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NJPW New Japan Cup Night 3 (March 11) Results & Review

NJPW New Japan Cup Night 3 (March 11) Results & Review

NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
NEW JAPAN CUP 2018: NIGHT 3
MARCH 11, 2018
Hyogo Beikomu Gymnasium
Amagasaki City Memorial Park Gymnasium

YUJI NAGATA/TOMOYUKI OKA DEF. REN NARITA/TETSUHIRO YAGI

Yuji Nagata’s shirt reads ‘Pirates of the Chibalian’. I really like the teacher/student dynamic with him and Oka. Yagi is feeling bold today and is squaring up to Nagata and shoving him, compared to yesterday when he ran away. Narita and Oka start of with some good grappling. Yagi has a nice dropkick, and is also good at selling. Nagata, the consummate professional, takes a surprising amount of punishment from Yagi and Narita. He’s doing his very best to make the Young Lions look good, noticeably more so than anybody else over the past three days. Oka has a bit of suplex machine thing going on, which I like.

He forces Narita to tap out with an cool jumping Boston Crab.

A decent opener which establishes Oka firmly ahead of Narita and Yagi. **¾

EL DESPERADO DEF. SHOTA UMINO

Speaking of the Young Lion hierarchy, Umino getting a singles match here must be pretty significant. I said yesterday that he’s got the look of a future Junior ace. Despy attacks Umino’s left knee, and Umino’s selling is great. Despy, for his part, does a good job expressing equal parts disdain and disinterest towards his opponent.

Umino powers through the pain to make his comeback, but Despy wins with his Numero Dos stretch muffler. This is the best I’ve seen of Umino so far, despite being a one-sided match. ***

I really like this year’s New Japan Cup VTR music. Their little opening movie montages are so good.

BAD LUCK FALE/YUJIRO TAKAHASHI/CHASE OWENS/TANGA LOA DEF. MICHAEL ELGIN/TOA HENARE/DAVID FINLAY/JUICE ROBINSON

A couple of fans have Chase Owens masks, which I think proves that his popularity is slowly but surely growing. Why are Juice and Elgin teaming together when they’re having a tournament match on Wednesday? Juice appears to be eyeing up Pieter, much to Yujiro’s chagrin. Juice and Finlay have some cool team moves, so let’s add them to the list of tag teams I’d like to see.

Finlay gets body slammed a lot here. Chase mocks Juice’s punches, but actually executes them better than Juice does. He then mimics Juice’s “ALL RIGHT BABY!” because Chase is a cheekie chappie. Chase/Finlay and Tanga/Henare pair off in a ‘Left Out of the New Japan Cup’ series. Tanga pins Henare after landing Apeshit (I checked, that’s what it’s called).

Skippable match. **¼

TORU YANO/HIROOKI GOTO/TOMOHIRO ISHII DEF. DAVEY BOY SMITH JR./YOSHINOBU KANEMARU/LANCE ARCHER

Lance Archer, as always, knows the importance of hydration. As CHAOS make their entrance, Archer grabs the microphone and says “Yano Toru, yay.” Archer and Ishii have an interesting showdown, with a very striking size difference, and Archer completely no-sells Ishii’s chops which I find really funny.

Ishii gets picked on by the KES lads but eventually lands a Brainbuster on Archer for a big crowd reaction. Not much else to write home about here. Yano rolls up Kanemaru for the win, so you probably know what kind of match this is. **½

HIROSHI TANAHASHI/RYUSUKE TAGUCHI DEF. TAICHI/TAKASHI IIZUKA

Iizuka and Taguchi are in the same match, so of course we get some bottom-biting shenanigans if you’re into that kind of thing.

Taichi no-sells Taguchi’s chops, laughing at his feeble attempts because he’s a heavyweight now, and thus a mere junior is unable to hurt his powerful body. You can probably guess from the participants in this match that there’s a lot of silliiness, and Taichi is not in Toshiaki Kawada mode tonight. Tanahashi says cut the shit and comes in with some proper wrestling moves. This is one of those ‘I hope nobody comes in the room and sees me watching this’ kind of matches. Tanahashi wanders off somewhere, Taguchi gets a faceful of iron claw and superkick and is pinned by big Taichi. **

CHUCKIE T/KAZUCHIKA OKADA DEF. BUSHI/SANADA

This was a good tag match, with decent chemistry between all four guys, and some nice moments with SANADA and Chuckie that look promising for their match tomorrow.

There’s also the residual embers of Okada and SANADA’s feud that add a bit of extra spice to their encounters Okada does look like he’s going a little bit mental – nothing I can put my finger on exactly, just a look in his eye and a bit of swagger in his step, or maybe he’s just been spending too long hanging out with Chuckie T.

BUSHI taps to the Million Yen Dream, following tonight’s theme of the lone junior in the multiman match taking the fall. They’re really making an effort to establish Okada’s submission as a credible finisher during this tour, as he hasn’t used the Rainmaker at all. I love the Rainmaker, but I like the added depth to his repertoire. Perhaps it could be leading to a submission battle with ZSJ at Sakura Genesis. ***

NEW JAPAN CUP 2018 1ST ROUND
KOTA IBUSHI DEF. YOSHI-HASHI

YOSHI-HASHI has the guilty, slightly panicked expression of a man who looks like he’s about to get exposed as a fraud. It’s a shame, because he’s a really good wrestler, but he seems to be lacking in self-confidence. If he were a bit more handsome, I think he’d be a legit star. As it is, the YH character is quite insubstantial, and seems to be ‘I’m a bit annoyed because I’m not as good as these other guys’. Ibushi outwrestles YH in the early stages, but Mr. Loose Explosion gets really angry about that and starts shouting and fires back with some of his own wrestling moves. The match escalates into some painful-looking spots including a slightly botched Bunker Buster on the apron and a hurricanrana out in the stands.

Ibushi clearly has some kind of pathological addiction to moonsaulting off of balconies, and is treating this match like it’s a frigging G1 final.

The man just oozes charisma and star power, and is arguably one of the hottest wrestlers on the planet right now, in every possible way that can be interpreted. This match gets better and better, with Ibushi and YH showing awesome chemistry and pushing each other to the edge, and the crowd are eating it up. That said, they’re still not buying the Butterfly Lock as a legitimate threat.

This is awesome stuff for a match that isn’t even the main event, especially compared to some of the crap 10-minute cup matches last year on single-cam shows that weren’t even fully shown on NJPW World. YH gets a TON of near-falls but is unable to land Karma before Ibushi wins with the Kamigoye.

This is a great match with amazing drama, and both guys went at it like they were in the main event at the Tokyo Dome, and this was by far the best YOSHI-HASHI match I can remember. Unmissable. ****½

NEW JAPAN CUP 2018 1ST ROUND
ZACK SABRE JR. DEF. TETSUYA NAITO

ZSJ said yesterday that he was going to piss in Naito’s hat and throw it in the Tokyo Bay, but has now upped the stakes, promising to take a shit in Naito’s hat and pose naked with the New Japan Cup if he wins the tournament.

Having TAKA as ZSJ’s hype man makes me think that they have big plans for him this year. ZSJ works Naito’s left arm at first, but then switches to his legs, chaining together awesome-looking submission attempts to slow down El Ingobernable. He also ragdolls like nobody else for Naito’s big moves. I just love seeing Zacky Three-Belts tie dudes up like a pretzel. His offense is so fluid and exciting to watch.

I know some people aren’t a fan of his style, but the time really flew by for me. There are some great near-falls with Naito really selling the agony and desperation with his facial expressions that had the crowd on the edge of their seats.

ZSJ eventually locks in a move that I like to call ‘fuck both of your legs’ (a kind of stretch muffler/electric chair) and forces Naito to submit, with TAKA smirking at ringside. ZSJ was the star of this match, although Naito did a terrific job selling. Zack’s post-match promo backstage is equally brilliant. “Oi Naito, who’s tranquilo now, dickhead?”

I loved this match, although it might well be because I’m an unashamed ZSJ mark. I think this was his best NJPW match so far. Wasn’t as good as the Ibushi/YOSHI match, but still worth watching. Zack Sabre Jr. will face Kota Ibushi on Thursday in Korakuen Hall, and Naito continues his downward spiral. ****

FINAL THOUGHTS

Probably the weakest undercard so far that really dragged at times, but the two cup matches were very good indeed. ZSJ/Naito was a brilliant technical display of submission mastery, and Ibushi/YOSHI-HASHI is going straight in the MOTY spreadsheet. The best tournament match so far.

In general, the quality of the cup matches on this tour has been excellent, reminiscent of a G1 rather than a New Japan Cup. Perhaps they know that more people are watching and are putting in more effort, both in terms of match quality and getting well-produced fully broadcast shows up on NJPW World, whereas last year we just got single-cam uploads of relatively short, unremarkable cup matches. It feels like we’re in a golden era of NJPW, where everything is worth going out of your way to watch.


About The Author

Joel Abraham

Joel Abraham is the only wrestling fan in Xiamen. Please be his wrestling friend at https://www.thesmarkcast.com/

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