By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Cup – Night Twelve”
March 20, 2022 in Niigata, Japan
Streamed live on New Japan World
Kevin Kelly was back on solo commentary.
1. Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, and Yoh defeated Kosei Fujita, Yuto Nakashima, and Ryohei Oiwa at 8:40. I am really liking what I’m seeing from these three young lions when they are put in the ring with some of New Japan’s better workers. Ishii, of course, unloaded some stiff shots on everyone he faced. Nakashima put Yoh in a Boston Crab; he is really big, and much bigger than Yoh. However, Yoh came back with a Falcon Arrow for the pin. What you’d expect here.
2. Yoshi-Hoshi and Hirooki Goto defeated Satoshi Kojima and Hiroshi Tanahashi at 11:30. Kelly speculated that if Kojima and Tanahashi won, they could earn tag title shots. Yoshi-Hoshi and Goto hit their team sit-down slam move for the pin on Kojima. Good action.
3. Chase Owens, Taiji Ishimori, El Phantasmo, Bad Luck Fale, and Gedo defeat Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Jado, Ryusuke Taguchi, and Master Wato at 10:43. Kelly explained how Taguchi and Wato aligned with the Guerrillas of Destiny on Friday’s show In Tokyo, calling it “one of the most unlikely pairings in a long time.” The heels heavily worked over Wato, with all of them standing on him against the ropes. Tama Tonga and El Phantasmo traded some good offense. Owens distracted the ref, and Gedo hit Jado with brass knuckles, allowing Owens to pin Jado.
4. Evil, Sho, Yujiro Takahashi, and Dick Togo defeated Taka Michinoku, Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru at 10:54. The main feud here is El Desperado vs. Sho, and they argued before the bell. This was essentially heel-heel, so Suzuki-Gun were the default babyfaces. Sho and Desperado got in at 6:00 and traded some good offense, with Sho applying a Divorce Court armbreaker. Desperado hit a nice spinebuster but sold the left arm injury. Evil and Minoru Suzuki tagged in and fought. Yujiro hit his faceplant DDT on Taka for the pin. Okay action. Sho and Desperado brawled more after the bell.
5. Bushi, Shingo Takagi, and Hiromu Takahashi defeated Tomoaki Honma, Togi Makabe, and Tiger Mask at 7:59. Kelly reiterated that the crowd Friday at Korukuen Hall was the largest since Feb. 2020 (pre-pandemic). The storyline here is that teammates Shingo and Hiromu will face each other, for the first time ever, on Monday in the quarterfinals. Shingo hit the Pumping Bomber clothesline on Honma for the pin. They never teased any dissension between the LIJ teammates, which was mildly surprising. Where was the inadvertent attack, and questioning a teammate’s loyalty? The trio did their raised-arm pose together, but Hiromu seemed cautious and hesitant.
6. Will Ospreay, Great-O-Khan, and Aaron Henare defeated Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi, and Douki at 10:35. Ospreay and Sabre jawed at each other before the bell, highlighting their quarterfinal match on Monday. The crowd was quiet early, as again, these are heel factions. Ospreay hit a spinning backbreaker on Taichi for a nearfall at 4:00, and the heels worked over Taichi in the corner. Sabre’s team then took turns working over Henare. However, Henare hit is modified brainbuster on Douki for the pin. Sabre and Ospreay argued some more; they never actually touched during the match.
7. Tetsuya Naito pinned Jeff Cobb in a quarterfinal tournament match at 19:01. Lots of stalling and posing early, with Cobb doing the “tranquillo” pose on the mat. They brawled to the floor. In the ring, Cobb held Naito upside down, then tossed him to the mat at 7:30. Naito rolled out of the way of a standing moonsault. Pretty basic offense for the first 10 minutes or so. Cobb hit a top-rope superplex for a nearfall at 14:30, and the crowd was hot. Naito hit a springboard DDT.
In a neat spot, Naito went for Destino, but Cobb reversed him into a modified Samoan Drop; both men were down and the crowd was really hot. Cobb nailed a hard spear, then hit a gut-wrench powerbomb for a nearfall at 18:00. Cobb went for Tour of the Islands but Naito countered a Destino. Cobb went for yet another big move, but Naito got a schoolboy roll-up for the clean pin. Very good match, especially the last five minutes. I expected Cobb to win here; he looked stunned and devastated.
8. Kazukchika Okada defeated Cima in a quarterfinal tournament match at 20:52. This is a first-time meeting, and the crowd is hot at the bell. They opened with good, intense mat reversals. They fought to the floor, where Cima hit a DDT, then a running Meteora from the ring apron to the floor at 7:30. They brawled in the ring, then back to the floor, where Okada hit a DDT at 11:00.
In the ring, Okada hit a top-rope elbow drop, but he missed a Rainmaker. Cima countered with a Lungblower at 14:30. Cima hit the springboard Meteora to the back of the head, but he missed a second one. Kelly reminded us this is how Cima beat Goto. Okada nailed a tombstone piledriver and both men were down at 15:30. Cima hit a Lungblower out of the corner, then a top-rope double stomp to Okada’s chest. Okada applied the Money Clip sleeper hold. Okada hit a pair of clotheslines at 20:00. Cima threw a superkick. Okada countered with a Michinoku Driver, then a Rainmaker, for the pin. Cima shook Okada’s hand and bowed. Classy finish.
Final Thoughts: A very good first-time-ever match between Okada and Cima. I had Cobb over Shingo in the finals, so I’m stunned by the Naito win. but it was hardly a decisive win. It’s just disappointing because Cobb wins over Naito and Okada would permanently put him in the top tier; this loss defines him down a notch. I again want to praise Kevin Kelly for doing another show entirely by himself. I can’t imagine it is easy to be conversational with an audience that can’t respond to him. The quarterfinals conclude Monday with Sabre vs. Ospreay, and Shingo Takagi vs. Hiromu Takahashi, then we have a rare break until the weekend.