wrestling / TV Reports

Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Cup 2023 Review 3.12.23

March 13, 2023 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW New Japan Cup 3-12-23 Image Credit: NJPW
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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Cup 2023 Review 3.12.23  

NJPW New Japan Cup

March 12th, 2023 | Shiga Event Hall in Maibara-shi, Shiga | Attendance: 789

This tournament has been a complete mess.

New Japan Cup Second Round: Aaron Henare vs. Tama Tonga

There’s potential here given Tonga’s face fire and Henare being a solid villain. Tama bumped into Henare before the bell, letting us know that this was going to have a pretty intense tone throughout. The traded some pretty stiff shots from bell to bell, with Henare even sending Tama back to his knees on a kick to the chest. Tama fired up but ate a spin kick for his troubles. Tama rebounded and picked up a near fall on Supreme Flow but you could tell that he was gaining momentum. Henare had the Gun Stun well scouted, blocking it numerous times and parlaying that into a Berserker Bomb and a Samoan Drop. Tama got trapped in the Full Nelson and faded but rallied before getting hit with big moves by Henare. The finish here was pretty dope as Henare seemed to have Streets of Rage lined up only for Tama to do a mid-air Gun Stun counter. He added a second to win in 16:34. One of the better tournament matches and a very good showing by both men. I wish matches could just end on the cool counter instead of adding an extra finisher but that’s just a pet peeve. Good stuff. [***¼]

New Japan Cup Second Round: Hirooki Goto vs. Kyle Fletcher

Fletcher just beat Goto’s partner YOSHI-HASHI in a really good first round contest. Here, he took it right to Goto, showing that he could hang with him in terms of strikes and tossing him over the guardrail in the early stages. Of course, Goto is the more experienced singles wrestler so he wasn’t on the defensive for long. Like in HASHI/Fletcher, I liked this setup because Goto isn’t as good of an underdog babyface as HASHI. This was more like guys trading moves from Fletcher doing an impressive moonsault and Brainbuster to Goto hitting a neckbreaker and Bret’s Rope sunset flip bomb. Fletcher got two on a spinning Tombstone so maybe he should’ve jumped like he did to beat HASHI. That set up a trading of forearm shots before Goto wrapped this up with GTR after 20:43. That was slightly better than the previous match and really well worked. I have dug singles Aussie Open here which isn’t often the case with tag teams. [***½]

The final score: review Good
The 411
The tournament continues to be a split. You either get a terrible set of matches or you get something good like this. Nothing has stood out as great but I’ll take two matches like this any day.

article topics :

New Japan Cup, Kevin Pantoja