By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Cup – Night Six”
March 12, 2022 in Aichi, Japan at Prefectural Gymnasium
Streamed live on New Japan World
As the show started, the 48-man field had been cut in half, with 24 participants remaining. Four more second-round matches were on this show.
Kevin Kelly was alone on commentary and did a good job.
1. Master Wato, Ryusuke Taguchi, and Ryohei Oiwa defeated Tomoaki Honma, Kosei Fujita, and Yuto Nakashima at 6:05. Wato applied a double-arm submission hold to get one of the young lions to tap out. Forgettable action. It’s worth noting that Honma teamed with Wato and Taguchi on the previous show, but was an opponent here. This is part of why these undercard matches are so meaningless and random. Why are they suddenly on opposite sides?
2. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tiger Mask, and Yoh defeated Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, and Gedo at 7:50. Kevin Kelly told a story about how a young fan wanted to touch Tanahashi at the last show, but he couldn’t shake her hand due to COVID restrictions. When Tanahashi got to the back, he broke down in tears. Once again, the storyline here is that Owens and Tiger Mask will meet in the second round at Sunday’s show, so they opened the match and traded offense. The heels extensively worked over Yoh. Tanahashi got the hot tag and cleared the ring. Tanahashi applied a Texas Cloverleaf and Gedo tapped out. Passable action. After the match, Owens tried to attack Tiger Mask from behind, but Tiger Mask fought him off.
3. Kazuchika Okada, Yosh-Hoshi, and Hirooki Goto defeated Evil, Dick Togo, and Yujiro Takahashi at 8:15. The three Chaos babyfaces posed together, all wearing their belts. The heels did a “too sweet” hand sweep by their ankles, which would suggest/hint they are with Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa (we’ll see about that). The heels worked over Goto, with Evil choking him with a shirt. Okada made the hot tag and nailed Togo with his dropkick to the face. Yoshi and Goto hit their team slam/neckbreaker move to pin Togo. Solid action.
4. Bushi, Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, and Hiromu Takahashi defeated Taka Michinoku, Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, and Taichi at 10:25. All eight men immediately brawled to the floor. In the ring, Minoru and Hiromu traded blows – their second-round match also is Sunday. The heels worked over Bushi. Naito made the hot tag at 6:30 and traded crisp offense with Taichi. The faces took turns hitting big moves on Taka, and Shingo nailed the Pumping Bomber clothesline on Taka for the pin. Minoru and Hiromu brawled to the back.
Out of nowhere, Sho attacked Desperado. He dragged him into the ring, hit a low blow, and nailed Desperado with Desperado’s junior title.
5. Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Douki in a second-round match at 15:28. Douki attacked him before the bell. This is a first singles meeting. Douki held the upper hand early, but Sabre began tying him in knots, and Douki was crying out in pain. Sabre applied a Boston Crab, but Douki reached the ropes at 9:00. Sabre applied a modified Figure Four leg lock, but Douki reached the ropes again. They got to their feet and traded hard blows, and Douki finally dropped Sabre with a hard clothesline, and the crowd was alive. Douki applied his choke-out submission hold and he got a series of nearfalls. Sabre tied him in a knot and Douki tapped out. This was fun.
6. Great-O-Khan defeated Taiji Ishimori in a second-round match at 16:42. They brawled to the floor and Ishimori hit GOK’s arm with a chair. Ishimori was just so much smaller than his opponent. The crowd was quiet early for this heel-heel matchup. Ishimori tied up the damaged arm in the ring. GOK dominated the action on the mat. The crowd rallies for Ishimori, who applied a Crippler Crossface. GOK went for the Eliminator chokeslam, but Ishimori avoided it. Khan tried again and hit it for the pin.
7. Will Ospreay defeated El Phantasmo in a second-round match at 17:29. The crowd was hot before the wrestlers even touched. They trade quick reversals and have a standoff. Ospreay hit a spinning backbreaker at 3:30 and went to work on the lower back. ELP went on offense but sold the pain in his back. ELP hit a dive to the floor and they were both down at 9:00.
Back in the ring, Ospreay hit a cutter. ELP got Ospreay across his shoulders and he spun him to the mat for a nearfall at 12:30. ELP went for a top-rope Poison Rana, but Ospreay landed on his feet. Ospreay immediately hit a sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall at 15:00. ELP got a huracanara for a nearfall. Ospreay went for a Shooting Star Press, but ELP got his knees up. ELP hit a stunner as Ospreay leapt off the ropes, then a Death Valley Driver for a nearfall. ELP hit a frogsplash for a nearfall at 17:00. However, Ospreay hit two consecutive Hidden Blade/running forearms to get the pin. Excellent match. I think they have an even better match in them, but this was really, really good.
8. Sanada defeated Aaron Henare in a second-round match at 25:06. They opened with intense, standing switches. They fought to the floor and Henare slammed Sanada into the ring post, and Sanada sold the back injury, and was nearly counted out at 6:00. Sanada hit a dropkick to Henare’s knee, and they were both down. Sanada tied Henare in the Paradise Lock and hit the basement dropkick at 9:30. Henare hit a Blue Thunder Driver and both were down. Sanada went for a hurricanrana, but Henare caught him and turned it into a Samoan Drop for a nearfall at 13:30.
Sanada hit a TKO stunner for a nearfall. Henare applied a submission hold in the center of the ring at 16:00, and Sanada nearly passed out. They reset to their feet and traded stiff forearms. Sanada applied a sleeper in the center of the ring at 20:00. Sanada went for a moonsault, but Henare got his knees up, and they were both down again. Great-O-Khan has made his way to ringside. They traded stiff forearms while on their knees, then on their feet. Henare hit a headbutt. Henare nailed his Rampage Tackle for a believable nearfall and the crowd is rallying for Sanada. Sanada fired back with a pop-up stunner and a moonsault for the clean pin. Sanada spoke briefly on the mic to close the show.
Final Thoughts: Easily the best Henare singles match I’ve seen, and this topped all expectations. Unsurprisingly, Phantasmo vs. Ospreay was the best match so far of the second round, and perhaps second or third best of the tournament. This was a much better all-around show than Thursday’s outing.
Once again, no big upsets, meaning we are going to have some great matches coming up in the third round. The second-round matches wrap up on Sunday with the return of Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa, and they’ve done a great job making me care about Minoru Suzuki vs. Hiromu Takahashi. That said, Minoru has to hop on a plane soon to be in the United States for his April tour, and that takes some mystery out of who will win their match.