NJPW “New Japan Cup 2024” results (3/18): Vetter’s review of Sanada vs. Hirooki Goto, and EVIL vs. Yota Tsuji in New Japan Cup tournament semifinal matches


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

New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Cup 2024”
March 18, 2024 in Fukushima, Japan at Big Palette Fukushima
Streamed live on New Japan World

We are down to our final four of the New Japan Cup tournament. This show features the unlikely semifinal matches of Sanada vs. Hirooki Goto and EVIL vs. Yota Tsuji. This is a large, white sterile room with all seating on the floor. Attendance is maybe 700. Walker Stewart and Gino Gambino provided commentary.

1. “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Zack Sabre Jr. and Mikey Nicholls defeated Shoma Kato and Boltin Oleg at 8:02. Sabre and Oleg opened. Nicholls tagged in at 1:30 to face Kato, and he easily shoved the Young Lion to the mat. Sabre got back in and hit some European Uppercuts. Oleg tagged back in at 4:30 and hit some shoulder tackles. Sabre jumped on his back and applied a sleeper, but Oleg was able to shrug him off. Sabre applied a front guillotine choke on Kato, who tapped out. Okay match; this finisher doesn’t look as painful as some others that Sabre uses.

2. “Just 5 Guys” Taichi, Douki, and Yuya Uemua defeated El Desperado, Tomohiro Ishii, and Togi Makabe at 7:52. Douki and Desperado opened with standing switches, and Desperado hit a spinebuster. Uemura and Ishii traded blows with Ishii. Douki couldn’t lift Togi for a bodyslam at 3:00. Ishii no-sold Douki’s forearm strikes. Douki hit an enzuigiri and a springboard back elbow on Ishii. Taichi hit some Kawada Kicks on Desperado. Ishii and Taichi traded forearm strikes at 5:00. Yuya and Makabe tagged in, with Uemura hitting a dropkick. Uemura hit a huracanrana, applied a crossarm breaker, and Makabe tapped out. Decent action. Taichi and Ishii kept jawing after the bell, then they traded blows.

3. Tanga Loa and Ryusuke Taguchi (w/Jado) defeated “United Empire” Callum Newman and Great-O-Khan at 9:05. O-Khan and Loa opened, with GOK showing off his KOPW title belt. Taguchi and Newman ran the ropes with Taguchi hitting a basement dropkick. In a comedy spot, Taguchi got dizzy watching Newman run the ropes. O-Khan re-entered and hit his Mongolian Chops on Taguchi at 3:30. He applied a Claw to Taguchi’s rear, with more comedy reactions from Taguchi. Loa made the hot tag and hit a crossbody block. O-Khan hit a gut-wrench suplex and they were both down at 7:30. Newman tagged back in and hit a dropkick in the corner on Loa for a nearfall. He hit an enzuigiri on Loa. Taguchi hit a springboard buttbump. Loa applied a crossface, and Newman tapped out. O-Khan limped to the back, clutching that belt.

4. “Bullet Club War Dogs” Kenta, Gabe Kidd, and Chase Owens defeated Yoshi-Hashi, Toru Yano, and Hiroyoshi Tenzan at 8:02. Yano and Kidd opened, with Yano playfully slapping him on the back of his head, which ticked Gabe off. All six brawled to the floor. Back in the ring, Yoshi-Hashi hit a Headhunter overhead neckbreaker on Owens at 4:00. Owens fired back with a senton, and he tagged in Kenta, who hit a DDT for a nearfall. Tenzan tagged in for the first time and hit some Mongolian Chops on each of the heels. Kenta hit Tenzan in the head with a tag team title belt and pinned him.

5. Shota Umino, El Phantasmo, Yoh, and Hikuleo  defeated “House of Torture” Yujiro Takahashi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Ren Narita, and Jack Perry at 10:05. Hikuleo and Narita opened. Hikuleo hit a double clothesline, and he bodyslammed Narita. The babyfaces took turns launching off Hikuleo’s back and slamming into Ren in the corner. ELP was whipped into an exposed corner at 2:30, and the heels began working over Phantasmo in their corner and on the floor. Kanemaru hit a basement dropkick at 5:30.

ELP hit an enzuigiri and he tagged in Yoh, who hit some flying forearms on Kanemaru, and a Dragonscrew Legwhip on Narita. He hit a head-capture suplex on Kanemaru with a bridge for a nearfall. Shota and Perry entered at 7:30, with Perry dropping him with a clothesline. Yujiro hit a fisherman’s suplex on Shota for a nearfall. Narita got his push-up bar but Phantasmo ducked being hit by it. Yujiro got his cane, but Hikuleo kicked him in the face. Shota applied a crossface, and Yujiro tapped out. Yoh once again stole the Juniors Title belt (which belongs to Sho) and raced to the back with it.

6. “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Tetsuya Naito, Hiromu Takahashi, and Bushi defeated “United Empire” Jeff Cobb, TJP, and Francesco Akira at 8:12. No Shingo Takagi tonight after his loss a day ago go EVIL. Bushi started against TJP, but TJP tagged out to Cobb. Bushi wanted out but his teammates hopped off the ring apron! Funny. Naito tried a tornado DDT on Cobb, but Cobb blocked it. TJP and Bushi traded faster offense. Bushi hit a huracanrana at 4:00, then a dive through the ropes onto TJP. Akira and Hiromu entered at 7:00 and they traded offense. Hiromu rolled him up out of nowhere for the pin.

* Here we are! Our final four! I fully believe that Sanada will beat Hirooki Goto. But I also fully believe whoever wins the next match will beat Sanada in the finals. Thus, I predict the winner of the next match will be the New Japan Cup winner.

7. EVIL (w/HoT) vs. Yota Tsuji ended in a no contest in a New Japan Cup semifinal match at 2:00. Tsuji came out first and he dove through the ropes on EVIL as the House of Torture walked to ringside. The House of Torture attacked Tsuji in the ring. Los Ingobernobles de Japon hit the ring for the save. The ref couldn’t get this match under control so he called for the bell and said this was a no contest. The announcers were perplexed because you need a winner to advance to the finals. Yota got on the mic and shouted at EVIL. The match is restarting!

7b) Yota Tsuji defeated EVIL in a New Japan Cup semifinal match at 16:48. So, we’ve restarted with no one at ringside. EVIL was in control early on. Yota hit a Stomp to the head at 6:00. EVIL put Yota’s feet on the ref and hit a Magic Killer swinging slam. EVIL hit a fisherman’s suplex for a nearfall at 8:00, then he hit the Darkness Falls modified powerbomb. He set up for Everything is Evil, but Yota avoided it. Yota shoved EVIL into an exposed turnbuckle, then Yota hit a superkick, and they were both down at 10:00. EVIL hit some clotheslines. Yota fired back with a jumping knee to the chin and a powerbomb.

Yota accidentally hit a double stomp on the ref at 12:30 and IMMEDIATELY the House of Torture ran to ringside and helped beat up Tsuji in the ring. Togo hit his knife-edge chop to Yota’s groin. A new ref came to the ring so the HOT scampered. EVIL nailed a clothesline for a believable nearfall at 14:30. He set up for Everything is Evil but Tsuji blocked it and hit a headbutt, then a powerbomb for a nearfall. Togo distracted the ref and EVIL hit a low blow on Tsuji. This ref was bumped. Shingo Takagi finally showed up to make the save and he hit a double clothesline on the HoT. He punched EVIL. Bushi sprayed mist in EVIL’s eyes! Another ref came to the ring! Tsuji nailed a spear that cut EVIL in half and pinned him. There was a MASSIVE pop when that third arm fell for the pin; no one wanted to see EVIL win!

* A reminder that Hirooki Goto has literally had just ONE tournament match. He had one of the four first-round byes, then he beat Chase Owens in the second round. I fully believe the plan was Goto was going to lose to David Finlay. However, Finlay had a medical situation that forced him to forfeit, and suddenly Goto advanced into the semifinals. I do think that the plan was for Finlay to beat both Goto, then Sanada, to reach the finals. I don’t believe Goto wins here, and with Naito having already faced Sanada twice this year in singles matches, I don’t think Sanada wins the Cup finale. 

8. Hirooki Goto defeated Sanada in a New Japan Cup semifinal match at 19:04. Standing switches to open. Goto clotheslined him to the floor at 3:30. They brawled on the floor. In the ring, Sanada was in charge and he kept Goto grounded. Goto hit a clothesline and they were both down at 8:30. Goto hit a back suplex for a nearfall. Sanada hit a dropkick, then a plancha to the floor. In the ring, Sanada applied Skull End but Goto quickly escaped. Sanada hit a TKO Stunner for a nearfall at 11:00. Goto hit a neckbreaker over his knee and they were both down. They got up and traded forearm strikes.

Sanada put Goto’s feet on the top rope and hit the Magic Screw swinging neckbreaker, and they were both down at 14:30. Sanada hit a Shining Wizard, and he applied the Skull End dragon sleeper on the mat. Sanada let go of the hold and hit a top-rope moonsault for a nearfall. He set up for the Deadfall swinging faceplant, but Goto escaped, and Goto hit a headbutt. Goto hit a running penalty kick to the chest at 17:30. Sanada got a backslide for a nearfall, then an O’Connor Roll for a believable nearfall. He hit a Shining Wizard, but he again couldn’t hit Deadfall. Goto hit a slam for a nearfall, then a clothesline across his knee for the pin.

* Yota Tsuji came to the ring, dressed in his street clothes, and stood across from Goto and spoke to him on the mic. He left with no punches thrown. Goto then spoke on the mic to the crowd.

Final Thoughts: Yes, I was wrong about Sanada winning that match, even though he dominated. It was a decent match, and Sanada carried Goto to a solid showing. But I just find Goto really boring and can’t believe he’s in the finals. The Finlay medical situation left NJPW in a bind — no one thought Sanada was winning the Cup because he JUST had a title match, so why put him in the finals? So instead, a guy who rarely wins singles matches and has had a pretty poor record in the G1 Climax tournament in recent years, advanced to the finals. (For instance, Goto was 3-4 in 2023’s G1 Climax.) Could Goto win the finale? Sure. Should he? Absolutely not. It’s time to give Tsuji this big opportunity against Naito.

The tournament takes a day off on Tuesday, with the finals taking place Wednesday.


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