March 9th, 2018
NJ Cup - Night One
I sorta lost track with NJPW in February, but March is now upon us which means New Japan Cup season is here. I missed last year's so I'm looking forward to watching this one unfold. Kevin Kelly is on commentary with Chuck Taylor as his special guest (after the opening bout) so let's dive right into this.
1) CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, & Chuckie T) vs. Tomoyuki Oka, Shota Umino, & Testsuhiro Yagi
First off, Chuck Taylor being in NJPW straight up rules. Long time coming for him. Second, Oka straight stood up to Goto from the get go of this opener and that also ruled. CHAOS, as you would more than likely guess, really took it to the Young Lions trio in this match and put them away in under seven minutes, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted. Chuckie gets the win for his team with the awful waffle which I think was needed to establish him in this tournament since he is Trent's replacement.
Match rating - **1/2
2) Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr & Lance Archer) vs. Bullet Club (Tanga Loa & Bad Luck Fale)
The more time goes on, the more I grow to love Bad Luck Fale. It took me a good minute, but I'm a straight mark for him, at the moment. KES comes out and Lance Archer is still doing his spit on all the fans gimmick. That is probably the most obnoxious thing in wrestling right now, dear lord. KES looked really strong here, basically dominating the whole thing after taking Fale out of the equation. Archer antagonized Fale the entire match which gives some build towards their first round meeting later on in the cup.
Match rating - **1/2
3) Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, & BUSHI vs. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr, El Desperado, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
This was another pretty quick one that accomplished a lot. ZSJ and Naito face off later in the cup tournament and they got their first exchange with each other here with Sabre targeting the previously targeted shoulder of Naito. Sabre is presented so so well in NJ thus far in 2018 and I wouldn't be surprised if he takes this whole tournament. He gets the win for his team here with a brutal hold that forces BUSHI to tap almost immediately.
Match rating - **1/2
4) Hiroshi Tanahashi, David Finlay, & Toa Henare vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzki, Takashi Izuka, & Taichi)
This was my least favorite of the multi-man's of the night. Still was not bad at all, though. Suzuki-gun takes the match to the crowd early on. Suzuki's interactions with Tanahashi ruled. They also did some build towards Tanahashi & Taichi's upcoming first round match. In the end, Suzuki locks Henare in a sleeper hold and tosses him into a superkick from Taichi which earns Suzuki-gun their second victory of the night.
Match rating - **
5) Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI HASHI vs. Kota Ibushi & Chase Owens
Ibushi & Owens is such a weird team, but aye. Everyone here rules so this was solid for what it was, they never really got out of first gear there. Ibushi & YOSHI HASHI are first round opponents so we got that teaser and that was about it. Okada taps out Chase to the chicken wing for the win. YOSHI taunts Ibushi after the match whilst Okada fist bumps Chuckie T at ringside. HELL YEAH.
Match rating - **1/4
6) Juice Robinson vs. Yujiro Takahashi - New Japan Cup First Round Match
Finally into the tournament matches for the night and HOLY HELL what a way to kick this thing off. I have no clue how this was so good. Maybe I've just been sleeping on Juice Robinson or something, but he ruled as a babyface here. And even though Takahashi has always been sorta hit or miss, his cocky, aggressive demeanor played perfectly against Juice. He threw Juice into chairs in the crowd on multiple occassions thus cutting his back open. They proceed to get back in the ring and trade big moves which led to some awesome false finishes. Takahashi literally dropped Juice on his head at one point in a spot that will make your jaw drop. But in the end, Juice hits pulp friction to end it and advance.
Match rating - ***3/4
7) Tomohiro Ishii vs. Michael Elgin - New Japan Cup First Round Match
Revisiting the 2015 G1 Climax here and these guys arguably had just as good or better of a match as they did there. It's literally insane. They beat the dog shit out of one another and then some. At some points, it felt like it may be too much, but then they bring you right back to into it with dramatic exchanges and near falls. Wild ass main event to kick off the first night of the NJ Cup. You'll definitely have to take a breather after this one. Elgin wins after nearly 25 minutes of brutality and Ishii refuses to shake his hand.
Match rating - ****1/2
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