Our final quarter-final took place on Thursday, so this review is going up rather late, and I’m not going to waste your time blabbering. Let’s see what went down.
Sanada defeated Colt Cabana in the New Japan Cup Quarter Final
Whether you love, hate or are indifferent to his matches, it’s been a delight watching Colt Cabana make his mark in New Japan. He seems overwhelmed by the responses he’s received and almost giddy with joy. Few people have done as much to make your average wrestling fan aware of independent wrestling as Colt, and he deserves it.
The start of this made it look like he was going to go out on a high as they quickly got on the crowd onside. Sanada is a great wrestler who enjoys pissing about with Yano, so as he and Colt flowed across the matt, slipping between holds and generating laughs it looked like they were a match made in heaven.
Sadly, it wasn’t to last. The joyful start was followed by a period where they lost the crowd as the action slowed down to a crawl. Colt’s light comedy started to fall flat, and it felt like at the moment where they needed to go up a gear, they instead dropped down one.
Cabana and Sanada went onto have a decent match – although there was at least one sloppy spot. However, it was a perfect example of how important pacing is. That one decision threw the whole thing off, and they never recovered. Still, Cabana can be proud of his run, and with how positively the likes of Rocky Romero have spoken about it, I suspect we’ll see him return in the future.
Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Zack Sabre Jr. in the New Japan Cup Quarter Final
In the last year, Zack Sabre Jr. has been the spanner in the works of New Japan’s top stars. Naito, Okada and Tanahashi, he’s beaten them all. So as Sabre strutted to the ring like the arrogant and brilliant prick he is, you bought his confidence. He already knew how this ended.
However, you can never (and I mean never) count out The Ace. Tanahashi came into this match and, after a slow start, beat Zack at his own game. That Dragon Screw Leg Whip – which in recent months has been his get out of free jail card – allowed him to go after the leg of Sabre. Suddenly, the master submission artist was fighting off Tana’s submissions.
It was the turning point of the action, as Tanahashi seemed to grow in confidence the more he attacked the leg. Sabre wasn’t out of it by any means (he was focusing his attack on Tana’s arm), but he’s reliant on his legs for some of his more potent offence. When he tried to take Tanahashi orienteering, he couldn’t cinch it in tight, allowing The Ace to kick his way out.
Then, Tana added insult to injury. A vicious slap followed by a Reverse Slingblade might have seemed like a set-up for the High Fly Flow, but he had other plans. A Japanese Leg Roll Clutch Hold was enough to pin Zack’s shoulders to the floor and like many of Sabre’s opponents have discovered, kicking out of such a hold is not easy.
Honestly, writing the story of this match out made me feel like I enjoyed it more than I did. There was a great story in there, with the key moments well told. However, the dressing around it lost me at times. My expectations were high, and they ended up working a slower match which occasionally bored me. Still, it’s ZSJ vs Tana; it was never going to be shit.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
One of the weaker New Japan Cup shows where I feel bad being mean about the matches because I’ve loved Colt’s run and ZSJ vs Tana should be perfect, but it didn’t click with me. Sadly, I have chosen to be honest, which means I can’t just lie and give everyone five stars. In my heart, that’s what every wrestler gets. Well, most of them anyway.
Watch New Japan: https://njpwworld.com/