Thursday, March 28, 2019
This is LATE, I know. I was trying to catch up before Mania weekend, but I literally got to the final round match and ran out of time so I had to wait til after I finish this series up. But here's the top matches from the NJCup with thoughts and star ratings <3
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yuji Nagata - First Round Match - Night One - 3/8/19
Main event of the first night of NJCup action and the first stand out match of the tournament here. This has a lot of his history behind it as Ishii has lost in the first round of the cup to Nagata twice in years past. Plus, in more recent memory, they've been brawling ever since the night after Wrestle Kingdom at New Year's Dash and it has been boiling ever since. So, with that in mind, the fighting spirit/strong style display we got here made perfect sense. It wasn't even a minute or two in before the stiff strikes began to be thrown and it was only 8 or 9 minutes before Nagata was bleeding from the mouth. From top rope exploders to breathtaking forearm battles in the middle of the ring, this ruled on every front if you like this style of wrestling and it was super well built.
Match rating - ****
Kazuchika Okada vs. Michael Elgin - First Round Match - Night Two - 3/9/19
Any time Okada & Elgin step foot in a ring together, I think we pretty much know what to expect. A barnburner. This was no different with the action being heated as you got down the stretch. Many people didn't fuck with this match because it didn't feel believable and Okada matches like this tend to have a similar formula (as do Elgin matches, if we're being honest *power move* *nearfall* repeat) and a year or two ago, I probably would've felt the same, but I've admittedly become an Okada mark as of late so everything he does, I enjoy to some extent plus the action here wasn't bad at all and kept myself and the crowd invested. Okada comes out on top after a bunch of back and forth.
Match rating - ***3/4
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shota Umino - First Round Match - Night Three - 3/10/19
Huge coming out party for the young lion, Shota Umino. Even though he was the obvious underdog and had likely no chance to win, it didn't always feel like it and they did a good job of making him look like a believable opponent for the Ace without pushing it too far. Really simple, but amazingly executed stuff here.
Match rating - ***1/2
Zack Sabre Jr vs. EVIL - First Round Match - Night Three - 3/10/19