New Japan Pro Wrestling
NEW JAPAN CUP 2019
Day 4 – 3/11/19
Takamatsu City General Gymnasium, Kagawa
Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero on commentary.
First Round Match
DAVEY BOY SMITH, JR. vs TORU YANO
Yano wont get in the ring to begin with so Smith heads out to get him and ends up chasing Yano through the crowd. Its a fun little chase that finally goes back to the ring, the bell rings and Yano gets a rollup for an early 2. They trade backslide attempts, Smith gets it for 2 and runs through Yano with a tackle. The action spills outside and Smith works over Yano, we head back inside and Yano goes for the eyes and tries to choke Smith with tape but Smith cuts him off and lays in boots, so Yano heads out again but Smith ties him in the barricade and goes to work again. Smith brings Yano to the announce position and drops Yano knee-first on the table hard.
Yano is sent back inside as Smith keeps Yano slowed down and grounded. Smith evades a shot at the exposed corner as Yano hits it hard, and Smith follows with a scoop into a reverse DDT and covers for 2. Powerbomb attempt gets blocked into a rollup by Yano for 2, then gets a cradle for 2, Smith gets a cradle of his own for 2, Smith blocks a low-blow and evades another one, but Yano gets another rollup and this time picks up the 3 count and the WIN!
Toru Yano defeats Davey Boy Smith Jr by pinfall after a rollup to advance
JAY’S RATING: 2.25 out of 5
So, I’m giving this 2 out of 5 because its hard to give more to a match this short and straight-up. But I’m also a HUGE Toru Yano fan, so this did exactly what it needed to do and I love Yano advancing to fuck shit up in the tournament yet again, as Smith isnt necessarily on a path toward a main event picture yet as it currently stands. Yano isnt either, but Yano’s gimmick is more fun, so I’m glad to see him move forward here in classic Sublime Master Thief fashion.
First Round Match
COLT CABANA vs TOGI MAKABE
I have ZERO idea what call NJPW will make here, so I’m interested to see this one play out! We get the bell and some play with the crowd to begin, they lock up and Togi takes Colt down with a tackle. Headlock by Colt, Colt does the tackle tease changing directions, looks to trip Togi and… sort of gets him over and rolls Togi up for 2. They trade wrist control, Colt goes to the mat to get Togi over, Togi counters and Colt eats an elbow and goes outside. Colt rolls right back in and Togi stays on him, tries to tie Colt’s leg in the ropes but Colt wont cooperate. The ref calls for the rope break and Colt counts with him.
Togi looks for a Northern Lights, Cabana blocks and gets another rollup for 2. Chops by Colt followed by jabs, and lands the Flip Flop and Fly elbow and the Flying Asshole, climbs to the 2nd rope and gets the hopping splash for 2. Colt with strikes, Togi asks for more and they trade, but Togi lands a lariat to take Colt down. Corner clothesline from Togi is followed by the mounted punches but Colt blocks the suplex, walks into a powerslam from Togi however for 2. Togi hoists Colt up top and looks for a possible Spider German suplex, Colt fights Togi off but misses the moonsault, eats a lariat and Togi covers him for 2. DVD by Togi who climbs, Colt moves and the King Kong Knee Drop misses and Colt gets the Superman Pin for the 3 count to advance! Holy shit!
Colt Cabana defeats Togi Makabe by pinfall after the Superman Pin to advance
JAY’S RATING: 2 out of 5
This didnt have enough to it to really give it more of a rating, which I actually think is sad because this could have been a more entertaining outing. However, just as I love Yano’s shtick, I love Colt’s shtick (Chicago Love). So I am THRILLED that Colt gets to move on to Round 2, and thinking that he is going to go against Yano next for a full blown comedy match by two masters has me excited. And yes, I know, the argument gets made that such a match could cheapen the competitive nature of the tournament. To which I say, yeah, but this is also theatre, and on that level, I’m here for it. 🙂
First Round Match
MINORU SUZUKI vs SATOSHI KOJIMA
We get the bell as commentary talks about their history both in New Japan and All Japan as they start throwing hard strikes at each other. GOD DAMN Suzuki’s slaps. Kojima gets a slam to take control, Suzuki fires back with boots but Kojima gets a tackle. Suzuki looks for an armbar over the ropes on the apron but Kojima powers out, they are both on the apron and Kojima looks for a shot but Suzuki instead gets the armbar while he is inside and Kojima is on the apron, releases and hits a PK on the apron to Kojima’s chest.
Suzuki puts Kojima into the announce table and looks for a chair shot but the ref intervenes as Suzuki gets another chair and takes Kojima elsewhere into the crowd and works him over with the chair and barricades, and breaks a chair over Kojima’s head. Suzuki is fucking NUTS and just laughs at his own carnage. The ref begins the count as Kojima crawls back toward the ring. Kojima makes it back in time and Suzuki stays on him with strikes. PK from Suzuki is caught and Kojima snatches a DDT instead to halt the momentum.
Machine-Gun chops by Kojima in the corner, Suzuki absorbs and fires a flurry of forearms, and they switch in the corner between them, Kojima lays in more as Suzuki screams in his face! Big corner elbow connects and Kojima climbs but Suzuki cuts him off and gets shots in the corner. Rolling elbow from Kojima to fire back and gets a slam to Suzuki, climbs again and hits the diving elbow but only gets 2. Tensions and history starts flaring between these two as they trade again, and Suzuki hits a stiff elbow. Kojima fires back and staggers Suzuki, but Suzuki gets that crazy look in his eye and just CRACKS one across Kojima’s jaw to drop him. Suzuki keeps laying in shots to Kojima in the ropes but Kojima fires back and looks for the Koji Cutter but Suzuki counters into a choke. Kojima chants.
Gotch attempt is blocked and Kojima gets the Koji Cutter to drop Suzuki. HUGE brainbuster by Kojima connects! YES. Cover by Kojima but Suzuki kicks out at 2. Kojima uncovers the arm for the lariat but Suzuki gets a flurry in and looks for the Gotch again, Kojima backdrops Suzuki and hits a short lariat and both are down. Lariat is attempted again, Suzuki kicks it away but Kojima gets a left arm lariat instead for a 2 count. Kojima looks for the lariat one more time but Suzuki moves SUPER quickly into another Gotch Piledriver attempt and drops Kojima right on his head, covers and thats the 3 count and the WIN.
Minoru Suzuki defeats Satoshi Kojima by pinfall after the Gotch Style Piledriver to advance
JAY’S RATING: 3.6 out of 5
This was an entertaining outing between two heavy hitters with a ton of history (Suzuki-Gun was at one point Kojima-Gun, if you get the picture there) and delivered some really great strike spots and sequences. Which isnt surprising because these two are exceptional what they do. I do think it felt a lot like a first round match, which is only disappointing because I feel like both of these guys are capable of more together than we necessarily saw here – the drama could have heightened even more, as well as the tension and personal grudge aspect between Kojima and Suzuki. Nonetheless, a strong showing from both and Suzuki continues on as a terrifying threat to Jay White in this tournament.
First Round Match
SANADA vs HIROOKI GOTO
We get the bell and the crowd feels a bit split. Slow energy build to start, feeding off the crowd. They compete for audience responses, goaded by SANADA. The ref judges that the audience response is about even. LOL. We get the first lock up with Goto getting the wrist and they trade holds. SANADA with an incredible escape sequence but Goto stays with him and drops SANADA with a kick to the chest. Nice sequence. Chinlock by Goto. SANADA evades a shot in the corner, catches a Goto kick and looks for the Paradise Lock but Goto escapes and we have a stand-off.
Hip toss by Goto connects but SANADA dumps him outside and teases a dive, Goto moves and SANADA is able to follow with a cannonball off the apron to wipe out Goto. SANADA whips Goto into the barricade hard. Goto is rolled back inside and SANADA covers for 2, then grounds Goto. Goto evades a SANADA standing moonsault but SANADA snatchs a dropkick instead and covers but Goto gets to the ropes. SANADA keeps things grounded and slow as Goto fires up, they trade and SANADA looks for a suplex but Goto blocks it and looks for one of his own, SANADA out of it and evades the psych-out lariat but eats another one instead and both are down.
Goto up first and hits the running corner wheel kick and looks for the backdrop to follow, SANADA escapes but Goto hits a hard kick and gets the suplex, covers SANADA but only gets 2. Ushigoroshi is blocked twice and SANADA sends Goto outside with the leapfrog dropkick and wipes him out with a plancha. SANADA chants. Back inside and SANADA covers for 2. Shots traded heavy, SANADA drops Goto with a rolling elbow and the crowd appreciates the exchange. SANADA stays on Goto in the corner but Goto fires back, they trade in the corner and SANADA puts Goto down with a nice Euro.
SANADA looks for spring but Goto counters into Ushigoroshi, SANADA out of it and gets Ushigoroshi of his own and looks for Skull End! SANADA drops down in the center of the ring, Goto starts to fade and SANADA releases and climbs, looks for the Moonsault but misses as Goto moves out of the way. They take opposite corners and meet in the middle, with Goto flooring SANADA with a lariat and firing up. SANADA blocks a shot and gets Skull End in again, looks to drop but Goto rolls through and turns an Ushigoroshi attempt into a GTR attempt but SANADA rolls through for a cover for 2. Goto finally hits Ushigoroshi and both are down.
Goto up first and calls for the end, and hits a big Kawada kick and looks for GTR. SANADA reverses and they both looks to take the other over, Goto looks for Shouten Kai but SANADA drapes Goto on the top rope and hits an Anarchist Suplex! Headbutt by Goto stuns SANADA and he hits a GREAT inverted GTR and covers SANADA, but only gets 2. The crowd is getting more and more fired up. Goto looks for GTR, SANADA turns into Skull End, Goto turns it again, they keep trying to get the other in either Skull End or GTR with SANADA finally getting the advantage and dropping Goto down with it. Goto fades again, SANADA releases and looks for the finish again, hits a gorgeous Moonsault and covers for the 3 count and the WIN!
SANADA defeats Hirooki Goto by pinfall after a Moonsault to advance
JAY’S RATING: 4 out of 5
This was a very strong and engaging main event, with SANADA picking up a big tournament win in the first round by knocking off NJCup expert Hirooki Goto. They played their evenness well, and the final set of sequences where they both really locked in with each other is what pushed it over the edge into 4 for me. That being said, I still am left craving more from each. SANADA still has a problem of not always being fully locked into gear, which he is starting to improve upon but still adds an occasional urgency issue to his work. And I want Goto to finally reach IWGP-level status but there’s still one more layer missing from his character/ring POV that I think he still needs to be fully taken seriously as a main event threat. And they both have the means to get there, which is why this match still struck me as strong. I’m eager to see where SANADA goes in the tournament from here, because god knows he’s being groomed for a future main event ride sooner or later. Lets see how this plays into that journey.
While not as strong overall as the past few tourney days, I can forgive Day 4 being a little slower overall, and even then it delivered some good action and entertainment on a few different levels. If you dont like the Toru Yano/Colt Cabana style, go ahead and skip those matches because at the end they are built on a core of that kind of work. Suzuki/Kojima is good but not necessarily must-see, and the main event delivered well. And nothing about Day 4 makes me any less excited for the rest of the tournament. I’m having fun with this year’s competition and am looking forward to more to come now that we are through the first round.