By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Cup – Night Five”
March 10, 2022 in Yamanashi, Japan at Aimesse Yamanashi
Streamed live on New Japan World
This is a 48-man tournament; at the end of the night, half of the field of 16 will be set. Kevin Kelly and Chase Owens were on commentary. Chris Charlton said at the end of Wednesday’s show that he had to stay in Tokyo and would not be able to join on the next series of shows. It is nice to have a heel on commentary to justify their actions. Over the course of the night, Owens said he is on “team Fale,” and will be on the side of Bad Luck Fale as Bullet Club splits up. He also said he was unaware that Jay White was going to turn on Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa.
1. Zack Sabre Jr., Douki, and Taichi defeated Taguchi, Tomoaki Honma, and Master Wato at 10:42. The main storyline here was that Douki will face his partner, Sabre, later this week in the tournament. Everyone fought to the floor early. In the ring, Zack tied Taguchi in knots, and the heels worked him over. Wato nailed a top-rope flying forearm on Douki for a nearfall. Douki accidentally kicked Sabre, but Owens kept insisting that it was intentional. The babyfaces worked over Taichi. Taichi nailed a hard thrust shot to Honma’s throat to get the pin.
After the match, Douki and Sabre started fighting. Douki didn’t back down, and tensions remain high heading into their match.
2. Yoh, Hirooki Goto, and Kazuchika Okada defeated Evil, Sho, and Dick Togo at 9:01. The heels jumped the babyfaces to get underway. Everyone brawled to the floor. In the ring, the heels worked over Yoh, and this is very basic action. Okada got in, but the heels used cheating tactics to stay in charge of the action. Togo choked Goto with his steel wire. Goto came back with a neckbreaker over his knee, then tied Togo in a double armbar, and Togo tapped out. This stayed in second gear; Okada was essentially given an off-day after his long match a day earlier against Master Wato.
3. Will Ospreay, Great-O-Khan, and Aaron Henare defeated Shingo Takagi, Sanada, and Bushi at 11:49. The LIJ trio worked over Henare early. Ospreay and Sanada traded some crisp offense. Shingo entered and cleaned house. At 9:00, we finally get Ospreay and Shingo one-on-one, trading stiff forearms and kicks, and the crowd was really alive. Bushi entered and hit a huracanrana on Ospreay and a dive to the floor.
Back in the ring, Bushi hit a DDT for a nearfall. Ospreay hit the OsCutter for a nearfall. Ospreay hit the Hidden Blade/running elbow to Bushi’s jaw (not the back of the head) for the clean pin. Really good action throughout.
4. Yoshi-Hoshi defeated Kosei Fujita in a second-round match at 9:19. Yoshi-Hoshi worked over the young lion with hard chops and stiff blows. Fujita hit a pair of nice dropkicks, and he applied a Boston Crab at 6:30. Yoshi-Hoshi applied a half-crab, then a full crab, but Fujita reached the ropes. Yoshi-Hoshi applied a butterfly armlock and Fujita tapped out. Yoshi-Hoshi was never in danger here.
5. Tetsuya Naito defeated Gedo in a second-round match at 14:18. Gedo stalled on the floor at the bell. Naito pulled on Gedo’s beard. Naito pulled brass knuckles out of Gedo’s jacket, but the ref confiscated them before they could be used. Gedo hit Naito’s knee with the timekeeper’s bell hammer as they brawled on the floor. Naito was nearly counted out.
In the ring, Gedo applied a Figure Four Leglock, but Naito reached the ropes. Gedo stayed focused on the left knee. They traded rollups for nearfalls. Gedo hit a flatliner for a nearfall. Naito accidentally knocked down the referee. Gedo got another pair of brass knuckles. However, Naito avoided the blow, hit an enzuigiri, and rolled up Gedo for the pin. This match never reached second gear, and this should have been shorter.
Chase Owens left the booth to yell at the ref about Gedo’s loss and didn’t return, leaving Kelly solo to call the final two matches.
6. Jeff Cobb defeated Satoshi Kojima in a second-round match at 15:35. Cobb’s left leg was still wrapped. He dominated Kojima early. They brawled to the floor. In the ring, they traded the machine gun chops in the corner at 6:00. Cobb nailed a standing moonsault for a nearfall. On the floor, Cobb hit a powerbomb onto the ring apron, and both men were down. Kojima came back with a DDT, and both men were down again.
In the ring, Kojima hit a second-rope stunner, and both men were down at 13:00. Kojima hit a hard clothesline and a brainbuster for a nearfall. Cobb grabbed Kojima and nailed the Tour of the Islands/spinning powerslam for the pin. Kojima dominated the action, but outcome wasn’t much in doubt.
7. Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Bad Luck Fale in a second-round match at 15:01. Chase Owens is at ringside to assist Fale. Kevin Kelly stressed that Tanahashi was injured at the end of his multi-man match Wednesday, and he questioned how Tanahashi will hold up here. Fale over-powered him early. On the floor, Tanahashi hit a basement dropkick on the knee and worked Fale over. Tanahashi tried to pick up Fale for a body slam, but his knee buckled and he collapsed.
Fale sat down on Tanahashi’s chest for a nearfall. Tanahashi hit a flying forearm but he couldn’t take Fale off his feet at 9:30. Owens tripped Tanahashi, who leveled Owens for interfering. Tanahashi finally hit the body slam and the crowd came alive. Tanahashi went to the top rope, but Owens flipped him to the mat, and Fale covered Tanahashi for a nearfall. Tanahashi missed a top-rope frogsplash and they were both down. Tanahashi got a fluke rollup for the pin.
Tanahashi spoke on the mic after the win. Chris Charlton emailed or texted Kelly to tell us what Tanahashi said, which was basically him vowing to keep winning. Tanahashi did his air guitar, but his knee gave way, showing he is still suffering from that leg injury.
<bFinal Thoughts: A solid main event, but weaker than most so far in this tournament. I love NJPW, but this was a subpar show, peaking with the eight-man tag. Once again, no upsets here, which is really going to set up some great upcoming tournament matches, such as Naito vs. Tanahashi. New Japan has an off-day on Friday, but returns with the rest of the second round on Saturday and Sunday.