Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi clash in the New Japan Cup finals, with a shot at the new IWGP World Heavyweight Championship on the line.
Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI pinned Yota Tsuji, Gabriel Kidd & Yuya Uemura in 10:39 (***)
Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan pinned Tomoaki Honma & Satoshi Kojima in 8:58 (**¾)
Yujiro Takahashi, KENTA & EVIL pinned YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano & SHO in 9:24 (**¾)
SANADA, BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito pinned Toa Henare, David Finlay & Juice Robinson in 10:10 (**¾)
Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale & Jay White in 11:31 (**½)
New Japan Cup 2021 – Final: Will Ospreay pinned Shingo Takagi in 30:06 (****¾)
We’re back at the Xebio Arena in Sendai after yesterday’s earthquake-affected show. Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton and Gino Gambino are doing English commentary remotely, hopefully with more sleep than I’ve had. I blame Polish slap-fighting…
Before the show started, we saw the return of YOH to his home prefecture. I think he’s only used that music once before… YOH announced he was ready to go, and will return at Sakura Genesis on April 4 – then issued a challenge for El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru’s junior tag team championships.
Yota Tsuji, Yuya Uemura & Gabriel Kidd vs. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & DOUKI)
We’ve a jump start as the Young Lions looked for an unlikely upset.
Slams from Uemura get a two-count on DOUKI, before a Kanuki suplex ended in the ropes. A roll-up scares DOUKI too, before he tosses Uemura outside and into the railings, with that pipe of his laying out Uemura on the floor. Back inside, Uemura tries to fight back with right hands, but DOUKI goes to the eyes as he tagged in Taichi. A snapmare and a kick has Uemura on the back foot, as does a cravat from Sabre, only for Uemura to get free and hit back with a dropkick. Gabriel Kidd’s in to turn up the pace with Zack, catching him with a slam and a back senton for a two-count, before some pinning attempts ended with Sabre turning Kidd into a half crab.
Tsuji stomps it apart, but gets thrown outside before some stomps at Kidd led to Kidd making it to the ropes for a break. There’s a WCPW shoutout as Kidd almost beats Sabre with the SummerSlam 92 finish, before another dropkick downed Sabre. Tags bring us to Taichi and Tsuji, with the latter hitting some right hands to try and avoid a choke. Taichi grabs the choke anyway, before a tiltawhirl was countered. Uemura’s in to help as a slam led to a springboard Mount Tsuji splash that fell into “didn’t quite get all of it”. A Boston crab’s stomped apart by DOUKI, who just gets slammed for his troubles, before an Axe bomber from Taichi turned the match on its head.
Taichi tees up to rip off his trousers, but Tsuji rolls him up, then slammed him for some two-counts, but Taichi just throws him down, then hit a leaping enziguiri. From there, a Dangerous backdrop driver dumps Tsuji, and there’s the win. Post-match, Taichi throttles everyone, while Sabre tries to rip off Kidd’s arm. ***
United Empire (Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) vs. Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma
Honma and O-Khan start us off, as some early interference from Cobb backfired.
Knees from O-Khan looked to lead to a suplex, but Kojima makes the save and helps with a double-team suplex before an elbow drop gets Honma the chance to miss a Kokeshi. Cobb charges Kojima to the outside as O-Khan stomps away on Honma, following up with a backbreaker stretch for a two-count. Cobb’s in with a slam before he charged Honma to the corner so O-Khan could return. Honma tries his luck with a small package, getting a near-fall, then hits a DDT as he manages to tag out to Kojima, who corners O-Khan for some Machine Gun chops. An elbow off the top followed for a two-count, then a DDT before O-Khan hits back with a throat thrust.
Mongolian chops keep O-Khan ahead, but Kojima has one of his own before a Koji Cutter’s pushed away. Backbreakers from Cobb drop Kojima for a two-count, as did a standing moonsault, before Kojima hit back with a Koji Cutter. Honma tags back in as he trades right hands with Cobb at close quarters, ending the meat-slapping with a double DDT to the Empire pair. Kojima’s back to suplex Cobb ahead of a Kokeshi, but O-Khan breaks it up and holds Honma in place for Cobb to charge in into the corner. Kicks follow, before a Spin Cycle gets a near-fall… Kojima breaks it up, before Cobb lariats Honma down as a Tour of the Islands proceeds to get the win as the Empire hope to bookend their night with wins. **¾
Bullet Club (EVIL, KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI & SHO
We’ve a jump start as EVIL kindly lets Yano have his entrance read out before taking him outside and into the railings.
The timekeeper’s twitching already as Yano’s taken in front of him for an eye rake, but they head back inside as EVIL wrings Yano’s arm. Yano throws EVIL away, but gets kicked in the arse as Yano took off the corner pad, before Dick Togo tried to choke EVIL with his own towel. A hair pull gets EVIL down as SHO comes in to land a series of kicks. Arm wringers follow, but EVIL chucks SHO into the corner before we go outside. Yep. The time keeper’s wiped out. Back inside, SHO’s thrown into the corner by Yujiro for a two-count, before the elbow drop, headbutt and leg drop combo gets Yujiro another two-count.
KENTA’s in to complete the hattrick, taking SHO to the corner for another two-count. A side headlock’s elbowed out of, but KENTA just pulls SHO back down before a tag brings in YOSHI-HASHI. A neckbreaker from YOSHI-HASHI has him ahead, as did a dropkick to KENTA in the ropes and a low dropkick, but KENTA DDTs his way back in as Yujiro looks to pick up the pieces. EVIL’s Fisherman buster and a low dropkick from Yujiro gets a two-count, before YOSHI-HASHI chopped back into things. A back cracker drops Yujiro, before YOSHI-HASHI moves to a Butterfly lock, but EVIL comes in to break it up. Yano tries to stop him, but gets thrown outside as YOSHI-HASHI relents… then went for Kumagaroshi, but is stopped with a poke to the eyes.
KENTA’s back to tease a Go 2 Sleep, but SHO makes the save before Dick Togo distracts. Here comes the Pimp Cane, drilling YOSHI-HASHI with it, before a Pimp Juice gets the win as commentary surmised that Yujiro was going to take a trios title challenge. **¾
Post-match, the Bullet Club beatdown continues, with YOSHI-HASHI getting choked out with his stick afterwards. KENTA steals the curtain rod too, as he leaves Sendai with some wood…
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI) vs. Juice Robinson, David Finlay & Toa Henare
This is pretty much a handicap match given how badly Finlay’s ankle was hurt yesterday…
Finlay and Naito start us off, but Naito wants to face Juice instead of the limping Finlay. He gets his wish, only for BUSHI to attack Juice from behind. Juice lifts BUSHI to the apron, then hiptossed Naito out of the corner ahead of a slam and a dropkick, before Finlay tagged in. Finlay aggravates his ankle with a double sledge off the top, as a diving uppercut lands for a two-count on Naito. Kicks in the ropes stop Finlay as Naito goes to the ankle with a dropkick, and of course, Naito leaps onto the ankle with a leglock from there. Naito loves that Tugboat pose, and tags in SANADA in the corner… Finlay’s whipped into the corner, but he hobbles as SANADA proceeds to tie him up in a Paradise lock ahead of the releasing dropkick.
BUSHI’s in to split the legs, before chops take Finlay into the corner ahead of a missile dropkick. Finlay recovers with a spin-out side suplex, as a tag brings in Juice to crush Naito with a back senton. A Manhattan drop and a side Russian legsweep leaves SANADA down for another back senton, before a bulldog downs BUSHI to complete the hattrick. Juice keeps going with a cannonball to Naito in the corner for a two-count, before Naito hit back with a swinging DDT off the ropes.
SANADA’s back, but his headscissors get blocked as Juice returns with a spinebuster. Henare tags in and takes down SANADA with a shoulder tackle. That’s followed with elbow in the corner before a running Samoan drop landed for a two-count. The ring fills for a big ol’ Parade of Moves, leading to a double spear from Henare before a spin kick dumps SANADA. From there, a Toa Bottom’s escaped as SANADA heads to the ropes… and the Japanese leg clutch pin ends things. Another loss for Henare as he has another meltdown after the match – amid speculation of a change in attitude… **¾
Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada vs. Bullet Club (Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens)
Yesterday, both before and after the ‘quake, Kota Ibushi was a bit of a pariah, with Okada and Tanahashi far from happy with him for what he’s doing to the belts.
White and Tanahashi start us off as commentary points us towards a potential NEVER title match there… Tanahashi pushes ahead with a crossbody out of the corner before Okada helps with a double-team shoulder tackle. Gedo trips Okada in the ropes though, and that’s the cue for everything to spill outside briefly. When we get back inside, Fale’s in to stand on Okada, but the referee refuses to count after the triple-teaming. Owens tags in as they stand on Okada again, before a chinlock gives Okada something to fight out of. He does, before he teased slamming Fale… third time’s the charm, but White runs in to stop Okada from tagging out before a big boot dropped White off the ropes.
Tanahashi tags back in to slam White ahead of the flip senton out of the corner, getting a near-fall out of it. A Slingblade’s blocked as standing switches get a bit ridiculous en route to a White hair pull and a DDT. My feed drops as Tanahashi returns with a Twist and Shout, as Owens tags in to hit a clothesline for a two-count. Elbows keep Tanahashi away, but a throat thrust stuns Owens before Tanahashi made a tag out to Ibushi. A kick drops Owens before a flurry of strikes ends with a rebound lariat from Owens off the ropes. Chase’s knee strike has Ibushi down for a two-count, before Okada makes the save as Owens went for a package piledriver… cue a Parade of Moves, leading to a Kamigoye as Ibushi picks up the win. This was fine, but no great shakes as they put more spotlight on White/Tanahashi, presumably for Sakura Genesis in two weeks’ time. **½
Ibushi immediately joins the Japanese commentary team for the main event…
New Japan Cup Final: Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi
They’re 1-1 in prior meetings, with Ospreay’s Best of the Super Junior tournament win almost two years ago being levelled in last year’s G1 Climax by Shingo. We’ve even got a sword as part of Shingo’s entrance, as a callback to that BOSJ final…
They don’t come shooting out of the blocks as a tentative lock-up ended in the ropes with Ospreay cheapshotting on the break. Ospreay pops up from a shoulder block, before the pair trade elbows until Ospreay escaped a quick Made in Japan attempt, then tried an OsCutter inside the opening two minutes. Right hands from Ospreay earn him some headbutts, before he’s popped into the corner pad as Shingo looked to target the nose. Ospreay’s chucked outside as Shingo also works over the taped-up shoulder, kicking it into the guard rail before we play “got your nose” back in the ring again.
A shoulder tackle bounces Ospreay towards the corner, before Ospreay hits a Stundog Millionaire out of a suplex. He followed that up with a handspring enziguiri to take Shingo outside, but he just rolls outside rather than goes for a dive as Shingo’s taken into the guard rails. Ospreay drops Shingo spine-first across the guard rails. Shingo pulls himself up and rolls back inside, but that back’s now a clear target for Ospreay, who homes in with forearms to the lower back before he stood on the back in the ropes. A low dropkick gets Ospreay a two-count, as Ospreay begins to leak from his nose.
After bouncing Shingo into the corner, Ospreay grounds things with a bodyscissors, as he looked to weaken Shingo so much he could barely run into the corner. A springboard forearm drops Shingo for a two-count, before Shingo faked out a punch to hit a DDT. Some Danielson elbows target Ospreay’s neck and shoulder, but a handspring’s caught and turned into a death valley driver that bounces the Rev Pro champion to the mat. Shingo clotheslines Ospreay to the outside, where Bea Priestley gets involved as Shingo went to the nose. The distraction pays off as Ospreay’s able to shove Shingo into the post, as he landed by Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan at ringside… before Ospreay went ot set up a table on the other side of the floor. They struggle around the table, but nothing’s doing as Shingo ends up catching a springboard off the guard rails before splatting Ospreay into the side of the ring.
From there, Shingo takes Ospreay to the apron, but Bea Priestley pulls aside the table as Shingo looked to be going for a death valley driver as things petered out a little. Ospreay’s back inside for a handspring, but he’s taken into a torture rack and thrown back into the corner before he ate a pop-up powerbomb for a two-count. After the kick-out, Shingo rolls into a STF, as Ospreay gets under the ropes to force a break. A snap noshigami drops Ospreay face-first for a two-count, before Shingo ducked a leg lariat… only to get wiped out with a lariat. The reverse Bloody Sunday drops Shingo for a two-count, before Shingo caught Ospreay up top… only for Ospreay’s springboard dropkick to break it up as he staggered back for a Spanish Fly.
Ospreay goes for an OsCutter, but Shingo caught him and teases a noshigami. Instead, we get a headbutt and the Shingo combination as we breezed past the 20 minute mark. A hook kick from Ospreay staggers Shingo, but he shakes it off for a Pumping Bomber… Ospreay somehow flips out of it and quickly lands the OsCutter for a near-fall! Shingo rolls outside for respite, but he’s caught as Ospreay runs the apron and nails an OsCutter off the turnbuckles to the floor. What in the world?! Ospreay grabs the table from earlier and puts Shingo on it… then heads up to the top rope for a 450 splash through the table that thankfully disintegrated on impact. Holy hell…
Ospreay rolls back inside as he hoped to take the count-out win, but Ibushi wills on Shingo to beat the count… only for a Coast to Coast to keep Shingo down ahead of an airy shooting star press off the top as Ospreay still couldn’t get the three-count. Off comes the elbow pad for a Hidden Blade… but Shingo collapses before Ospreay could even wind up. So Ospreay changes tactic and looks for a Storm Breaker, but he can’t get Shingo up. So Shingo just gets up and WALLOPS Ospreay into the corner with elbows, before he ran into a fireman’s carry pancake. Ospreay’s up for a neckbreaker, but ended up getting spiked off the mat with a Made in Japan for a near-fall. A Pumping Bomber takes Ospreay down, but a Last of the Dragon’s countered with a crucifix for a near-fall… then a death valley driver’s countered… only for Shingo to counter the counter with a reverse ‘rana!
Shingo hits the ropes, but Ospreay counters a Pumping Bomber with a standing Spanish Fly for a two-count… then teed up for a head kick. A rolling elbow is next, then a second one to the back of the head, before a Hidden Blade swipes Shingo to the mat. From there, Ospreay goes for Storm Breaker, and plants Shingo for the win. This was a hell of match, with Ospreay digging into his arsenal to pull out stuff that you rarely see – and while this was perhaps more dominant than you’d expect on paper, Ospreay becomes the second Brit in four years to win the crown-like trophy. ****¾
Post-match, Ospreay’s victory speech saw him declare that he “loved (the IWGP title) more than anything”… and then hit Bea Priestley with a cutter out of nowhere. Eh? I mean if crowds could make noise, that would have gotten something, but we’re a year into the clap crowds, so flicking the “killer” switch just gave this a needlessly-flat finish.
That’s it for New Japan – they take a week off before the Road to Sakura Genesis starts – night one in Gunma isn’t making tape, so it’ll be next Monday, March 29 when we return for a show at Korakuen Hall.
Skip the undercard. Seriously. While there’s some tidbits in there, there’s nothing must-see save for Henare’s reaction to another loss. Fast-forward to the main event, save yourself a lot of time, and settle in for a really good cup final!