New Japan Pro Wrestling
New Japan Cup 2022 Finals
March 27, 2022
Osaka Jo Hall
Osaka, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

The largest New Japan Cup of all time comes to a close in Osaka, as Tetsuya Naito takes on Zack Sabre Jr!

BUSHI def. Kosei Fujita

This is my first time seeing the young lion Fujita, and this guy has “arrogant prick heel” written all over his face. He’s on the shorter side, shorter than BUSHI, but he’s well put-together and looked solid in the ring. BUSHI felt no need to take off his shirt nor a need to hit the MX, as he tapped out Fujita with a Boston Crab. **

El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori, Gedo, Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale def. Guerillas of Destiny, Ryusuke Taguchi, Master Wato, & Jado

Seeing GOD team with Taguchi and Wato is weird as hell, but those are the partners they’ve found after getting ousted from Bullet Club earlier in the tour. The story of this one was Jado dying to get his hands on Gedo like he has been since the Bullet Club split, except this time he finally got his hands on him. He had Gedo in the crossface, but Owens drilled Jado with a knee to help Gedo steal the fall. God bless New Japan for making me kinda want to see World Class Tag Team explode in 2022. **1/4

Taichi, Minoru Suzuki, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru def. Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, & YOH

Taichi had an excellent match with Kazuchika Okada earlier in the tournament, and his reward is a KOPW feud with Yano. If you can find enjoyment in Toru Yano’s schtick after a decade, god bless you. I have no use for it. A notable bit here is that Suzuki took more bumps in this match than he took in his tournament match with Hiromu. Taichi pinned YOH with an elbow out of a sumo stance, as Taichi has requested a Sumo Match for the KOPW Title. Meanwhile, Ishii and Suzuki got in an arena-wide brawl after the match. That feels like a match for the Chicago show coming up. **1/4

SHO & Yujiro Takahashi def. El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku

SHO feigned leaving out of rage that this wasn’t a Jr. Title match before sneaking up on SZG during their entrance. SHO laid them out with his wrench before getting TAKA in the ring and tapping him out with a triangle in seconds. They laid boots to Despy before SHO pulled his mask off and dropped him with a piledriver. I enjoyed SHO’s whiny little shitbag routine here, which commentary did a good job putting over, and some of the Osaka fans were booing him on the way out. A long angle. N/R

United Empire (Aaron Henare, Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay) def. Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) & Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI)

Cobb and O-Khan are going after the heavyweight tag team titles, as Cobb seems to think that Goto and Yoshi-Hashi’s team name is “Fisherman”. Good action, as the Empire have got some cool multi-man spots. I like Bishamon’s chemistry with each other as well, so I’m looking forward to the tag title match they’re building. Cobb pinned Honma with the Tour of the Islands before laying out the champs post-match. **1/2

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi) def. House Of Torture (Dick Togo & EVIL)

Hiromu eliminated EVIL from the tournament, so EVIL and Dick Togo jumped Hiromu last night and choked him out with the wire. Hiromu came out with a serious look in his eyes, no Super Juniors trophy, no stuffed animals. He jumped EVIL on the stage and took the fight to him. I really want Hiromu to keep this serious edge as he presumably goes after EVIL’s NEVER Title. Less of his goofy, children’s YouTube host persona, and more of this dangerous, unpredictable maniac. Togo and EVIL tried to hit Hiromu with the Magic Killer, but Hiromu sent EVIL into the exposed buckle and hit Togo with EVIL (the move) to win. After the match, Hiromu says he won’t challenge EVIL because he wants EVIL to be the one who begs for a match with him. I’m excited for this possible elevation of Hiromu, but considering he’s beaten EVIL clean already, he may just be a big-name challenger for Hyper Battle. ***

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Satoshi Kojima & Tiger Mask def. STRONGHEARTS (CIMA, El Lindaman & T-Hawk) & Tatsumi Fujinami

Fire Pro random button, GO! Fujinami has some funky dub music for this one, as he teams with G-Rex Champion El Lindaman. Fujinami calls out Okada to start as Chris Charlton wonders what would happen if Fujinami were to beat Okada in this match. If we were in NOAH, that would be a genuine concern, but here they just have a neat opening exchange. Stronghearts were very fun here, with T-Hawk getting big shine spots with Kojima and Okada. I hope those guys find a way to be, if not permanent members of the roster, at least showing up on a more regular basis. If you’re diving into this review blind, this is definitely one to make time for. Okada ended up beating T-Hawk with the Rainmaker. ***1/2

New Japan Cup 2022 Finals
Zack Sabre Jr. def. Tetsuya Naito

It’s coming home indeed.

Both of these men were looking for their second New Japan Cup win, with Naito having won in 2016 followed by Sabre two years later. Remember back to last year’s G1, where Sabre not only beat Naito on the opening night of their block, Zack injured Naito to the point where he had to pull out of the tournament. Naito had not won a Cup match with the Destino yet, winning with various flash pins instead. When you pair that with the way Zack had won several of his matches with quick submissions (Great O-Khan and Ospreay come to mind), this match really had the feeling that it could end at any point. Naito focused his attacks on Sabre’s neck, while Zack tried throwing on a few of his submissions, targeting the knees of Naito. This had me on the edge of my seat watching it live. In the end, it took two PKs and two Zack Drivers to give ZSJ his second New Japan Cup, which caught me by surprise. Not because I thought Zack couldn’t win, but because the English usually have issues with penalties in big finals. But a wise man once said, “You’ve gotta have faith,” and those words helped lead ZSJ to victory. Zack wins a tournament in which he had three of the five highest-rated matches according to the GRAPPL app (Ospreay, Shingo, Naito). After spending a year focusing on his team with Taichi, who was taking pictures of Zack with his trophy like a proud pageant mom, this tournament was a reminder that Zack Sabre Jr is one of the best wrestlers in the world. ****1/4

Powered by RedCircle