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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Cup 2023 3.13.23 & 3.15.23 Review

March 15, 2023 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW New Japan Cup 3-13-23 Image Credit: NJPW
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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Cup 2023 3.13.23 & 3.15.23 Review  

NJPW New Japan Cup

March 13th, 2023 | Item Ehime in Matsuyama, Ehime | Attendance: 604

WWE 2K23 and March Madness have either taken over my free time or are about to, so I’m doing my best to get some of these done. I’m two shows behind so I’m just combining them into one review here. That means I’m also missing a few STARDOM reviews.

New Japan Cup Second Round: EVIL vs. Jeff Cobb

Another EVIL match? Pls, no. If someone would’ve told me in 2016 that EVIL was going to wrestle Matanza Cueto, I’d have popped hard. Two beefy men having a hard hitting match? Sign me up. Alas, it’s 2023 and EVIL has been one of the consistently worst wrestlers in the world since turning on LIJ in 2020. That means we got a shell of what this match could’ve been. I’ve said it before but I really don’t have the energy for this kind of BS. When this was just them beating on each other, it was good but there wasn’t enough of that and it got overshadowed by the late shenanigans from the House of Torture. After a bunch of the group members got involved, EVIL advanced with Everything is Evil in 17:42. Ah, because that’s what everyone wants. More EVIL. Gedo had a slam dunk here and his bad booking saw him shoot himself in the foot. [*¾]

New Japan Cup Second Round: Mark Davis vs. Will Ospreay

Stablemates do battle here. Commentary noted that Willy has either won the tournament or been eliminated by the eventual winner in his three appearances. They shook hands before the bell and that gave this a respectful tone. Even Will trying to light up Davis with chops felt like it was based more on competition than anything else. Of course, seven Will chops had nothing on one from Davis. Things kind of went that way early on but in the second half or so, this really got turned up a notch. Ospreay did a good job of showcasing that he was in pain from the damage Davis could do, while Davis started trying to basically rip his head off as he got more aggressive with time. Ospreay went after the leg to chop his opponent down to size and flare up a past injury. Davis’ comeback saw him beat the hell out of Will, including a sick looking clothesline with Will crotched on the ropes. This was a war down the stretch and when Davis laid Will out with a stiff right hand, I was really hoping for an upset. Ospreay got going again late but Davis refused to stay down until he took Hidden Blade after 20:01. Again, Ospreay shines in something that is kept around 15-20 minutes. Davis is great and I’d love to see Aussie Open get G1 runs. Just a hard hitting, back and forth affair. [****]

March 15th, 2023 | ZIP Arena Okayama in Okayama, Japan | Attendance: 1,298

The big news ahead of this show is that Will Ospreay is out of the tournament due to injury. Mark Davis will take his place against EVIL. Honestly, just have Davis win the whole thing.

New Japan Cup Second Round: David Finlay vs. The Great-O-Khan

The new Bullet Club leader against one of the coolest dudes in New Japan. This was totally a case of one guy clearly not fully comfortable in his new role as Finlay isn’t drawing near the level of heat that other BC leaders have. The crowd was kind of quiet for this to the point where you’d think we were back in the clap crowd era. A lot of this seemed built around Finlay being willing to take the easy way out, whether that was a countout win or begging to get a cheap DQ. He talked trash at ringside and stuff but it never fully clicked like you’d want. O-Khan was kind of just there to take a beating, get in some offense late, and that was it. You could’ve put almost any wrestler there and this match wouldn’t change which is a shame. I never bought any drama and Finlay predictably won with Trash Panda in 13:07. It was largely fine and nothing more. [**½]

New Japan Cup Second Round: Shota Umino vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

So far, the Umino run has been a disappointment and his big matches have missed the mark. However, ZSJ is someone who could help him change that. Shota played the role of the guy throwing strikes which always works against ZSJ. Whether it’s Shibata, KENTA, or Ishii, ZSJ makes this of pairing a hit. Of course, Sabre responded with his technical skill, focusing on the left arm. Even when Shota got going, like on a diving forearm, he stopped to sell the arm which was a good sign. There were some brawling aspects here which led to a busted nose for Shota which allowed this to get kicked up a notch. The smooth transitions of Sabre going from armbars to triangle chokes will never get old to me. It’s just so great. Shota fired up after hitting Bloody Sunday and as this made it past the 20 minute mark, you could feel the finish coming soon. They traded forearms for a bit before going into the trademark counters and finisher teases that New Japan is known for. However, it is a bit different because of ZSJ’s tendency to try submissions. Shota beat him cleanly with the Death Rider after 26:12. That was really good though I think it peaked a few minutes before the finish. [***¾]

The final score: review Average
The 411
These two shows are basically the tournament in a nutshell. Two matches that are very good and two that were mediocre or terrible.

article topics :

New Japan Cup, Kevin Pantoja