It’s Night Four of the New Japan Cup, and I’m sure everyone is as excited as I am to get rowdy during Toru Yano vs Davey Boy Smith Jr. Quite frankly, if that comes in at under four stars, I will eat my hat (disclaimer: that is not a promise). Jokes aside, I’ve been enjoying these shows so far. As I write this, I’ve just finished watching Fastlane so it can’t be worse than that. Let’s dish out some stars.
Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) defeated Ryusuke Taguchi and Ren Narita
Despy and Kanemaru have been put on Young Lion duty for most of the tour, a role that they’ve been complaining about in their backstage promos. I bet the cubs aren’t too happy about it either.
This was a rematch from Night Two, so we’ll make it quick. It followed much the same formula, with Narita doing a decent job of grappling with Despy before eventually being subjected to torture.
It’s been a big tour for Narita. He’s getting more chances to impress and looks better every night.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi and Tanga Loa) defeated Yuji Nagata, Shota Umino and Tetsuhiro Yagi
Yuji Nagata slapped Yagi at the start, firing him up for war. It didn’t help him much as a few seconds later both his partners had been dragged off the apron while Yujiro beat him up. Although he was probably dreaming of those days when Fale sat on him.
I usually focus on the Young Lions, but I want to talk about Nagata for a second. He is bloody brilliant. If he’s a fraction as good a teacher as he is a wrestler, it’s no wonder these lads all grow up to be big and strong.
Back to the Lions, Umino came in and looked great. Crowds are beginning to respond to them, and while he’s not quite at the level of a Kawato, he’s getting there. He’s got a similar babyface style and only garners more sympathy every time he takes a fall.
Another enjoyable rookie outing. At this point, that should be no surprise.
Verdict: Three Stars
CHAOS (Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI) defeated Tomoyuki Oka and a piece of shit
There’s that horrible smell again. I wish New Japan would clean out their roster.
Verdict: Fuck Michael Elgin
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito and Bushi) defeated Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr and Taka Michinoku)
You get the impression that Zack and Naito aren’t finished with each other. After ducking him early on, Naito was eventually left in the ring with Sabre, and it wasn’t two guys going through the mid-card motions. There was a bit of spice in there. I’d be happy for another match between the two. I believe, if you include last year’s G1, they have one win each. Let’s get that rubber booked.
Apart from that, there’s not much to say. It filled the time nicely while at the same time making no impact on me.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Lance Archer and Takashi Iizuka) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, Toa Henare and David Finlay
Juice is one of the few guys in New Japan who regularly throws closed fist punches. It’s a shame that he’s not very good at them.
We got a lot of Suzuki-gun antics here. They attacked before the bell and old Minoru dragged Tanahashi around the arena, throwing him into barricades and chairs before burying him under a combination of the two. It was the usual crap, but their actions on this tour seem to suggest Tana’ and Suzuki are far from being done with each other so that was at least interesting.
Elsewhere, Iizuka did Iizuka stuff, and even I’m bored with me whining about him so I won’t bother. It was fine. Another standard undercard outing. By the midpoint of an intense tour, people are going through the motions, and I don’t blame them in the slightest.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii) defeated Kota Ibushi and Chase Owens
It’s nice of New Japan to let people like Ishii, Okada and Ibushi share the stage with the Greatest Undercard Wrestler In The World. They’ll learn a lot from him (I always worry that these Chase comments come off like I’m taking the piss, I genuinely think he’s brilliant).
Look, any match that starts with Okada and Ibushi isn’t going to be too bad. Even if they’re only teasing you with the two of them. Throw a human cannonball like Ishii in there, and we’re all going to have fun.
As I mentioned above, no one is killing themselves at this point. However, these four could have stood in the centre of the ring farting into a kazoo and I’d have cheered for them. They don’t even need much in the way of a story. Just the inkling that we might get Ibushi and Okada somewhere down the line is enough.
Unsurprisingly, Okada tapped out Chase. They’ve been putting over The Million Yen Dream (I stole that from somewhere else, and I can’t remember who, you’ll know who you are) on this tour and I hope they keep that up. The Rainmaker could benefit from becoming Okada’s version of the Bad Luck Fall, aka the move he pulls out for the tougher opponents. It put to an end an entertaining tag.
Verdict: Three Stars
Toru Yano defeated Davey Boy Smith Jr
Yano’s antics vs whatever it is Davey Boy Smith Jr does. I’m not a dick, I just don’t think I’ve seen him and his frighteningly white teeth have a singles match since his time in WWE. I came into this not quite sure what to expect.
What I got was boredom. Yano went for the quick win early on and didn’t succeed, but with the benefit of hindsight, it might have been for the best if he had. Smith seemed a bit lost. He plodded around, punching Yano and locking on chin locks. At one point he did the Suzuki-gun classic by dragging him into the crowd and throwing stuff at him. Compared to what had come before that was genuinely exciting.
It was so bad that I was delighted to see Yano go into his comedy routine. At least it meant something would happen. Sadly, he walked into a big boot while carrying a chair and Smith went back to boring us into a coma.
In the end, Yano stole a count out victory. I was more than happy to see him get the win. It means I won’t have to watch another Smith match for a while.
Verdict: Two Stars
Sanada defeated Chuck Taylor
Can we take a second to appreciate the fact that Chuck Taylor was effing and jeffing in a New Japan main event against Sanada? Who saw that coming?
In fact, Sanada seemed to get right under Chuckie T’s skin as the PWG champ dragged a table out. The early attempts to put anyone through it were unsuccessful, so it was left looming on the outside, its unsettling presence lingering over the competitors. No one wants to go through a Japanese table.
Back in the ring, these two were displaying surprisingly good chemistry. I don’t know why I was surprised, they’re both great wrestlers, it’s just not a combo you’d have even considered putting together.
Part of what made it great was Taylor tapping into his wild side. Not only did he have his table antics, he followed them up with a tope over the barricade onto a concrete floor. It looked damn sore, and even without speaking Japanese, you could hear the shock in the commentator’s voice. That recklessness went a step too far, though. He tried to leap from the same barricade and was caught by Sanada before being dropped with a powerbomb through that table. I told you it was lingering.
That set off a period where the two went back and forth, swapping high impact offence. It looked like the damage that had been done to Taylor’s back crashing through the table was too much, but then out of nowhere, he hit an Awful Waffle. Unfortunately, Sanada landed too close to the ropes and the time it took to drag him away was enough for him to recover.
They then went into a frantic ending sequence with multiple near falls for Taylor. He came within inches of grabbing that win with some flash pins, desperately seeking victory. Unfortunately, Sanada had that little bit more in the tank. He eventually got the Cold Skull locked in and followed up with a moonsault for the three.
I expected a good match from these two. I didn’t think we’d get a great one. Taylor seemed to see this as his moment to shine in New Japan and damn did he grab it. Fantastic stuff.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
An underwhelming undercard and a crap first tournament bout were all made up for by an outstanding showing from Sanada and Taylor. You can skip the rest of it but make sure and watch the main event. Definitely better that Fastlane.