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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Cup 2023 Review 3.10.23

March 12, 2023 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
New Japan Cup 2023 Image Credit: NJPW
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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Cup 2023 Review 3.10.23  

NJPW New Japan Cup

March 10th, 2023 | Aimesse Yamanashi in Kofi-shi, Yamanashi | Attendance: 710

It’s kind of wild to think that the first round is already wrapping up thanks to a few byes.

New Japan Cup First Round: Kyle Fletcher vs. YOSHI-HASHI

HASHI is fresh off of pinning Hiroshi Tanahashi and is riding high. It’s intriguing to see Fletcher in singles action and he looked good here. After a level opening exchange, HASHI was sent into the guardrail and that turned the tide in favor of the Aussie Open boy. You’d think the more experienced singles guy would have the upper hand but this worked because HASHI makes his living as the underdog babyface so he had to play the role here. Fletcher’s offense looked great and HASHI bumped well on everything. The Brainbuster was especially impressive but I really loved his running kick high in the corner. It looked like it destroyed HASHI and knocked him loopy. Of course, HASHI shined as he fought from beneath and it all came together for a really entertaining match. HASHI got going but Fletcher wouldn’t stay down, showing more resilience than you’d expect in a singles match from him. Fletcher managed to score the upset with a jumping Tombstone in 20:06, helping to cement Aussie Open’s Tag Title shot claim. That was really good and a huge step up from what we got on the last show. [***½]

New Japan Cup First Round: Aaron Henare vs. Shingo Takagi

BIG MEATY MEN SLAPPING MEAT. Shingo is among the best in the company and Henare is someone I feel is way underrated. This started with them trading stiff forearm shots as you’d expect and they clearly were going for a classic NEVER Openweight Title style-match. Kevin Kelly complained about matches being called bangers. I mean, sometimes it is a banger. Within the first 10 minutes, Henare had taken control following some brawling at ringside and he took to wearing down Shingo with a submission. I liked Henare bringing out bigger offense as this went on like hitting an avalanche Samoan Drop. Shingo survived it obviously but it was still welcome to see. Shingo being strong enough to block the Full Nelson made for some fun moments too. He’s a beefy boy who won’t go down the way scrubs in multi-man tags do. Henare started getting worn down by Shingo just laying into him with forearms but rallied and managed to apply the Full Nelson. The closing stretch was frantic and saw Henare pull off a huge upset with a Fisherman Buster in 20:46. It went a bit long for what it was but that was really good and had a lot of action. [***¾]

The final score: review Good
The 411
After the debacle of the 3/9 show, this was a strong step up. Two really good matches that gave me what I want from this tournament and we even got some surprising results.

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New Japan Cup, Kevin Pantoja