By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Cup – Night Three”
March 7, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan at Ota City General Gymnasium
Streamed live on New Japan World
To reiterate, this is a 48-man field this year, with 16 wrestlers “randomly drawn” to advance to the second round… Kevin Kelly was on commentary, and he was joined by Chris Charlton, who can provide instantaneous Japanese translation. Charlton is just a treasure. On to the show.
1. Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb, Will Ospreay, and Aaron Henare defeated Ryohei Oiwa, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomoaki Honma, and Togi Makabe at 9:53. The announcers pointed out that all four members of the United Embassy have advanced to the second round of the tournament (Great-O-Khan advanced via forfeit). Henare nailed a flying crossbody block on Oiwa for the pin. Great-O-Khan got on the mic and told the crowd that the United Empire is dominating the Cup tournament (so great to have Charlton provide this instant translation).
2. El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori, and Yujiro Takahashi defeated Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, and Bushi at 10:16. The announcers talked about the implosion of Bullet Club after Jay White turned on Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa at a recent Impact show. They speculated on how it will play out in New Japan. Over the past few weeks, Ishimori and Phantasmo have not been on the same page, and that continued here. They worked together to get the pin on Bushi, but they clearly aren’t getting along.
3. Douki, El Desperado, Kanemaru, Taichi, and Zack Sabre Jr. defeat Yoh, Okada, Yoshi-Hoshi, Hirooki Goto, and Toru Yano at 11:58. A really fun, fast-paced match. Yoh got a believable nearfall on Sabre late in the match, but Sabre turned it into an armbar, locked on a submission hold, and Yoh tapped out.
4. Chase Owens defeats Jado at 7:53 in a tournament match. The announcers again talk about the Bullet Club impending split when Tonga and Loa arrive this weekend. Owens tapped out when the ref was down so the match continued. Jado got a weapon but Owens shouted at him that they are on the same team, so Jado didn’t use it. Owens nailed a low blow and a C-Trigger/knee to chest to get a cheap win. They do head to the back together.
5. Evil defeated Ryuske Taguchi at 7:33 in a tournament match. Taguchi wore a green outfit that looked like Evil’s robe and mask. Taguchi got some of his flying butt attacks on Evil and Gedo, but Evil won it with his Everything Is Evil/rock bottom slam.
6. Hiromu Takahashi defeated Sho at 17:08 in a tournament match. Fantastic match. Sho dragged Hiromu through the curtain and I started the stop watch. They brawled to ringside and eventually the bell rang about two minutes into the action. Sho nailed a piledriver on the exposed concrete floor. Hiromu sold the pain the entire match. Sho dominated the action with Hiromu getting just spurts of offense. Out of nowhere, Hiromu got an inside cradle for the pin.
7. Shingo Takagi defeated Tomohiro Ishii at 23:31 in a tournament match. The hard-hitting match one would expect from these two. I’ll give this the best of the 15 first-round matches. The announcers told us that each of the four times these guys have had singles matches, those matches went at least 20 minutes, but with this being in a tournament, there is no time limit. Takagi hit a Death Valley Driver on the floor. They brawled in the ring. Ishii hit a second-rope suplex. Takagi hit a top-rope superplex. Takagi won it with the Last of the Dragon sit-down driver. After the match, Shingo got on the mic and vowed to keep winning.
Final Thoughts: Two fantastic matches, as expected, to conclude the first round. The tournament resumes on Wednesday with three second-round matches, as Taichi has advanced to the field of 16 because Hiroyoshi Tenzan has a knee injury and has forfeited his match. The first half of the show had better-than-usual action for the multi-man tags, and they are doing a good job of building intrigue over how the Bullet Club will handle the return of Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa.