We’re into the quarter-finals as the New Japan Cup rolled into Shizuoka for the first of two nights – a night that was full of CHAOS, if you will…

Coming from the Twin Messe in Shizuoka, we’ve got Kevin Kelly on commentary alongside a returning Excalibur.

New Japan Cup 2019 – Quarter-Final: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Commentary coming in tried to say that YOSHI-HASHI’s poor showing was down to the opponents he faced, rather than the continuation of the age-old “he’s not good enough” narrative.

YOSHI-HASHI comes in with a headlock on Ishii, clinging on for grim life in the opening seconds, before Ishii finally pushed him off… leading to shoulder tackles that didn’t exactly work from YOSHI’s perspective. Missed strikes in the corner eventually gave way to a stand-off, as YOSHI-HASHI went back to the shoulder tackles, only to get knocked off his feet.

A scoop slam from Ishii almost went awry as YOSHI-HASHI landed on his shoulder, before a series of chops lit him up. YOSHI tries to fight back, eventually succeeding with a vertical suplex, before a Head Hunter neckbreaker took Ishii down. The boot of YOSHI-HASHI led to some more chops as he had Ishii cornered… but eventually Ishii stopped reacting and just leathered YOSHI-HASHI with elbows as the shots kept coming. They trade elbow strikes, seemingly for fun, but Ishii finally edges ahead before he trapped YOSHI-HASHI with chops and clotheslines in the corner, just ragdolling his fellow CHAOS member. Is Ishii owned money or something?!

Ishii rips off some of YOSHI-HASHI’s tape, then just kicks the shoulder as he tried to fire him up. It works, as YOSHI-HASHI begins a battle of palm strikes as they slapped each other silly, eventually with Ishii getting knocked down courtesy of a mid kick. The rest of that tape’s ripped off by YOSHI-HASHI, but his attempt to clothesline Ishii is resisted as the former Rev Pro champion just leans in, before a Western Lariat finally took Ishii down!

A sit-out powerbomb followed for a near-fall on Ishii, as a Butterfly lock trapped him in the middle of the ring. Ishii stands up, but ends up taking a back cracker as YOSHI-HASHI was insisting on using the Butterfly lock, perhaps knowing there’d be no way he’d be able to hoik up Ishii for Karma. The hold’s held in as Ishii tries to power out, before he finally scrambled into the bottom rope to force the break. From there, YOSHI-HASHI heads up for a senton bomb… but misses badly. Somehow, YOSHI’s back, before a Bunker Buster’s escaped as Ishii countered with a backdrop driver, then with a folding powerbomb for a near-fall as YOSHI-HASHI wasn’t giving up. A German suplex is shrugged off as YOSHI-HASHI got up… and was taken back down with a sliding lariat for a near-fall, before he countered a sheer drop brainbuster into a small package for a near-fall.

Disgusted by that, Ishii slaps YOSHI-HASHI, only to be rolled up for a near-fall as another Western lariat drops Ishii to the mat… but he can’t follow up quickly enough, and has to resort to a headbutt to drop Ishii again, as a running Meteora almost led to the win. A Fisherman’s buster gets YOSHI-HASHI agonisingly close once again, before Ishii just DDT’s his way out of Karma.

YOSHI-HASHI shrugs that off, but can’t avoid an Ishii headbutt, nor a lariat from Ishii at the 20 minute mark that almost ended it. From there, a sheer drop brainbuster bounces YOSHI-HASHI off the mat, and that’s enough for Ishii to book his spot in the semis – a hell of an effort from YOSHI, but in the end, the narrative remains as he reached his ceiling and came up short once again. ****

New Japan Cup 2019 – Quarter-Final: Will Ospreay vs. Kazuchika Okada
Something tells me that Will Ospreay’s going up against a brick wall here, having beaten some big men… he’s now against the biggest name in New Japan right now. Then again, Ospreay came close at last year’s Anniversary show… can he go one better here?

They keep it on the mat early, as Ospreay looked to work over Okada’s arm and wrist in the opening exchanges, only for Okada to reverse it, and take Ospreay into the ropes for the standard mocking clean break, which Ospreay winced at. A shoulder tackle from Okada led to a kip-up from Ospreay, as the pair then broke into a measured striking battle, before a monkey flip sent Okada to the outside as Ospreay faked out a dive.

A dropkick keeps Okada outside, before a missed plancha had Ospreay in trouble… he’s forced to vault over a barrier before his springboard dive back in is cut-off with an uppercut from Okada as the match eventually returned to the ring. Okada follows in with a slam and a slingshot senton to keep the NEVER champion on the mat, before a series of elbows had Ospreay rocked in the corner. Okada ups the ante, sending Ospreay outside with a dropkick as he just waited for the eventual count-out. Ospreay dragged himself back in though, and eventually traded places as Okada was taken outside as Will finally hit his Sasuke special, wiping out the Rainmaker on the outside. Back inside, Ospreay adopted a more measured tone as he tried to catch Okada in the corner… but his charge misses as Okada eventually pulled him into a flapjack.

Okada tries for a neckbreaker slam, eventually landing it at the second attempt, before a top rope elbow drop would have led to the Rainmaker pose… only for Ospreay to cut it off with a head kick. Will’s back with a springboard forearm, before he hoiked up Okada for Storm Breaker… but Okada rolls out with an armdrag before a shotgun dropkick sent Okada into the corner with some force! Uppercuts get traded between the pair, before Ospreay surprised Okada with a lariat… clinging onto the wrist in the process, having learned from the master. More short-arm clotheslines follow, only for Okada to counter back with a dropkick. A second one misses as the pair were operating on adrenaline… before Ospreay’s head kick/hook kick/Hidden Blade trio looked to have Okada in trouble.

Okada ducks the Hidden Blade before his death valley driver’s countered with a stunner as the pace increased… another hook kick caught Okada flush in the face as Ospreay then lifted him up in an electric chair… on the middle rope… for an elevated Iconoclasm that almost ended it! From the kick-out, Ospreay catches Okada with a Robinson special, before an OsCutter was caught and turned into a German suplex, with Okada clinging onto the waistlock… switching grip to the wrist as he sought a Rainmaker, only for Ospreay to float into a one-man Spanish Fly for a near-fall! My GOD! Ospreay keeps up with a shooting star press to the back of Okada, before he rolled him over and hit a second… but Okada gets a shoulder up in the nick of time!

Another crack at the OsCutter’s simply dropkicked away by Okada, who comes back with a tombstone to spike Ospreay… who just sits up like a dead man. He’s pulled into a Rainmaker, but Ospreay floats over and goes for a Storm Breaker, before Okada countered out into a spinning tombstone, as the Rainmaker finally proved to be the death blow. This one was right up there with their anniversary contest last year, but while Ospreay pushed Okada all the way, truth be told, there weren’t too many moments where it felt that Okada was in great danger. A heck of a contest, as we now get Ishii vs. Okada in the semis on Saturday. Good Lord. ****½

The quarter-finals began, then, with a pair of crackers – and with Cabana/SANADA and ZSJ/Tanahashi, it’s almost nailed on that this year’s New Japan Cup will remain a top drawer tournament.