The second round of the New Japan Cup wrapped up as Korakuen Hall sees whether Colt Cabana or Toru Yano will be one step closer to an unlikely MSG main event spot.

It’s the same line-up as yesterday: Kevin, Rocky and Chris on commentary as we have the sublime and the ridiculous on tap.

New Japan Cup 2019 – Second Round: Colt Cabana vs. Toru Yano
Expect comedy!

Yano comes bearing gifts for Colt, and once we see Yota Tsuji nicely catching Yano’s water bottle top, we get into it. Colt goes for a waistlock, and finds a roll of tape… as he then berated referee Red Shoes Unno for not doing his job properly. Red Shoes finds more contraband as Colt throws away the tape… and gets rolled up for a two-count. Cue angry Colt!

Colt begs Yano to “wrestle, no comedy”, as he chased him from turnbuckle to turnbuckle, before he got a present… some curry! Except Colt throws it away and rolls up Yano for a near-fall, prompting Yano to rush into the crowd to recover his packet of curry. Yano cheapshots Colt and throws him back into the ring, but Colt just rolls all the way to the outside… then confounds Yano by log rolling back and forth to just wind him up. God, I love Colt.

Yano eventually rolls back in and tries to stomp Cabana, missing every time before he raked the eyes. Misdirection off the ropes eventually led to the pair of them swinging in the ropes for Yano’s “break!” spot, before Colt finally bust out a move: some headscissors! Yano walks away as Colt tries a plancha, but that just suckers Cabana outside as Yano throws him into the ropes. Yano finds some tape under the ring, which Colt confiscated, before he just threw Yano into the guard rails… and now he gets an idea: he tapes the turnbuckle ropes to the corner! Red Shoes has had enough of this, and fast counts – despite Cabana’s pleas – and we’re back inside as Yano starts undoing the turnbuckle pads. He finds the taped-up padding, which annoys him to no end, as Colt has the free pad… swings and misses. Red Shows stops Colt as Yano goes for another pad… he’s caught in the act as they play pass the parcel, before Yano stops the game with a roll-up for a near-fall.

Colt blocks a low blow and goes in with Dusty punches, only to get met with an atomic drop… we then get the comedy bump as Yano swings the turnbuckle pad… hitting the ropes, then himself, as Colt wins with the Superman body press. This wasn’t much of a match, but I was in hysterics. See, you build a match and clearly have everyone expecting it to be comedy and it’s almost sure to deliver. **¾

New Japan Cup 2019 – Second Round: Minoru Suzuki vs. SANADA
In singles matches, SANADA has only one win over Suzuki – coming all the way back in Korakuen Hall almost eight years ago for All Japan.

They have a rather measured start, with SANADA and Suzuki staying at close quarters – and it’s Suzuki who looked for a rear naked choke early… perhaps far too early, as SANADA got free, only to get caught with some headscissors on the mat, as the pair continued to look for – and fail to find – an advantage. From there, they trade strikes, before a boot in the corner from Suzuki is caught, as SANADA tripped him and looked for a Paradise Lock… except Suzuki counters with a cross armbreaker. SANADA gets free and tries again, this time seemingly getting the old on, despite getting distracted by TAKA Michinoku at ringside. That distraction worked though, as Suzuki proved that he wasn’t really in the hold, as he rolled away to avoid the low dropkick, then dragged SANADA onto the apron with a hanging knee bar.

Take your eyes off Suzuki for a second, and you’ll pay.

Suzuki takes SANADA into the corner as he wraps his legs around the post ahead of a grapevine around the post. From there, they head into the crowd as Suzuki jabbed a chair at SANADA’s knee, prompting a count-out tease… which SANADA beat, only to get tossed back outside as Suzuki continued to work his leg around the guard rails. Back inside, SANADA tries to fight back with some palm strikes, which Suzuki laughs off, before trapping SANADA on the mat in a heel hook. A rope break saves the LIJ member, who tried to fight back despite his bad wheel, sparking a strike exchange that a Suzuki elbow seemed to end, only for a low dropkick from SANADA and a Dragon screw to keep him in the game. Somehow SANADA’s able to do a double-leapfrog dropkick, taking Suzuki outside for a plancha. Back inside, Suzuki’s right back in with a running boot and a PK, getting him an easy two-count before more elbow exchanges ensured. Suzuki turns up the tempo with those clonking elbows, sending SANADA down to his knees, almost putting himself in a Paradise Lock as he went down like a sack of spuds, before he recovered to land some elbows… only to get caught in a rear naked choke as Suzuki slipped through.

A Skull End proved to be a decent counter, but Suzuki rolls through back into the rear naked choke on the mat, letting go only to try and pin SANADA… but he just about had enough left in the tank. Suzuki tries to go for a Gotch piledriver, but SANADA fights out with a back body drop, then returned fire with a Dragon sleeper, letting go of his Skull End to go for a moonsault, but that led to a crash and burn as Suzuki’s right back in it. Suzuki suckers SANADA into a missile dropkick, sidestepping it as he pulls SANADA into a knee bar, keeping SANADA in the middle of the ring. SANADA tries to steal it with an O’Connor roll as Suzuki let go to reapply the hold… but he’s quickly caught in another rear naked choke before Suzuki slapped him silly. Another rear naked choke followed, dragging SANADA to the mat, only for the LIJ man to fire back up with a TKO out of nothing.

Back on their feet, both SANADA and Suzuki look spent, staggering around before finding reserves of energy to burn. A Saito suplex dumped Suzuki for a near-fall, before a backbreaker left Suzuki on the mat… but SANADA takes too long going up for his moonsault. SANADA’s able to back flip out of the corner into a Skull End despite getting caught, and this time he drags Suzuki to the mat, allowing him to use some body scissors. Suzuki manages to get free by grabbing hold of, and twisting SANADA’s toe, but SANADA grabs hold of the head with another Skull End before another toe hold got Suzuki free.

We keep going between toe hold and Skull End on the mat, as it became a game of who’d give first… but SANADA lost his grip as Suzuki wrenched away some more, only to fall back into SANADA’s grip, eventually losing hold of SANADA’s toes before he found another way! Yet still, SANADA tries for the Skull End again as the mat-work continued unabated, with Suzuki looking to swing for the ropes… only to fail as SANADA just let go and took the cover, almost pinning a Suzuki who looked to be running on empty. With Suzuki still on the mat, SANADA hauls himself to the top rope… and this time nails the moonsault, as that proved to be enough to put away Suzuki. Just, wow. While not flashy, this was a war – with an engrossing finishing stretch as SANADA managed to pick up a rare singles win over Suzuki… and book a quarter-final spot against a rather-less sadistic Colt Cabana. You’d hope. ****

A pair of entertaining matches them, for differing reasons, as the New Japan Cup continues to deliver. The tournament’s firmly into the business end of things now, and we have the quarter finals confirmed:

YOSHI-HASHI vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Will Ospreay vs. Kazuchika Okada
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
SANADA vs. Colt Cabana

All four of those, in their ways, should be quite special. We’re into the home straight of the New Japan Cup, with the quarters taking place on Wednesday and Thursday in Shizuoka, the semis on Saturday in Niigata and the finals on Sunday – also in Niigata at the Ao-re Nagaoka.