The beautiful Centennial Hall in Nara provided the stage for the next pair of second round matches in the New Japan Cup, with Will Ospreay’s run against Big Lads continuing.

We’ve still got Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero on the English call as the tour wrapped up a run in “small towns” ahead of a weekender at Korakuen Hall.

New Japan Cup 2019 – Second Round: Lance Archer vs. Will Ospreay
After overcoming a big and tall giant in the first round, Will Ospreay’s got a rather more aggressive big man in the second round… and someone whom doing a Storm Breaker to may not be as ridiculous an idea.

Archer tries to play bully boy early, before a back body drop’s flipped out of as Ospreay was doing his best to land on his feet before he took Archer outside for a faked-out dive. A plancha wasn’t a good idea as Archer catches him, then chokes him against the ring post before hitting an overhead choke-throw as Ospreay tried to springboard off the guard rails. Back in the ring, Ospreay looked to fight back, but a handspring’s caught and turned into a fallaway slam. Yeah, sticking and moving doesn’t work when your opponent has some degree of agility to him…

A clothesline, then a standing uranage dumps Ospreay for a near-fall, before Archer looked to target the bad ribs of the NEVER champion. There’s a back elbow to send Ospreay back to the mat, before a neck crank’s used to subdue Ospreay some more, before he tried to get in the head of referee Red Shoes Unno… which gave Ospreay enough time to recover and… throw a chop. Which barely registers. Oh well. Archer keeps up, whipping Ospreay into the corner, following in with running back elbows before a chop nearly knocked Ospreay off the top rope. Will’s got to escape the Black Out off the top, before he was thrown into the ropes as he returned with a handspring enziguiri. An over-the-top 619 is next, then a springboard forearm as Ospreay was chaining together offence… for a one-count.

Ospreay keeps up the momentum with a Stundog Millionaire and a satellite DDT for a near-fall, only for Archer to pull him into a Bossman slam as the match turned on a proverbial sixpence. We’re swinging right back around as Ospreay dumps Archer with a Spanish Fly, before chops from Archer actually drew blood. Yep, those were absolutely brutal to watch… Ospreay’s able to duck a big boot and take down Archer with a German suplex, only to springboard into a chokeslam attempt, as he was forced to flip over a POUNCE attempt… which Archer connected at the second try as an OsCutter’s just POUNCED away like it were nothing! A chokeslam on Ospreay came with a rude landing as he bounced off of Archer’s back for a near-fall, before Ospreay flipped out of a Black Out and hit back with the Robinson special.

From there, an OsCutter’s caught, but Will counters with a roll-up before finally landing the OsCutter for a delayed two-count as he couldn’t roll Archer over in time. A hook kick rocks Archer some more, as Ospreay finally teases a Storm Breaker… struggling at first before some kicks looked to soften up Archer, only for him to counter the Hidden Blade elbow with a Black Out for a near-fall! Nara gets behind Ospreay after that kick-out, but they quieten as Ospreay’s taken up top… Archer teases a Spanish Fly of his own, but Will fought out and managed to catch him with a Cheeky Nando’s before he pulled him out of the corner into a Storm Breaker… and that’s enough for Will’s second Giant Killing! Perhaps not as urgent as I’d like, but as a whole story, Ospreay managing to outlast another big lad is another string to the bow he’s building himself. ***¾

New Japan Cup 2019 – Second Round: Mikey Nicholls vs. Kazuchika Okada
Well, something tells me that the former TMDK man’s tournament may be coming to a grinding halt here…

They keep it straightforward early on, with Okada taking his new CHAOS stablemate into the ropes… but Nicholls slaps him away before the mocking clean break could commence. Okada tries to return the favour, but Nicholls sidesteps it, so he gets met with a snapmare and a diving dropkick instead.

Nicholls comes back with a side headlock, clinging on as Okada tries to push free. Eventually Okada gets free… but the side headlock’s reapplied as he looked for a shoulder charge through the ropes from the apron, and they’re back to the mat. Okada switches positions, clinging onto Nicholls’ tights to swap the headlock, and they go back-and-forth until Mikey lands a back suplex instead. Okada rolled outside, where he’s met with a back suplex onto the apron – a part of the ring Okada’d become pretty familiar with as Nicholls kept charging him into it. Chops send Okada to his knees, and much like Lance Archer in the prior match… they actually drew blood too! A stalling suplex is next from Nicholls, who absorbs a fight back from Okada before taking the former champion into the corner with a series of elbows… albeit to silence from the crowd. I don’t think Nara is buying that Nicholls is beating Okada in the main event. Call me crazy…

A single leg crab sends Okada into the ropes, before a body slam led to a missed knee drop, Okada takes his chance to respond with a diving uppercut, eventually taking Nicholls outside for a plancha as the Nara crowd… remained silent. That’s followed up with a DDT back inside for a near-fall, before Nicholls hit back with a Big Ending for a near-fall. Okada misses a charge into the corner, but manages to come back with a shotgun dropkick before he went up top for a missile dropkick. That’s enough for a near-fall, as Okada followed up with a slam, an elbow off the top… then the obligatory Rainmaker zoom out, before Nicholls backed him into the corner to avoid a Rainmaker.

A superplex from Nicholls is next, along with a death valley driver before Okada countered a sliding lariat into a crucifix pin. Okada goes for a tombstone, but Nicholls slipped out, only to get met with a dropkick… Nicholls finally hits the sliding lariat after he dumped Okada with a spinebuster, but it’s still not enough. Nor was a moonsault off the top, as Okada found a second wind, going for a Rainmaker, eventually landing it after he countered a counter from the Aussie. One more Rainmaker puts the icing on the cake, and booked Okada’s likely ticket into the quarter-finals. This was fine, but it was a rather unfortunate pairing for Nicholls, whom nobody took seriously here – and as a result it led to a match devoid of crowd reactions or drama. It’s almost impressive, come to think of it. Mikey will come good, but this was just too much, too soon in his return to the company. ***

Confirmed for the quarter-finals then, is YOSHI-HASHI vs. Tomohiro Ishii and Will Ospreay vs. Kazuchika Okada. WANT.

A decent pair of matches then, but I’m amazed at how you manage to get a bland match out of Okada in 2019.