It’s time for the finals of the New Japan Cup! Tonight four men vie for a shot at either the Heavyweight or IC title. Two of those men are Shelton Benjamin and Bad Luck Fale. Yes. Let’s see what unfolds here tonight, shall we?
BUSHI and KUSHIDA vs. Captain New Japan and Sho Tanaka: I guess Shelly isn’t on this tour. The all caps crew are the subtle heels in this match. Tanaka seems to be getting over. Once he gets some seasoning he’s going to be really good. Some chain wrestling early by Tanaka and KUSHIDA. KUSHIDA eventually cuts him off and both he and BUSHI work him over. Tanaka cuts off KUSHIDA with a one armed powerbomb and tags in Captain New Japan tries to mount some momentum, but gets caught each time…he does manage to hit a chokeslam on KUSHIDA, however. Tanaka tags back in but finds trouble with BUSHI. A codebreaker by BUSHI gets only a two count, but after jumping off the top rope with a second codebreaker to Tanaka, BUSHI gets the pinfall. A very fun opener. ***
Tencozy, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV vs. Killer Elite Squad, TAKA Michinoku & Taichi: Taichi immediately tries to unmask Liger but he evades it as he tags in Tiger Mask, who starts to fight TAKA. Tag to Tenzan who works over TAKA with the mongolian chops but Archer tags him and soon he’s on the outside getting worked over by all the heels. Taichi starts doing both of Tencozy’s signature moves which is pretty hilarious.
Tag to Archer who works over Tenzan until Tenzan finally makes the hot tag to Kojima who goes wild. Kojima goes for the lairat but Archer hits the full nelson slam and tags in Taichi who tries to do Kojima’s lariat but Kojima hits a diamond cutter to counter and tags in Tiger Mask. Tiger Mask hits the tiger bomb, but is unable to make a pinfall. At this point it turns into a wild brawl with everyone just everywhere. Tencozy tries to do their finishing move, but are evaded by KES.
Tiger Mask tries to fight off the Killer Elite Squad, but is unable to do much as he’s cut off and the KES hit their finish to end the match. Simple enough; it was by the numbers, but in a good way. **¾
Toru Yano, Takashi Iizuka and Jado vs. Kazushi Sakuraba, Manabu Nakanishi and Yuji Nagata: This month, the announcer (not the one who always gets bullied by Iizuka) held up a sign, and apparently this sign thwarted Iizuka as he was at a loss. Jado and Nagata start things off. Jado does the Flair mannerisms as eventually Sakuraba is tagged in. This leads to a brawl between him and Iizuka that ends up in the crowd. Yano has what I think is a gavel and uses it against Sakuraba. Iizuka tagged back in and uses a cord to choke out Sakuraba.
Yano fights a sleeper but is taken out with a crossbody of all things by Sakuraba. Nakanishi is tagged in and ge and Yano go at it. Nakanishi motions for the lariat and gets it. Nagata is tagged in but all the heels go after him. Yano did the lamest punches possible to get rid of the rest of the faces. Nakaniashi tried to make the save but was late several times which made this match look weird. Nagata eventually hits a back suplex on Jado for the pinfall. Boy have Nagata and Sakuraba fallen off the workrate scale this year. It wasn’t their fault, it’s just working with Yano, Iizuka and Nakanishi is dragging them down. Let’s not forget the Gracies as well. Not that good. *½
Bad Luck Fale vs. Shelton Benjamin: Winner here goes to the finals. Big slugfest to start things off. Benjamin tries to take Fale off his feet but one punch puts him to the floor. Benjamin tries a sleeper, but Fale fights out of that one as well. Fale is strong, you see. Fale tries for a spike finisher, but Benjamin fights back with a jumping DDT. Fale cuts him off, hits the spike finisher and hits a border toss to pin Shelton Benjamin. Yes, Bad Luck Fale is in the finals. Wasn’t bad, but very short. **
I am now rooting for Bad Luck Fale at this point because I’m completely astounded he made it this far. My assumption at this point it they want Fale to be the next Vader or Scott Norton as the big gajin main event heel. Problem is they’re doing this WAY WAY WAY too soon.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Minoru Suzuki: “Winner” gets to face Bad Luck Fale in the finals. Mat wrestling early. Suzuki brawls with Nakamura on the outside with Taichi helping. Suzuki works on Nakamura’s arm and waffles it with a steel chair shot as he laughs gleefully. From here, Suzuki begins to work on the arm. Armbar by Suzuki but Nakamura escapes. Rallies back with a spinning heel kick. Suzuki cuts him off with more arm work. Suzuki puts on the sleeper and then tries for the piledriver but Nakamura counters, only for Suzuki to go back on the arm. Nakamura breaks free and hits two boma ye’s for the pinfall. Alright mach but never really got going. I think that’s what I said about their last match. **¾
YOSHI-HASHI and Yujiro Takahashi vs. Katsuyori Shibata and Hirooki Goto: Early on it turns into a brawl with Goto and YH in the crowd. Yujiro takes care of Shibata on the outside. The heels control with Goto being worked over. Shibata tags in and does the running dropkick on Yujiro as well as a figure four. Shibata eliminates an interfering YH only to be taken out by a brainbuster by Yujiro as he mounts an offense, including taking down Shibata with a lariat.
Tag back to Goto who works over YH including a spinning dropkick to the corner. Reverse facebuster by YH has he and Yujiro work over Goto. Forearm contest between YH and Goto. Crowd really getting into YOSHI-HASHI. YH wins after hitting a powerbomb and bridge but Shibata cuts him off. He and Goto isolate him while taking out Yujiro, then Goto hits a running knee to the chest of YOSHI-HASHI as he pins him for the victory. Very good match; YOSHI-HASHI has a goofy gimmick but can be really good if he’s able to break out as a singles. ***¼
Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Doc Gallows, Prince Devitt and Karl Anderson) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryuskue Taguchi, Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe: Brawl initiated by the Bullet Club early. Tonga, sporting new face paint, works over Homna then tags in Gallows. Devitt is tagged in but gets hit with a stall suplex by Homna who tags in Taguchi who cleans house. Makabe and Gallows are tagged in and they do their big man battle. Bicycle kick takes out Makabe followed by a spinebuster as Anderson is tagged in, but Makabe takes him out with a clothesline.
Tanahashi is tagged in as he starts his offensive. He gets cut off, however, allowing all of Bullet Club to attack him in the corner with big splashes. Tonga hits a flapjack variation for a pinfall attempt. Things go crazy at this point. Tanahashi hits the sling blade and Homna goes for the headbutt on Tonga but he ducks at the last minute…but doesn’t miss the High Fly Flow as he is pinned by Tanahashi. Alright, kinda short though. ***
Taguchi tries to get Devitt after the match, but he bails. Looks like there’s still unresolved issues between these two.
El Desperado, Kota Ibushi and Tetsuya Naito vs. Gedo, Tomohiro Ishi and Kazuchika Okada: Ishii and Naito trade punches early. Tag to Desperado and Gedo who do some lucha. Soon everyone winds up on the outside. Okada and Desperado are in the ring as soon everyone is working over Desperado, including Ishi who chops him in the corner. Gedo is tagged in and locks in a sleeper.
Desperado finally breaks free as he tags in Ibushi who immediately flies off with a dropkick. He and Okada go at it. Okada cuts off Ibushi and hits the elbow, but misses a rainmaker but does connect with the best dropkick in the business. Isii is tagged in as Ibushi dries a dropkick but to no avail. Naito tagged in and hits an inverted DDT. Naito dominates but it’s soon turned into another forearm battle. Naito slaps him and hits a tornado DDT. Naito tries to go for something off top but Okada drills him with a dropkick. Ishii with a superplex for a nearfall.
Naito tries for a suplex, but instead hits a forearm. Naito hits a top rope hurricanrana but Okada and Gedo break it up. Desperado and Ibushi take out the heels as Naito grabs Isii but Isii headbutts Naito and hits the lariat for a nearfall. Brainbuster attempts but Naito pulls through, takes Ishii out with a German and connects with a sloppy looking stardust press for the victory. Last 5 minutes were great. ****
Bad Luck Fale vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the New Japan Cup: Oh great, all the Bullet Club are here so expect tons of interference. Story of the match is that Nakamura’s arm is injured after that chair shot by Suzuki earlier. Lots of stalling. Fale throws him over to the outside where Bullet Club stomp all over Nakamura. Fale works over Nakamura. Nakamura tries to fight back, but is overpowered. Fale misses a splash but Anderson holds him, only for Fale to accidentally run into him as Nakamura fights back and kicks him in the corner.
Nakamura gains control and starts on an offensive. Fale tries to cut him off but is taken down with a backstabber. After some more Bullet Club interference they’re thrown out. Fale starts a comeback with a suplex and big splash but gets a nearfall. He goes to the top rope but misses a big splash. Nakamura strikes with the boma ye then tries to go for another but Fale cuts him off and goes for the spike but Nakamura counters into an armbar. Somehow Nakamura got busted wide open somewhere as blood is all over his face. Fale. Ah, looks like Fale’s head collided with Nakamura’s nose. It looks NASTY. Fale lays out Nakamura for a nearfall then goes for the spike then hits it for another nearfall.
Fale goes for a border toss but Nakamura counters with a hurricanrana and hits the boma ye. Crowd is into this. Dropsault followed by 3 more boma ye’s and Nakamura wins the New Japan Cup. Way better than I expected. Also it seems like Fale never worked on the arm, unless I’m mistaken so that’s pretty weird. Great match, either way. ***3/4
Nakamura has a quick celebration after the match as the nose looked pretty bad. Confetti flies as he heads to the back. He goes backstage where he is interviewed. He challenges for the Intercontinental championship match, so that is set for Invasion Attack. I get they want to make the IC title just as important as the Heavyweight title, but…I dunno. I like just having one title mean the most to everyone. It’s great they’re trying to make the IC title mean something, but putting both titles at equal footing is weird.
I enjoyed the card. Yes, everyone made boo boo faces when Fale advanced to the semi finals but I didn’t think he was all that bad here. The main event, in fact, was really good, especially towards the end. Not typical main event great but still was way better than anyone expected. I guess it does prove that New Japan at least kind of knows what they’re doing- they want to showcase Bad Luck Fale in this tournament and they did it in the best way possible. Rest of the card was solid to good save for the Nakanishi match.
Thanks as always to @SenorLARIATO for the gifs.
Order the VOD of the New Japan Cup Finals below: