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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Cup 2023 Semifinals Review

March 20, 2023 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW New Japan Cup Night 11 Image Credit: NJPW
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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Cup 2023 Semifinals Review  

NJPW New Japan Cup Semifinals

March 19th, 2023 | G Messe Gunma in Takasaki, Gunma | Attendance: 1.396

This tournament is funny.

New Japan Cup Semifinals: David Finlay vs. Tama Tonga

Tama Tonga’s theme really doesn’t have to go as hard as it does. This got off to a strong start as things were more intense than expected. Even the simple opening lockup had some grit to it. It’s early in his heel run but Finlay has started his matches hot which is refreshing in New Japan. Finlay focused on the lower back with a back suplex and a hard whip into the corner. They managed to do quite a lot in the opening 10 minutes that made this, again, feel refreshing. Tama has continued to perform well as a babyface and Finlay is doing alright as a heel, especially when it comes to smack talk. The closing stretch was really strong and saw some close calls without ever going overboard. Finlay won with the Trash Panda after 18:27. An entertaining, simple match and honestly, I like this company much more when they keep it simple. There wasn’t much drama though since everyone knew the new BC leader was winning. [***½]

New Japan Cup Semifinals: Mark Davis vs. SANADA

So I don’t know if I cut off the show too early the other day but SANADA apparently quit LIJ and joined Just Four Guys. He came out with them here and shaved, showing off his handsome face once again. Uh-oh, will I start liking SANADA again now? Right off the bat, I liked how this started because we didn’t get the typical SANADA stalling to kill time nonsense. Davis wasn’t having any of that. Davis was ready to beat his ass, hit him with a dive and just come across as a gangster. SANADA responded with some stiff shots of his own and showed more fire than I’ve seen from him in YEARS. The crowd has taken to Davis because they’ve always loved big foreigners who are tough. SANADA survived the big piledriver and then countered the Water Slide into his new twisting DDT to win in a crisp 13:20. I will keep saying it but please give me more SUB-15 MINUTE MAIN EVENTS. I love that shit. This was another standout effort by Davis and SANADA might finally have something going for him again. [***¾]

So…SANADA vs. Finlay is a choice for the finals. Finlay doesn’t seem ready for a big title match but SANADA/Okada is about as cold a match as you could imagine, especially given their poor history together.

The final score: review Good
The 411
A refreshing show as both matches were relatively short and highly entertaining. The finals doesn’t excite/interest me at all but I’ll take a fun two matches any day.

article topics :

New Japan Cup, Kevin Pantoja