NJPW New Japan Cup
March 11 2019
I’m supposed to be in Sheffield today but I’m fucking knackered so I’m not. Instead here is some delightful New Japan Cup action. Only six days behind still!
Davey Boy Smith Jr vs. Toru Yano
DBS Jr is almost a complete write-off at this point. I was hoping his commitments elsewhere would rule him out of New Japan but here he is. I hope that Yano rolls him up in five seconds flat and they certainly tease that. It’s weird how Davey was one of the biggest hopes of British Wrestling at one point and he’s been surpassed by just about everyone that followed. The match is mostly hopeless but they do an ok job with the flash pins. Yano ends up winning with a roll up and DBS can get in the fucking bin. When you can’t even do a comedy match with Yano you might as well retire.
Final Rating: ½*
Togi Makabe vs. Colt Cabana
It’s weird how Colt is just a NJPW wrestler now. He had a run with NOAH a few years back that felt reasonable but I never thought New Japan would take an interest. Colt tries to do big comedy stuff, which takes Togi out of his game. It’s weird because he sells the comedy spots like legitimate moves. Like nobody told him Colt is a comedy guy.
He does have a lot of size though so I can see Makabe’s concern over the approach. Colt looks like he’s having a super time and I remain flummoxed that WWE never had a job for him. He slots into an alien environment here and has a lot to bring from his global tours and research over the years. Fun fact: my spare bedroom is called the Scott Colton Suite because Colt stayed at my house between shows once. Between Middlesbrough and Coventry if memory serves correctly. Colt catches the upset win here by disorientating Togi and the Superman pin gets the job done. This was fun! I enjoyed it. Colt bringing his style to New Japan makes him feel different like Sabre when he first came over. Good stuff. This sets up Colt vs. Yano!
Final Rating: ***
Satoshi Kojima vs. Minoru Suzuki
This is somewhat personal as Suzuki once hijacked Kojima’s stable and he’s still got it. This is certainly our scheduled ‘hard-hitting’ bout of the evening. I’m actually surprised it’s not going on last with Suzuki’s star power.
Suzuki doesn’t allow Kojima to get any revenge on him here because he’s out to fucking murder him. The assault with chairs in the crowd is pretty brutal. Kojima fights from underneath and does a good job of positioning himself as the underdog but one who hits really hard.
It lacks the energy of Ishii vs. Nagata and both guys don’t seem that driven. It operates at a level below that.
But it is good! Just not *that* good. The Brainbuster for example is swanky. Beautiful vertical drop from Kojima. They have some nice work towards the finish with the lariat, arm work, arm switch, counter into GSP ending. Suzuki is the smart winner but Kojima made this work from a logic stand point. Solid match but not on the level of Ishii/Nagata, which is the comparable bout from the tournament so far.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Hirooki Goto vs. SANADA
Goto is Mr New Japan Cup. SANADA is Mr Shitbeard.
For having such a horrendous beard he deserves to get beaten here and yet Goto has so little personality he barely gets the turnbuckle pop and he’s, sort of, working face. I find it very hard to engage in this match because these are not guys I have an emotional connection with. I feel SANADA is quite distant as a worker and I prefer my wrestlers to wear their heart on their sleeve. Luckily he’s technically excellent and the speed at which he delivers stuff here is wonderful. It’s not like the sequences are easy either. It’s a high difficulty level and yet it’s so smooth.
I feel like SANADA is a dream opponent for guys who can do the emotional part of the match well. Maybe Goto isn’t the ideal guy for that spot but SANADA actually pulls off the emotions here better than Goto. He’s calm, collected and at one point comes out to chat to the announce team and wonder why the crowd are so quiet. I feel like this is a SANADA match and Goto is just there as an opponent. Where he compensates for this is by working snug and the match feels like a struggle. Especially as it progresses. It certainly earns that main event slot with the work.
Skull End puts Goto to sleep and the moonsault finishes, which means New Japan Cup specialist Goto goes out in round one. SANADA looked really good here and deserved to win.
Final Rating: ****
This was a solid show. The last two matches were very good and I enjoyed Cabana’s victory over Makabe. The New Japan Cup tends to be a bit harder to predict than the G1 as it doesn’t mean as much in the long run and you can have a left field winner. I feel like this year it’s going to be a more obvious victor as they’ll be headlining MSG and almost certainly winning the title there.