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NJPW New Japan Cup Night Seven review: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Juice Robinson in a New Japan Cup tournament semifinal match, Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, Hiromu Takahashi, and Bushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Taka Michinoku, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and El Desperado

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

New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Cup Night 7”
March 16, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall
Broadcast live on New Japan World

The English broadcast was hosted by Kevin Kelly…

1. Yujiro Takahashi and Tanga Loa vs. Tetsuhiro Yagi and Tomoyuki Oka. Kelly noted that David Finlay would be joining him on commentary again in Don Callis’s absence. Yagi threw a nice dropkick at Loa before tagging in Oka. Loa performed a German suplex and then Takahashi tagged in. Later, Takahashi performed a fisherman’s buster suplex for a two count. Takahashi came right back with a DDT for the win…

Yujiro Takahashi and Tanga Loa beat Tetsuhiro Yagi and Tomoyuki Oka.

Powell’s POV: The usual young lions opener with the established duo going over. They let Oka show some heart by kicking out of the suplex before falling to the DDT.

2. Michael Elgin, David Finlay, and Shota Umino vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr., Lance Archer, and Taichi. Archer sprayed water on fans at ringside during his entrance and then Taichi tapped his microphone stand on one of the Japanese commentators. Smith also spat water at Umino during the introductions. Late in the match, Archer went for a chokeslam on Umino, who dropkicked him. Umino ended up alone in the ring with Taichi and rolled him up for a good near fall. Umino stood up and ran into a clothesline from Taichi, who got a two count of his own. In the end, Taichi threw a kick to the head of Umino and then followed up with a thrust kick before pinning him. After the match, Archer went to ringside and scared a young girl into crying. The girl’s apparent father laughed and so did Smith…

Davey Boy Smith Jr., Lance Archer, and Taichi defeated Michael Elgin, David Finlay, and Shota Umino.

Powell’s POV: A good match with Umino coming close only to have Taichi get the win. Taichi has made the jump to the heavyweight division so he needs wins like this one.

3. Togi Makabe and Toa Henare vs. Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano. Henare took Ishii down. They both tagged out and it was Yano comedy time. Yano and Ishii ran their opponents into the guardrail at ringside. Late in the match, Makabe and Henare worked over Ishii with clotheslines. Henare got a two count on Ishii off a lariat. Ishii went for a powerbomb, but Henare slipped out and fell awkwardly. Ishii sold shoulder pain. Once he stood up, Ishii performed a lariat for a two count. Ishii followed up with a brainbuster and got the pin while Yano and Makabe fought at ringside…

Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano defeated Togi Makabe and Toa Henare.

Powell’s POV: Henare’s bump to the head wasn’t as frightening as Ishii being dropped on his head by Michael Elgin during their tournament match. Henare was helped out after the match, but that appeared to be just him selling the finish. Kelly emphasized the story of how close Henare came to getting the win, so they continue to build toward that happening.

4. Hirooki Goto, Yoshi-Hashi, and Chuckie T vs. Kota Ibushi, Bad Luck Fale, and Chase Owens. David Finlay joined Kelly on commentary for the remainder of the show. Kelly asked about the mood in the locker room when it came to the main event. Finlay said Hiroshi Tanahashi and Juice Robinson were both focussed and avoiding one another. Kelly noted early that Owens had to put change in the swear jar. He asked Finlay if they should really have a swear jar. Finlay said Robinson would go broke. T caught Ibushi with a sit-out powerbomb for a two count and continued to work him over until Ibushi came back with a Pele Kick. Both men tagged out. Owens blasted Goto with a superkick. Owens and his teammates worked over Goto and Owens had him pinned, but it was broken up. Owens caught Goto with another nice kick and went for a package piledriver, but Hashi broke it up and kicked Owens. Goto hit Owens with a headbutt to take offensive control and then hit his GTR finisher and scored the pin…

Hirooki Goto, Yoshi-Hashi, and Chuckie T defeated Kota Ibushi, Bad Luck Fale, and Chase Owens.

Powell’s POV: A brief, yet entertaining match. The sequences involving Ibushi and Chuckie and then Owens and Goto down the stretch were especially good. In a comical moment after the match, Finlay said he’s more Tongan than Owens.

5. Kazuchika Okada and Gedo vs. Minoru Suzuki and Takashi Iizuka. Suzuki and Iizuka attacked Okada and Gedo to start the match. Suzuki ducked a kick by Okada and ended up selling it. Kelly called it a glancing blow. Suzuki applied a cross armbar over the ropes on Gedo briefly. Suzuki fought with Okada at ringside and ran him into the barricade. Once in the crowd, Suzuki picked up a chair and hit a table (the idea was that it hit Okada). Gedo went after Taichi, who was sitting in on Japanese commentary, but Suzuki broke that up. Kelly noted that Suzuki had a match with Antonio Inoki 21 years and one day ago. Wow. Later, Suzuki caught Okada with a heel hook submission hold. Okada eventually released it. Okada slapped the face of Okada and worked over the knee. Okada and Suzuki traded shots in mid-ring. Suzuki applied a rear naked choke, then released it and went for the Gotch piledriver, but Okada countered into a neckbreaker. Okada sold the knee and both men tagged out. Gedo and Iizuka took turns choking one another with a tag rope. Gedo tried to use the ropes for leverage while pinning Iizuka, but the referee caught him. Suzuki tagged in and immediately kicked Okada off the apron. Okada returned and dropkicked Suzuki. Gedo covered him for two. Suzuki applied a rear naked choke and then hit the Gotch piledriver on Gedo and pinned him. After the match, Okada and Suzuki went face to face while raising their respective title belts. Finlay pointed out on commentary that the two men fought to a draw in the G1 tournament and thus have unfinished business…

Minoru Suzuki and Takashi Iizuka defeated Kazuchika Okada and Gedo.

Powell’s POV: The best part of the match was when Okada and Suzuki were in the ring together. Otherwise, it was just a match. Meanwhile, Finlay seems a lot looser on commentary in his second try. Don Callis is still missed, but Finlay is adding little nuggets rather than just cracking jokes this time around.

6. Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, Hiromu Takahashi, and Bushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Taka Michinoku, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and El Desperado. Kelly noted that LIJ came out to Sanada’s music rather than Naito’s music. He assumed Naito had a lot to do with that happening. He also noted that Sanada will face Sabre in the next semifinal match on Sunday. Sanada and Sabre started the match and there was a brief chant for Sanada. Neither main sustained offensive control before they tagged out. They ended up back in the ring together a few minutes later and Sanada caught Sabre with a dropkick. Finlay said there weren’t many wrestlers out there who would top Sanada in terms of pure athleticism. Sabre fought out of multiple Skull End attempts. Sanada performed a backslide for a two count and then dropkicked Sabre before tagging out again. There was a three-man LIJ dropkick on Michinoku. A short time later, Takahasi hoisted up Michinoku and then Bushi came off the top rope with a Codebreaker style move and got the pin…

Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, Hiromu Takahashi, and Bushi defeated Zack Sabre Jr., Taka Michinoku, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and El Desperado.

After the match, Kanemaru and Desperado fought Takahashi and Bushi in the ring after the other wrestlers headed backstage. Roppongi 3k showed up and cleared the ring. Kelly said Roppongi 3k haven’t forgotten that their titles were taken from them at the anniversary show. They issued a challenge in Japanese for another tag title shot…

Powell’s POV: The various preview moments for Sanada vs. Sabre were what they needed to be in terms of neither man having a distinct advantage. The finisher looked a little rough in that Takahashi stumbled a bit as Bushi was performing his half of the move. Kelly scrambled to find the correct name of the Doomsday MX. He said it was named after the longest street in Mexico City and was nice enough to spell it out. The move is called Insurgentes.

7. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Juice Robinson in a New Japan Cup tournament semifinal match. Tanahashi blew off Robinson’s handshake offer. The fans chanted for Tanahashi at the beginning of the match. The match was slow going early, which may be a sign they are going to go long. Robinson got on a roll, but Tanahashi avoided his cannonball in the corner. They went to ringside where Robinson whipped Tanahashi into the barricade.

Later, Tanahashi performed a pair of Twist and Shout neckbreakers. Robinson came back by hoisting him up in suplex position but then dropping him on his knee and then covering him for a two count. Robinson went up top and performed a cross body block. Robinson went to the other corner and performed a High Fly Flow for a great near fall. Robinson grabbed the referee because he thought it was a three count. Robinson set up for Pulp Friction and both men jockeyed for position and ended up trading punches. Tanahashi performed a dragon suplex and hit a High Fly Flow to the back of Robinson. Tananashi rolled Robinson over and then went back up top and hit the move again for the 1-2-3.

Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Juice Robinson to advance to the finals of the New Japan Cup tournament.

Afterward, Tanahashi helped up Robinson and praised and hugged him. Robinson smiled. Kelly said Robinson’s time is coming and you can feel it, but Tanahashi’s time is not yet over. Tanahashi teased leaving and then stuck around. Robinson looked under the ring and acted like he pulled out a guitar, which he gave to one of the young lions, who threw it in for Tanahashi, who pretended to catch it. Tanahashi spoke to the crowd in Japanese and played air guitar. The crowd called for an encore and he gave it to them and pretended to smash the guitar. The crowd called for one more, but he acted like he broke the guitar. He had a fan pretend to throw him another guitar and then played more air guitar. Tanahashi spoke to the crowd again. Kelly closed out the show by noting that Tanahashi is one win away from winning his third New Japan Cup. Tanahashi played to the crowd to close the show…

Powell’s POV: A terrific main event with good drama. I suspected Tanahashi would win going in, but I couldn’t rule out the possibility of Robinson going over here since they have established Tanahashi is still battling a knee injury. If Tanahashi goes on to win the tournament, it will be interesting to see whether he opts to challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship or seek to avenge his IWGP Intercontinental Championship loss to Minoru Suzuki. The Never Openweight Championship is also technically in play.

Overall, this was just an ordinary show until the main event. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it was pretty uneventful so if you’re pressed for time then you can get by with just watching the main event. The next show will be held on Sunday morning and will be headlined by the Sanada vs. Zack Sabre Jr. match with the winner facing Tanahashi in the finals on Wednesday. Barring anything unforeseen, I will have same day full review of both shows, and I will also be covering the Strong Style Evolved event on March 25 live as it airs on AXS.

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