We’re deep into a New Japan tournament, so I am out of ways to introduce these reviews. If anyone has any pithy lines to send my way, please do. It will probably be an improvement on the shite I usually write up here.
Colt Cabana defeated Toru Yano in the New Japan Cup Second Round
Toru Yano vs Colt Cabana is a simple match to review because everyone already knows whether they are going to enjoy it. There are the happy, joyful people who, like me, will giggle along with their antics and then there are the soulless husks who will do a lot of tutting and whining about comedy in wrestling: step forward, Jim Cornette.
I loved it. Not to get too personal, but my head has been all over the place recently leaving me in a miserable mood. For nearly eight minutes I forgot that as I giggled along with Yano and Cabana, and the smartest wrestling fans in the world were right there with me. By the end, Korakuen was chanting Cabana’s name. I am, of course, joking when I mock those who don’t like it, no law says you have to like comedy wrestling, but take the time to appreciate the joy in this match and you might find it wins you over.
Sanada defeated Minoru Suzuki in the New Japan Cup Second Round
Pre-match Chris Charlton did a phenomenal job of breaking down the histories of Minoru Suzuki and Keiji Mutoh along with how that relates to Sanada. I won’t bother regurgitating it here – you can listen to it yourself – but the conclusion was that Sanada is desperate to prove himself to Suzuki.
It was a story which played perfectly into the narrative of the action as Suzuki stepped into his role as New Japan’s big bad. Sanada might be younger, faster and ridiculously good looking, but Minoru Suzuki is a Murder Grandpa, and it looked like he was also a step ahead of Sanada. That allowed him to zone in on the leg, taking it out from underneath him and doing what MiSu does best, a bit of torture.
However, there is another half of that story, and it’s perhaps the more interesting one. We got to see a Sanada that we don’t see often enough. He was a more focused and resilient Sanada who refused to go down. Suzuki was torturing that injured leg, but he kept coming back, finding a way to lock in the Skull End and continue the fight.
You’re not going to make Minoru Suzuki tap, though. The old bugger doesn’t know how and Sanada knew it. So, he went into his master’s playbook and climbed to the top rope before coming crashing down with the Moonsault for a huge victory.
We got to see the best of both these men in this fight. Suzuki was a monster, eschewing his worst habits to be a snarling wrestling machine. Sanada, meanwhile, is a beautiful babyface, working from underneath and grasping his moments. He still needs to tighten up that damn Skull End, but between this and the Goto match, we’re getting proof that he can still be a player in NJPW.
Verdict: Four Stars
A delightful comedy match followed by a proper New Japan main event, this show was a lovely watch that did a decent job of putting me in a slightly better mood. I can’t promise it will have the same effect on you, but it’s worth a try.
Watch New Japan: https://njpwworld.com/