New Japan Pro Wrestling
New Japan Cup 2018
March 12, 2018
Takamatsu City Sogo Taiikukan

Watch: NJPW World

Non-Tournament Results:

  • Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado def. Ren Narita & Ryusuke Taniguchi
  • Bad Luck Fale, Tonga Loa & Yujiro Takahashi def. Yuji Nagata, Tetsuhiro Yagi & Shota Umino
  • Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI def. Tomoyuki Oka & Michael Elgin
  • Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI def. TAKA Michinoku & Zack Sabre Jr.
  • Taichi, Takashi Iizuka, Lance Archer & Minoru Suzuki def. Toa Henrae, David Finlay, Juice Robinson & Hiroshi Tanahashi
  • Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada def. Chase Owens & Kota Ibushi

New Japan Cup 2018 – First Round
Toru Yano def. Davey Boy Smith Jr

Your traction on this match will depend largely on what you think of Toru Yano. If you love ring-based comedy, turnbuckle pads being ripped off and guys losing via countout after being crotched on a guardrail, you’re going to love this match.

If you don’t love any of the above, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Davey Boy Smith Jr was once a G1 Climax sleeper capable of having a handful of surprisingly competent matches throughout the tournament. While I’m not surprised, having him bow out in the first round of the New Japan Cup to a comedy figure is disappointing all the same.

Yano has a certain level of cache in the company, I get it but come tournament time I want to see the best of the best against one another. Yano is a much-needed device in the G1 Climax as his short, comedy-based matches work as a night off during a grueling multi-week high standard tournament. He’s in no way needed for the New Japan Cup. And now we get TWO Yano matches when I’m not sure we even need one.

If you love Yano’s comedy, you may enjoy this match but even then it went long. This wasn’t your quickie roll-out Yano match or the tie the guy up outside and get the count-out in five minutes. No, they went nearly 13 minutes which is about 12 minutes more than I ever want to see Yano again. DUD

New Japan Cup 2018 – First Round
SANADA def. Chuckie T.

This was a much welcomed palate cleanser with SANADA and Chuckie T, two ultra-talented guys working a fun match that featured a small bit of comedy, crowd brawling, technical wizardry, fun closing stretch counters and ultimate a definitive, rewarding finish. While the crowd took awhile to get fully invested in the match they were all-in at the end, a true testament to both men’s skills.

What I loved most about this match is that Chuckie, who uncharacteristically gets pegged as a comedy wrestler, didn’t need to resort to too much tropey comedy (and given the math prior, thank god). Instead, we got the Chuck Taylor from PWG main events, the Chuck Taylor who had one of the best matches of 2017 with Zack Sabre Jr, the Chuck Taylor who can go with the best in the world.

Chuckie worked as the aggressor in the early portion of the match which helped establish him as a true threat to SANADA throughout. SANADA slowly but surely worked his way back into the control position but having Chuck be on the offensive through much of the match definitely helped as the match approached its end. SANADA now firmly in control locked Chuckie into the Skull End. Chuckie escaped to a huge pop from the crowd and nearly scored a flash pin on SANADA. This only angered Cold Skull who locked in another Skull End. This was super cool as SANADA, realizing that Chuckie was fading disengaged from the Skull End and finished Chuck off with a moonsault instead. That little sequence helped establish Chuckie as a guy who could not only hang with SANADA but forced him to temporarily alter his plan of attack.

Fun main event. Part of me is a little disappointed we missed out on a Yano/Chuckie second round New Japan Cup match if only because SANADA vs. Yano in the second round sounds like a terrible match. ****

New Japan Cup 2018 Second Round Matchups:

  • Michael Elgin vs. Juice Robinson
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Bad Luck Fale
  • Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kota Ibushi
  • Toru Yano vs. SANADA

Final Thoughts:

The main event between SANADA and Chuckie T. was a much-needed palate cleanser from the awful Yano/Davey Boy Smith match. Night 4 of the 2018 New Japan Cup was not NJPW’s best effort this year but the main event is definitely worth your time.