2021
KORAKU, TOKYO, JAPAN
AIRED LIVE ON NJPWWORLD.COM
(1) SUZUKI-GUN (DOUKI, EL DESPERADO & MINORU SUZUKI) vs. BULLET CLUB (JADO, TAIJI ISHIMORI & KENTA) – Special 6 Man Tag Match
The show kicked off with a six man tag – which promptly turned into Kenta vs. Suzuki volume 2. As soon as Kenta was near the ring Suzuki pounced, and left his charges to wrestle the match. Douki in particular played the role of in ring competitor, as he cycled through Kenta and Jado.
Eventually Desperado was jumped by Ishimori and Jado, but right when the Bullet Club mates thought they had him beat, Desperado slipped Ishimori into Numero Dos for the sub. Post match, Kenta & Suzuki continued slaps and punches and would not yield.
WINNERS: El Desperado by submission(Numero Dos) in 8:02 (**)
(Fann’s Analysis: Kenta and Suzuki continued their Takayama appreciation series while the other four rumbled. Despy gets a win as he builds his case to be the GUY as IWGP Jr. champ post Hiromu injury and it was certainly a wild way to start the show.)
(2) SUZUKI-GUN (ZACK SABRE JR., YOSHINOBU KANEMARU & TAICHI) vs. EMPIRE (WILL OSPREAY, GREAT-O-KHAN & JEFF COBB) – Special 6 Man Tag Match
Another six man, another jumping. This time, Ospreay continued his match with Sabre and threw him into the ringside barriers. Taichi and O-Khan were the designated wrestlers as the pair went pillar to post.
Eventually the match became a true six man instead of a tag with two dudes slapping each other outside. Cobb took the momentum until ZSJ got a rear naked choke on and then tagged out. Kanemaru entered and focused on the knee of the bigger man, which also allowed Taichi to jump in and focus on the knee as well.
The finish came as Kanemaru tried his luck against Cobb again, and after a sunset flip attempt being caught and taken on a Tour of the Islands for the loss.
WINNER: Jeff Cobb by pinfall (Tour of the Islands) in 7:10 (**)
(Fann’s Analysis: Another six man, another brawl, another post match NJ Cup rematch teased. I didn’t mind Kanemaru as Jr. Tag champ losing, as he was against an established heavy monster. Ospreay and ZSJ looked great with their hatred spilled over from their prior match.)
(3) LIJ (SHINGO TAKAGI, SANADA & BUSHI) vs. RYUSUKE TAGUCHI, YUJI NAGATA & HIROOKI GOTO – Special 6 Man Tag Match
The big story in this tag match was Shingo and Sanada’s showcase as they advance in the tournament, while against some quality opposition in a six man. Goto and Shingo started the match, with echoes of their match still in the hearts and minds of all. Shingo was quick to tag to Sanada once Goto went to work on Takagi’s arm.
Shingo wasn’t gone long, however and returned to the ring and ate a boot from Nagata, who tagged in to aid Goto. Eventually, the focus shifted to Taguchi/Sanada, with Taguchi bringing the funny while wrestling a solid match with the well-coifed one.
Taguchi tried to get cute with a O’conner roll, but Sanada kicked out and gave him one of his own for the pin. Paint by the numbers, solid match
WINNER: Sanada by pinfall (O’conner roll w/bridge ) in 6:26 (**)
(Fann’s Analysis: By the numbers six man tag match. Sanada’s upcoming date with Ospreay dictated a win on his end and the spots between Nagata and Sanada were a nice reminder of their recent match up. Shingo could’ve gotten the win as well with the Kenta matchup looming, but he looked like a million bucks so it wasn’t as big a deal.)
(4) YOSHI-HASHI vs. DAVID FINLAY – New Japan Cup 2nd Round Match
This match started with Finlay, locked in and focused as he matched Yoshi Hashi on the mat. The pair had a brief dalliance to the outside, but tried to keep the fight (and most of the match) in the ring.
Yoshi Hashi tried to focus on Finlay’s back via slams, suplexes and an attempt to superplex his opponent. Finlay eventually got back into the match with a backbreaker and a dive onto the floor. Back in the ring, Finlay had the advantage until a failed corner rush resulted in Finlay running into the buckle.
The finishing sequence arrived as Yoshi Hashi fired up after a clothesline. Hashi tried to follow up with Karma, but Finlay escaped. Instead, Finlay ate head-butts and a dragon suplex for a long two count. Finally, Finlay turned a Karma attempt into a stunner, followed by an Acid Drop for the surprising win.
WINNER: David Finlay by pinfall (Acid Drop) in 13:12 (***1/2)
(Fann’s Analysis: This was a really good showing for Yoshi Hashi and a great chance for Finlay. Fresh off of winning the Impact tag titles, he faces the winner of White-Tanahashi in what could be a singles ascension showing. Yoshi Hashi keeps his water level so to speak as a lower card guy, but I was quite surprised he didn’t get a chance to make some noise against either Tanahashi or White.)
(5) JAY WHITE vs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI – New Japan Cup 2nd Round Match
Main event time. Ab-mania 2021 kicked off with a pose down between the pair, as throughout this New Japan Cup tour White had antagonized Tanahashi with regard to the state of their six packs.
Both men then went into another duel – of counter holds. That went on for about a minute before White stopped the shenanigans with a hellacious DDT. White and Tanahashi then went out and near the outside of the ring with counters and dragon screws, until both men returned fully in the ring, where Tanahashi got his Texas Clover Hold. After a bit, White reached the ropes to get a rope break.
White tried for a counter of Tanahashi’s slingblade, but Tanahashi hit it up reverse. Gedo tried to get involved, but Tanahashi dropped him with a dragon screw leg whip. Another slingblade for White netted a two count, and Tanahashi followed to hit a High Fly Flow. However, before Tanahashi could get into position, White popped up and sent him to the mat. The finish (out of nowhere) arrived as the pair exchanged counters to their finishers with basic roll ups, which culminated in White’s successful Blade Runner for the win.
WINNER: Jay White by pinfall (Blade Runner) in 19:54 (****)
(Fann’s Analysis: Great match. Shorter than one would expect, but given the size of the crowd as well as the situation they’re in, it made total sense. Finlay and White should be a decent bout and a chance for David to step into another tier. Impact received a solid shoutout from White while he berated his future opponent. On the Tana front, you’re looking at him with a strong showing and now a solid contender for his NEVER openweight title in White, as Shingo – my favorite for the whole thing – moves towards his goal.)
Overall thoughts (7.5): Solid tag match undercard that led to a really good main event. The brevity of the entire show pointed to the understanding New Japan had of this point in the tournament and I was glad to see they saw less was more with regards to the tags and main event.
Contact Rich at PWTDive@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/rich_fann.