By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Cup – Night Four”
March 9, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan at Korukeun Hall
Streamed live on New Japan World
To reiterate, this year’s tournament is a 48-man field with 16 wrestlers “randomly drawn” to advance to the second round. So, entering this show, we are down to 31 wrestlers remaining, as Taichi has already advanced to the field of 16 via Hiroyoshi Tenzan’s forfeit. That match should have been on this show.
Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton provided in-person commentary.
1. Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens defeated Tiger Mask and Hiroshi Tanahashi at 8:45. The story here is that Owens and Tiger Mask will meet later this week in the second round, so this was a preview. The announcers continued to speculate about the impending breakup of the Bullet Club, and they believe Fale will side with Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa. Fale nailed a team clothesline move on Tiger Mask for the pin. Basic match.
2. Gedo and Sho defeated Bushi and Tetsuya Naito at 10:05. Once again, this tag match was a preview of Naito vs. Gedo later this week. Gedo insisted to Sho that they do the “too sweet” hand gesture above their head, instead of sweeping low by their feet, as Tonga and Loa do. The Bullet Club members worked over Bushi. Naito tagged in and kept pulling on Gedo’s beard. Sho attacked Bushi from behind when the ref was down, then Sho applied a new submission hold until Bushi tapped out. Passable action.
3. Evil, El Phantasmo, Yujiro Takahashi, and Taiji Ishimori defeated Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb, Aaron Henare, and Great-O-Khan at 11:34. More awkward heel-heel matchups, with the crowd not sure who to rally behind. Two minutes in, this had broken down with all eight men fighting on the floor, and the referee lost total control. The announcers pointed out that all four members of the United Empire are still in the tournament. Bullet Club worked over Henare in and out of the ring.
Ospreay made the hot tag and cleaned house with some high-flying moves. The crowd came to life, so I guess the United Embassy are the babyfaces tonight. Ospreay and Phantasmo traded some great action – these two will square off in the tournament this week as well. Phantasmo nailed a step-up enzuigiri, and both men were down. The announcers agreed that their matchup Saturday is going to be spectacular.
Ishimori and Great-O-Khan went up against one another, and they will also square off in the second round. The announcers spoke about how this might be the biggest size difference in tournament history. Cobb nailed a spinning side suplex on Evil. Ishimori hit a low blow on Great-O-Khan, and Evil quickly followed up with an Everything is Evil/Rock Bottom slam to pin GOK. This action topped all expectations, and the announcers pointed out all the second round, and possible later-round implications.
4. Sanada, Hiromu Takahashi, and Shingo Takagi defeated Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, and Douki at 12:45. Minoru and Hiromu immediately went after each other on the floor, as they will also face one other in a second-round match. The announcers spoke about Minoru’s busy schedule in the U.S. in April. Suzuki really unloaded blows on Hiromu. Taichi and Sanada tagged in and went after each other. Shingo finally got in the match, worked over Douki, hit his Pumping Bomber clothesline, then hit the Made In Japan sit-down slam for the pin. After the match, Suzuki ran back over to Hiromu and continued to beat him down.
5. Hirooki Goto defeated Dick Togo in a second-round match at 9:41. Togo choked Goto early and controlled the action on the mat. The announcers talk about the sheer number of matches Togo has had in this building for multiple promotions, dating back to 1991. Goto hit a side suplex at 6:00 and they are both down. Togo applies a crossface, but Goto reaches the ropes. Goto hit a neckbreaker over his knee for a nearfall. The lights went out! When the lights turn back on, Togo is choking Goto again, and the referee is down. EVIL enters the ring, but Goto fights both men off. Goto applied a double-armbar and Togo tapped out. The outcome here was never in doubt; I don’t know if we needed the late-match EVIL shenanigans.
6. CIMA defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru in a second-round match at 14:48. Kanemaru entered the ring from the crowd to attack CIMA from behind to start the match. Kanemaru dominated early and worked over the left leg. CIMA hit a second-rope flying knee to Kanemaru’s chest at 9:30, but he really the leg injury. He then missed a top-rope flying knees. Kanemaru applied a Figure Four and CIMA teased tapping out before rolling to the ropes.
Kanemaru hit a top-rope moonsault and a brainbuster for a believable nearfall. CIMA hit a sit-down driver and both men were down. Kanemaru poured some alcohol on CIMA, who nailed a super kick and an Air Raid Crash for a believable nearfall. CIMA nailed the Meteora/flying knees to face for the pin. Enjoyable match, but once again, the outcome wasn’t in much doubt. This means CIMA will face Hirooki Goto in the third round.
7. Kazuchika Okada defeated Master Wato in a second-round match at 18:33. The announcers noted that in a fan vote, 100% predicted Okada would advance to the third round. They start with standing reversals, and Wato nailed a flipping dive to the floor and was in charge early. Back on the floor, Okada nailed a DDT onto the thin mat at 11:00, and Wato is selling a neck injury. Back in the ring, Okada nailed his flying dropkick and the crowd has come alive for Okada. Wato applied an octopus hold, tying up Okada in the middle of the ring, and the crowd is now rallying for Wato.
Wato nailed a German Suplex for a nearfall at 15:30. Wato hit several spin kicks to the chest, but Okada no-sold them. Okada nailed the picture-perfect dropkick to the face and a top-rope elbow drop. Wato avoided the Rainmaker and got a rollup for a nearfall. Okada nailed the Rainmaker clothesline for the clean pin. Really good match. I like that the junior heavyweights are in this tournament, giving us some fresh matchups like this. Okada advanced to face Taichi in the third round.
Okada got on the mic and thanked the fans for coming, and he vowed to keep on winning.
Final Thoughts: Solid show. Once again, no big upsets, which is great because the rest of the tournament is really going to pick up from here. Really good roster on this show. No young lions nor most of my least favorite wrestlers (Yano, Taguchi, Nagata, Honma, Makabe.) The second round continues Thursday, a day off Friday, then wraps up Saturday and Sunday, with four tournament matches on each show.