NJPW New Japan Cup Night One review: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Michael Elgin and Juice Robinson vs. Yujiro Takahashi in New Japan Cup tournament matches, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toa Henare, and David Finlay vs. Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, and Takashi Iizuka

By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Cup Night 1”
March 9, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall
Broadcast live on New Japan World

The English broadcast team was hosted by Kevin Kelly, who said he would be joined by a special guest later. The usual color commentator Don Callis noted on the previous show that he was heading back to North America, but he will return in time for the finals of the tournament. Kelly explained the tournament format and said the winner would have his choice of challenging for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the Never Openweight Championship, or the IWGP Intercontinental Championship .

1. Tetsuhiro Yagi, Tomoyuki Oka, and Shota Umino vs. Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, and Chuckie T. Kelly noted that Baretta was supposed to be in the match, but he was replaced by tag partner Chuckie T due to injury. Umino hit a missile dropkick for a late two count. With the tag partners fighting at ringside, Taylor hit the Awful Waffle for the clean pin…

Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, and Chuckie T defeated Tetsuhiro Yagi, Tomoyuki Oka, and Shota Umino.

Powell’s POV: No surprises here in terms of which team went over. A solid opener. Kelly is doing fine flying solo, but the entertaining Callis is missed.

2. Tanga Loa and Bad Luck Fale vs. “Killer Elite Squad” Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer. Archer went into the crowd and spat water at fans, who seemed to enjoy it. Some fans at ringside even had a cover over them, but he pulled it off and blew the water at them. Kelly noted that Loa was added to the tour as a replacement for the injured Hikuleo. Smith and Archer went for their Killer Bomb finisher on Loa to start, but Fale broke it up and the teams brawled at ringside. Later, they sent for the same move on Fale, but he fought his way out of it. Late in the match, Fale and Archer went to ringside and fought. We didn’t see what happened to Fale, but Kelly said he was run into the barricade it looked like it was Loa’s match to finish. Archer and Smith performed a Hart Attack Clothesline and then followed up with a Killer Bomb. Smith pinned Loa to win the match…

Killer Elite Squad defeated Tanga Loa and Bad Luck Fale.

Powell’s POV: Nothing special. This goal was obviously to up the Archer vs. Fale tournament match that will be held on tomorrow’s show. I’m not sure they succeeded. The two of them jawed at one another afterward. Archer also cut a forgettable promo using Kelly’s mic afterward.

3. Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, and Bushi vs. El Desperado, Zack Sabre Jr., and Yoshinobu Kanemaru. Chuckie T joined Kelly on commentary. He joked early that if he ever wears a t-shirt in the ring it’s because he’s completely given up. He said the only reason he does sit-ups now is because he has to take his shirt off in front of people. Funny. In the end, Sabre applied an STF style submission hold on Bushi and got the win. Afterward, Taka Michinoku delivered a promo and told Naito that Sabre Jr. will make him tap…

El Desperado, Zack Sabre Jr., and Yoshinobu Kanemaru beat Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, and Bushi.

Powell’s POV: A solid match. It was fairly brief at roughly ten minutes, but the finish and Kelly did a nice job of building up Sabre. Jr. as a tournament contender. Kelly spoke about how he’s won some of the big tournaments in the past. Sabre will face Naito in one of the more interesting first-round matches.

4. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toa Henare, and David Finlay vs. Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, and Takashi Iizuka. Finlay, who was originally scheduled to be in the opener, replaced the injured Togi Makabe. Suzuki kicked the injured knee of Tanahashi during ring entrances to start the match. The referee basically rewarded the cheap shot by calling for the bell and having the two of them start the match. Weird. The teams ended up fighting at ringside with Suzuki’s team dominating. Later, Tanahashi set up Suzuki for a suplex in the ring, but Suzuki kicked his knee again and ended up applying a leg lock. Tanahashi reached the ropes. Late in the match, Henare speared Taichi for a two count. Henare then hoisted him up, but Suzuki returned and kicked him to break it up. Suzuki applied a rear naked choke as the referee was distracted. Taichi threw a good superkick on Henare and pinned him. After the match, Suzuki taunted Tanahashi by lightly kicking his bad knee…

Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, and Takashi Iizuka defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toa Henare, and David Finlay.

Powell’s POV: This was Tanahashi’s first match back since dropping the Intercontinental Title to Suzuki, who brutally exploited his injuries before winning the match. It was fun to see them pick up where they left off beginning with that kick during the introductions. They gave Taichi the pin, but the real story was Suzuki and Tanahashi, which should be fun to follow as they work toward an eventual rematch for the title.

5. Kazuchika Okada and Yoshi-Hashi vs. Kota Ibushi and Chase Owens. Hashi had his shoulder taped and his opponents targeted it during the match. Hashi performed a lung blower on Ibushi to make a late tag to Okada. Owens tagged in at the same time and got the better of Okada momentarily. Okada came back and DDT’d Owens for a two count. Okada went up top, but Owens rolled out of the way to avoid the elbow drop, then ran toward Okada to take a cross body block. Odd. Owens performed a nice clothesline for a two count. The tag partners got involved. Hashi connected with a lariat on Ibushi. Okada dropkicked Owens and then applied the Butterfly Lock for the submission win…

Kazuchika Okada and Yoshi-Hashi defeated Kota Ibushi and Chase Owens.

Powell’s POV: The real appeal going into the match was seeing Okada and Ibushi in the ring together, but we only got short spurts of that. The match was fine, though it really didn’t accomplish anything by having Okada get a needless win.

6. Juice Robinson vs. Yujiro Takahashi in a New Japan Cup tournament match. Takahashi’s lady showed off the bottom of her breasts with the outfit she was wearing. I can’t even imagine how Callis would have reacted. Takahashi stuffed Robinson’s offensive attacks early. They fought to ringside and Takahashi ended up backdropping Robinson over the barricade and onto chairs in the crowd. Robinsons came up with two small cuts on his back. Takahashi gave him a fisherman’s buster suplex on the floor.

Later, Takahashi performed another fisherman’s buster from the top rope for a strong near fall. Robinson came back and hit a gutbuster for a two count of his own. Robinson went for Pulp Friction, but Takahashi shoved him into the ropes and then low-blowed Robinson for a two count. Takahashi went for a powerbomb and struggled to get Robinson up. He tried a second time and this time he performed a crazy move in which he dropped Robinson face first and got another two count. Robinson came back with a powerbomb for a two count. Robinson hit Pulp Friction and got the 1-2-3…

Juice Robinson defeated Yujiro Takahashi in a New Japan Cup first-round tournament match.

Powell’s POV: The best match of the night so far and it’s not even close. They worked hard and had some believable near falls down the stretch. Kelly noted that Robinson would face the winner of the main event in the second round of the tournament.

7. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Michael Elgin in a New Japan Cup tournament match. They had the early big man tests such as running shoulder blocks and back and forth forearms with neither man selling. In fact, Elgin motioned as if he was dusting off Ishii’s forearms. They traded more forearms and Ishii eventually stumbled backward. They went sumo mode by running at one another and colliding. Eventually, Ishii wobbled a bit, but when Elgin charged he knocked him off his feet. Moments later, Elgin pressed Ishii over his head and powerslammed him, which was pretty damn impressive.

Later, Elgin performed a falcon arrow from the top rope for a very good near fall. Elgin looked shocked and then fired himself up. Elgin went for a powerbomb, but Ishii blocked it and powered up Elgin for a backdrop. A short time later, Ishii charged at Elgin in the corner and took a uranage. They ended up fighting on the ropes where Elgin wanted to powerbomb Ishii, who ended up headbutting him. Ishii performed a superplex for a good near fall.

Elgin performed a German suplex for a two count. Elgin connected with a lariat and went for a cover, but Ishii kicked out at one. Elgin got another near fall and expressed disbelief over Ishii kicking out. Elgin performed a sick looking crucifix powerbomb from the top rope. Ishii landed on his head. Elgin covered him for a two count. The referee and Elgin both checked on Ishii. Elgin performed a Buckle Bomb and went for another, but Ishii fired up. Ishii headbutted Elgin and then caught him with a lariat for a two count.

Ishii fired up and set up for his finisher, but Elgin reversed it and went back on the offensive. Elgin set up for a Buckle Bomb and nearly dropped Ishii, but managed to hold him up in an impressive feat of strength. Elgin performed the Buckle Bomb, but Ishii blasted him with a lariat. Elgin came right back with a powerbomb for another near fall. Elgin performed a Burning Hammer and scored the pin. Kelly noted that Elgin will face Robinson in the quarterfinals on March 14…

Michael Elgin defeated Tomohiro Ishii in a New Japan Cup first-round tournament match.

After the match, Elgin took the mic and said he became a wrestler because he wanted competition. He said Ishii was the best competition a man could ask for. Elgin said he got himself back on track and told the fans they were looking at the New Japan Cup winner. Elgin headed backstage and he delivered a quick promo backstage to close the English portion of the broadcast…

Powell’s POV: A terrific match between the two big men with nearly matching body types. This surpassed the previous match for the best match of the night. It’s amazing that Ishii was seemingly okay after taking that powerbomb from the top rope on his head. Overall, the two tournament matches made the show. Watch both of these matches and I’d suggest watching the Suzuki and Tanahashi six-man tag match if you only have time to watch a few things on this show. The March 10-14 shows are only broadcast in Japanese. I will run the basic results of those shows and then my next full review will be for the March 15 event.

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