NJPW New Japan Cup (14/3/19) Review

Captain Kazu coming in for landing. Credit: NJPW

After Taichi’s heroics against Ishii, the New Japan Cup is a few feet higher than it was previously. With even the dregs delivering, I expect magic out of the likes of Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay. Can they leap the bar that Taichi has set?

Will Ospreay defeated Lance Archer in the New Japan Cup Second Round

Having failed to drag Bad Luck Fale to something approaching a decent match, Will Ospreay was handed an equally difficult task in the second round with Lance Archer. Poor Will should view this as karma for all the times he’s proven to be a massive knobhead.

Although, It’s harsh to this was an equally difficult task. Archer’s does nothing for me, but he works hard, and he looked like a beast as he threw Ospreay around the ring. Will was bumping like a maniac as Archer took all his frustration and channelled it into slamming Young William into the mat as hard as possible. If you like watching Ospreay in pain, this will get you all hot and flustered.

The final act was where it took off, though. Archer hit a ridiculously brutal Chokeslam on Will that looked like it had to be the end whether it was meant to be or not. Somehow Ospreay continued, kicking out of that and letting Archer return the favour with the Oscutter. Then, when Will went for the Hidden Blade, Lance twisted him around and hoisted him up for Blackout which no-one has survived.

Well, no one except Will Ospreay. Once again he escaped at two and fought on. Then, when Archer pulled him up the top rope, he slipped out and connected with Cheeky Nandos (shit name). That left Lance reeling and Will open to pluck him from the turnbuckle before bringing him down with Stormbreaker. Will Ospreay’s run of pinning heavyweight continues.

While a lot of people had their pants around their ankles for this one, I can’t quite join in their excitement. I thought the final minutes were fantastic as these two upped the ante, but before that, I was bored. Archer’s power moves bring out the worst in Will’s over the top selling, and I didn’t buy it until they hit that balls to the wall finish. Still, this was probably my favourite Lance Archer match of all time, so that’s something.

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

Kazuchika Okada defeated Mikey Nicholls in the New Japan Cup Second Round

Taking on Okada in a New Japan main event is perhaps the biggest match of Mikey Nicholls’ career. You can forgive him for failing to pull magic out of Hikuleo in the first round because, well, it was Hikuleo, but shit the bed against Okada, and you’re going to struggle in New Japan.

It took him a bit to get going too, as they kicked things off with a battle of the headlocks. I appreciate that these things can be layered upon, but it’s never the most thrilling way to get started. In the end, it took a chop to change the course of the narrative. Nicholls’ first drew blood, and at that moment he seemed to find his mojo and the confidence to grow into the action.

From there, Nicholls upped the aggression, laying into his elbows and dictating the pace of the match. It would be easy for someone like him to sit back and let Okada lead the way, but Kazu gave him the reigns to see what he could do. Was it perfect? No, but he had Okada on the backfoot and the fans sounded worried which is practically a seal of approval.

Plus, it built to a fantastic final few minutes. There was a sequence where these two were floating between moves, desperate to be the one to hit their finisher first. While Okada would eventually find the space to connect with a Discus Rainmaker, Nicholls kept up with him, and that was the real test.

No-one will look at this performance as Nicholls earning the keys to the castle. He was solid, proving that his sojourn in WWE hadn’t wholly stripped him of his talent. However, if he’s to be more than a bit part player in New Japan, and not one parachuted in for tours like this, he still has a way to go.

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

Overall Show

Two solid matches neither of which blew me away, but both of which delivered something entertaining. The rest of the world is more excited by Ospreay vs Archer than me, so perhaps you will be too, although even I found it enjoyable. Let’s be honest, though, the main takeaway from this is that Will vs Kazu is happening next, and that’s all kinds of exciting

Watch New Japan: https://njpwworld.com/

If you enjoyed this review, please consider contributing to my Ko-fi, even the smallest amount is appreciated.

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