By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Cup – Night Nine”
March 15, 2022 in Okayama, Japan at ZIP Arena
Streamed live on New Japan World
Kevin Kelly was once again alone on commentary. He talked quite a bit about Scott Hall early in the show, and how he was trained by a Japanese wrestler, and his prior matches in Japan. There was a lot there that I didn’t know.
1. Tiger Mask and Tomoaki Honma defeated Ryusuke Taguchi and Ryohei Oiwa at 9:30. The match was longer than it needed to be. I was never amused with Taguchi’s silly butt-based offense, and it has worn thin over time. Honma got Oiwa to tap out to a Boston Crab.
2. El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori defeated Master Wato and Kosei Fujita at 7:49. Decent action. For weeks, even before Jay White turned on Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa, they have teased tension between Ishimori and Phantasmo. I wondered if they would wind up on different sides of the Bullet Club split. That storyline seemingly vanished here, as they got along just fine. Ishimori pinned Fujita.
After the match, the heels continued to beat down Wato and Fujita until Taguchi made the save. It seemingly set up a future match of Phantasmo and Ishimori vs. Taguchi and Wato.
3. Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, and Gedo defeated Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, and Jado at 8:50. Lots of brawling at the start before they entered the ring, and the crowd was fully behind the Guerrillas of Destiny duo of Tonga and Loa. Owens hit a lot blow on Jado, then a C-Trigger (what Kenny Omega calls a V-Trigger) for the pin.
4. Great-O-Khan, Will Ospreay, and Aaron Henare defeated Zack Sabre Jr., Taka Michinoku, and El Desperado at 8:40. O-Khan and Sabre opened; these two will meet Thursday in a third-round match. Henare overpowered Desperado with some stiff blows. Taka nailed a superkick on Henare for a nearfall. This was really good, fast-paced action, with Henare pinning Taka. After the bell, Sabre and Great-O-Khan fought more on the floor. Easily best match so far.
5. Shingo Takagi, Sanada, Bushi, and Hiromu Takahashi defeat Evil, Sho, Dick Togo, and Yujiro Takahashi at 9:27. Kelly noted that Hiromu was the lone junior-heavyweight to make it this far in the tournament. Like in the prior match, this is a showcase preview for Hiromu vs. Evil in their upcoming match. Everyone brawled early, and the heels began to gang up on Bushi. Hiromu made the hot tag at 5:30 and battled Evil. Togo got his steel cable and choked Shingo. However, Shingo nailed the Pumping Bomber clothesline on Togo for the pin.
6. Kazuchika Okada, Yoh, and Hirooki Goto defeated Minoru Suzuki, Douki, and Taichi at 8:42. Taichi overpowered Yoh in the ring, while Okada and Suzuki brawled on the floor. Yoh hit Suzuki with some forearms, but Suzuki just laughed at the blows. Suzuki went for a Gotch Style Piledriver on Goto, but Goto avoided it. Sho hit a plancha to the floor on two guys, leaving just Goto and Douki in the ring. Goto hit a Death Valley Driver for the pin.
7. Jeff Cobb defeated Yoshi-Hoshi in a third-round match at 17:21. Yoshi-Hoshi went for some shoulder blocks early, but Cobb didn’t budge. They brawled to the floor, and Cobb was in charge of the action. Cobb’s left leg has been wrapped all tournament. Yoshi-Hoshi gave him a dragon screw leg whip at 7:30, and Cobb really sold the pain from the move. Yoshi-Hoshi began going to work on the injured limb, hitting several basement dropkicks on it.
Yoshi-Hoshi went for a plancha to the floor, but Cobb caught him and rammed his body into the ring post at 10:00. Back in ring, Cobb hit a standing moonsault for a nearfall, and Kelly talked about how Cobb now wants to end this quickly so he can get off that injured leg. Yoshi-Hoshi nailed a Canadian Destroyer out of nowhere for a nearfall, and he immediately applied a leglock on the injured left leg. Cobb hit a powerbomb but was too injured to make the cover, and both were down at 12:30.
They traded stiff forearm shots in the middle of the ring, and Yoshi-Hoshi hit a Dragon Suplex. They traded clotheslines. Cobb hit the Spin Cycle/spinning side slam for a nearfall at 14:30. Yoshi-Hoshi got another leglock on, but Cobb eventually got to the ropes. Yoshi-Hoshi hit a clothesline for a nearfall at 16:30, then a fisherman suplex for a nearfall. Cobb hit a pop-up headbutt, then a Tour of the Islands (spinning powerslam) for the pin. A really good match that made Yoshi-Hoshi look strong in defeat.
8. Tetsuya Naito defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi in a third-round match at 18:40. The crowd was immediately hot before these guys even locked up. They traded some standing reversals, and Tanahashi mocked Naito by doing the Tranquillo pose on the mat. Naito worked over the neck. Tanahashi threw a dropkick and was in charge. Tanahashi hit a German Suplex at 13:30 for a nearfall.
Tanahashi went to the top rope, but Naito pushed the ref into the ropes, crotching Tanahashi on the corner. Naito hit a Blockbuster in the corner and a German suplex. Tanahashi hit several spinning faceplants. Tanahashi hit a High Fly Flow frogsplah, but he missed a second one. Naito immediately got a jacknife rollup for the clean pin. Good match.
Final Thoughts: Both tournament matches were really good. I fully expected Naito and Cobb to win, but there were definitely moments where it was possible that Tanahashi was going to pull off an upset (I never thought Yoshi-Hoshi had a believable nearfall). Cobb vs. Naito should be really good.
The tournament takes an off-day on Wednesday, and returns for the rest of the third round on Thursday and Friday.