The New Japan Cup moves into the second round as Ehime sees the start of the next phase of the competition.
Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI pinned Yota Tsuji & David Finlay in 11:33 (**¾)
Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale & Jado pinned Yuya Uemura, Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma in 10:28 (*½)
SHO, Hirooki Goto, Yuji Nagata & Kazuchika Okada pinned BUSHI, Shingo Takagi, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito in 12:01 (**¾)
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toa Henare & Juice Robinson submitted Chase Owens, Jay White & KENTA in 13:17 (***)
New Japan Cup 2021 – Second Round: Toru Yano pinned Great-O-Khan in 13:02 (**)
New Japan Cup 2021 – Second Round: EVIL pinned Jeff Cobb in 23:08 (***½)
The Item Ehime in, yes, Ehime is the venue for today’s action…
YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii vs. David Finlay & Yota Tsuji
We start with a lock-up between Finlay and YOSHI-HASHI, ahead of their second round match.
They break in the ropes, but Finlay’s back with a side headlock, which YOSHI-HASHI escaped as he came in with a headlock of his own, before he was shot into the ropes… charging down Finlay on the rebound. YOSHI-HASHI looks for Karma early, while Finlay tries a Prima Nocta, before a dropkick left YOSHI-HASHI laying.
Finlay’s pushed into the corner as Yota Tsuji tags in… but he wants to face Ishii, and gets his wish straight away. Right hands catch Ishii through the ropes, but he shakes them off as the pair trade elbow strikes. Shoulder tackles send both men into the ropes as Tsuji’s eventually charged down, with more elbows following as Ishii knocked him into the corner.
Tsuji monsters up and replies with elbows of his own, only to get decked by Ishii, who pulls him up for some kicks as YOSHI-HASHI tagged back in. Tsuji tries for more elbows, but YOSHI-HASHI outlasts him and takes him back into the corner before a slam put YOSHI-HASHI down.
Finlay tags in and keeps the momentum going, at least until YOSHI-HASHI blocked an Exploder. A uranage backbreaker puts Finlay back on top, but he can’t follow up with an Acid Drop as YOSHI-HASHI goes for a neckbreaker… eventually landing one in the form of a Head Hunter. Ishii’s back in, but he’s taken down with a Finlay dropkick as Tsuji wanted to try his luck again.
A dropkick from Tsuji takes Ishii down, as Finlay returned to help Tsuji land the Mount Tsuji splash for a near-fall. The Boston crab followed, but Ishii gets free as I buffer… and nearly wins it with a back suplex. Tsuji looks for roll-ups, then counters a suplex as I buffer again. Yeah. It’s one of those days.
We recover as Tsuji ALMOST nicks the win with a roll-up, before Ishii just puts him away with a clothesline. A solid opener, with Tsuji nearly accomplishing the unthinkable. **¾
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Jado) vs. Satoshi Kojima, Tomoaki Honma & Yuya Uemura
We’ve a jump start before the bell, but Honma shrugs it off with a Flatliner/DDT combo to Yujiro and Jado.
Jado stays in the ring as Honma elbows him into the corner, prompting Uemura to tag himself in. Uemura kicks away a back body drop then slammed Jado. Yujiro trips Uemura in the ropes as we begin the bullshit, with the match spilling outside as Uemura gets posted. Back inside, Yujiro throws Uemura into the corner for a front kick, which gets a two-count as Fale tagged in to hit a slam before he stood on Uemura by the ropes.
Jado’s back in to charge down Uemura with a shoulder tackle, before Fale tagged back in to box Uemura into the corner. Uemura manages to escape and tag out to Kojima, who avoids a Fale charge and returned with Machine gun chops. Jado gets his share too, as he also eats a Kokeshi before some double teaming on Fale looked to lead to Kojima’s top rope elbow… but Yujiro just shoves him down.
Kojima quickly rebounds with a Koji cutter on Fale, but he gets clobbered with a Kendo stick from Jado as he went for the Cozy lariat. Uemura wants back in after that, and charges at Yujiro for a backdrop suplex that gets him a two-count. Buffering. Uemura counters a Pimp Juice DDT with a roll-up, then a backslide, but it’s not enough… so he throws in a dropkick too before Yujiro fought back, landing a Pimp Juice DDT for the win. The first half of this match was interminably slow, and only just began to pick up by the finish. A hard skip. *½
Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI) vs. Yuji Nagata, Hirooki Goto, Kazuchika Okada & SHO
We start with Goto and Shingo ahead of their match on Saturday… they lock up and hit the ropes for shoulder tackles, before breaking out the elbow exchanges.
Goto escapes a Last of the Dragon attempt as both men’s attempts at finishers came to nought, before tags took us to Naito and Okada. Remember when this pairing was heavily protected from being in the same match as each other? Days gone by…
The pair lock up and head into the ropes for the Okada clean break, but Naito switches around and fakes out as well. BUSHI grabbed the hair, but it comes to nought as Okada snapmares Naito for a basement dropkick by the ropes, before LIJ turned the tables. Danielson elbows from Shingo keep Goto down on the outside, while Naito worked a side headlock on Okada back inside.
BUSHI takes over with some t-shirt choking on Okada, while Shingo uses a cravat to snapmare Okada down… then charged at Goto on the apron. Of course that drew in Goto as the ring begins to fill, settling down again with SANADA coming in… but he runs into Okada’s boots before Nagata came in and suplexed SANADA for a two-count.
A double leapfrog/dropkick from SANADA takes Nagata outside for the obligatory plancha, before they returned to trade elbows… only for Nagata to run into almost a TKO. He escapes that and eventually hits a Magic Screw on SANADA as takes bring us to SHO and BUSHI, with the latter hitting a missile dropkick before they traded elbows again.
SHO’s shoulder tackle drops BUSHI as he then gets pulled up for some kicks. BUSHI catches one, but it comes to nought… as did a Fisherman screw neckbreaker, which SHO escapes as the ring again fills up for a Parade of Moves, culminating in an ushigoroshi on Shingo before SHO had to block a lungblower form BUSHI. A clothesline decks him though, with a deadlift bridging German suplex getting SHO a two-count before SHO landed the Shock Arrow for the win. This was pretty good for its role in heating up the second round matches, while SHO and BUSHI continue to trade wins. It even got Shingo all fired up afterwards to the point he was threatening to use the ring bell after the match… **¾
Bullet Club (Jay White, KENTA & Chase Owens) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson & Toa Henare
After his disappointment last night, will Toa Henare be able to bounce back – even if Jay White’s more focused on facing Hiroshi Tanahashi in the second round?
Tanahashi and White start us off after they’d done their posing… I buffer, and return to see Henare losing his mind, going after White, taking him into the corners before charging him down with a shoulder tackle. Chase Owens tries to trip Henare, but instead White just takes down Henare with a Dragon screw before he elbowed Tanahashi off the apron.
KENTA tags in to keep Henare down with some kicks and back elbows, before he stopped to knock Juice Robinson off the apron. Henare’s thrown outside so White can take his shots again, leading to KENTA getting a bunch of one-counts after Henare was thrown back inside. Chase tags in to keep up the stomps, as did White, who then proceeded to stand on Henare’s hand as things were looking awfully one-sided.
Kicks from KENTA eventually rile up Henare into returning with a leaping shoulder tackle. A tag brings in Juice, who charges at KENTA with clotheslines, following up with a facebuster and a faked-out Left Hand of God as Juice just DDTs KENTA instead. KENTA gets his feet up in the corner to stop the momentum, then hung up Juice with a tornado hotshot ahead of a Kane clothesline off the top for a near-fall.
Tags bring us to Tanahashi and White again, but White’s kick is caught… he escapes a Dragon screw, but not a leaping forearm before a slam and a flip senton gets Tanahashi a two-count. White returns with a Dragon screw, then with running uppercuts before a Blade Buster dumped Tanahashi for a two-count. Owens tags in to try and put Tanahashi away with a knee strike, but it only gets him a near-fall as the ring begins to fill for a Parade of Moves. It calms down as Tanahashi Dragon screws Owens into a Texas Cloverleaf – apt – and Owens taps to his own state’s move. Irony. ***
New Japan Cup 2021 – Second Round: Great-O-Khan vs. Toru Yano
On paper, this could go one of two ways – a short, comedy match, or Yano is drawn back to his grappling roots by O-Khan. I’m intrigued.
We’ve no jump start, but Yano still seems a little perturbed at O-Khan’s general presence. Yano rolls outside and grabs some tape from under the ring as O-Khan offered to fight him with his hands tied behind his back. Of course, Yano still wants to undo the turnbuckle pads, but O-Khan isn’t flinching, and ends up breaking free of the tape. A substandard job by Yano, there…
O-Khan lays down in the ring for Yano, but Yano just stomps away before he’s caught in a knee bar that ends in the ropes. O-Khan charges down Yano, who bails to the outside again, so O-Khan just takes a seat on Yano’s chair. He’s a patient sod, is O-Khan.
Yano takes a chair and sits in the aisle, trying to bait O-Khan to the floor, but O-Khan doesn’t budge, and so the ref starts the count. O-Khan asks Gabriel Kidd to pass him Yano’s KOPW trophy… but Yano’s broken enough of those and knows he can probably replace it. Yano still dives in to save it, before falling for a handshake as O-Khan took him down, ahead of a side Salto suplex that almost gets the win.
O-Khan takes Yano to the exposed corner so he could have a seat, but the referee refuses to count after Yano had been thrown to the mat. Yano tries to fight back, and goes for a roll-up, then a rebound belly-to-belly, before an atomic drop and a slingshot took O-Khan into the exposed corner for a near-fall. A front kick from O-Khan drops Yano though, with Mongolian chops following.
Yano blocks the head claw for the Eliminator, then baited O-Khan into an inside cradle for a near-fall, before dualling head claws led to Yano almost getting pinned. O-Khan gets low bridged to the outside as he charges at Yano… and ends up getting tied to the guard rails by his own pony tail.
O-Khan sacrifices his braid, cutting himself free to make it back inside… but he keeps hold of the scissors and threatened to stab Yano. He ducks, mule kicks O-Khan, then spears him in the back before a roll-up got the win. What the hell? That’s going to have a few people questioning whether New Japan really do see much in O-Khan, at least in this form. This one’s not going to do too well in terms of your GRAPPL star ratings – the cavernous arena echoed every single yell that made the match seem devoid of atmosphere at first, but the story they told was good, with Yano being baited into actually doing a wrestle… but man, this probably could have been edited down something fierce. **
New Japan Cup 2021 – Second Round: Jeff Cobb vs. EVIL
The winner of this faces Yano in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
We’ve had one prior meeting between these two, with Cobb beating EVIL on a ROH show back in November 2018. EVIL starts by heading outside, looking for plunder under the ring, before he returned to kick and chop Cobb into the ropes. A shoulder tackle from Cobb gets him level, with EVIL being taken outside as Cobb ends up chucking EVIL into Dick Togo… into the railings.
Cobb curls EVIL into a backbreaker on the outside, then threw him back inside for a dropkick. A right hand takes EVIL into the ropes, before Togo trips Cobb as EVIL clotheslines the big man to the outside. Cobb’s taken into the railings as EVIL wanders him around ringside… and yeah, the timekeeper’s caught off guard. They’ll learn one day.
EVIL uses a chair on Cobb on the outside, then rolled back inside to try and take the count-out victory… Cobb beats the count, so EVIL works over the legs, then took Cobb outside again so he could kill the timekeeper again. Back inside, they struggle over a suplex, but EVIL lands the Fisherman suplex for a near-fall, but Cobb returns with an overhead belly-to-belly… then a superplex that bounces EVIL across the ring.
Cobb looks for an Oklahoma Stampede, but EVIL slips out and pulls Cobb down. An attempted Darkness Falls is blocked, as Cobb takes down EVIL only for his standing moonsault to be blocked with the knees. A clothesline off the ropes leads to a Scorpion Deathlock… but Cobb gets to the ropes, only to get caught with Darkness Falls.
The corner pad’s gone after the kick-out, but Cobb avoids being thrown into there as he returned with a superkick in the corner before an Oklahoma Stampede almost puts EVIL away. Togo tries to interfere, but he’s knocked off the apron as Cobb surges ahead, but EVIL grabs the ropes to block a Tour of the Islands. The ref’s taken down as Cobb pulled EVIL into a Spin Cycle… and of course, it leads to no count.
Cobb takes EVIL up top, but that draws in Togo to choke him out with the garotte wire… Cobb stands up and backs Togo into the corner to break free, before showing off his strength by slamming both men in one go. That’s never not impressive. With the referee back up, Cobb gets a near-fall from a sitout gutwrench powerbomb, before EVIL struck back with a clothesline.
Cobb returns with a German suplex, but EVIL just charges him into the exposed corner… EVIL misses a charge and takes the corner himself, before Yujiro Takahashi came away from commentary to distract the referee. That allows EVIL to escape a Tour of the Islands and hit a low blow, before Cobb’s put away with Everything is EVIL. Last year’s EVIL is back then, with dick punches getting him the win in a match that was a bit of a mixed bag – Cobb looked good on offence, but clearly there’s no big plans for him just yet. ***½
The tour has tomorrow off, and returns on Saturday with second-round action from Aichi, featuring KENTA vs. Minoru Suzuki and Shingo Takagi vs. Hirooki Goto.
Never mind Dick Togo, Toru Yano was the real spoiler today, huh? Night six on the tour was good-not-great, with the undercard stuff fulfilling its job of building up interest for upcoming matches – but with the sheer volume of shows New Japan’s had this year, I don’t doubt for one moment that the vast majority of viewers right now are doing the ol’ cherry pick routine.