3/27 2022 NJPW Cup Finals report: Radican’s results & analysis of NJPW Cup finals

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



MARCH 27, 2022


Announcers: Kevin Kelly & Chris Charlton

(8) ZACK SABRE JR. vs. TETSUYA NAITO – NJPW Cup 2022 Semi-final Round match

Kevin Kelly recapped Naito suffering a leg injury during his first G1 Climax match against ZSJ last year and the ramifications it had on this match. The fans fired up for the start of the match and then clapped for the opening bell. Both men went for an arm drag at the same time. Sabre offered a clean break, but Naito ended up kicking him low. He took Sabre down with a running headscissors. The announcers then mentioned that Sabre has a big bruise on the inside of his left thigh. Sabre fired back and targeted Naito’s leg. Sabre went for a leg submission and transitioned into a trailer hitch variation, but Naito managed to get to the ropes. Sabre looked annoyed that he ran out of space to work over Naito’s leg inside the ring.

Naito got the upper hand and hit his signature combination in the corner for a two count. Naito dropped the back of Sabre’s head down over his knee and worked a cravat. Sabre blocked a swinging DDT and used his leg to twist Naito’s head. Naito writhed in pain on the mat as the fans clapped. Sabre got an octopus around the ropes, but eventually the ref forced him to release the hold. Sabre favored his ribs, but Naito continued to target Sabre’s neck. Naito went for a top rope rana, but Sabre rolled through underneath him when they landed and locked in a triangle. Naito escaped by going for a leverage pin, which forced Sabre to let go of the triangle. He then hit a tornado DDT and both men were down on the mat.

Naito hit Esperanza a short time later, doing more damage to Sabre’s neck and head area. Both men traded pinning combinations and the pace picked up. Sabre got the European clutch for a nearfall. He then got the choke that he finished Shingo with in the semi-final round. Naito ended up getting to the ropes to break the hold. Sabre went for a Zack Driver, but Naito countered it into Valentia. Sabre countered a Destino attempt with a kick to the leg. Naito then countered Sabre and hit a modified Destino. Naito went for a Destino, but Sabre countered it into a Zack Driver, but Naito kicked out at the last second and the fans clapped as the 20 minute mark came and went. Chris Charlton mentioned there’s no time limit in the finals.

The fans fired up as loud as they could with claps with both men slow to get up. They traded blows until Naito sent Sabre down with an elbow strike. Sabre favored his collar bone, but got up and fired an uppercut. Sabre hit a running uppercut, but Naito didn’t go down. The fans clapped and Naito fired back and hit an elbow to Sabre’s head. Sabre got another neck twist on Naito using his legs. He continued to favor his midsection. Naito ducked a PK and got a pair of pinning combinations. Sabre kicked out of the second one and hit a PK for a nearfall. WOW! Sabre screamed Naito’s name and hit a running PK for a nearfall. The crowd fired up with claps and Sabre hit a tornado DDT out of the corner. He then hit the Zack Driver for the win!

WINNER: Zack Sabre Jr. at 24:43 to win the 2022 NJPW Cup. (****½)

(Radican’s Analysis: This went the way Rich Fann thought it would, so kudos to him. Okada comes out of this tournament with two challengers, as Naito beat Okada in the semi-final round and Sabre won the tournament by beating Naito.

This was a fantastic match and the crowd was as good as could possibly be expected given the restrictions. Naito was unable to roll Sabre up nor was he able to beat him with Destino. Sabre had a great run to conclude the NJPW Cup and this could set him up as a player in the top tier depending on how he’s booked going forward.)

Sabre cut a promo after the match. He said he would not only be the best technical wrestler in the world, but also the best wrestler in the world. He also said soon he would be IWGP World Hvt. Champion.

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

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