It’s time for more action from the New Japan Cup, as we head into Night Two. The undercard has two tag team openers, including the first three on three clash of United Empire & Los Ingobernables de Japon, and then our first of three New Japan Cup matches today, which see’s Minoru Suzuki take on Tomoaki Honma.
Yuya Uemura, David Finlay & Toa Henare vs. BULLET CLUB (Taiji Ishimori, Chase Owens & Jay White)
Like most opening tag team matches during this tournament, this one previews two upcoming singles clashes between Jay White & Toa Henare, and David Finlay & Chase Owens. We’re a few days away from both, but they’ll mix it up tonight all the same.
White would start with Henare, before slipping through the ropes and getting him frustrated. Owens ran a distraction and White got a cheap shot on his opponent. Henare overcame, but missed the tag to Taiji Ishimori and was frustrated at White’s cowardice. Finlay & Uemura would do their best to isolate Ishimori, but Uemura found himself overwhelmed in the BULLET CLUB corner before long.
White would take liberties with the Young Lion, and Gedo even got into the mix, throwing Uemura into the ring post. Owens got him with a straight right hand to the jaw, before dropping him with a lariat. Uemura stood and fought with the self proclaimed Texas Heavyweight Champion, nailing a big dropkick and getting the tag into Finlay.
Finlay would take Owens out, lure White into the ring to allow Henare some time with his opponent, before hitting a spinning backdrop on Owens. Owens came back with a big boot, before starting a slugfest in the middle of the ring, and winning out with a lariat.
Uemura & Ishimori got tags, and while Uemura hit some strong blows on Ishimori, he was unable to put him away with the underhook suplex. He’d withstand a jumping knee from Ishimori, but not a Bloody Cross.
Very solid opening tag team match, with great action from start to finish. White & Henare is being built up nicely, and judging from what we’ve seen of Finlay & Owens, their first round match could be among the best. Uemura was always here to take the fall, but showed his usual fire.
Match Rating: 3/5 (***)
Los Ingobernables De Japón (BUSHI, SANADA, and Tetsuya Naito) vs. The United Kingdom (Jeff Cobb, Will Ospreay and Great O-Khan)
This one is about revenge more than anything. Tetsuya Naito had his tournament ended early by Great-O-Khan who forced a referee stoppage back at the 49th anniversary. He has two of his loyal friends in L.I.J, O-Khan has The United Empire, so why not get it on in an opening tag?
Naito would be attacked by O-Khan as soon as he entered the ring, picking up right where they left off. O-Khan would take a manhattan drop, a low dropkick from BUSHI and then one from Naito. Naito grabbed O-Khan by his braid, and pulled him all the way around the ring, before tagging SANADA. SANADA hit a double axe handle off the top rope, and some clubbing back elbows.
Naito applied a cravat, but ended up in the Head & Arm Choke from O-Khan, and had to fight to the ropes. Cobb got a tag, only coming in to abuse Naito and throw him around like a small child. He’d manhandle Naito, hit some backbreakers before tagging in Ospreay who hit a double stomp. O-Khan would once again look to destroy Naito, blocking a swinging DDT but falling to the neckbreaker.
SANADA got in alongside Ospreay, who got locked up in the Paradise Lock. Once free, Ospreay was able to tag Cobb, who manhandled SANADA but failed to hit the suplex. BUSHI tagged in, and used his speed to try and pick Cobb apart alongside his L.I.J brothers, before falling to Tour Of The Islands.
This was a fun opening romp, with Naito motivated to take this faction down after his first round loss to O-Khan. Cobb has been incredible, and shined once again tonight. Don’t be shocked if he makes the finals. Match Rating: 3/5 (***)
New Japan Cup Match: Minoru Suzuki vs. Tomoaki Honma
Tomoaki Honma is not a singles star, he hasn’t won a singles match since 2016. Despite this, he will enter the New Japan Cup and clash with the sadistic Minoru Suzuki. Suzuki was knocked out in the first round last year by Yuji Nagata, and will look to step past Honma for a deeper tournament this time around.
They’d start this one by simply trading strikes in the middle of the ring, Honma showing that he can hang with Suzuki by winning out and hitting a scoop slam. He’d miss two Kokeshis, and Suzuki would hit some knee strikes before catching Honma with the armbar over the top rope, and using all of the referees five count.
Honma would be pulled outside, where a camel clutch was applied to Honma through the barricade. Suzuki then applied a cravat on the floor, before he would wreck the commentary station by throwing Honma into it, and then hope for the count out win.
Honma made it back into the ring only to end up in another submission, and have to fight his way to the ropes to get out.They’d trade strikes again, and Honma staggered and fell before absorbing two PK’s. He’d catch the third and counter into a DDT, finally getting some offense in. A backdrop followed, and even a bulldog before hitting Kokeshi!
Suzuki would come back by slapping the taste out of Honma’s mouth, before setting up the Gotch Style Piledriver but Honma fought out. Honma absorbed some strikes before hitting a snap Kokeshi to the jaw of Suzuki. Suzuki would get fired up after some hard corner strikes, but was dropped to the mat. Honma came off the middle rope with a shoulder tackle, before looking for a submission on Suzuki!
He’d let the hold go to go for a pinfall, before ending up in the sleeper hold and having to fight free. Suzuki absorbed two lariats, slapped Honma across the face, and they’d trade blows in the middle of the ring, really laying them in. A slap to Honma staggered him, but he’d remain vertical and fire up perhaps for the last time.
Honma’s strikes were getting weaker, Suzuki slapped him one more time and applied the sleeper hold. Suzuki would twist into the Gotch Style Piledriver, but Honma wouldn’t go up. Instead, Honma got a quick cradle pinfall for a two count! Two more slaps and the Gotch Style Piledriver ended this one.
Honma plays the underdog role well, that’s what made him a fan favorite. Add in Suzuki being one of the best heels in the business, and you have a recipe for a good match. They both threw heavy blows, and this one embodied the Strong Style approach that the older generation often brings to the table. Match Rating: 3.75/5 (*** 3/4)
Minoru Suzuki will now face the winner of KENTA & Juice Robinson on March 13th. Can he keep winning? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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