NJPW New Japan Cup Finals review: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. in the New Japan Cup tournament final, Kazuchika Okada and Chuckie T vs. Kota Ibushi and Chase Owens, Juice Robinson and David Finlay vs. Yoshi-Hashi and Hirooki Goto

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

New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Cup Night 9”
March 21, 2018 in Niigata, Japan at Aore Nagaoka
Broadcast live on New Japan World

The English broadcast was hosted by Kevin Kelly and Don Callis…

1. Shota Umino vs. Tetsuhiro Yagi. The wrestlers traded chops to start the match. Callis noted that Umino’s father is a referee (Red Shoes) and said he’s the perfect person to tell him all of the dirty tricks he could do because he’s seen them all. Funny. Yagi threw a nice dropkick and picked up a couple of two counts before applying a Boston Crab. Umino eventually reached the ropes to break the hold. Umino came back with a nice dropkick of his own. Umino followed up with a nice missile dropkick a short time later for a two count. Umino applied a Boston Crab and Yagi tapped out…

Shota Umino defeated Tetsuhiro Yagi.

Powell’s POV: A nice opener with good drama created while Umino was on the receiving end of the Boston Crab before he came back to win. It’s good to have Callis back on color commentary and it’s always comical to hear him speak with glee while claiming the young boys are physically abused.

2. Tomoyuki Oka vs. Taichi. Callis continued to be on a roll as he said Taich’s hair is a cross between Donald Trump and A Flock of Seagulls. He also praised Taichi for stalling and asked if they were at the Memphis Coliseum. Taichi applied a single leg crab and drove his knee in the upper back of Oka, who cried out in pain before reaching the ropes. Oka threw some shots at Tachi, who laughed at him and knocked him down with a kick. Oka came back with a belly-to-belly suplex. He followed up with a splash and a nice gut wrench suplex for a two count. Taichi ripped his pants off and Callis questioned if he bought his small trunks in the junior miss section. Taichi came back and threw a high kick and scored the pin…

Taichi beat Tomoyuki Oka.

Powell’s POV: A showcase win for Taichi, who dominated the majority of match, yet the match also made Oka look like he had good heart. I like the way Kelly puts over early match submission holds during the matches. Others may fill that time with banter, Kelly sells the submission holds in a way that makes it seem like the match could end.

3. Togi Makabe, Michael Elgin, and Toa Henare vs. Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, and Tanga Loa. Elgin held up Takahashi for a vertical suplex and did a squat before finishing the move. Elgin also performed a nice missile dropkick for a two count. The Bullet Club trio isolated Henare for a stretch. Henare tagged in Makabe, who had his run of offense. Kelly noted that Makabe missed a couple of shows on the tour due to a tweaked knee. Fale cut off Makabe with a Samoan Drop. Later, Loa performed a spinebuster for a two count. He followed up with a finisher that Kelly said he couldn’t say…

Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, and Tanga Loa beat Togi Makabe, Michael Elgin, and Toa Henare.

Powell’s POV: A decent match with Elgin having the most impressive moments in the match. It was hardly a surprise to see Henare take the pin.

After the match, Callis asked Kelly if they were booked for the Strong Style Evolved show. Kelly said yes. “I wasn’t sure,” Callis said. Kelly said there would be match announcements made about Strong Style Evolved on Thursday…

4. Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano vs. “Killer Elite Squad” Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer. Archer did his usual water spitting. Callis pulled out an umbrella, which wasn’t very effective. Callis said he hoped that KES would lose the match. Smith and Yano started. Callis said Smith grew up around Bruce Hart so he knows how to deal with people who are lacking mentally. Kelly recalled Archer making a young child cry in Tokyo. Callis was unaware. Kelly said he would have been aware had he actually watched the shows at home. KES dominated early. Archer no-sold several chops from Ishii and then knocked him down with just one of his own.

Later, Ishii came back with a nice German suplex on Smith. Yano tagged in and Callis referred to him as a Japanese Doink the Clown. Yano removed the turnbuckle pad, but Smith ended up whipping him into the exposed corner. Yano came back and catapulted Smith into the exposed turnbuckle and rolled him up for two. Ishii and Archer tagged in and no-sold offense. Archer performed a Pounce and covered Ishii, but Yano broke it up. Smith cleared Yano from the ring and then KES hit the Hart Attack Clothesline on Ishii for a two count. Ishii got a two count off a clothesline. Ishii avoided the KES finisher and suplexed both men. In the end, KES hit the Killer Bomb on Yano, and then Smith pinned him for the win…

Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer defeated Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano.

After the match, Archer performed a chokeslam on young lion Ren Narita. Archer took the mic and addressed Evil and Sanada by saying they would be the new IWGP Tag Team Champions…

Powell’s POV: Smith got his win back from Yano after losing to him via count-out in the first round of the tournament. Smith was really impressive during the match and this turned out to be the best of the KES matches that I saw on this tour.

5. Juice Robinson and David Finlay vs. Yoshi-Hashi and Hirooki Goto. Before the match, Finlay put on Robinson’s hat and shades. Robinson told him he’ll get some action tonight. The broadcast team was quick to point out that Finlay is getting married soon. In the end, Robinson hit Pulp Friction on Goto and scored the pin…

Juice Robinson and David Finlay beat Yoshi-Hashi and Hirooki Goto.

Powell’s POV: The finish was clearly designed to set up Robinson as a challenger to Goto’s Never Openweight Championship. Coming off a good showing in the New Japan Cup tournament, this is a logical direction for Robinson, whose stock was elevated during this tour.

6. Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, Hiromu Takahashi, and Bushi vs. Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and Takashi Iizuka. Suzuki and Naito started the match, but Suzuki ducked out. They ended up in the ring together later. Naito raked the eyes of Suzuki and spat in his face. Suzuki caught him with a knee to the gut and both men tagged out. Iizuka tried to introduce the iron glove, but he never got to use it. Sanada applied Skull End on Iizuka for the submission win. Meanwhile, Suzuki and Naito fought to the back of the building. In the ring, Desperado and Kanemura held up the IWGP Jr. Tag Titles to taunt Takahashi and Bushi. Takahashi licked one of the tag titles and the teams brawled. Roppongi 3k ran out and roughed up both teams, including hitting 3k on Bushi and then Kanemaru. Roppongi 3k stood tall and then spoke to the crowd in Japanese…

Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, Hiromu Takahashi, and Bushi defeated Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and Takashi Iizuka.

Powell’s POV: The build to the apparent three-way tag title match was overshadowed by Suzuki and Naito earlier in the tour. The post match angle did a better job of showcasing the three team feud. The actual match was underwhelming considering the talent involved, but the Suzuki and Naito interactions are always entertaining and the post match angle was accomplished what it needed to.

7. Kazuchika Okada and Chuckie T vs. Kota Ibushi and Chase Owens. Late in the match, Okada hit a top rope elbow on Owens and then went for a Rainmaker. Owens ducked the clothesline and then Ibushi performed a missile dropkick on Okada. Owens came back and picked up a couple of near falls. Okada regained offensive control with a dropkick and then applied the Cobra Clutch on Owens, who tapped out. Gedo entered the ring afterward and congratulated Okada and T on the win…

Kazuchika Okada and Chuckie T defeated Kota Ibushi and Chase Owens.

Powell’s POV: A good tag match. You had to know Okada was going to win after his team lost on the previous show. Okada is still establishing the Cobra Clutch as a finisher and the only way to do that is repetition.

Juice Robinson joined the broadcast team for the main event. The big screen showed the past New Japan Cup winners…

8. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (w/Taka Michinoku) in the New Japan Cup Final. Michinoku played the hype man role for Sabre with an in-ring promo prior to the match. Sabre controlled the early offense with various submission holds and targeted Tanahashi’s injured right arm. Tanahashi came back and performed a cross body block off the top rope and onto Sabre at ringside.

Shortly after the 20-minute mark, Tanahashi went for a High Fly Flow, but Sabre avoided it and applied a heel hook, which Tanahashi broke by reaching the ropes. Sabre threw several strikes and swung into a nice leg sweep. He went for a kick, but Tanahashi blocked it and went for a dragon screw leg whip. Sabre countered into a pin and a bridge for a good near fall. A short time later, Sabre got a near fall and then stood up and delivered a PK for another good near fall.

Tanahashi came back with a sling blade clothesline for a two count and then performed a suplex into a bridge for another two count. Tanahashi went up top and performed a High Fly Flow to the back of Sabre. Tanahashi rolled him over and went for the move again, but Sabre moved. Tanahashi held his knee in pain. Tanahashi blocked a strike and rolled up Sabre into a bridge. Sabre kicked out and immediately applied a hold. They jockeyed for position and Sabre eventually applied a leg lock. Sabre pulled Tanahashi to the middle of the ring. Tanahashi tried to kick his way out of it, but Sabre hooked his leg and Tanahashi tapped out…

Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to win the New Japan Cup tournament.

After the match, Robinson praised Sabre for wrestling and said there was no Suzuki-gun bullshit. Tanahashi was helped to the back while Sabre and Michinoku celebrated with the New Japan Cup trophy. Michinoku also spoke in Japanese over the house mic. Michinoku then asked Sabre in English what he wants next. “No question, I want Okada,” Sabre replied. Okada and Gedo walked out to no entrance and headed to the ring as the fans chanted the champion’s name. Kelly said the title match will take place on April 1 at the Sakura Genesis event. Michinoku tried to deliver his line about Okada tapping out, but Gedo held up his hand and stopped him. Gedo spoke in Japanese and then he and Okada left the ring. Michinoku picked up where he left off and said Okada would tap out. Confetti fell in the ring. Kelly closed out the English broadcast as Sabre and Michinoku were headed up the ramp…

Sabre and Michinoku spoke to the media afterward. Sabre said Okada had a nice run and implied that it’s now his time. He also vented about being given a warm beer. He said that when he wins the title there will be changes and number is is “cold f—ing beer.” Good man…

Powell’s POV: An excellent match with Sabre getting the majority of the offense while Tanahashi showed the usual strong heart to the very end. The tournament was a blast and Sabre challenging Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship could be even better than this match, though it will be tough to top. The overall show was entertaining and they closed the tour on a high note. Join me for live coverage of Sunday night’s NJPW Strong Style Evolved show as it airs on AXS-TV beginning at 7CT/8ET. Dot Net Members will hear an audio review following the AXS broadcast.


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The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features ProWrestling.net staffer John Moore returning for an in-depth discussion on NXT, AEW, Impact Wrestling, MLW, and the NWA, and more...


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