On paper, this was the more stacked half of the left bracket. Even with the inclusion of young lions and more undercard wrestlers, the 2nd night of the New Japan Cup more than delivered. The card structure was strong and nothing really dragged. Let’s take a look!
Gabriel Kidd vs Taiji Ishimori (8:53)
This was a pretty fun match that went just under 10 minutes. The match started out slow but quickly built, having some great back and forth action. Kidd more than held his own against the veteran Ishimori, even getting a near win with a Boston Crab that Kidd transitioned into beautifully after Ishimori missed a springboard dive.
Taiji eventually got the win with the LeBell lock after a pretty even match up, and Kidd looked great in defeat. Overall good stuff that served its purpose.
WINNER: Taiji Ishimori
Yuya Uemura vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru (9:32)
This was a decent junior heavyweight battle, with a great face/heel dynamic. My only real issue with this match is that it didn’t go on for longer. Uemura managed to get some near falls over Kanemaru before his inexperience showed and Kanemaru used simple (but effective) heel tactics to get the advantage.
Kanemaru capped off a strong performance with Deep Impact, which got him the win. Much like Kidd, Uemura looked strong in defeat after a decent showing with some believable near falls.
The match served its purpose of getting the heel the dominant win, although it could have also been done to ease Kanemaru back into singles competition after over a year in multi-man matches.
WINNER: Yoshinobu Kanemaru
CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto & Roppongi 3k) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI) (12:14)
This match followed the typical 8-man undercard tag format but was still a decent match. The main focus was on Shingo Takagi and SHO, with their match happening next Monday. The other guys in the match all did their own thing and still presented themselves as factions. Both sides got some great team offence in, most notably LIJ, with all members working as one to attack the likes of Goto and YOH.
Goto got the win over BUSHI in the end, which could begin a program between CHAOS and LIJ over the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Championships. It could really do wonders for the rebuilding of those titles.
I’m also glad to see they aren’t just focusing on the cup matches in these multi-man matches so far. This was good.
Minoru Suzuki vs Yuji Nagata (20:35)
This was a war, plain and simple. Suzuki and Nagata tore into each other from the start and didn’t relent until the bell rang when the match ended. We had broken chairs, split lips, no-sells and slaps. Lots and lots of slaps. Suzuki was close to victory so many times but never managed to hit the Gotch Style Piledriver. He no-sold penalty kicks, laughed at Nagata’s forearm strikes and knocked his opponent silly with some brutal forearm shots. It was a dominant performance from Suzuki overall, meaning he lost absolutely nothing in defeat.
Nagata pulled a major upset in the end, getting the win after 2 backdrop suplexes. This is absolutely the match of the tournament so far and I’m a tad annoyed that it didn’t main event the show.
WINNER: Yuji Nagata
MAIN EVENT: Kazuchika Okada vs Gedo (15:30)
This match was always going to feel like a disappointment. Not only was it significantly hindered by the Suzuki/Nagata match happening directly before it, but it was also ruined by shenanigans. What could’ve been a pure, hate-driven match became partly a hokey mess that, admittedly, turned half-decent in its second half.
Okada was brilliant as always and Gedo still looked decent. The finish caught me (and likely many others) off guard, as Okada won via submission instead of the typical Rainmaker. It was a nice change of pace nonetheless and could potentially reflect Okada’s views on Gedo – he’s not worthy of the rainmaker.
WINNER: Kazuchika Okada
All in all, this was a fun show that did everything it needed to. I would have preferred it if Suzuki and Nagata went on last, but that’s more nitpicking than anything. I’m excited for the next night on the 22nd June and looking forward to seeing where NJPW go as we move onward.
Overall Score – 3.75/5