The first round of this year’s New Japan Cup wrapped up in Takamatsu… and the streak came to an end, I’m afraid!

New Japan Cup 2018 – First Round: Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Toru Yano
You know the deal here – Serious Baby Bulldog against jokey Yano… if this goes any length of time, it’s either going to be really bad, or an extended squash.

Yano starts by blinding Smith with his robe, before raking the eyes in a bid to tape him to the ropes. It doesn’t work, as Smith lands a suplex before Yano went to his usual playbook, blinding Smith with his t-shirt before getting a near-fall with a roll-up.

The turnbuckle padding comes off, but Smith ducks the padding shot before whipping Yano into the exposed corner, where he’s placed into a Tree of Woe as Smith teased elbowing him in the balls. It’s stopped by the referee, as Smith just stomps him out, before another schoolboy attempt nearly steals the win for Yano.

Things head into the crowd, because of course they do, as Smith puts the boots to Yano some more, before stealing a fan’s water as they did a count-out tease. Yano beats it, only to get caught right back into a rear chinlock as Smith went back to the “serious wrestler” mode that he’s want to do. Which this time included pulling on Yano’s cheeks for… reasons. Yano avoids getting thrown into that exposed corner as he’s back to the shtick, but he’s caught out delivering a low blow as Smith goes back to the boots… a ref bump allows Yano to do nothing apart from throw Smith into the corner, as Yano throws the ref down again, this time so he can get his chair.

Smith boots the chair into Yano’s face, but he had trouble wedging it between the ropes as Yano’s thrown from pillar to post, taking the chair and the exposed corner before a bridging back suplex nearly gets Smith the win. A crossface follows, but Yano held on and fought his way to the bottom rope, before he came back with a slingshot to send Smith into that exposed corner.

Somehow this has lasted for ten minutes, and again the ref blocks a low blow… before a mule kick and an inside cradle forces a near-fall. Smith responds with a running powerslam, but there’s no cover as his balls still hurt. He tries to suplex Yano inside from the apron, but that’s countered with a hot shot as Yano finds another roll of tape under the ring… and tapes Smith’s ankles together in the ropes.

Smith pushes away from the most useless form of cheating outside of a last man standing match, and goes back at Yano with some choking using that tape. A guard rail spot goes wrong as Smith misses a big boot, crotching himself on the rails, before Yano shook him off into the crowd… and raced back into the ring to win via count-out. Perhaps the Young Lions can give Davey Boy an ice pack? This would have been fine, had they not gone 12 minutes. I’m fine with the Yano stuff, but they somehow went for a middle an extended squash and Yano’s comedy… finding a mixture that was left unpalatable in the end. *¼

New Japan Cup 2018 – First Round: SANADA vs. Chuckie T
In a fine round of happenstance, Chuckie T got into the New Japan Cup after Beretta picked up an injury… the injury being torn bicep and pectoral muscles, picked up in a match at PWG against… Chuckie T! It’s quite the turnaround for Chuckie T, who’s main eventing just months after debuting in the World Tag League last year!

We get going with some nice back-and-forth, ending with the duelling missed dropkick spot, before SANADA was forced outside after Chuckie finally got that dropkick. On the outside, we get the guard rail spots again as Chuckie’s taken into the crowd as SANADA teases a Paradise Lock… right in front of Milano Collection AT on commentary, who looked to try and coach him mid-match!

The walk-and-brawl quickly returned to the right side of the crowd barriers, where Chuckie drops a few F bombs before looking underneath the ring for something… which turned out to be a table?! It’s set up on the floor, but already one side of it is bowing as Chuckie tries to suplex SANADA through it… only for the move to be countered with a suplex to the floor instead. Back inside, SANADA stomps through Chuckie in the corner, before teasing a suplex through the table… going off the ring apron. Unsurprisingly, Chuckie put the brakes on, before being lifted onto the apron… where he had to wriggle out of a TKO through the table as SANADA instead locked in a Skull End on the apron.

SANADA keeps up the offence in the ring, nailing a suplex for a two-count, only for his run of offence to end when he runs into a slam. A missile dropkick and a Falcon arrow gets a near-fall for Chuckie, who then followed up with a figure four as SANADA had to drag himself to the ropes to keep the match alive.

Chuckie keeps up, but his powerbomb out of the corner is escaped out of as SANADA lands a double leapfrog dropkick before a plancha left his foe down on the outside. The back-and-forth continued as a ‘rana from SANADA was countered into a sit-out powerbomb, with Chuckie paying homage to his fallen tag partner with a tope con giro into the aisle was they did some more whips into the guard rails.

That led to an impressive tope con giro over the guard rails as Chuckie cannonball’d into SANADA in the crowd, before going on the search for more plunder, this time in the form of chairs. They’re piled up to give SANADA something to be slammed onto, but the Ingobernable’s quickly back as he caught a springboard attempt off the guard rails and powerbombed Chuckie through the table that had still been left set-up at ringside.

Inside the ring again, SANADA nails a springboard dropkick and a backdrop suplex as the two-counts started to roll in, with Chuckie coming next with a Samoan Driver for another near-fall… only to miss a top rope moonsault as SANADA rolled away. More swinging and missing led to the pair jockeying for their finishers, but it’s Chuckie who nails Sole Food first, only to get hit with a TKO as SANADA took the upper hand.

SANADA keeps up with a backbreaker before he missed a moonsault… then got lifted into the corner for an Awful Waffle! Chuckie has a hard time pulling SANADA away from the ropes as he eventually picked up a near-fall, before SANADA came back with an O’Connor roll into a swinging Skull End. That almost led to the finish as Chuckie countered into a roll-up, before another lucha-style roll-up got him yet another near-fall, as SANADA chained an Asai DDT into a Skull End, dragging Chuckie down to the mat.

SANADA ended up relinquishing the hold though, so he could head up top for a moonsault… that connects, and SANADA’s into the next round! This took a while to get going, largely because this being Chuckie’s singles debut in New Japan, a lot of the crowd perhaps didn’t see Chuckie on the same level? The closing stages heated up real nice, but that being said, I’m glad this closed out the show rather than the other cup match! ****

The quarter-finals then, were set as Michael Elgin vs Juice Robinson, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Bad Luck Fale, Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. and SANADA vs. Toru Yano. There’s one match that sticks out there, and I hear it lived up to expectations!

We’re still playing catch-up for the New Japan Cup – which wrapped up earlier today – with the winner getting a title shot of their choosing at Sakura Genesis on April 1!