NJPW ANNIVERSARY EVENT RECAP (3/6): Lansdell’s report on Naito vs. Sho, Perry vs. Umino, and the start of the New Japan Cup


March 6, 2024

Announcers: Walker Stewart, Chris Charlton and Gino Gambino

(1) TOMOAKI HONMA & TANGA LOA vs. UNITED EMPIRE (Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan)

Well I guess Tanga Loa didn’t leave with his brother then. United Empire jumped their opponents before the bell, which is something to keep an eye on. Other than O-Khan going after the knee of Tanga Loa and Honma continuing to get slower, there was nothing notable to see here. Jeff Cobb hit Tour of the Islands for the win.

WINNERS: United Empire via pinfall in 4:00. (*1/2)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: A preview for the New Japan Cup match between O-Khan and Loa, which might be why we saw the leg work tonight.)

(2) TMDK (Zack Sabre Jr & Mikey Nicholls) vs. GUERILLAS OF DESTINY (El Phantasmo & Hikuleo)

ELP and Nicholls meet in the first round of the Cup later this week. ZSJ has a bye in the first round, and Hikuleo gets Boltin Oleg. The commentators spent a lot of time talking about what an overwhelming favourite ZSJ was for the Cup, so there’s no way he’s winning.

All four men had their working boots on for this match, especially ELP who was flying all over the place. Somewhat surprisingly, Nicholls got the pin on ELP with the Mikey Bomb (a blue thunder bomb).

WINNERS: TMDK via pinfall in 8:00. (***)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Very entertaining for a preview tag, and a reminder that Nicholls can go when he wants to. This augurs well for the match quality of this year’s NJ Cup.)


This is not actually a preview tag. In fact, the two people who are closest to facing off are Ishii and Goto. Ishii has Chase Owens in the first round, and Goto has a bye but would face the winner of Owens and Ishii in round two.

Tsuji called out Ishii to start, grinning the whole time. My goodness, Tsuji is going to be a GREAT heel one day. There was a fun interaction between Oleg and Hiromu where Hiromu tried to whip Ichiban Meat Boy to the ropes, and Oleg just stood there refusing to move.

The match was really picking up in pace and action when Desperado got a flash pin on Bushi with a modified crucifix.

WINNERS: Desperado, Goto, Ishii, & Oleg via pinfall in 8:00. (**1/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Just for fun I guess? We did get to see Desperado shake hands with Ishii and Goto after the match, and the commentators mentioned that it could mean something for the future of Chaos, so that could be something. At least LIJ wasn’t fighting J5G…)

After the match Chase Owens blindsided Ishii and hit him with the package piledriver. Goto and Oleg chased him off. Pun not intended.

(4) UNITED EMPIRE (Callum Newman & Francisco Akira & TJP) vs. BULLET CLUB WAR DOGS (David Finlay & Gabe Kidd & Gedo)

A double preview here, as Newman faces Kidd in the first round while TJP takes on Finlay. Oh you thought that apocalyptic hour-long cage match was the end of this feud?

As you might expect, they started quickly and violently. Chris Charlton mentioned that Henare was still recovering from that nasty head wound he received during the cage match in February.

Akira was the star in this one, getting to show off the most and picking up the pin on Gedo (shocking, I know) while Kidd & Newman and Finlay & TJP gave us a taste of what to expect in the Cup.

WINNERS: United Empire via pinfall in 8:00 (**1/2)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Fast and fun but not really anything meaty here. Akira did show his improvement, which will be needed if he is stepping into the singles ranks.)

(5) JUST FIVE GUYS (Sanada & Taichi & Yuya Uemura & Douki) vs. HOUSE OF TORTURE (Evil & Ren Narita & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Dick Togo)

We got our first look at a shorn Yuya Uemura, who came out with a towel on his head in the style of Minoru Suzuki and an expression on his face that was replete with pain. He has dyed his stubble brick red, reminiscent of early Tetsuya Naito.

Taichi and Ren Narita are first-round opponents. Some in the crowd were calling for Evil, which just boggles my mind. It did not take long for things to degenerate into HoT Shenanigans (™), including all four men stomping on Sanada while the ref chose to prevent Just Five Guys from making the save. Make it make sense.

Most of the match was just HoT cheating interspersed with actual wrestling. Uemura pinned Togo with the Deadbolt, giving him a much-needed positive heading into the Cup.

WINNERS: Just Five Guys via pinfall in 9:00. (*3/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Insert standard House of Torture rant here. Uemura’s look will take some getting used to, but he does not appear to have changed his style at all. It was interesting how small a role Sanada played in this match, though he does have the first-round bye in the Cup.)

(6) YUJIRO TAKAHASHI (w/ Pieter) vs. TORU YANO – New Japan Cup first-round match

Pieter is back! She got a louder reaction than Yujiro, which is entirely appropriate. As if offended by this affront, Yujiro jumped Yano during the ring announcer’s litany of accolades. Chris Charlton mentioned that this was Yano’s 19th straight New Japan Cup.

Yujiro removed a corner pad and smacked Yano with it. He tried to whip Yano into the exposed corner, but Yano pulled up short and avoided a charging Yujiro. Yano then charged himself, but Yujiro dodged and this time Yano did meet the corner. They went to the floor, where Yujiro produced some handcuffs and attached Yano to a barricade. Somehow Yano managed to detach himself and got into the ring at the count of 16.

They went back to the floor, where Yano turned the tables and put the handcuff on Yujiro’s wrist. He whipped Yujiro into the barricade, then abducted a ringside official and handcuffed Yujiro’s hands around the official on the floor. One low blow later, and Yano rolled back in to secure the countout win.

WINNER: Toru Yano via countout in 3:00. (*)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: That was a match that happened. Kind of.Yano will face either Shota Umino or Jack Perry in the second round.)

(7) YOSHI-HASHI vs. KENTA – New Japan Cup first-round match

Kenta jumped Yoshi-Hashi during the referee’s pre-match checks, but Yoshi-Hashi quickly turned the tide and they went to the outside. They walked around the ring with Yoshi-Hashi chopping Kenta a few times, but Kenta outsmarted him and caught him with a high boot as Yoshi-Hashi tried to get back in the ring.

Back on the outside, Kenta seemed tempted by Yoshi-Hashi’s bo staff which was propped up in a corner on the floor, but reconsidered. They exchanged blows on the floor until Yoshi-Hashi pushed Kenta into the corner with the bo staff. Kenta reversed a whip into the barricade, then hit another one of his own for good measure.

Kenta again considered using the bo, but threw it down and rolled Yoshi-Hashi back inside. A neckbreaker got a two-count for Kenta. He clamped down with a chinlock, Yoshi-Hashi elbowed free but was thrown down again. Kenta kicked him in the spine and reapplied the chinlock. Yoshi-Hashi again elbowed free and hit a stunner and a suplex to regain the upper hand. He blistered the chest of Kenta with some loud chops, then draped him over the top rope and hit a dropkick. Yoshi-Hashi followed up with a basement dropkick for a two-count.

After a couple of reversals back and forth, Yoshi-Hashi hit Headhunter followed by a crisp sitout powerbomb for another two-count. Kenta tried to use the referee as a shield but Yoshi-Hashi was wise to it and hit a superkick and a pair of clotheslines for a near fall. A rollup got another near fall. Kenta sidestepped a charge and hit a draping DDT to regain control.

Kenta nailed a stalling dropkick in the corner, followed by a top-rope double stomp for a near fall. Go 2 Sleep…countered into a small package! 1…2…Kenta kicked out! Yoshi-Hashi fired up through a clothesline at the ten-minute mark, then hit a series of strikes and a superkick. Kenta replied with a STIFF slap to the face and a busaiku knee for a very near fall. Go 2 Sleep…countered into a crucifix bomb! 1…2…3!

WINNER: Yoshi-Hashi via pinfall in 11:00. (***1/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: That was much better than I expected, with Yoshi-Hashi being the one who stepped things up. He will face Sanada in the second round, but this could also set up Bishamon to challenge Kenta and Chase Owens for tag gold.)

After the match, Yoshi-Hashi offered Kenta a handshake, which was accepted to the shock of the crowd and this reviewer. Oh, that’s why: Kenta then blindsided Yoshi-Hashi. As you were then.

(8) JACK PERRY vs. SHOTA UMINO – New Japan Cup first-round match

Perry came to the ring wearing a large goat mask. That’s a sentence I never thought I would type. This was his New Japan debut. His all-black scruffy look kind of makes him look like Juice Robinson who shrunk in the wash.

Both men jumped right into the action, beating on each other. Perry went to the eyes to take control, but Umino countered a whip into a scoop and face-first slam. A basement dropkick followed, and Umino mocked Perry’s old Jungle Boy shimmy. Umino beat down Perry in the corner, whipped him to the opposite corner, and missed a corner splash. Perry hit a clothesline in the corner and his own basement dropkick.

While Perry beat down on Umino, Charlton speculated that it was Perry’s loss to Sanada at Forbidden Door that made him snap. Interesting theory and one that gives some purpose to Perry’s presence in New Japan. Perry dropped Umino with a neckbreaker but only got a one-count. Umino started to fire up and hit a flurry of forearms and a deep arm drag. Perry came back with a drop toehold and locked on the Snare Trap in the middle of the ring.

Umino made it to the ropes. After being slow to break the hold, Perry dragged Umino across the apron and hit a draping DDT to the floor. He rolled Umino back into the ring and put one foot on his chest, but only got a two-count. Both men exchanged forearms, with Umino getting the better of it. He whipped Perry to the corner, hit a charging forearm, then hooked up a fisherman’s suplex for a two-count. Perry fought off an attempted uranage suplex and blocked a tornado DDT, then hit a sloppy dragon suplex to stop Umino’s momentum.

Perry ran into an Umino boot. Maybe that momentum wasn’t stopped. Umino hit a beautiful slingshot DDT on the apron, spiking Perry on his head. He’s done that before but it hasn’t ever looked that good. Umino threw Perry inside and hit a top-rope basement dropkick, then an inverted DDT for a near fall. He measured Perry for Ignition, but Perry dodged it and hit a superkick. Umino caught the attempted second kick, but the third connected. Posion rana from Perry! Umino shrugged it off and hit Blaze Blade! Both men were down as we heard the ten-minute call.

Umino hit Alarm Clock, followed by Ignition for a two-count. He went for Death Rider, Perry escaped, and after a series of reversals Umino hit RamPaige for a near fall. Why is Kanemaru here? Ren Narita is here too! He waffled Umino with the pushup bar! Double Cross by Narita! The referee of course saw none of that. Perry hit the Regal-style running knee lift for the three count.

WINNER: Jack Perry via pinfall in 12:00. (***1/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Perry actually looked very good here, and the match was going along beautifully until the interference. Insert House of Torture rant here. I was reassured at least that some thought has been given to why Perry is in New Japan, and the interference made sense given the Umino/Narita enmity. Perry will face, and probably beat, Toru Yano in round two.)

After the match, Perry joined House of Torture. Oh good. Just what I wanted to see.


This is the traditional Anniversary Event match of Junior Heavyweight champion facing the World champion. I cannot remember it being less appealing. Desperado was on Japanese commentary, and the look on his face while Sho made his entrance could curdle milk.

Sho went out into the crowd while Naito’s music played, looking to ambush him. Despite loud warnings from the crowd, the tactic worked. Sho ran a still-berobed Naito into the corner post. Apparently Naito has said that he would vacate the world title if he lost this match. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that.

Sho rolled Naito into the ring, and the bell rang with Naito still fully suited. Sho raked his eyes and charged at Naito, who sidestepped and tripped Sho. He dropkicked Sho off the apron to the floor and hit his Tranquilo pose mid-ring. Naito rolled to the floor to begin his slow undressing bit, pausing only to whip Sho into the barricade a couple of times. Naito took off his belt (not the title, his actual belt) and choked Sho with it, then finally got down to his tights before rolling Sho into the ring.

Naito stomped away on Sho, but Sho managed to escape to the apron and attack the shoulder and then the knee of Naito. He left Naito on the outside and hit his own Tranquilo pose. Naito made his way back in, and Sho went right to work on his knee. He applied a knee bar at the five-minute mark. Naito made it to the ropes, Sho was slow to break the hold and tried to stay in control. Naito got his boots up into the face of a charging Sho, then hit a huracanrana.

Naito hit a flurry of offensive moves, culminating in a basement dropkick to the back of Sho’s head. A pair of neckbreakers got a two-count for Naito. He briefly applied a cravate but Sho broke the hold with elbows. Sho pulled the referee into the path of a charging Naito, but Naitp was able to put on the brakes. He hit the hiptoss neckbreaker, but Sho was able to fight off the Gloria attempt. Again Sho tried to use the ref as a shield, this time trapping Naito’s foot between his legs and suggesting that Naito had attempted to low-blow him. Sho then whipped Naito’s leg into the ref, and chop-blocked Naito’s leg out of his leg.

Sho got himself a chair and smashed it over Naito’s knee. He dragged Naito to the corner, rolled down Naito’s kneepad, and again smashed it with the chair. The chair-on-knee assault continued out on the floor. As the referee started to recover, Sho threw the chair back under the ring, and rolled the ref back into the ring and begged him to count. Naito made it back in at 19 and a half.

Sho went right back to the knee bar. After a long time in the hold Naito made it to the ropes. Sho hit a Last Ride lungblower for a near fall at the 15-minute mark. Walker Stewart dropped a Gorilla Monsoon line with the “horseshoes and hand grenades” and I popped. A stiff clothesline took Naito down, and a straitjacket piledriver got a near fall. Shock Arrow…countered into an enzuigiri! Destino! Naito couldn’t roll over for the cover though!

Naito managed to get to his feet first, still favouring his knee. He clutched the wrist and hit a series of elbows to the side of Sho’s head. Sho went to the knee with kicks, but Naito went back to the elbows. He perched Sho on the top rope and…connected with the super Frankensteiner. Sho tried to fight back, but was stopped in his tracks by a Tornado DDT. Naito went for Valentia, Sho escaped and ran Naito into the referee in the corner. Sho hit a low blow, and here come the clowns.

Yes friends, it was once again time for House of Torture Shenanigans (™).They stomped away at Naito but it was short-lived as Los Ingobernables de Japón intervened and cleared house! Shingo checked on Naito, Sho took him out with a low blow and retrieved his trusty wrench. Naito ducked the wrench shot and hit a pop-up crotch kick. He threw the wrench out of the ring and dropped Sho directly on his fool head with Valentia. Good grief. Destino! 1…2…3!

WINNER: Tetsuya Naito via pinfall in 23:00 (***1/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: It wasn’t meant to be much more than a showcase, or should I say Sho-case? For most of the match Sho held his own without needing interference, and had it stayed that way this match likely would have touched a fourth star.)

Final thoughts: There wasn’t much to recommend from this show. Jack Perry showed some promise before joining the blight that is House of Torture, and Sho reminded us how good he can be before – you guessed it – resorting to HoT tactics. They were somehow less egregious for this event than they usually are, but I am still mightily tired of seeing it. The Cup is off to an interesting start, and Sean Radican and I will do our best to keep you updated on the bracket as it unfolds.

You can contact me at lansdellicious@gmail.com or on Twitter @lansdellicious . Thanks for joining us!

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