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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Cup 2023 Review 3.11.23

March 12, 2023 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW New Japan Cup 3-11-23 Image Credit: NJPW
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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Cup 2023 Review 3.11.23  

NJPW New Japan Cup

March 11th, 2023 | Aichi Prefectural Gym in Nagoya, Aichi | Attendance: 2,190

We’ve got another show with two tournament bouts. I haven’t been too impressed with the tournament this year but we’ll see how this show goes.

New Japan Cup Second Round: Chase Owens vs. Tetsuya Naito

I don’t believe these two have met before. Wild that Owens had a bye but Naito didn’t. This was a relatively fine match with the idea being that Owens mocked Naito at every turn, kind of as revenge for how Naito treated ELP in the opening round. Naito would turn the tide over time and get back his own spots. The problem with this match was that Chase being on offense was kind of boring. I never bought him as a threat, even though he beat Tanahashi in the G1, and his heat segments have never really worked for me. Naito hit Destino and that move is so terrible now that it wasn’t even a late game near fall. There were still a few minutes left of action. The biggest moment saw Owens bust out a Bret’s rope Styles Clash that earned him a near fall. That was the only time in the match where I thought we might’ve had a result in Owens’ favor. Naito kept cutting off the Package Piledriver and eventually won with e victory roll after 18:07. Like I said, that was relatively fine and peaked at good without ever sniffing anything better. [**¾]

New Japan Cup Second Round: KENTA vs. SANADA

They’ve met in the G1 29 (***), G1 30 (***), and Battle Autumn 2022 (***). So yeah, you basically know that they’re going to give you an average match. I wish this was average. Instead, we got the worst of the SANADA big match stuff. This was long, plodding, methodical, and dull. Their chemistry wasn’t there and the match was flat out boring for the vast majority of it as they just did stuff that never felt like it truly mattered. Things kind of got bumped up when KENTA used a chair. It wasn’t anything remarkable but it breathed some life into this. The problem is that was more than 20 minutes into this thing. KENTA did a double stomp that looked weak as hell though, proving to me that this wasn’t going to ever really become anything special. SANADA avoided the Go to Sleep but got trapped in the Crossface. He fought free and hit a TKO before getting two with the moonsault. After a ref bump, KENTA went to use hist Strongweight belt as a weapon but SANADA kicked it into his face. He then hit Blade Runner to win in a LONG 29:12. Man, I’ve complained about Okada formula in the past but at least his matches get good late. These big SANADA matches are stinkers. [*¾]

The final score: review Poor
The 411
This tournament is a mess. You get a good set of matches, then a terrible one, then a good one, and then a hot mess like this. I was hoping Wrestle Kingdom would mark a step in the right direction for them but the company is still just stuck in a rut.

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New Japan Cup, Kevin Pantoja