I may have mentioned this already but I was over in Germany when the New Japan Cup started so I’m dropping in a bit late. Which means serious undercard skippage.
March 8 2019
YOSHI-HASHI vs. Manabu Nakanishi
It’s a 32 man New Japan Cup this year and a huge tour with a bunch of shows. So some…lesser talents made it in here.
It’s suggested that YOSHI-HASHI finally has someone who he can beat in Nak, who hasn’t competed in anything serious in years. On the other hand YOSHI-HASHI is YOSHI-HASHI. I legitimately hope he loses in five minutes flat. The match is frankly tedious as hell. It’s overlong, YOSHI-HASHI has lengthy aimless control periods and Nakanishi spent longer eating breakfast than planning the match. His pescado in this is an outrage. I appreciate the effort but if I’m speaking with candor it’s a fucking mess mate. Which is weird because Mascara Don is easily my favourite version of Nakanishi. YOSHI-HASHI then submits him with the Butterfly Lock. I didn’t enjoy this, I’m not gonna lie.
Final Rating: *3/4
Tomoaki Honma vs. Taichi
Oh for fuck’s sake, this is nearly 25 minutes long.
Taichi has gained the power to enter through the crowd by picking up the iron glove of Iizuka. Which is appropriate as with Iizuka’s departure Taichi is now the companies worst wrestler. This is much like the last match only with Taichi in control and Honma selling, which is a better set up but not by much. It helps that Honma has no problem with battering Taichi. Whereas Nakanishi was being nice. Taichi does a bang up job of trying to murder a man with a history of neck problems. The enzuigiri to the forehead looks particularly rough. Taichi wins with a version of the crossface that probably has some dumb name. Honma did great work in this and he looks really upset at the conclusion.
Final Rating: ***
Chase Owens vs. Juice Robinson
Chase Owens is very good and that often gets lost because of his physique. I feel like he should do something about it. Either work it off or wear gear that hides it. His work on the other is fantastic. The set up for the Russian legsweep into the rail is so good. I’ve seen the spot done many times but the fluidity of the setup is what makes it work so well here. The match is really consistently solid although Chase occasionally relies on grinding rest holds to combat fatigue. The match has some terrific spots though and Juice taking the backdrop over the ropes in the corner is amazing stuff. It requires precision. He also takes a suplex into the rail. This whole contest is a display of how good Juice is at taking revolutionary bumps. The match drags a little at times but the high points, when both guys are doing their thing, are quite spectacular. 2018 was the year where Juice really stepped his game up but this match is not only about his capacity to fight from underneath but also about the innovative skills of Owens on offence. Chase comes close to winning dirty a few times but the Package Piledriver gets the job done for real. I’m happy for Chase. He’s been sly superb in tags for a couple of years.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Yuji Nagata vs. Tomohiro Ishii
These two got into it at New Year’s Dash and ever since I’ve been wanting to see them go to war.
They don’t spare the horses from the get go and absolutely leather each other. I would expect nothing less from two of the hardest hitting, toughest workers in the business. Nagata has said he wants to wrestle for another twenty years and his style will probably make that possible. He’s going to go down as one of the all time greats I feel, if he can continue to deliver and produce students of high quality too. I love this match because they both have a character that won’t back down so the normally pointless strike duels are so intrinsic to both guys very being.
The way the match escalates feels like two guys fucking around and then one of them screams LETS FIGHT MOTHERFUCKER and a headbutt later there’s beer bottles breaking and wives yelling at each other. Ishii’s reaction to being kicked in the chest is immense. The look of disbelief followed by a sense of rage at Nagata daring to do so. Then Nagata steals the Brainbuster and nearly wins and Ishii does this sell where he staggers backwards all the way around the ring. I fucking love this match. Ishii might be drunk based on that last sell but I am fine with this. As they stand there slapping each other it occurs to me that 50 year old Nagata doesn’t need to do this at all. He wants to get slapped in the face so hard his gums bleed. I am 42 and when I hit my funny bone I’m virtually hospitalised. Some people are just built differently. Ishii is a lunatic. He takes some severe bumps on his neck here. I know he doesn’t really have much of a neck but fuck, he needs to start thinking about preserving it in some way. You know what the best thing I can say about this match is? It feels like a G1 bout. Both guys feel determined to win like during the G1. Nagata doesn’t have that to keep healthy for so why not break himself in this? Brainbuster puts Nagata away. This was fantastic. I could watch these two beat the shit out of each other all year long.
Final Rating: ****1/4
I wish I had time to do undercards and stuff but I’m happy just picking up some tournament stuff. If I’d just watched the main I’d have enjoyed it but I love a tournament. I can’t help myself. Damn you, NJPW for expanding to so many shows!