New Japan Pro Wrestling
NEW JAPAN CUP 2019
Day 7 – aired 3/16/19
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo
Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero and Chris Charlton on commentary.
Second Round Match
RYUSUKE TAGUCHI vs HIROSHI TANAHASHI
Taguchi looks for the fist bump, Tana teases but leaves Taguchi hanging as we get the bell. A fair amount of Taguchi support! That’s awesome. Lock up, the wrist is traded, with Taguchi staying on Tana at every turn. Tana snatches a grounded headlock, Tana whipped to the ropes, they play some rope humor until Taguchi goes for the ankle lock, Tana pushes him off quickly and they stand off. Taguchi offers the fist bump again, “Go Ace” chants, Tana advances and Taguchi looks for a sneaky kick, Tana reverses but Taguchi is able to roll through a sunset flip and hit a seated dropkick.
Hip attacks by Taguchi. Tana evades Taguchi in the corner and pulls his legs around the ringpost from the outside, applies an ankle lock outside and wraps the leg around the post. Knee work by Tana. Taguchi fires back and looks to work on Tana’s knee, Tana reverses and hits a hip attack of his own. Tana playing a bit of a heel to this crowd. Taguchi looks for a hip attack but Tana evades, but eats another one, reverses one after that into an atomic drop but Taguchi is able to drop Tana with a final hip attack in the sequence. Taguchi keeps on with the hip attacks and gets Tana lined up against the bottom rope and hits his “B-Triggers” (love it), Tana back in and Taguchi hits a springboard dropkick.
Tana on the apron and Taguchi hits another springboard dropkick to put Tana outside, and then flies off the top rope to wipe out Tana on the floor, before rolling inside so the ref can start the count on Tana. Taguchi breaks the count to throw Tana back inside, but then he applies the ankle lock from the apron, using the bottom rope as a weapon. Tana snatches the leg as Taguchi comes back from the apron and hits a rope-tied dragon screw series. Cloverleaf attempt by Tana but Taguchi fights fast to the ropes. Slam by Tana is followed by the middle rope senton attempt but Taguchi cuts it off by picking the ankle and applying the ankle lock, Tana fights it off and looks for Sling Blade, Taguchi counters into Dodon but Tana reverses that into Twist and Shout.
Tana holds on to look for another, Taguchi reverses into a 3 Amigos vertical suplex and looks for another but Tana gets another Twist and Shout, they still hold on and Taguchi gets another suplex, Taguchi blocks Twist and Shout and Taguchi is able to get the 3rd suplex instead! Pop and chants for Taguchi. Taguchi pops back up and does the Nakamura corner tease, lines up Tana, and hits Bummer Ye! Cover, but Tana is out at 2. Taguchi takes a moment to follow up and looks for Dodon, hits a Tiger Suplex instead but Tana is out at 2. Now Taguchi stays right on him, Tana tries to block Dodon but Taguchi turns it into a rollup for 2 and then transitions right to the ankle lock!
Tana tries to fight Taguchi off but Taguchi will not let go! Tana looks for the ropes, but Taguchi pulls him back, drops the elbow on the leg and twists the ankle. Tana gets a small package for 2 and another rollup for 2, and gets a smart shot on Taguchi before eating an enziguri. The crowd wants Taguchi. Taguchi hits the ropes but Tana catches him with Sling Blade. Tana looks for his own Dodon, Taguchi out of it but Tana hits another Sling Blade for 2. GREAT Dragon Suplex from Tana connects, and thats the 3 count and the WIN!
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeats Ryusuke Taguchi by pinfall after a Dragon Suplex to advance to the Quarterfinals
JAY’S RATING: 3.75 out of 5
This was a really strong showing, with a particularly great showing from Taguchi who showed that if and when called upon he can go TOE. TO. TOE. with the likes of a Tanahashi, which is not a small thing to achieve. He fed off this pro-Taguchi crowd SO MUCH (they were alive for Taguchi from the very start), Tana smartly played the heel which deepened the drama and only got them behind Taguchi more, and everyone walks away looking pretty great. Of course Tana was going to go over here, but Taguchi’s urgency was so strong as he was hungry for the upset, and balanced his signature humor with his will to win extremely well here. Well done all around.
After the match, Tana connects with the fist bump and shows respect to Taguchi.
Second Round Match
ZACK SABRE, JR. w/ TAKA Michinoku vs KOTA IBUSHI
Two former NJCup winners here. We get the bell and they start slow and size each other up. ZSJ shows speed by looking to snatch Ibushi to the mat early. They go to the mat but Ibushi gets into the ropes for a break. Cravate by ZSJ, classic ZSJ hold transitioning, Ibushi whips him off, ZSJ puts him down with a tackle, Ibushi kips rights back up but ZSJ is able to snatch the leg to put Ibushi down and goes for the bow and arrow, Ibushi out of it for a quick pin attempt and throws a kick but ZSJ evades and we have a stand off. Chants for Ibushi.
Ibushi with a kick to the hamstring to put ZSJ into the ropes. Another kick. ZSJ catches a kick and locks in a heel hook but Ibushi fights to the ropes and gets the break, and ZSJ keeps working Ibushi over in the ropes. Heel hook is transitioned into something crazy which is transitioned into a unique inverted triangle while wrenching the leg and then releases and hits a strike. GOD he’s great. ZSJ looks to work the neck specifically right now, which Ibushi has had issues with, and Ibushi gets into the ropes again.
Ibushi evades ZSJ in the corner and hits a great snap rana and chest kick to put ZSJ down. Nice pop for Ibushi. Flurry by Ibushi, chest kick connects but ZSJ counters a standing moonsault into a great knee bar! ZSJ works the knee but Ibushi catches ZSJ’s leg and is able to line him up and hit a great backflip pele kick. ZSJ with a quick snatch of the legs and he ties him up with a butterfly-style Indian deathlock with aa cravate. Ibushi tries to strike out of it but ZSJ just SMACKS THE SHIT out of Ibushi. Ibushi gets fired up and starts laying in strikes with focused brutality.
Euro by ZSJ wakes up Ibushi and he pushes forward with that signature Ibushi anger. ZSJ is able to get Ibushi down but misses the PK, Ibushi catches a powerslam and a middle rope moonsault into a cover for 2. Bomb attempt is blocked by ZSJ who looks to dropkick the knee but Ibushi jumps and hits a double stomp on top of ZSJ! Suplex by Ibushi is blocked, they trade counters as ZSJ goes back to the knee submission, Ibushi out of it and hits a nice bridging half nelson suplex for 2.
Kick by Ibushi is caught, ZSJ looks for a German but Ibushi lands on his feet, ZSJ keeps coming and locks in a guillotine with a body scissors and Ibushi drops down, ZSJ looks to turn it into a Zack Driver but Ibushi drills him with a thudding lariat. Chants for Ibushi. Ibushi looks for Last Ride but ZSJ gets an Octopus, Ibushi turns it around for a driver but ZSJ gets a European Clutch for 2. PK is caught and Ibushi hits a big open hand slap to the chest that puts ZSJ down. Both are struggling to get back up. Ibushi looks for Kamigoye but ZSJ snatches the arm, looks for a triangle hold but Ibushi looks to block it, he lifts ZSJ up and hits a sitout powerbomb, covers but only gets 2!
The kneepad comes down as Ibushi looks for Kamigoye, ZSJ evades again, goes to the arm, looks for a flying Euro but Ibushi turns it into a backslide, ZSJ rolls through and Ibushi looks for Kamigoye again, ZSJ evades but Ibushi keeps the wrists and looks for a straight-jacket German which he hits, bridging cover but only 2 and Ibushi holds on for Kamigoye which ZSJ counters again into a rolling calf crusher! Ibushi looks for the ropes but ZSJ keeps tying up and stretching Ibushi’s legs, grabs the wrist and applies Orienteering With Napalm Death and IBUSHI TAPS OUT! ZSJ has submitted Ibushi again for the WIN!
Zack Sabre, Jr defeats Kota Ibushi by submission after Orienteering With Napalm Death to advance to the Quarterfinals
JAY’S RATING: 4 out of 5
This was a GREAT match between two truly great performers, and I cant say that part of me doesnt LOVE ZSJ moving forward again after last years Cup win, that NJPW does see further investment in him and his style, and that he now goes on to face Tana in a rematch of last year’s Finals. However, I’m also a bit surprised that both Naito and Ibushi are out already… those are two of the most interesting current stories in terms of people eyeing an IWGP title shot in the near future, and as such add drama when thinking of some of the other main eventers in the mix in this tournament. It will be VERY interesting to watch it all play out from here, ESPECIALLY with Tana/ZSJ determining a lot in the next round in terms of where this tournament is headed. But at the end of the day this was also just an incredibly good match, Ibushi came off looking AMAZING, ferocious and focused especially when he gets pissed off, but ZSJ was just too slippery, too quick on the catch, and Ibushi just couldnt get ahead of him. Great storytelling there, and great work by all. (NJPW better not fuck up Ibushi’s oncoming rise, though…)
After the match, TAKA takes the mic and does his hype man thing for ZSJ, putting him over.
Another great day of tournament action, with both matches definitely worth checking out for different reasons. Taguchi showed everyone a LOT here, and the audience was all about him in a really cool way (shades of Kofi…). And ZSJ advances further in his attempt to take a second consecutive NJCup, knocking off a heavy favorite in Kota Ibushi in a match with a pretty great psychological arc overall. Defintely some really intriguing possibilities at play here with some surprising eliminations already… excited to see where its all headed!