It’s time for more New Japan Cup tournament action. Yuji Nagata will look to teach rookie Yota Tsuji a lesson, while Tomohiro Ishii will fight through injured ribs to take on the calm and collected SANADA. We have one more tag team match as well, which previews the coming clash between Goto & Shingo. Let’s waste no time and get into the action!
CHAOS (SHO, Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japón (BUSHI, Tetsuya Naito, & Shingo Takagi)
Few expected both Okada & Naito to be out of the running so early, but that’s how this tournament has panned out. Shingo Takagi & Hirooki Goto meet in the next round, with whoever wins their coming clash a strong favorite for their side of the bracket.
Knowing what the fans want, Goto & Shingo started this one by throwing heavy strikes in the middle of the ring. Shingo dropped Goto with a shoulder tackle and brough Naito into this match. Naito went for a cravat, but Goto shoved them into the CHAOS corner to get SHO in. SHO & Goto nailed some quick strikes, and brought Okada in to beat Naito like a war drum.
Naito fought back with a Manhattan Drop, before BUSHI ran in with a hurricanrana. Shingo took Goto down outside the ring, while Naito worked over the arm of SHO. BUSHI tagged in, giving us a Junior Heavyweight Clash briefly. Shingo tagged in and wiped SHO out, before calling out Goto once again. SHO would have his arm beaten down, and Naito hit Combinación de Cabrón for a near fall.
Okada tagged in and hit a running back elbow into a DDT. He’d look for the neckbreaker, but Naito blocked and hit one of his own. Shingo came in and looked for Noshigami, but Okada slipped out and hit a big boot. Goto got a tag, hitting the wheel kick into the bulldog on Shingo for a near fall. Shingo & Goto crashed into each other with lariats, leading to a stalemate.
BUSHI tagged in, hit a DDT and missile dropkick, and Goto took some combo offense for a two count when Naito came in. Goto would drop Shingo, before hitting BUSHI with the Ushigoroshi and GTR for the win.
CHAOS & L.I.J always make for good undercard tag action, with a constant flow from bell to bell. Goto & Shingo are set for an absolute war. Match Rating: 3.25/5 (*** 1/4)
New Japan Cup Match: Yuji Nagata vs. Yota Tsuji
Current young lion Yota Tsuji is almost ready to break out on his own, and tonight he has a perfect chance to do just this. He faces the legendary Yuji Nagata in a first round match in the New Japan Cup. If he wins here, he will move to both the second round, and possibly the next step of his career as a whole.
Nagata would go right to work on his student, as they went to the mat briefly and he gained wrist control. Tsuji gained control for a second but was kicked off. He’d get a headlock takeover, and hold on tight as Nagata tried to break him off. Nagata would break the hold eventually and take hard strikes in the corner, Tsuji keen on beating him down.
Tsuji would apply a sleeper hold, but let go to stomp Nagata. He’d quickly regret this, as the veteran fired up and threw the hard strikes that made him legendary, before applying an armbar. Tsuji fought free, only to take a quick armbreaker and more kicks to the head.
Tsuji hit a scoop slam and a running splash, getting a two count before Nagata came in with more strikes. Nagata nailed the double underhook suplex, getting two. Tsuji went for the Boston Crab, but Nagata countered into Nagata Lock III. He’d near the ropes, and Nagata rolled to the middle of the ring only for Tsuji to bite his hand and move into a pinfall.
Tsuji hit the spear and applied the Boston Crab, but Nagata refused to quit. He’d crawl and get the bottom rope to break the hold, before trading blows in the middle of the ring with Tsuji and nailing the Exploder Suplex. A spinning wheel kick and backdrop driver hold ended this one.
We don’t know how many big singles matches someone like Yuji Nagata has, but tonight showed that we shouldn’t send him out the pasture just yet. Tsuji learned Nagata is as hard hitting as ever, and that backdrop driver is a kill shot. Solid hard hitting action from both sides, Tsuji looked as good as anyone else in this tournament. Match Rating: 3.5/5 (*** 1/2)
Yuji Nagata will next face the winner of Tomohiro Ishii vs. SANADA on March 14th.
Tomohiro Ishii vs. SANADA
On paper, Tomohiro Ishii has a historical edge over SANADA, coming into this match with a 2-1 record. However at Castle Attack, Ishii suffered rib injuries at the hands of Jay White, and that damage still lingers. SANADA knows about this injury, but will he take advantage of it?
They’d lock up hard in the middle of the ring, Ishii going right after the arm of SANADA. SANADA was able to use his speed to break a wrist lock and take Ishii down in a headlock takeover. Ishii fought back to his feet and dodged a dropkick.
He’d batter SANADA with forearms before taking him down with a shoulder tackle, before laying in kicks to the back as SANADA sat up. SANADA decided to trade strikes with Ishii, and was promptly dropped with a chop to the throat. Ishii would corner SANADA and refused to budge after forearm strikes, before dropping SANADA with one blow.
SANADA would hit a low dropkick, getting a bit of space after being mauled in the corner by the Stone Pitbull. He’d leapfrog over Ishii as he ran the ropes before hitting a dropkick, sending Ishii outside for a vaulting body splash. Back in the ring, SANADA placed Ishii into the Paradise Lock, before breaking it with a dropkick.
Ishii got deadly serious at this point, and started raining in chops and elbows in the corner. SANADA fell after a headbutt, but Red Shoes Uno finally pulled Ishii away from SANADA. They’d immediately go back to the strikes, SANADA winning out this time. Ishii wouldn’t stay down long, and dodged the Swan Dive Dropkick and took a backdrop. Again, he refused to stay down and hit two backdrops of his own. SANADA got right up twice and hit a dropkick before collapsing to the mat.
Ishii would be hit with a German Suplex into the corner of the ring, but was able to pull himself to his feet first. He’d set SANADA up for a top rope superplex, but only got a two count after impact. SANADA looked for Skull End, but instead got flapjacked into the corner, but came back with a dropkick. He’d apply the hold, but try to shift into a TKO; which Ishii was able to counter.
Ishii would nail a rolling elbow, and followed up with a powerbomb for a near fall. SANADA would land on his feet out of a release German Suplex, before hitting the TKO. The swan dive dropkick would follow, but Ishii rolled through the Impact and walked into a lariat.
SANADA would apply Skull End in the middle of the ring, and Ishii was slowly losing steam. He’d break the hold, but the neckbreaker off the ropes nearly broke him, getting a two count. Ishii was next able to survive a Tiger Suplex, before taking the moonsault to the injured ribs.
He’d barely dodge the second one to get a chance to breathe, and countered the next Skull End attempt by rolling through and looking for a sliding lariat. SANADA dodged by fell to an enziguri. The next sliding lariat landed flush, but he couldn’t get the brainbuster. SANADA went for the European Clutch, but only got a two count. Ishii came back with a hard headbutt, before falling to a pop up cutter and moonsault.
Tomohiro Ishii doesn’t have bad main event singles matches, and pulled the best of SANADA out in this match. They kept the pace fast throughout the 25 minute runtime, and never made it clear who would win. This rivalry is now evenly matched, and this won’t be their last encounter.
Match Rating: 4.5/5 (**** 1/2)
Can SANADA defeat Yuji Nagata in the next round? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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