Jay White and Hiroshi Tanahashi wrap up the second round of New Japan Cup ties as the tour returned to Korakuen Hall.

Quick Results
El Desperado, DOUKI & Minoru Suzuki submitted Jado, Taiji Ishimori & KENTA in 8:03 (**½)
Jeff Cobb, Will Ospreay & Great-O-Khan pinned Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. in 7:11 (**¾)
SANADA, BUSHI & Shingo Takagi pinned Ryusuke Taguchi, Yuji Nagata & Hirooki Goto in 6:26 (**½)
New Japan Cup 2021 – Second Round: David Finlay pinned YOSHI-HASHI in 16:12 (***½)
New Japan Cup 2021 – Second Round: Jay White pinned Hiroshi Tanahashi in 19:54 (****)

We’re back at Korakuen Hall today. We’re also dealing with a shorter, five-match card to fit with the state of emergency restrictions. I know you all missed it…

Bullet Club (KENTA, Taiji Ishimori & Jado) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & DOUKI)
The fact they’re re-running this again makes me a little suspicious that they’re going to keep doing KENTA/Suzuki into the next tour…

We’ve a jump start as Suzuki goes right for KENTA as soon as he hit the ring, as Desperado and Ishimori stayed in the ring. A low dropkick from Desperado has Ishimori down, with DOUKI tagging in to take back elbows and a double-team spine buster before DOUKI’s attempt at a stomp was stopped by Jado’s Kendo stick.

Jado stays on DOUKI with that stick as the match spilled outside briefly. DOUKI’s rolled back inside for Ishimori to collect a two-count, before some choking and eye rakes kept DOUKI on the back foot. A shoulder block keeps DOUKI down, before KENTA came in to swing at Suzuki.

DOUKI recovers to hit a DDT to KENTA, as Suzuki then tagged in to boot KENTA ahead of a PK. A rear naked choke follows, but KENTA gets free and boots Suzuki into the corner. Kicks follow, as KENTA proceeds to elbow Suzuki into the corner… which just sparks some back-and-forth elbows before Desperado came in… and ran into a powerslam. Jado and Ishimori help out, with Jado’s clothesline getting a two-count before chops led to Desperado being pulled into the OGK crossface. Desperado escapes and counters into the Numero Dos… and there’s your submission. A somewhat underwhelming finish as the focus remains on KENTA/Suzuki after the bell. **½

United Empire (Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan) vs. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
We’re running this one back too as Will Ospreay nurses his busted nose from yesterday.

We’re two-for-two in jump starts as Ospreay attacks Sabre and chucks him into the railings outside. Taichi and Great-O-Khan head to the ring, where Taichi throttled O-Khan into the corner before Jeff Cobb got similar treatment. Kanemaru helps restore order by raking O-Khan’s eyes as Taichi continues to go after anyone’s throat.

O-Khan’s Mongolain chops stop Taichi briefly as tags bring us to Sabre and Ospreay. They start as hot as yesterday, with Sabre tying up Ospreay in a Cobra twist, before he countered a counter by landing an armdrag. An overhead kick to the arm of Ospreay just earns Sabre a chop, before Cobb tagged in and found himself caught in a Cobra Twist also.

Cobb muscles out and ragdolls Sabre… but ZSJ grabs a rear naked choke and tags in Kanemaru to hit a running dropkick. A crossbody’s caught, but Taichi kicks out Cobb’s legs as Kanemaru comes back with a low dropkick before Cobb was sandwiched with head kicks for a two-count.

A DDT from Kanemaru gets another two-count as Ospreay and O-Khan run in to turn things around, clearing the ring of the Suzuki-gun troops as Kanemaru ends up escaping a Tour of the Islands and almost winning with a roll-up. He goes for a sunset flip, only for Cobb to pull him up effortlessly into a Tour of the Islands, and there’s the definitive win. A decent match, but I’m not overly thrilled with the junior tag champ being pinned – just swap him with DOUKI in these two matches, no? **¾

After the match, Sabre mouths off, perhaps suggesting another singles match with Ospreay down the line.

Hey, our first two matches done in under half an hour? That main event is going to go long, eh?

Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI) vs. Yuji Nagata, Hirooki Goto & Ryusuke Taguchi
Hey, I just realised… there’s no Okada on this show. He’s usually been in these tags, but not today. Instead… we get Taguchi. That’s a fair trade, right?

Goto and Shingo start us off, but BUSHI attacks Shingo from behind as Goto ends up clearing house with clotheslines. Kicks keep Shingo in the ropes, before a kick from BUSHI turned it back around, with an elbow drop from Shingo getting a two-count. SANADA tags in and wrings Goto’s arm, while BUSHI came in with a double sledge.

Shingo returns with a double sledge of his own, before a suplex dropped Goto for a two-count. An ushigoroshi from Goto stems the tide, as Nagata tags in to boot the opposite apron clear as an Exploder puts down Shingo for a two-count. The Nagata Lock II crossface is quickly booted apart by BUSHI, but a kitchen sink knee stops him, before an enziguiri from Nagata earned him a sliding lariat on the way down.

Taguchi and SANADA come in next, with SANADA just side-stepping a hip attack before he went for a moonsault. A second hip attack’s caught, but Taguchi counters a counter to start a series of roll-ups, before an enziguiri dropped SANADA in the corner. Taguchi tries to beat SANADA with his own Japanese leg clutch, but SANADA kicks out and repeats the trick to get the win. Short and to the point, as Taguchi at leasts gets something in before he quickly took the fall. **½

We’re back from interval just 50 minutes after the show started. That main event is absolutely going long.

New Japan Cup 2021 – Second Round: YOSHI-HASHI vs. David Finlay
Surprisingly, this isn’t a first-time match – but the last time they met was in much different circumstances, with YOSHI-HASHI beating then-Young Lion David Finlay on the undercard of a G1 Climax show in 2016.

YOSHI-HASHI looked to work Finlay’s arm from the off, but Finlay goes after YOSHI-HASHI’s oft-injured shoulder with a nerve hold before taking him to the mat. YOSHI-HASHI escapes and looked to go back to the arm, but Finlay swivels to the ropes to force a break.

A suplex from Finlay leaves YOSHI-HASHI down for a two-count, but YOSHI-HASHI retaliates by trying to hang up Finlay in the ropes. It came to nought as they exchanged elbows, but YOSHI-HASHI hangs up Finlay before a baseball side trips him off the apron. On the outside, YOSHI-HASHI posts Finlay, then took him back inside as Finlay tried to make a comeback with uppercuts, only to get stopped.

Finlay drops YOSHI-HASHI with a back suplex, then with an uppercut off the middle rope as YOSHI-HASHI went outside and got caught with a plancha. Back inside, a uranage’s blocked as Finlay just goes for a roll-up, then landed that uranage backbreaker for a two-count as my feed drops. It took long enough!

We’re back with Finlay getting up in the corner to take a lariat from YOSHI-HASHI, but a powerbomb’s escaped as YOSHI-HASHI instead hits a chop. Finlay struck back as we go to the trading of elbows, before YOSHI-HASHI backslid Finlay in for a superkick. The running powerbomb’s next for a near-fall, before a Butterfly hold almost forces Finlay to submit… but YOSHI-HASHI switches it up into a rear naked choke, only for Finlay to hit a Blue Thunder Bomb that almost wins him the match.

Another roll-up gets Finlay closer to victory, but he’s caught with a back cracker while going for an uppercut… a Meteora from YOSHI-HASHI gets him a two-count, before YOSHI-HASHI went for Karma… only to go back to the chops. Finlay ducks one and spins YOSHI-HASHI into Prima Nocta, but YOSHI-HASHI gets a shoulder up in the nick of time.

Finlay hits back with a Trash Panda – over-the-knee neckbreaker – for a near-fall, before he signalled for an ending… but his Acid Drop is pushed away as a Western Lariat from YOSHI-HASHI took him down, before headbutts from YOSHI-HASHI looked ot lead to Karma… but instead he hits a Dragon suplex.

Finlay’s back up, but eats another Western Lariat for a near-fall, before YOSHI-HASHI busts out the Kumagaroshi for another near-fall. From there, YOSHI-HASHI spins Finlay into a Karma, but it’s countered with Prima Nocta, before an Acid Drop booked Finlay’s spot in the quarter-finals. An unglamorous match on paper, but this turned out to be a heck of a scrap as Finlay could well face a former dojo mate in Jay White in the quarters, if the main event goes a certain way… ***½

New Japan Cup 2021 – Second Round: Jay White vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
We’ve some fairly even form here, with all five of their prior meetings coming in the past three-or-so years – but it’s White who’s slightly ahead, having won their last two matches… and luckily for the curfew, their longest match has only been 30 minutes. Plenty of time to beat that *and* the curfew…

After a mini-posedown, which seemed to irritate Tanahashi, we get going with White demanding that Tanahashi lay down for him. Tanahashi actually does that, as Yota Tsuji’s heart breaks in the background… but of course it’s a con as he rolls up the Kiwi for a two-count to get us underway.

A hair pull takes Tanahashi to the corner as White tries to push ahead, but he’s put on the back foot by… Tanahashi muscling up. The power of the pose. A plancha attempt scatters White and Gedo, with White then laying into Tsuji at ringside after the Young Lion posed in his face. That draws Tanahashi out to make the save, but he just gets thrown into the rails, while Tsuji took similar treatment. As did Gabriel Kidd, for… reasons.

White stays on Tanahashi, charging him into the railings by commentary row, but Tanahashi rolls back inside as White puts the boots to him. A half crab ends in the ropes, so White comes in with a cravat, then a chinlock as he mouthed off, following up with a Cobra Twist that saw White find (and pinch) some of Tanahashi’s belly.

That insult fires up Tanahashi into hiptossing free, before a low dropkick downed White before a Dragon screw on the mat left White laying for a flip senton out of the corner. White grabs the rope to stop the pin, before a bunch of standing switches dizzy as they find a new way to line dance. A hair pull stops that as White nails a DDT instead, with a Blade Buster following as White gets another two-count as we approached the ten-minute mark.

Tanahashi blocks a uranage, so White just trips him before they resume trading elbows. White tries to pull ahead, but an uppercut from Tanahashi leads to a Flatliner from white, who deadlifts Tanahashi into a German suplex, before an attempt at a sleeper suplex was elbowed away from… so White just dumps Tanahashi over the top rope instead.

Tanahashi skins the cat to get back inside, but he has to elbow out of another sleeper suplex before White just lands the uranage for a two-count. A Kiwi Krusher’s countered into a Twist and Shout neckbreaker by Tanahashi, but White heads onto the apron and stuns Tanahashi with a Dragon screw through the ropes. Tanahashi returns the favour to bring White back inside, as White then clubbed his way free of another Dragon screw, only to eat a low dropkick instead.

Tanahashi goes back to the leg with another Dragon screw as he set up for the Cloverleaf that forces White to drag himself to the ropes to keep him in it. Tanahashi lands a Slingblade, before he caught Gedo between the ropes with a Dragon screw… a second Slingblade takes down White for a two-count, but an Ace’s High crossbody is stopped as White hit the ropes and sent Tanahashi crashing down to the mat.

White looks for a Blade Runner, but Tanahashi counters out for a strait-jacket German suplex that almost wins it, before White rakes the eye sand pushes Tanahashi into the ropes. A rebound roll-up gets a two-count for White, who then gets caught with another roll-up as he looked for a Blade Runner. Tanahashi’s palm strike keeps the switches going, with another Blade Runner countered into a Dragon screw, only for White to eventually hit the Blade Runner and claim the win just under the 20-minute mark. A good main event that didn’t quite hit the higher gears, and a win that perhaps solidifies that Jay White’s above Tanahashi in the pecking order. ****

We’re back at Korakuen Hall tomorrow for some quarter-final matches, featuring EVIL vs. Toru Yano, and Shingo Takagi vs. KENTA. The remaining quarter-finals, (Ospreay vs. SANADA and Finlay vs. White) take place on Thursday in Shizuoka.

When the undercard was over and done with in 40 minutes, you knew this really was going to be a one-match card – but when you’ve got a recent big-time WrestleKingdom match headlining Korakuen, especially in this day and age, you don’t really need much else. A one-match show then, with that match delivering – even if it perhaps didn’t hit the heights that some may have expected.