By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Cup – Night Eight”
March 14, 2022 in Kagawa, Japan at Takamatsu City General Gymnasium
Streamed live on New Japan World
No matches had been announced a day ago, beyond the two third-round matches… Kevin Kelly was once again alone on commentary.
1. Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi, and Tomoaki Honma defeated Minoru Suzuki, Taka Michinoku, and El Desperado at 6:37. Passable action. Taguchi applied the ankle lock and Taka tapped out. After the match, Sho once again came out of nowhere and attacked Desperado. They brawled into the ring.
2. El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori, and Bad Luck Fale defeated Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, and Jado at 7:12. They brawled throughout, and Phantasmo pinned Jado after a distraction.
3. Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takagi, and Sanada defeated Evil, Dick Togo, and Chase Owens at 10:38. Much like the previous match, Kelly spent the bulk of the time talking about Jay White, Evil, and the rest of the Bullet Club turning on Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa. Sanada rolled up Togo for the pin. Solid action.
4. Great-O-Khan and Aaron Henare defeated Zack Sabre Jr. & Douki at 10:55. In a fun spot, Douki and Great-O-Khan were pulling on each other’s hair braids, unwilling to let go. O-Khan and Sabre traded some good offense. The crowd was pretty dead for what is essentially a heel-heel matchup. Henare hit a modified brainbuster on Douki for the pin. This was decent action; I knew either Henare or Douki would take the pin, but they are both so improved, I felt this could go either way. After the match, Great-O-Khan stood in the ring and barked at Sabre on the floor. No instant translation, but I’m all in on Sabre vs. O-Khan.
5. Jeff Cobb and Will Ospreay defeated Yoh and Yoshi-Hoshi at 9:47. The crowd was much more lively for this one. Cobb heavily worked over Yoh. Ospreay had medical tape on his lower back. Cobb hit the Spin Cycle/spinning sideslam on Yoh, and Ospreay followed it up with the Hidden Blade/running forearm to Yoh’s face for the pin. Good match. Afterward, both Cobb and Ospreay walked over to the Japan Cup and stared at it, and both vowed to win it. Tension?
6. Master Wato and Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Bushi and Tetsuya Naito at 11:32. Naito and Tanahashi teased a handshake to start but didn’t do it. Late in the match, Tanahashi and Naito traded stiff forearms. Tanahashi hit the High Fly Flow frogspash on Bushi for the pin. Good action. Tanahashi and Naito continued to jaw at each other after the match, leading into their third-round match.
7. Cima defeated Hirooki Goto in a third-round match at 17:17. Plenty of standing reversals to open, then they brawled to the floor at 4:00. Back in the ring, Cima began working over Goto’s neck. Goto hit a top-rope elbow drop for a nearfall at 10:00. Goto hit a neckbreaker for a nearfall at 13:00. Goto nailed a powerbomb, and the crowd was hot. Goto missed the Meteora flying double knees. Goto nailed a flying clothesline to the back of the head, and both men were down at 15:00. Cima hit a springboard Meteora to the back, then a second Meteora to the face for the pin. Kelly called it the “first upset” of the tournament, but I predicted this win.
8. Kazuchika Okada defeated Taichi in a third-round match at 24:12. Kelly talked about how Taichi never quite seems to get over the hump and get that big win against Okada. Intense reversals early, and Okada hit a dropkick that sent Taichi to the floor at 8:00, and they fought on the floor. Back in the ring, Taichi hit a spin kick to the face at 10:30 and they were both down, and the crowd was getting fired up. Taichi hit some Bryan Danielson-style spin kicks to the chest. Okada came back with the Money Clip sleeper hold, but Taichi reached the ropes at 13:00. Okada nailed a top-rope elbow drop, missed a Rainmaker clothesline, but hit a hard dropkick to the face. Okada went back to the Money Clip.
Taichi hit another spin kick to the head, and they were both down again. Taichi hit Okada with a pair of short-arm clotheslines, then a Saito Suplex for a nearfall at 18:30. Taichi hit a powerbomb for a nearfall. Taichi hit an Alabama Slam but was too exhausted to make a cover at 21:30. Okada hit a sit-out powerbomb. Taichi hit an enzuigiri. Okada hit a dropkick and a Rainmaker clothesline for the pin.
Final Thoughts: Good show. Both tournament matches delivered, and the undercard was solid action. We now have Okada vs. Cima as the first quarterfinal match. The tournament continues Tuesday with Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Jeff Cobb vs. Yoshi-Hoshi. The rest of the third-round will play out Thursday and Friday.