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NJPW “New Japan Cup” results: Vetter’s review of Sanada vs. Kenta, and Tetsuya Naito vs. Chase Owens in New Japan Cup second-round tournament matches, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada vs. Ren Narita and Shota Umino, Will Ospreay and Aussie Open vs. Hirooki Goto, Yoshi-Hashi, and Tomoaki Honma

By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Cup”
March 11, 2023 in Aichi, Japan at Dolphin’s Arena
Streamed on New Japan World

The New Japan Cup is a 24-man tournament, so we have eight first-round matches with eight byes. So, no show has more than two tournament matches. We are down to 16! This is show five of tournament, featuring the first two second-round matches.

Kevin Kelly provided live commentary.

1. “United Empire” Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb, and Aaron Henare defeated Tama Tonga, Toru Yano, and Oskar Leube at 6:40. The UE attacked before the bell. O-Khan beat up Yano in the corner, and Cobb hit some punches to Toru’s gut. Cobb ‘surfed’ on Yano’s bak at 3:00. Tama entered and hit a double dropkick, and he ripped off his vest. Leube, the German Young Lion, entered and traded blows with Henare. Henare hit a Blue Thunder Bomb on Tama. Leube hit a running powerslam on Henare for a nearfall at 6:00. Henare hit a knee strike to Oskar’s jaw, then the Rampage football tackle for the pin on Leube. Decent.

2. “Bullet Club” El Phantasmo and David Finlay (w/Gedo) defeated “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Zack Sabre Jr. and Kosei Fujita at 8:11. Again, NJPW is telling a story that ELP and Finlay aren’t on the same page, and they couldn’t agree on who would start the match. Finlay hit a backbreaker over his knee on Fujita for a nearfall. Finlay slapped ELP on the chest to tag him in; nothing subtle about that. The BC took turns beating on Fujita. ELP slapped Finlay to tag him back in. Pretty soon, the BC were trading slaps to the face.

Sabre finally made the hot tag at 4:30 and he immediately tied up Phantasmo’s legs, and he put him in a Bow and Arrow. Phantasmo hit a Lionsault on Fujita; he set up for a superkick but Finlay tagged himself in, annoying ELP. ELP hit an enzugiri on Sabre Jr. Fujita dropkicked the Bullet Club into each other. Finlay hit a Blue Thunder Bomb out of nowhere to pin Fujita. I am liking the tension and slow burn of this Phantasmo-Finlay strife.

3. “House of Torture” EVIL, Sho, Yujiro Takahashi, and Dick Togo defeated Taichi, Douki, Taka Michinoku, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru at 8:57. All eight brawled at the bell. The HoT worked over Douki in their corner. Taichi entered at 5:00 and traded blows with EVIL. The HoT began stomping on Taichi and were loudly booed. Taka tied up Sho on the mat and cranked back on his neck. Togo choked Taka with his piano wire. Togo took a swig of alcohol. Kanemaru did too. Yujiro did too, so Sho drank too. Taka hit a superkick on Sho with alcohol spraying everywhere. Sho hit a low blow on Taka, then a piledriver for the pin. Lots of comedy to make this passable.

4. Tomohiro Ishii, Yoh, and Lio Rush defeated “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Shingo Takagi, Bushi, and Hiromu Takahashi at 9:21. Kelly talked about Shingo getting bounced from the New Japan Cup in the first round; none of these six are among the field of 16. Ishii and Shingo started with an intense lockup, and they traded shoulder tackles, then forearm shots, and the crowd was HOT for this early action. Yoh entered and hit a standing neckbreaker on Shingo at 2:00. Shingo hit a dragon screw leg whip. Meanwhile, Hiromu and Lio started fighting on the floor. Bushi entered and hit a dropkick on Yoh’s knee, and LIJ began working over Yoh.

Rush made the hot tag at 5:00 and traded quick reversals with Hiromu. Lio dove between the ropes and barreled onto Hiromu on the floor. In the ring, Lio hit a Death Valley Driver for a nearfall. Hiromu hit a shotgun dropkick into the corner. Bushi tagged back in at 7:00 and hit a basement dropkick on Lio’s knee, then a dive through the ropes onto Lio. In the ring, Bushi hit a swinging neckbreaker on Lio for a nearfall. Ishii and Shingo hopped back in the ring and kept brawling. Lio hit a corkscrew dive to the floor. In the ring, Lio hit the Final Hour frogsplash on Bushi for the pin. The finish came out of nowhere but it was fun action.

* Lio Rush and Hiromu kept glaring at each other after the match; they will face each other for Hiromu’s IWGP Junior Title later this month.

* Aaron Henare joined Kevin Kelly on commentary. Is voice is really low.

5. “United Empire” Will Ospreay, Mark Davis, and Kyle Fletcher defeated Tomoaki Honma and “Bishamon” Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi at 10:46. Fletcher and Goto started, as NJPW continues to build to an Aussie Open-Bishamon tag title match. Bishamon hit a team shoulder tackle on Davis. Honma missed his Kokeshi falling headbutt. AO slammed Bishamon’s backs into each other at 3:00. Kelly talked with Henare about his big victory over Shingo a day ago. Ospreay hit a backbreaker over his knee on Yoshi-Hashi, and UE began working over YH in their corner.

Goto hit a clothesline on Fletcher, then a double bulldog on AO at 6:30. Honma entered and hit a Facewash running boot on Ospreay. Ospreay fired back with a Mafia Kick on Honma, then a springboard flying forearm for a believable nearfall at 8:30. Ospreay set up for Hidden Blade, but Honman cut him off. Honma hit a double Flatliner on AO, and Honma hit the Kokeshi on Ospreay for a nearfall. AO hit a team stunner move on Goto.

Ospreay set up for the Hidden Blade, but Davis tagged himself in! Davis and Fletcher hit the Koryalis swinging slam on Honma for the pin. Ospreay was livid at Davis for stealing his pin. I like this tension leading into their second-round matchup. Good match overall. “I haven’t seen that annoyed face on Will before,” Henare said.

6. Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Shota Umino and Ren Narita at 13:33. All four brawled at the bell, and Ren and Shota worked over Okada early. Shota put Okada in a Texas Cloverleaf; Shota let it go to stand toe-to-toe with Tanahashi. Okada and Tanahashi worked over Narita. Tanahashi hit a second-rope summersault senton on Ren for a nearfall at 5:00. Shota made the hot tag and he traded blows with Tanahashi; their ring attire is nearly identical tonight, and Kelly pointed it out, saying it’s clear how Hiroshi has had a big influence on Shota.

Tanahashi hit a Twist and Shout neckbreaker on Umino at 7:30. Okada made the hot tag and he applied the Money Clip sleeperhold on Shota. Ren made the hot tag and he hit a series of forearms on Okada, then a Northern Lights Suplex for a nearfall at 9:30. Kelly pointed out that Ren has a bloody nose. Okada hit his big dropkick. Okada hit a clothesline on Ren. Ren avoided a Rainmaker, and he applied a sleeperhold at 11:30!

Okada hit the Rainmaker clothesline on Narita, but before he could make the cover, Umino attacked him. Okada hit a top-rope elbow drop on Umino, and Tanahashi immediately hit the High Fly Flow on Shota, and they shoved Shota out of the ring. Okada then hit a second Rainmaker clothesline on Narita for the pin. Entertaining match; I like how they are showing Shota is really fighting for respect in trying to be seen as a main eventer.

7. Tetsuya Naito defeated Chase Owens in a second-round New Japan Cup tournament match at 18:10. Naito defeated El Phantasmo to advance to face Owens, who had a bye. Chase attacked before the bell. Naito applied a kravat and worked the neck. They went to the floor, where Naito whipped Chase into the guardrail at 3:00. Chase hit a Russian leg sweep sending Naito into the guardrail, and he took control. In the ring, Owens hit a swinging neckbreaker at 7:00. He kept Naito grounded on the mat.

Naito hit a Rude Awakening standing neckbreaker, and they were both down. Naito applied a leglock around Chase’s head and shoulders at 10:30. Chase hit a running knee to the chest for a nearfall. Naito hit a second-rope Blockbuster. He set up for a Destino but Chase dropped to the mat to avoid it at 14:00. Naito hit an enzuigiri, then the Destino for a believable nearfall, and I thought that was it. Chase hit a jumping knee and they were both down.

Chase hit a short-arm clothesline for a nearfall. He set up for a Package Piledriver, but Naito fought free. They fought on the ropes in the corner, and Chase hit a second-rope Styles Clash for a nearfall at 17:30. Chase nailed a C-Trigger kneestrike, but he again couldn’t hit the Package Piledriver. Naito got a Victory Roll for the pin. Chase was stunned and angry and in disbelief.

8. Sanada defeated Kenta in a second-round New Japan Cup tournament match at 28:50. Standing switches to open, and Kenta kept Sanada grounded with a headlock. They brawled on the floor at 4:30. Kenta whipped Sanada into the guardrail and was in charge. In the ring, Kenta hit a hard kick to the back as Sanada was seated on the mat at 6:30. Kenta tried to tie him in the Paradise Lock but couldn’t figure it out. Kenta got some tape and tied Sanada up on the mat at 9:30; the ref eventually freed Sanada.

Sanada hit a back suplex, and they were both down at 12:30. Sanada hit a plancha and got a nearfall in the ring. Kenta hit a top-rope clothesline for a nearfall at 15:00, and he applied an STF. Sanada hit some European Uppercuts and Kenta fired back with some forearm shots. Sanada hit a second-rope missile dropkick at 18:30. The ref got bumped. Kenta hit a DDT, and he got a chair, but the ref confiscated it. Kenta pushed Sanada into the ref.

Kenta hit Sanada across the back three times with the steel chair, then once across the top of the head. He barely grazed Sanada on a top-rope doublestomp to the chest and got a nearfall at 22:30. Kenta picked him up for Go To Sleep, but Sanada fought free. Kenta hit a series of open-hand slaps to the face; he again went for Go To Sleep, but Sanada got free again. Kenta switched to a crossface move on the mat; Sanada finally reached the ropes at 25:00.

Sanada nailed a TKO stunner and was fired up. He hit a top-rope moonsault for a believable nearfall at 26:30. Kenta again pushed Sanada into the ref, and the ref was down again. Kenta hit a low blow uppercut, then he got his New Japan Strong title belt from ringside and hit Sanada with it. However, Sanada hit a punt kick, sending the title belt into Kenta’s face. He hit the Jay White Blade Runner swinging faceplant for the pin. Methodical at times, but they kept me engaged.

* Sanada spoke on the mic to close out the show.

Final Thoughts: After Sanada beat Taichi in the first round, Kevin Kelly really pushed that Sanada is on a ‘redemption tour’ and we saw that again here. I really wouldn’t be surprised if Sanada wins a couple more tournament matches.

I never thought for a second that Chase was beating Naito, but I like that he kicked out of a Destino, and he got close a few times; NJPW has made it clear that no one kicks out of Chase’s package piledriver, so it was a nice tease when he set up for it.

The tournament continues Sunday with Tama Tonga vs. Aaron Henare and Kyle Fletcher vs. Hirooki Goto in second-round matches.


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