By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Cup – Night Thirteen”
March 21, 2022 in Niigata, Japan
Streamed live on New Japan World
Kevin Kelly was back on commentary. Chris Charlton will return for the semi-finals and finals next weekend. In an interesting note, Kelly said this is a holiday in Japan, so this crowd is much larger than what would typically be expected for a Monday show.
1. Satoshi Kojima, Tiger Mask, and Yuto Nakashima defeated Togi Makabe, Ryohei Oiwa, and Kosei Fujita at 7:15. Standard match with mostly young lions in the ring. Kojima pinned Oiwa.
2. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomohiro Ishii, and Toru Yano defeated Minoru Suzuki, Douki, and Taichi at 10:26. Yano opened against Taichi, but Minoru got in early and worked over Yano. Ishii got in and ran over Suzuki. Douki tied up Tanahashi in a submission hold. Tanahashi came back with the High Fly Flow frogsplash on Douki for the pin. Good match. Suzuki and Ishii brawled at ringside some more after the bell.
3. Taiji Ishimori, El Phantasmo, Gedo, Bad Luck Fale, and Chase Owens defeated Jado, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Master Wato, and Ryusuke Taguchi at 9:43. Kevin Kelly told us that “something happened to Hikuleo” at the New Japan Strong taping in Florida late Sunday night (I haven’t read spoilers) that is fallout from the Bullet Club-Guerrillas of Destiny split. All ten wrestlers brawled to the floor; this is the same 10-man tag from Sunday’s show.
The heels extensively worked over Jado. Phantasmo and Tama Tonga traded some good offense. Late in the match, Gedo distracted the ref, allowing Phantasmo to hit Taguchi with a title belt to the back of the head to score the tainted pin. The heels continued a beatdown after the bell, until Tanahashi ran to the ring, sending off the Bullet Club to the back. Tanahashi helped Tonga, Loa, and Gedo to their feet with a handshake, also signifying they are now united. Nice build on this story over the past week.
4. EVIL, Sho, and Yujiro Takahashi defeated Taka Michinoku, El Desperado, and Yohinobu Kanemaru at 10:41. Once again, the main storyline here is the feud between Sho and Desperado, and they opened the action with some good stiff offense. Kanemaru and Evil fought on the floor. This action is much better today, as everyone was fighting non-stop in and out of the ring. Yujjiro hit Big Juice/faceplant DDT on Taka for the pin.
5. Jeff Cobb, Aaron Henare, and Great-O-Khan defeated Hirooki Goto, Yoshi-Hoshi, and Tomoaki Honma at 10:44. Honma is clearly in this match to eat the pin. O-Khan and Goto opened, as Kelly told us if there is ever a day to score a pin on Cobb, this is it, a day after his disappointing loss to Tetsuya Naito. Pretty basic action throughout; not bad, but no memorable spots either. Late in the match, O-Khan nailed some Mongolian chops on Honma, who hit his Kokeshi diving headbutt on Cobb, and the crowd came alive. Honma tried jumping off the second rope, but Cobb caught him, and hit the Tour of the Islands spinning powerslam for the pin.
6. Kazuchika Okada and Yoh defeated Tetsuya Naito and Bushi at 10:07. Of course, this is a preview of Okada vs. Naito in the semifinals this Saturday. They opened against each other with some quick reversals. Bushi and Naito did some nice team moves on Yoh, who suddenly got a rollup on Bushi for the pin.
7. Shingo Takagi defeated Hiromu Takahashi in a quarterfinal tournament match at 23:41. Because these two have been teammates since Shingo joined New Japan two or three years ago, this is a first-time-ever singles match. Hiromu ran and attacked Shingo at the bell. They brawled to the floor, and Shingo tossed Hiromu into the guardrails a couple times. Hiromu hit a powerbomb on the floor, and both men were down at 10:00, and the crowd was hot.
Back in the ring, Shingo had taken control of the action, hitting a dragon screw leg whip at 13:30, then a series of short-arm clotheslines and a powerbomb for a nearfall. Hiromu nearly passed out from an STF. They got to their feet and traded stiff forearm shots. Hiromu hit a German Suplex. Shingo nailed the Made In Japan sit-out powerbomb for a believable nearfall at 18:00. The crowd is really fired up now. Hiromu hit a superkick and a Canadian Destroyer for a nearfall, and they were both down at 19:30.
Hiromu hit a Time Bomb/spinning bodyslam for a nearfall, then a series of superkicks until Shingo finally went down. Shingo hit a neckbreaker as Hiromu was tied in the ropes. Shingo hit his Pumping Bomber clothesline for a believable nearfall. Shingo immediately followed it up with a Last of the Dragon/sitdown DVD for the pin. Excellent, excellent match; definitely among top five of this whole tournament. Worth reiterating these two had never fought before but they had immediate chemistry.
8. Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Will Ospreay in a quarterfinal tournament match at 23:06. We went from a first-time-ever match to a match of very familiar foes. Ospreay stalled early. Sabre tied him up on the mat and went to work on the left arm. They brawled to the floor. In the ring, Sabre went for a move off the ropes, but Ospreay caught him with a spin kick to the chest at 9:00. Ospreay nailed a plancha to the floor. Back in the ring, Ospreay went for a springboard move, but his leg buckled, and he immediately sold a left leg injury. Sabre targeted the left ankle.
As they sat on the mat, they kicked at each other’s chests, then traded stiff slaps. They got to their feet and traded hard slaps and forearms. Ospreay nailed a spinning backbreaker over his knee at 13:00 and they were both down. This was a great two minutes of action. They brawled back to the floor, where Ospreay hit the Oss-cutter, and they were both down at 16:30. Sabre applied a leglock, hanging off the ring apron, as Ospreay was tied in the ropes and Ospreay screamed in pain.
Back in the ring, Sabre went back to targeting the injured leg. They traded mat reversals and Sabre got a believable nearfall at 22:00. Ospreay fired back with a sit-out powerbomb for a believable nearfall. The crowd was really hot now. Sabre suddenly applied a submission hold around the neck, while simultaneously yanking back on the leg, and Ospreay tapped out. That was quick!
After the match, Ospreay yelled at the ref, defiant in saying he didn’t tap out. Kevin Kelly said this same ref didn’t stop the Sabre vs. Sanada match quickly enough when Sanada was clearly loopy, and that may have played into how quickly the bell was called for here. Sabre walked over to Kevin Kelly at ringside and spoke on the mic, telling him it was hard-fought match. Sabre rolled into the ring and said three sentences in Japanese, getting a nice applause. He then switched to English and reiterated he just beat the 2021 New Japan Cup winner. He vowed to win this year’s Cup, and the heavyweight title.
Final Thoughts: Two fantastic matches to end a very good show. After a rapid-fire pace of shows the past two weeks, New Japan takes a break until Saturday.