The second round of the New Japan Cup continues, as we’ve got Shingo vs. Goto and, for the second-time ever, Minoru Suzuki vs. KENTA.

Quick Results
YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano submitted Gabriel Kidd, Yota Tsuji & David Finlay in 11:17 (**¾)
Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay pinned DOUKI, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi in 7:53 (**½)
SANADA, Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI submitted SHO, Yuji Nagata & Kazuchika Okada in 11:44 (***)
EVIL, Jay White & Bad Luck Fale pinned Toa Henare, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson in 11:38 (**¾)
New Japan Cup 2021 – Second Round: KENTA pinned Minoru Suzuki in 16:48 (***¼)
New Japan Cup 2021 – Second Round: Shingo Takagi pinned Hirooki Goto in 24:39 (***¾)

We’re back at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium – the Dolphin’s Arena – for this one…

YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs. David Finlay, Yota Tsuji & Gabriel Kidd
Yano’s entrance is so long, YOSHI-HASHI’s music even stretches into the “stringy bit between verses”.

Kidd wants to start against Ishii, and gets the first shot in as he lands a kick… but Ishii just beats him down before Kidd tries his luck with shoulder tackles. Ishii charges him down and throws in some kicks before tagging in Yano, who goes straight for the corner pads as Yota Tsuji came in. Tsuji stops himself from running into the corner, but gets his eyes raked before he came back with a shoulder tackle and the Mount Tsuji splash. Yano chucks Tsuji into the exposed corner as the fight spills outside, with YOSHI-HASHI posting Finlay, while a simple hiptoss gets Yano a two-count back inside.

Ishii tags back in to chop away on Tsuji, before Kidd came in to kick apart a half crab. YOSHI-HASHI comes in next to throw Tsuji into the exposed corner, but Tsuji gets free with a dropkick and brings in David Finlay. Uppercuts take YOSHI-HASHI down, as does one off the middle rope, before Finlay’s hung up in the ropes for a dropkick. A low dropkick from YOSHI-HASHI quickly followed for a two-count, but Finlay responds with a neckbreaker before tags bring Kidd back in. YOSHI-HASHI eats some chops in the ropes ahead of a back senton that gets Kidd a two-count, but YOSHI-HASHI just throws Kidd into Toru Yano as a Parade of Moves breaks out, ending with a Tsuji spear to Ishii.

YOSHI-HASHI gets caught with a trio of dropkicks as Finlay looked to push his team on to victory. A brainbuster from Kidd dumps YOSHI-HASHI, who clings on as a Boston crab looked to force a stoppage, but eventually YOSHI-HASHI hand-walks to the ropes to force the break. YOSHI-HASHI recovers with a running Head Hunter neckbreaker, but a Bunker Buster’s countered with an inside cradle as Kidd went for flash pins, only for YOSHI-HASHI to return with thrust kicks, and a Bunker Buster for a near-fall, before a Butterfly lock turned into a key lock forces the stoppage. A standard opening match with some interactions between Finlay and YOSHI-HASHI for their match in the second round, along with some good showings from the Young Lion contingent. **¾

United Empire (Great-O-Khan, Will Ospreay & Jeff Cobb) vs. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & DOUKI)
We’ve Sabre vs. Ospreay tomorrow – a match that a year ago would have gotten buzz in the UK. That says a lot about the last year, does it not?

Ospreay jumps Sabre before the bell as those two spill outside, trading elbows as Ospreay flung Sabre into the guard rails. In the ring, Taichi’s choking away on Cobb, then O-Khan, with the latter trying to break it up with a head claw. DOUKI breaks it up as Taichi wins out, then turned his sights onto Cobb with a series of kicks. Cobb caught one and dumps Taichi with a T-bone suplex, before a clothesline out of the corner left both men down. Tags bring us to Sabre and Ospreay, with the pair trading strikes until Ospreay’s handspring enziguiri was caught and turned into an ankle lock. Ospreay escapes, but gets snapped down for a neck twist by Sabre, before I buffer. Huzzah.

We’re back with Sabre grabbing a front guillotine that Ospreay suplexes out of, before O-Khan tagged in to drop Sabre with Mongolian chops. DOUKI tags in and DDTs O-Khan, before Taichi helped take O-Khan down for a springboard stomp. From the kick-out, O-Khan’s put into the DOUKI CHOKI, but O-Khan escapes and popped up DOUKI into Cobb’s clutches. Cue triple-teaming into the corner ahead of a Spin Cycle for a near-fall, before O-Khan went for the Eliminator… and almost loses to a roll-up. DOUKI flips onto the apron as he tries to set up for a Daybreak… but O-Khan caught it and turns it into the Eliminator for the win. Very brief, but good for what it was as we get a glimpse of tomorrow’s cup match. **½

Post-match, O-Khan bursts a lung doing his speech to the crowd, until Zack Sabre Jr. ran in and attacked Ospreay from behind. Ospreay cuts him off, but his plancha’s turned into an armbar on the floor as Sabre left Aichi with an advantage for tomorrow.

Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI) vs. Yuji Nagata, Kazuchika Okada & SHO
It’s SANADA vs. Nagata tomorrow, hence the curious team…

Those two start us off, with SANADA getting thrown down before a knuckle lock from Nagata looked to force him to his knees. SANADA suplexes free as my feed needs refreshing… we recover with BUSHI getting taken to the ropes by SHO, before an overhead kick in the corner and a missile dropkick pushed BUSHI ahead. A sunset flip from BUSHI’s countered into a cross armbar by SHO, despite Naito’s attempts to break it up. SHO stays on the arm, then elbows down BUSHI for a two-count… and turned the kick-out into a Kimura that quickly ends in the ropes. Okada tags in and hits an elbow to the shoulder, only for BUSHI to recover with some headscissors to take Okada into the corner.

Naito tags in and hits a low dropkick to Okada, then a neckbreaker before Okada fought back. A neckbreaker slam’s blocked and booted away, so Okada comes in with a Money Clip attempt before he found more success with a dropkick. Tags get us back to SANADA and Nagata, trading elbows, before mid kicks from Nagata took SANADA into the corner. A backflip out of the corner, then a dropkick has SANADA ahead as he tries a Paradise Lock… Nagata pushes away and pulls SANADA into the Nagata Lock 2, but that ends in the ropes as Nagata eventually adds in an Exploder. SHO tags in from there to corner SANADA with kicks for a two-count… a spear follows for another two-count, but LIJ turn it around with three basement dropkicks before the ring fills and empties.

SHO tries to nick it with a small package, then a German suplex, but SANADA’s up at two… before he blocks a piledriver and pulls SHO up for a Dragon sleeper. It’s escaped as SHO’s still going for roll-ups, only to get caught with a backflip into a swinging Skull End for the submission. Your usual fare, with the Nagata/SANADA stuff looking promising for tomorrow as they dialled down a little on the “BUSHI and SHO trade wins” shtick that’s been happening on and off throughout the tour. ***

Bullet Club (Jay White, EVIL & Bad Luck Fale) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson & Toa Henare
We’re building to White vs. Tanahashi in Korakuen Hall on Monday with this…

After the obligatory posing, White and Tanahashi start as a lock-up ends in the ropes, with White grabbing a handful of hair. Kicks take Tanahashi into the corner before a tonne of reversals on Irish whips ended with more hair-pulling from White. Tanahashi fights back with a crossbody out of the corner, before Henare helps out with his half of a double-team Boston crab. Juice Robinson tags in to drop a double sledge on White’s arm, before some hair pulling led to a hiptoss and a slam on the Kiwi. A dropkick has White down, as EVIL comes in for a slam, and a dropkick… before Fale just took the dropkick part as he fell on top of Juice mid-slam. The Tongan Massage Parlour sees White and Fale stand in Juice in the ropes, before EVIL and Fale double-team Juice by pulling him into the ring post.

Juice shakes it off and busts out some Dusty punches, only for White to pull him down by the hair and roll him back into the corner for Fale to deal with. After slamming Juice, Fale telegraphs the elbow drop and misses, as tags bring us to White and Tanahashi. The latter lands a leaping forearm before a flip senton out of the corner drew a near-fall. Tanahashi tries a Slingblade, but White ducks it and eventually found a way through with a DDT. A Blade Buster’s next for a near-fall as White begins to focus on Tanahashi’s legs… and we buffer. It’s back with EVIL trying the thrust kick on Tanahashi, who just caught it and turned in with a Dragon screw before Henare tagged in to hit a leaping shoulder tackle.

EVIL’s cornered with a clothesline, but comes back with a chop before he was pulled into a Samoan drop for a two-count. Tanahashi and Juice help hold up EVIL for a Henare spear that almost ends it, but the ring fills to break it up, then clears as a Toa Bottom was blocked by EVIL. A rear spin kick drops the former double champion as Gedo and Togo try to interfere…

That backfires as it’s Jay White who runs the successful interference, hitting a sleeper suplex on Henare before handing him off for EVIL to land Everything is EVIL for the win. Solid enough, but the EVIL/Yano interactions were reduced to EVIL pointing at Yano on commentary. It’s for the best. **¾

New Japan Cup 2021 – Second Round: KENTA vs. Minoru Suzuki
August 2005 was the last time these two met, over in Pro Wrestling NOAH… and KENTA was so excited, he brought a newspaper to read. Suzuki swipes it out of his hands, but KENTA’s not done with it.

Nevertheless, the match starts with paperboy Tsuji picking up the pages, while KENTA just wound up Suzuki by rolling in and out of the ring, before grabbing his paper again. Suzuki snatches it off him so he can have a read… and that finally draws in KENTA as we get going. They roll around the ropes from a lock-up, before KENTA headed outside so he could trip up Suzuki. More chasing just winds him up, so Suzuki looks for a chair. He can’t find one, but he does manage to catch KENTA in a hanging armbar on the apron, then pulled him back outside for a trip to the guard rails. Now he finds a chair, but KENTA just kicks it into him before he laid out Suzuki with it.

KENTA chucks Suzuki into the rails again, before they returned to the ring with KENTA throwing a series of mid kicks. Eye rakes follow as Suzuki gets knocked into the corner, before Suzuki had enough of getting kicked… and began to tee up for an elbow, only for KENTA to duck and take him down with a drop toe hold. KENTA hits a load of unanswered mid kicks before Suzuki snapped with a CLONKING elbow, then with a headbutt, before KENTA got booted into the corner. PKs follow, but the nonchalant cover doesn’t even get a one-count, KENTA’s back as he stomps Suzuki onto the apron ahead of the Green Killer draping DDT, but Suzuki kicks out at one.

Elbows from KENTA take Suzuki back to the corner, but a running front kicks stops KENTA from building up steam briefly. He returns in kind as he sets up for a hesitation dropkick, then a double stomp off the top that also barely gets a one-count. The Game Over follows as KENTA rolls Suzuki down to the mat, but KENTA can’t quite keep a grip on as Suzuki dragged his way to the ropes. Suzuki’s caught with a knee to the back in the ropes… then a Busaiku-ish knee for a two-count, before Suzuki caught a KENTA kick and rolled him through into a half crab. It turns into almost half a lion tamer, but it ends in the ropes as the match descended into palm strikes with both men slapping each other silly.

Suzuki pulls ahead with some unanswered shoteis, but rolling back-handed chops from KENTA looked to get him back in… except a Go 2 Sleep’s countered into a rear naked choke from Suzuki… but KENTA pops back up with a Go 2 Sleep for the win. This was a weird one – the almost comedy intro was a good way for KENTA to get under Suzuki’s skin, but things went through a really eggy spell in the middle of the match, with KENTA almost seeming to be wrestling a different match. He wins out though and makes it to Tuesday’s quarter-finals. ***¼

New Japan Cup 2021 – Second Round: Shingo Takagi vs. Hirooki Goto
Winner faces KENTA in the quarter-finals…

We start with shoulder tackles, then elbow exchanges before Shingo looked to edge ahead as the pair teased finishes in the opening 90 seconds. A sliding lariat from Shingo has Goto down though, before another crack at Last of the Dragon ended with Goto slipping out for a roll-up that almost got the win. On the outside, Shingo posts Goto, then threw him into the guard rails for a DDT on the floor. Back inside, Goto tries to fight back with kicks, but Shingo just hangs him up in the ropes as he teases a draping GTR… only for Goto to slide out as Shingo teases a death valley driver from the apron to the floor. Instead, Goto counters with a neckbreaker onto the apron, before he took Shingo into the guard rails.

Goto stays on Shingo back inside, using a chinlock and a neck crank before some headscissors keep Shingo grounded. A rope break resets Shingo, but he can’t get away from kicks from Goto, before he finally retaliated with the back elbow, the jab and the clothesline. A shoulder tackle off the ropes knocks Goto down, as does a suplex, but Goto returns the favour to keep things even. A spinning heel kick from Goto, then a bulldog takes Shingo out of the corner for a two-count, before the pair traded corner clotheslines. Goto’s back suplex leads to an instant retaliation from Shingo, as we go back to clotheslines that eventually took both men to the mat. We’re back to the clotheslines as the match continues to simmer away, with Goto landing an ushigoroshi to end another flurry.

Shingo escapes a GTR by charging Goto into the corner, before a clothesline to the back of the head reset things. Kicks just seem to annoy Goto, who ends up getting pulled into an noshigami, before Shingo found a way through with Made in Japan for a near-fall. Goto tries to elbow away from Shingo, but he’s caught with rapid-fire elbow strikes, before Goto snapped back with a GTW out of nowhere. Goto lands a headbutt as he looks to push himself over the finishing line, teeing up for another mid kick before Shingo almost took the win with a roll-up. The look on his face as he tried to grab the win there… another clothesline from Shingo has Goto down, before they counter around each other’s finishers, leading to draping GTR from Shingo. From there, Shingo hits the ropes and spins out Goto with a Pumping Bomber for a near-fall, before Last of the Dragon planted Goto for the win. This one never really kicked into that higher gear, but was still a fantastic outing as both men chipped away at each other until Shingo hit his Big Move to get the win. ***¾

We’re back tomorrow for an earlier start in Hyogo with Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Will Ospreay on top, but how you view today’s show depends on what you thought of the two cup matches – KENTA vs. Suzuki had its bright moments, but felt a little unpolished in places, while the main event was a real slow burner that just about hit a stride for the finish.