It’s almost time to get into possibly the biggest second round match in terms of hype for this years New Japan Cup. Hirooki Goto vs. Shingo Takagi was great, and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White will be as well. But Zack Sabre Jr. & Will Ospreay are wrestling soul mates, and every time they clash is a must see event. Let’s waste no time, and get right into the action.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson & Toa Henare vs. BULLET CLUB (EVIL, Jay White & Yujiro Takahashi)
Speaking of White vs. Tanahashi, that match will be previewed tonight ahead of their singles clash tomorrow. White is bringing EVIL & Takahashi, Tanahashi has Robinson & Takhashi, and they will all bring their all in this one.
White & Tanahashi would start the match, and pull each other’s hair mostly before White hit a knee strike on Tanahashi. Tanahashi came back with a springboard crossbody, before tagging Henare. Henare hit a running elbow drop, before stomping White down.
EVIL yanked his leg, and White took advantage by throwing him to the outside and nearly into Taichi on commentary. Takahashi tagged in and hit some knee strikes on Henare before tagging EVIL. EVIL hit a scoop slam in the middle of the ring, but Henare came back with a chop, and blocked a Fisherman Buster before hitting a suplex.
Robinson got a tag, and hit some running sentons, atomic drops and more. EVIL took the jabs, but shoved the referee into Juice before hitting him with a Fisherman Buster. White & Tanahashi got tags, with Tanahashi taking him down with a flying forearm and a dragon screw. He’d get the Cloverleaf applied, but White was right at the ropes.
White fought back with Bladebuster, and looked to apply the TTO before just stomping the problem knee of Tanahashi. Tanahashi caught a knee strike and hit a dragon screw, and White tagged in Takahashi. He’d boot Tanahashi in the face, before getting some aid from EVIL. Tanahashi fought back with aid from Robinson and Henare.
Eventually we’d be back to Takahashi & Tanahashi, but Tanahashi survived the fisherman driver. Gedo tossed Takahashi his cane, but Tanahashi dodged and hit the Slingblade. He’d go up top and nail High Fly Flow deep into the middle of the ring for the win.
This one did it’s job of making folks excited for White vs. Tanahashi tomorrow. The match itself was a pretty run of the mill affair, and what we’d expect from these six men. Solid action, but lacking in any real tension.
Match Rating: 2.75/5 (** 3/4)
New Japan Cup Match: Yuji Nagata vs. SANADA
Our first tournament match tonight sees the legendary Yuji Nagata take on SANADA. Nagata beat Yota Tsuji to get here, while SANADA overcame a tougher challenge in Tomohiro Ishii. But don’t take Nagata beating a mere Young Lion as a sign that SANADA will lose, as Blue Justice is proving to be as timeless as ever.
Nagata would quickly start working on the arm of SANADA, only to be kicked off. He’d apply a cravat next, but SANADA slipped free again. A headlock ended the same way, before SANADA went for and missed a dropkick. He’d enter a test of strength with Nagata, and won out before sending Nagata to the outside. Nagata was thrown into the barricades, before SANADA just nailed a piledriver on the floor.
He’d be fine with a count out victory, but Nagata was back in by 15, only to be dropped with a back suplex. SANADA would apply a rear-chinlock to further weaken the neck, but Nagata got a foot on the bottom rope. Nagata fought back with a knee to the stomach, sending SANADA tumbling to the mat. The running big boot in the corner nailed, but SANADA blocked the exploder suplex. Instead, Nagata hit a quick double underhook suplex and looked for a brainbuster.
SANADA fought free and hit a hurricanrana and dropkick, sending Nagata to the outside and hitting a vaulting body press onto him. Back in the ring, Nagata fought back with some forearm strikes, only to take a swan dive dropkick. He’d fire back with an exploder suplex, before being dropped with a TKO for a two count. SANADA hit a top rope dragon screw neck whip, before looking for a moonsault, Nagata dodging at the last second.
Nagata placed SANADA up top for a superplex, and despite some fight from SANADA, he’d complete the top rope Exploder Suplex. He’d nail a mid-kick, and get a near fall, before missing an enziguri. SANADA tried to roll him up into a European Clutch, but ended up in Nagata Lock II. When he got close to the ropes, Nagata rolled him back to the middle of the ring.
SANADA would get free, only to be taken down with a Dragon Screw Neck Whip. Nagata went for the backdrop driver, but SANADA countered into a pinfall attempt. SANADA further countered Nagata when he went for a suplex, getting Skull End locked in. Nagata was able to counter Skull End into a heel hook, and SANADA was once again looking for the ropes.
SANADA was rocked with a enzuigiri, and while he flipped out of a German Suplex, he’d take the wheel kick. Nagata would be locked in Skull End again soon after, with SANADA flipping over him in the corner. SANADA had it locked in tight, but let go to hit the moonsault press for the win.
This was a technically sound match from start to finish, only suffering from a very slow pace. Nagata & SANADA are both at their best with people who can match their paces, and they simply didn’t compliment each other that well. Still solid action from two great wrestlers, with some glimmers of greatness within.
Match Rating: 3/5 (***)
SANADA will now face the winner of Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Will Ospreay on March 18th.
New Japan Cup Match: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Will Ospreay
This is the big one tonight. We have the best high flyer and best technical wrestlers on the planet today, who have next level chemistry together. Their last clash over the RPW British Heavyweight Championship was a five star classic, and we can expect no less from them tonight. Add in that they are the last hopes for their respective factions, and this one is do or die.
As soon as the bell rang, Ospreay dashed in with a dropkick. ZSJ rolled to the outside, only to take a vaulting body press, and rolled back into the ring to take a springboard forearm smash. Ospreay had some fire underneath him, but ZSJ caught OsCutter into a European Clutch for a two count. ZSJ took a boot to the face and was sent into the corner, but came back out with a hard arm wringer.
He’d try to tie Ospreay up in the ropes, before just stomping on the arm. Ospreay flipped out of the next arm wringer, before picking up the pace, ZSJ slipping into an abdominal stretch. ZSJ lost control and was dropkicked out of the ring. Ospreay teased the Ospreay special, before slipping under the ropes and hitting an elbow strike.
ZSJ was thrown into the barricade, before being hung off the apron for a knee strike to the back. Ospreay waited to see if ZSJ would answer the referees count, and he got back into the ring at 15. ZSJ fought back in the ring with some european uppercuts, but Ospreay outpowered him with a forearm smash.
Ospreay picked him up for a backbreaker, then disrespectfully kicked him out of the ring. ZSJ wasn’t ready for the new heavyweight Ospreay, but everyone knows he can adjust on the fly.
He’d stand tall against some chops from Ospreay, before falling once again. Ospreay grabbed ZSJ by the heel trying to best him at his own game and applying a bow and arrow stretch. ZSJ would catch Ospreay with an armdrag, and apply an armbar before trying to snap it with his legs.
A running uppercut was met with a forearm smash, but Ospreays arm was starting to show the damage. ZSJ locked on another lightning fast submission, but Ospreay was able to get a foot on the bottom rope. Ospreay would have the arm kicked, and when he looked for the handspring enzuguri, ZSJ slipped into an ankle lock. He’d quickly lose the hold, and Ospreay nailed the kick on the second attempt.
Ospreay hit a big chop with the bad arm, and ZSJ was asking for more. He’d counter a chop into an armbar attempt, before Ospreay nailed a Bloody Sunday for a two count. ZSJ hit another armbreaker, and asked Ospreay to keep the shots coming, just goading him on. Every blow hurt Ospreay as much as it did him, and a slap to the face would just welcome more strikes.
ZSJ would drop Ospreay with a PK, before looking to a suplex. Ospreay fought ZSJ off, took an uppercut but came back with a superkick. He’d look to German Suplex ZSJ, but somehow ended up in a rear naked choke in the middle of the ring. Ospreay lifted ZSJ up and set him up in the corner for a Cheeky Nandos kick, before hitting Oscutter for a two count.
ZSJ would be set up for Stormbreaker, but slipped out into an attempt at a European Clutch. Ospreay shoved ZSJ off, but still got rolled up for a two count. He’d hit a big rolling elbow, showing that arm still had some value left in it.
A powerbomb attempt turned into a guillotine choke, which ZSJ transitioned into a kick of the arm. ZSJ hit La Mistica, and tried to tie the arms of Ospreay up. Ospreay powered ZSJ up, only to be dropped on his head with Zack Driver for a near fall. ZSJ moved into a triangle choke, not letting Ospreay create distance.
Ospreay lifted ZSJ up into a powerbomb and scaled the ropes, before ZSJ applied a double wrist lock while sitting on the top rope. ZSJ would be fought off, and Ospreay tried for a top rope Stormbreaker. This would fail, but ZSJ took him off the top rope with a flying armbar, crashing into the middle of the ring and applying a deep hold. He’d catch all the limbs, and look for a verbal submission, but Ospreay got a foot on the ropes!
ZSJ looked for a PK, and before being countered into a big flapjack slam in the middle of the ring. Somewhere along the way, Ospreay might have broken his nose, blood pouring out. He’d look to set up a Hidden Blade, but ZSJ countered into a jackknife pin for a two count. A PK just rolled Ospreay back to his feet, where he’d hit a superkick.
Super OsCutter was countered into a sleeper hold, ZSJ tried to move into Zack Driver but took the Hidden Blade elbow. Stormbreaker was all Ospreay had left, and he’d defeat ZSJ.
These two can do no wrong between the ropes. They kept his one all in the ring, and gave their all once again. It had a breakneck pace, and the storyline of ZSJ using the stubborn nature of Ospreay to damage his own arm was fantastic. Their chemistry is something truly special, and this one was easily the best match of the tournament so far.
Match Rating: 4.75/5 (**** 3/4)
Will Ospreay be able to defeat SANADA on March 18th? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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