By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Cup”
March 13, 2023 in Ehime, Japan at Item Ehime
Streamed on New Japan World
This is show seven of tournament, featuring two second-round matches. Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, Hirooki Goto, and Tama Tonga have already advanced to the quarterfinals.
Kevin Kelly provided live commentary. This is one of the smaller, industrial-looking buildings with all seating on the floor, and there are perhaps 800 in attendance.
1. “The Bullet Club” Chase Owens and Kenta defeated Ren Narita and Oskar Leube at 9:26. Early in the match, Chase chop-blocked the back of Leube’s left leg, and the BC worked him over. Narita finally made the hot tag at 5:00 and battled Kenta. Owens hit a knee strike to the side of Leube’s head for the pin. Basic Young Lions match.
2. Shota Umino and Tama Tonga (w/Jado) defeated “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Zack Sabre Jr. and Kosei Fujita at 11:01. Umino and Sabre will meet on Wednesday for one of the final two quarterfinal slots. Kelly talked about the absolute fight Tama had a day ago against Aaron Henare, and he added that Tama could face Shota in the semi-finals if they keep advancing. Sabre and Shota opened with nice reversals. Fujita hit a belly-to-belly suplex on Shota at 5:00. Sabre got back in and worked over Shota’s left arm.
Tama entered at 7:00 to face Fujita, and Tama hit a hard clothesline and ripped off his vest. Tama applied a Sharpshooter, dragged Fujita to the center of the ring, but Fujita eventually reached the ropes. Fujita got a backslide for a believable nearfall on Tama. Tama nailed the Gun Stun stunner for the pin. Really fun final two minutes as Fujita got some fun nearfalls.
3. “House of Torture” Sho and Yujiro Takahashi defeated Taichi and Taka Michinoku at 9:16. All four brawled at the bell. The HoT took turns beating up Taka. Taichi made the hot tag at 5:30 and beat up Sho and Yujiro. The crowd was really quiet, as no one here is really a babyface. Sho hit a spear. Taka entered and put Yujiro in a crossface, but Sho made the save. Yujiro nailed the Pimp Juice DDT on Taka for the pin. Basic stuff.
4. “United Empire” Great-O-Khan, Kyle Fletcher, and Aaron Henare defeated “Bullet Club” David Finlay, El Phantasmo, and Gedo at 11:04. Again, NJPW is telling a story that Finlay and Phantasmo aren’t seeing eye-to-eye. Henare and Gedo opened, and Henare hit some punches to the gut and Gedo immediately called for a timeout. Funny. Henare applied a Full Nelson in the first minute, but Gedo’s teammates made the save, and the BC all stalled on the floor. ELP and Fletcher squared off at 2:00 and traded rollups for nearfalls.
Finlay beat up Fletcher on the floor, then in the ring. Fletcher finally hit a suplex and made the hot tag to Great-O-Khan at 8:00. O-Khan hit a gutwrench suplex on Finlay for a nearfall, and he applied an Anaconda Vice on the mat, but FInlay reached the ropes. Finlay nailed a backbreaker over his knee. Gedo tagged in at 10:00 to fight O-Khan. O-Khan applied the Sheepkiller submission hold, and Gedo tapped out. Good action. Great-O-Khan and Finlay, who wil meet in the second round on Wednesday, continued to argue after the bell.
* Chase Owens joined Kelly on commentary for the remainder of the show.
5. “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Sanada, Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Bushi, and Hiromu Takahashi defeated Hirooki Goto, Yoh, Tomohiro Ishii, Lio Rush, and Yoshi-Hashi at 12:15. Once again, Shingo and Ishii opened and immediately traded forearm shots. Sanada tied Yoshi-Hashi in the Paradise Lock at 3:30 and kicked his butt to break the hold. Yoshi-Hashi hit a suplex on Naito. Lio and Hiromu entered at 6:00 and traded fast reversals, with Lio hitting a pair of dives between the ropes. In the ring, Hiromu hit a pop-up powerbomb.
Bushi entered at 8:00. Lio hit a handspring-back-elbow and he tagged in Yoh. Yoh hit a Northern Lights Suplex with a bridge for a nearfall on Bushi. Shingo tagged in for the first time. Ishii got back in so they could go back to trading shoulder tackles. Lio hit a spin kick on Shingo’s head, allowing Yoh to get a Falcon Arrow for a nearfall on Shingo. Bushi nailed a dive to the floor at 12:00. Shingo nailed a Pumping Bomber clothesline to pin Yoh. That was really good; with 10 men involved, the action kept going so everyone could get some moves in.
6. EVIL (w/Dick Togo) defeated Jeff Cobb (w/Kyle Fletcher, Aaron Henare) in a second-round New Japan Cup tournament match at 17:40. Togo reached into the ring and grabbed Cobb’s ankle, allowing EVIL to attack at the bell. Cobb took control early on, hitting a nice delayed vertical suplex for a nearfall at 3:00, and he ‘surfed’ on EVIL’s back; he dragged Togo in the ring and surfed on both of them. They brawled to the floor, where EVIL shoved Cobb back-first into the guardrail. EVIL put a chair over Cobb’s head and hit it with another chair at 5:00.
In the ring, EVIL choked Cobb with a T-shirt and was in charge. Cobb hit a kick to the head and a dropkick at 7:30. “Such a big man to be doing that,” Owens said. Cobb hit a running powerslam for a nearfall. EVIL hit a fisherman’s suplex for a nearfall. EVIL hit the Darkness Falls powerbomb for a nearfall, and they were both down at 10:00. Cobb fired back with the Spin Cycle swinging back suplex. Cobb slammed EVIL off the second-rope and got a nearfall.
The ref got bumped, and Dick Togo immediately hopped in to help, but Cobb hit a Magic Killer slam, then a standing moonsault for a nearfall at 13:00. Cobb set up for the Tour of the Islands, but EVIL escaped. EVIL grabbed the ref, and the ref slapped EVIL, allowing Cobb to hit a German Suplex. Cobb blocked an Everything is Evil attempt. The ref got bumped again, and Togo choked Cobb until Kyle Fletcher and Aaron Henare made the save, and they carried Togo to the back. EVIL put handcuffs on Great-O-Khan, who was on Japanese commentary.
The four members of the House of Torture suddenly got in the ring to attack Cobb, and they put their boots to Cobb as the crowd loudly booed. Togo hit a low blow uppercut, and Sho hit Cobb with his wrench, and Yujiro hit Cobb with his walking stick. EVIL nailed the Everything is Evil (Rock Bottom) uranage for the tainted pin.
7. Will Ospreay defeated Mark Davis in a second-round New Japan Cup tournament match at 19:57. The rest of the “United Empire” stood at ringside, and these teammates shook hands before the bell. They opened in a knucklelock and traded offense as Kelly talked about what a huge opportunity this is for Davis. Ospreay hit some hard chops; Davis fired back with one that dropped Ospreay. Davis clotheslined Ospreay to the floor at 3:00. Davis dropped him throat-first on the guardrail and hit some knee lifts to the chest. “Why would you hit your friends that hard, Kevin?” Chase asked. Davis wrapped Ospreay in the floor padding and hit a senton on him.
Back in the ring, Davis was in control as he cranked on Ospreay’s left arm and shoulder, and Kelly wondered if it was separated. Davis hit another senton at 6:00 and a series of chops in the corner. Ospreay fired back with an enzuigiri and a handspring-back-enzuigiri, and they were both down at 8:00. Ospreay hit a springboard flying forearm for a nearfall, and he hit a hard kick to the back of the left leg, then a dragon screw leg whip. Ospreay immediately put him in the Figure Four, but Davis reached the ropes at 10:00.
Ospreay hit a dropkick on the knee and Davis shrieked in pain. Ospreay went back to the Figure Four. Davis hit a springboard forearm as Ospreay was straddling the top rope. Davis nailed a top-rope superplex for a nearfall at 12:30. They got up and traded forearms, and Ospreay looked punch-drunk. Ospreay hit a series of kicks to the left knee. Ospreay nailed a top-rope forearm to the back of the head at 15:30; he charged at Davis but Mark dropped him with a clothesline, and they were both down. Ospreay nailed a Crucifix Takedown for a nearfall, then a springboard Oscutter for a believable nearfall.
Davis avoided a Hidden Blade and he nailed an enziguri, and they were both down. They fought on the ropes in the corner, and Davis hit a clothesline that sent them both to the mat. Davis nailed a decapitating clothesline for a believable nearfall at 18:30. In one smooth move, Davis yanked Ospreay into his arms and hit a piledriver for a nearfall. Nice. Ospreay hit a butterfly powerbomb for a nearfall, and Davis was stumbling. Ospreay immediately hit the Hidden Blade forearm strike to the jaw for the pin.
* Ospreay got on the mic and said a few words in Japanese. In English, he said the United Empire is the strongest faction in wrestling today, but “we must win the New Japan Cup.” He addressed his quarterfinal opponent, EVIL, saying he will take him down.
Final Thoughts: The main event lived up to my high expectations of a Will Ospreay match. As I wrote a day ago, Ospreay has to be seen as the tournament favorite. Davis delivered in a big spot and had some nice, believable nearfalls. This is definitely one of my favorite matches of the tournament.
I was hoping for Cobb to win, not just because he’s a better wrestler, but I wanted to see Ospreay have to fight another teammate. Their match was fine; it had all the tricks and cheating you’d expect from an EVIL match in 2023.
After a day off, the second round concludes on Wednesday with Great-O-Khan vs. David Finlay and Shota Umino vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
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