We’re into the quarter-finals of the New Japan Cup and it’s a pretty good field this year. You’ve got everyone from Tanahashi to Toru Yano with a Juice and a Zack Sabre Jr in between. There are at least two or three guys left who you could pinpoint as potential winners, and that always adds to the fun. Let’s dish out some stars.
Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) defeated Rysukue Taguchi and Tetsuhiro Yagi
We’re mixing it up a bit as Yagi replaces Narita as the sacrifice to Despy and Kanemaru as Taguchi watches on and provides no assistance.
Despite a change in the victim, we got a very similar structure to the Taguchi and Narita vs Suzuki-gun matches we’ve seen on the rest of the tour. Yagi started well, getting a chance to wrestle with Suzuki-gun and even outdoing them at times. While he doesn’t have Narita’s polish, he held his own. Then the torture began. Yagi quickly got intimate with the ringside barricades and was locked in a brutal looking Crab by Kanemaru.
Taguchi came in and threw the Funky Weapon around a bit, going through the motions as he gave the fans what they want to see and not much else. It was all the set-up for Yagi coming back in and tapping out to Despy’s Stretch Muffler.
Afterwards, Taguchi appeared to be issuing a challenge to the Junior Tag Champs. Losing multiple times is the best way to get a title shot.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
David Finlay, Toa Henare and Ren Narita defeated Yuji Nagata, Shota Umino and Tomoyuki Oka
The rest of the active Young Lions get their runout with Narita betraying Daddy Nagata to team with Juice and Henare. He might have regretted it when he was stuck in the wrong corner being stomped on by Oka.
My worries about Oka’s lack of personality have been dampened during this tour. He still lacks the natural charisma of some of his peers, but he’s got something. If he’s smart, he’ll add more and more of those suplexes to his repertoire and build his character around that. Everyone loves a suplex.
That aside, the highlight was Henare vs Umino. Henare can turn every encounter he has into a fight. His intensity appears to be contagious as Umino looked fantastic opposite him. Well, he did, right up until he got flattened with a Samoan drop and Toa Henare picked up what might be his first pinfall since graduating as a Young Lion. A big moment for the young man.
Verdict: Three Stars
Suzuki-gun (Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr) defeated Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi and Tanga Loa)
Hey New Japan, you forgot to add the decent wrestler to this one.
Sorry, I’m being cruel. It’s just hard to get excited when the star of the match is Yujiro. Lance Archer’s general insanity was entertaining enough, but there’s not much else to say. Skip it.
Verdict: One And A Half Stars
Kota Ibushi and Chase Owens defeated Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr and Taka Michinoku)
At this stage in the tournament, it is very tempting to give up on the undercard. I’ve watched a lot of multi-mans over the last few days, and I haven’t even started on wXw’s 16 Carat weekend. The problem is I’d then miss out on my boy Chase teaming with Ibushi, and that would be a tragedy.
It will be no surprise to anyone that watched their G1 bout that Zack and Kota were a lovely combination. Kota’s eccentric offence is a fantastic contrast to Zack’s wish to take things to the mat, and their upcoming quarterfinal (well, it’s already happened, but at this point, it hadn’t) has the potential to be magical (it was).
We also had a few fun interactions between Taka and Chase. While Taka is a good fit as Sabre’s hypeman, he can still go in the ring, and he was reminding people that he’s as capable as anyone.
After Chase got the win over Taka, Zack snuck out and locked an Octopus on Ibushi, only retreating when Ibushi’s best friend Chase Owens came to the rescue.
Verdict: Three Stars
CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Chuck Taylor and Toru Yano) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Sanada and Bushi)
My new favourite Naito moment is him smacking Yano over the head with a DVD. One day he’ll get his big title win, and I’ll shrug because (unless something weird happens) he won’t be hitting Yano with a DVD at the same time.
That aside, the highlight was Ishii and Naito going at it. I spoke in one of my previous reviews (there has been a lot of them, I’ve lost track which is which) about people taking it easy at this point in a tour. Ishii never goes easy. He’s still out there throwing stiff elbows and riling people up. Christ, he got dropped on his head back on night one! If anyone deserves a rest, it’s him.
We also got a lot of Yano winding LIJ up. He has some history with Sanada, and they’ll go at it again in the quarters. It’s a pairing I enjoy when I’m in the right mood. Sanada’s icy coolness contrasts nicely with Yano’s bullshit.
If you’re in a rush, it’s probably not worth your time. Make sure and find that DVD spot, though.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI) defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi and Takashi Iizuka)
There was far too much Suzuki-gun crap going on for me to enjoy this. I’m over that shit and having Iizuka charge around with that stupid glove biting people is an instant turn-off. To dive into cliché, he could be wrestling in my garden, and I’d shut the curtains.
The only upside was the running battle between Okada and Suzuki. Considering that his wars with Okada were what saved last year from being a total dud for the grumpy old bastard, I’d be more than happy to watch that again with him in the form he’s been in recently. A champion vs champion bout on one of the smaller shows could be a lot of fun.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Juice Robinson defeated a piece of shit
Michael Elgin is a piece of shit and I don’t review his matches. I will point you in the direction of Mo’s GoFund me, where she is raising money to pay for her legal fees.
I’m also going to break my rule slightly but not to talk about the bellend. Instead, I want to say some praise for Juice. I’ve loved Robinson’s journey from Young Lion to his current role in New Japan. It’s incredibly inspiring to see someone take a gamble on themselves by leaving a company like WWE, moving to Japan and starting over at the bottom. And it’s worked for him. He went out against Elgin and bumped his ass off, before stealing the win. Robinson deserves to be in the company he now shares, and I hope it continues for a long time.
Plus, Elgin managed to not nearly kill him so he can be pleased about that.
Verdict: Fuck Michael Elgin
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Bad Luck Fale
I think how much you enjoy this match will depend on how invested you are in the ongoing feud between the Ace and New Japan’s big bad.
In the early going, we saw Tanahashi going straight to his usual tactic. He danced around Fale, grabbing opportunities when he could. However, the second Fale got his hands on him some pain was being dished out. Fale seemed determined to get a count-out victory, presumably in a bid for revenge after Tanahashi defeated him like that in the G1.
That was when things began to drag. When you get down to it, Fale just isn’t that exciting a wrestler. He does the towering monster thing well, but New Japan has a house style, and it’s a house style he’s not capable of. It leaves him horribly exposed in longer main events. Trim this down to seven minutes, and I think he looks great.
Because the action picked up again in the closing stretch. Fale kept teasing that Bad Luck Fall, perhaps the most protected move in New Japan behind the Gotch Piledriver, and Tanahashi had to fight out, taking risks to survive. We even got one of those big High Fly Flows to the outside. In turn, Fale went for the Fall on the floor, and Tana saw a chance. Kicking off the turnbuckle he was able to use Fale’s own momentum to cause the big man to tumble over the barricade, all while he wriggled off his back and into the ring.
For the second time in a row, Tanahashi beat the behemoth via count-out. It was a lovely piece of storytelling as Fale looked dominant yet is defeated by the Ace’s brains. The monster has been slain for another year.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
One of the weaker shows in the Cup so far. It wasn’t aided by having the piece of shit in one of the two main events (although I was delighted for Juice) which combined with a weak undercard left you feeling slightly uninspired. Tanahashi, as usual, gave his all, and while the match was enjoyable, even he struggles to get greatness out of Fale. Your fast-forward button should get a workout.