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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Cup 2022 Semifinals Review

March 27, 2022 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW New Japan Cup 2022 Semifinals Image Credit: NJPW
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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Cup 2022 Semifinals Review  

NJPW New Japan Cup Semifinals

March 26th, 2022 | Osaka Jo-Hall in Osaka, Japan | Attendance: 2,016

I’m a day late but let’s get to this so I can cover the final.

New Japan Cup Semifinals: Shingo Takagi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

They had a banger in the G1 last year (****¼) that ZSJ won and then Shingo beat him in a World Title match at Power Struggle(***½). This is certainly the more exciting match than the other semifinal. I love a good clash of styles and Sabre is typically great against hard hitting guys like Shingo. Playing into the tour, Shingo had a damaged neck from a Chase Owens Package Piledriver on a chair and ZSJ honed in on that. After a short feeling out process, Sabre’s attack on the neck gave him the upper hand. However, Shingo could still turn things around. One of my favorite spots was Sabre trying to slap on a guillotine choke only for Shingo to immediately suplex him over and hold his neck in pain as he clearly did the move as a desperate bit of defense. I also have to praise ZSJ’s bumps as he took a simple DDT like he was RVD. They continued that trend of using their strengths throughout until we got a dope finish. Sabre applied a rear naked choke and Shingo climbed to the top with him on his back and fell backward to break the hold. Surprisingly, Sabre kept the grip and Shingo passed out, giving us a submission win in 19:24. A spectacular match that was everything I wanted. Just two guys doing what they do best and including little things that really add to a match. [****½]

New Japan Cup Semifinals: Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito

From what I’ve seen, their 2012 match is still the best (****½). I also saw them at WK 8 (***¾), the G1 24 (****¼), Invasion Attack 2016 (****), Dominion 2016 (****), WK 12 (***½), WK 14 (****¼), and New Year’s Golden Series earlier this year (****). The story of Naito’s tournament run is that he hasn’t won a single match with Destino, winning them all with pinning combinations instead. Honestly, I don’t think I’m going to recap much about this. I have the entire finals show to watch and review so I can’t spend too much time here, especially when they didn’t really do anything new. A lot of this was the typical New Japan main event formula with the early portions not meaning much and the ending being strong. They felt like they killed a lot of time for a match that went 27:42, which is shorter than a lot of their bouts. Even the Rainmaker sequence didn’t feel like it was special. There was still a lot of good in here because these guys can do something solid in their sleep usually. Naito won with an inside cradle. [***½]

The final score: review Very Good
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I may not have loved the main event but it was still really good and Shingo/Sabre ruled so this was a hell of a way to spend an hour or so.

article topics :

New Japan Cup, NJPW, Kevin Pantoja