3/26 NJPW Cup 2022 report: Radican’s semi-final round results & analysis

By Sean Radican, PWTorch columnist (Twitter: @SR_Torch)



MARCH 26, 2022

Announcers: Kevin Kelly & Chris Charlton

(7) ZACK SABRE JR. vs. SHINGO TAKAGI – NJPW Cup 2022 Semi-Final Round Match

Sabre last faced Shingo during G1 last year where he beat him via submission. Every time Sabre got hold of Shingo’s beck during the early going, he tried to escape quickly due to the previous damage done to his neck during the tournament. Sabre got the upper hand after using his feet to Twist Shingo’s neck.

Sabre focused his attack on Shingo’s neck. Sabre went for a guillotine and Takagi turned it into a suplex and both men were down. They built up to Shingo hitting a superplex, but he ended up hurting his own neck in the process. The fans fired up big time with claps after that spot. Sabre went for a Zach Driver twice, but on the second attempt, Shingo countered it into Made In Japan for a near fall.

After a big exchange, Shingo not a pumping bomber and sold his arm. Shingo went for Last of the Dragon, but Sabre countered it into a triangle submission. Sabre transitioned into a choke. Takagi tried to climb the ropes and he got up to the second rope and jumped backwards with Sabre holding the choke. Sabre let go and then grabbed it again right away. He turned it into a rear naked choke and the ref called for a stoppage when he went limp.

WINNER: Zack Sabre Jr. via ref stoppage at 19:24 to advance to the NJPW Cup 2022 Finals. (****)

(Radican’s Analysis: They told a really good story here. Sabre was beat up, but he took advantage of the wear and tear on Shingo and got the ref stoppage win.)


Chris Charlton said if Okada won the tournament, the champion would call his own shot as to what would happen next with the title situation. Kelly then talked about how Naito wanted to main event Wrestle Kingdom this year, but injuries wiped out that opportunity, so he has reset the same goal for Wrestle Kingdom 17 in 2023. They came out of the gates slowly feeling each other out. The pace quickened at the five minute mark and Naito took Okada down with a flying headscissors. Kelly talked about Naito winning every match in NJPW Cup so far with a rollup. Okada ended up dropkicking Naito off the top to the floor. Naito had a rough landing as he landed on the apron on the way down. Okada worked over Naito’s head, but he eventually fired back with a dropkick to Okada’s knee.

Okada took a dropkick to the head that he didn’t see coming and he sold his neck on the floor. Naito alternated going after Okada’s neck and knee on the floor. He set up Okada’s leg around the barricade and nailed it with a running dropkick and the fans applauded. Okada saw the combination in the corner coming from Naito and he blocked it and hit his signature neck breaker. Okada got the Money Clip and cranked on Naito’s neck. The fans fired up and Naito appeared to fade, but he managed to get his foot on the bottom rope. Okada dropped an elbow and went for a Rainmaker, but Naito blocked it and hit a modified twisting slam that targeted Okada’s knee and neck. Naito followed up with a tornado DDT. He followed up with a super rana. Naito ducked a charge in the corner and hit Okada with several big elbows to the neck. Okada stayed in the corner and the ref tried to pull Naito away from Okada, as he continued to deliver elbows to Okada’s neck. Naito then hit Esperanza. He got a running start and hit Destino for a near fall and the fans applauded.

Naito went up top a short time later for the Stardust Press, but Okada rolled out of the way and the fans fired up and clapped with both men down on the mat. Okada hit a Rainmaker and held onto Naito’s wrist. He hit another Rainmaker and let out a yell. Okada set up Naito for a traditional Rainmaker, but Naito hit some elbows. Okada hit a German and held on for a Rainmaker. Naito ducked it, but walked right into a dropkick from Okada. They did a nearfall with both main trading counters until Naito ducked a dropkick and got his signature running pinning combination for a nearfall. Okada then got a deep pinning combination on Naito, who also kicked out at the last second. Naito teased going for Gloria, but then he turned it into a pump-handle pinning combination for the win. WOW!

WINNER: Tetsuya Naito at 27:24 to advance to the NJPW Cup 2022 Finals. (****½)

(Radican’s Analysis: I wasn’t all that excited about Naito winning all his matches with pinning combinations, but that angle made the final moments of this match so exciting. They had a heck of a match with Naito working over Okada’s neck and knee throughout the match to set up his Destino finisher. They had some great counter sequences down the stretch before Naito got the pump-handle pinning combination for the win.)

After the match, Naito thanked the fans. He called out ZSJ, who eventually came out to the ramp. He invited Sabre to the ring, but Sabre said let’s do it tomorrow. Sabre bowed and said we’ll do it tomorrow.

Naito said the last time they wrestled in September, Sabre beat him. He said he would win tomorrow and capture the NJPW Cup. He said he would see everyone tomorrow in Osaka-Jo Hall. Naito concluded with his signature L.I.J. shout out.

Contact Sean at pwtorchsean@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @SR_Torch

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