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Kevin’s NJPW New Japan Cup Night One Review

March 9, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW G1 28 1 Juice Robinson G1 Climax
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Kevin’s NJPW New Japan Cup Night One Review  

NJPW New Japan Cup Night One
March 8th, 2019 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 1,688

The New Japan Cup is upon us once again. The stakes have probably never been higher. This year, the winner gets an IWGP Heavyweight Title shot in Madison Square Garden during WrestleMania weekend. Also, the field has been expanded to 32 participants for the first time. For these reviews, I’m only covering tournament matches and ignoring the multi-man tags on the undercard like I do for the G1 Climax and BOSTJ.

I didn’t have time to review the Anniversary Show, but here’s a rundown of the ratings I gave it.

Ayato Yoshida, Ren Narita, Shota Umino, Togi Makabe & Toru Yano vs. Bullet Club – **
Toa Henare and Yuji Nagata vs. Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI – ***¼
Dragon Lee, Ryusuke Taguchi, Satoshi Kojima, Tiger Mask IV & Tomoaki Honma vs. Suzuki-Gun – ***
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: BUSHI and Shingo Takagi [c] vs. Roppongi 3K – ***¾
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Taiji Ishimori [c] vs. Jushin Thunder Liger – ****
EVIL, SANADA and Tetsuya Naito vs. Hirooki Goto, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada – ***¼
Jay White vs. Will Ospreay – ***½

Before the tournament began, a vignette aired hyping El Phantasmo. He’s a junior heavyweight from RevPro. The Bullet Club logo flashed at the end. Okay.

New Japan Cup First Round: Manabu Nakanishi vs. YOSHI-HASHI 
Two guys who have zero shot at winning. They’re continuing the lengthy story of YOSHI-HASHI trying to get his career together. I give all the props for this match being somewhat good to Manabu Nakanishi. That absolute wild man brought his very best here. He looked more energetic than usual. He even hit a plancha and took to the skies on more than on occasion. It wasn’t pretty, but I appreciated it. Interestingly, there was a ref bump in this one as HASHI knocked him down to survive the Argentine Backbreaker. He eventually slapped on the Butterfly Flock to win in 12:06. Not the most encouraging performance by HASHI, but Nakanishi put in serious effort. [**¼]

New Japan Cup First Round: Taichi w/ Miho Abe vs. Tomoaki Honma
Anyone who has read my reviews before knows that I’m not a fan of matches going too long. This one wasn’t egregious, but they have no business booking a near 20 minute match between these two. Don’t do that to us, Gedo. Remember how Honma was great in the G1 for a few years? That’s because he’s fantastic in sprints. It was a lot of Taichi beating on Honma and him taking forever to recover. There’s not much else to say. Taichi won with a Dragon Sleeper in a LONG 17:54. [*¾]

New Japan Cup First Round: Chase Owens vs. IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Juice Robinson
It’s interesting to see Chase Owens getting a big opportunity here. He’s been consistently solid in undercard tags. Owens knew the crowd would be behind Juice, so he dictated the pace. He stalled and worked at a slow pace. That changed when he hit a Russian leg sweep into the guardrail. From there, Owens was aggressive. It was a good look for him. Juice had him scouted and avoided the Package Piledriver a few times. He got going with his energetic offense like a plancha and the cannonball. The guardrail came back into play and ultimately kept Juice from really taking advantage. He fought hard down the stretch but fell to the Package Piledriver for the upset in 23:36. Another match that went too long. It was much better than the previous one, though it still could’ve benefitted from about five minutes being shaved off in the middle. I did like what we got and thought it was a strong performance from both men. Good stuff. [***¼]

New Japan Cup First Round: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yuji Nagata
I love when these guys wrestle. Two of the best. This was two tough dudes having a tough guy battle. There were parts of this where they just wailed on each other in the middle of the ring. Neither man wanted to let up and allow the other to be tougher. It reminded me of Ishii vs. Goto from the G1 last year. Nagata got his mouth busted open and when he put the armbar on while spewing blood, it made for one hell of a visual. The bigger spots began pouring in late, like Nagata busting out a super Exploder and a ridiculous slap exchange. This kind of match works so well with the hot Korakuen crowd. I loved that Nagata won those exchanges. He may be old, but he’s still tough as nails. As usual, the closing stretch was a highlight. Ishii went on a barrage with the sliding D and Brainbuster as cappers to win in 21:34. Great match, though not quite on the level of the G1 encounter two years ago. I’m always down for them just beating the hell out of each other. [****]

The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
A decent start to the tournament. Nakanishi makes the opener okay but it’s nothing you need to see. Skip Taichi/Honma. Juice/Chase is good but goes too long. The main event bangs.

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New Japan Cup, Kevin Pantoja