It’s time for the big two matches from this night of New Japan Cup action. Both are rematches from the 2020 G1 Climax, with one of them being the Match of the Year Contender that was Kazuchika Okada vs. Shingo Takagi. Why waste anymore time, let’s get right into it!
New Japan Cup Match: Juice Robinson vs. KENTA
These two were supposed to meet at Wrestle Kingdom over that IWGP United States Championship shot, but KENTA broke Robinsons orbital bone with the briefcase. Tonight we will get to see who could have won under the bright lights of the Tokyo Dome, as they meet in this first round matchup.
KENTA would go right after the huge hair of Robinson, an afro being quite easy to grab for leverage. He’d use it to maintain the headlock, but Robinson hit a back suplex and senton to get free. Robinson would drive KENTA into the corner before hitting a lariat. KENTA slipped outside of the ring, and while the referee wasn’t looking, smacked Robinson with the ringbell, right near that injured orbital bone.
Robinson would roll to the outside, before KENTA followed and drove him into the barricades and used them to attack the eye. Back in the ring, KENTA threw measured shots right at the injured eye of Robinson. Robinson came back with a huge spinebuster and a lariat in the corner, getting fired up due to the dirty tactics of KENTA.
He’d hit those Texas Jabs, but KENTA went after the eyes before he could get the big left hand punch in. KENTA hit the tornado stun gun and diving lariat for the two count, before looking for Game Over. Robinson got the ropes, but was kicked to the floor soon after. KENTA threw him over the announce table, before looking for a big dive. Robinson stopped him in mid-air by catching him, and nailing a Death Valley Driver onto the floor.
Back in the ring, Robinson hit the falling powerbomb, getting a two count. He’d try for Pulp Friction, but KENTA countered out and set up the Green Killer DDT. A running big boot in the corner was followed by the hesitation dropkick. KENTA went up top for the double stomp, but Robinson dodged and hit the leg lariat.
When Robinson went to pick up KENTA, he’d have to fend off the Game Over attempt, but was able to set up and hit Princes Throne for a near fall. It would take Pulp Friction to end this one, but KENTA countered into an attempt at Go To Sleep. Robinson blocked but took some open palm strikes, blocked the rolling chop and hit the Left Hand of God.
Pulp Friction would be attempted again, but KENTA countered into Game Over in the middle of the ring. KENTA had Robinson trapped in the middle of the ring, pulled back as hard as he could. Robinson had no choice but to tap out. KENTA advances to the second round.
KENTA preying on the injury he inflicted on Robinson was great storytelling, and it set up the fiery comeback from Robinson late in the match. These two have excellent chemistry, and had this match been longer, it would have just gotten better. KENTA winning was the right choice, helping him bounce back after losing to Jon Moxley. Match Rating: 3.75/5 (*** 3/4)KENTA will now face Minoru Suzuki in the second round, a highly anticipated matchup for many.
New Japan Cup Match: Kazuchika Okada vs. Shingo Takagi
The fact that this is a first round match in this year’s tournament is astounding. Shingo Takagi & Kazuchika Okada are two of the greatest that NJPW has to offer, and their clash in last year’s G1 is already legendary. This could have easily been a finals match, but only one will move forward.
Shingo & Okada would lock up, Okada shoving Shingo to the ropes and allowing a cocky but clean break. This prompted Shingo to start throwing heavy strikes early, and forcing Okada to work his style of match. Okada hit a shoulder tackle, sending Shingo off the ropes, but got him with a drop-toehold before he’d be able to strike back.
Shingo was hit with the sliding dropkick from Okada next, and took a moment outside the ring trying to decide what his next move would be. He opted for pulling Okada out of the ring, and making this one into a brawl, only to be sent into the barricade and nearly DDT’d off the apron. Shingo was able to block this, hit a flapjack onto the apron and DDT on the floor.
Okada was sent back into the ring, and Shingo tried to stomp him into the mat. He’d have his back kicked, before Shingo picked him up just to run him over with a shoulder tackle. Shingo looked for the Noshigami, and Okada nearly caught him with the Money Clip as a counter, before dropping Shingo with a big boot.
Okada got moving with a back elbow strike in the corner before hitting the DDT, only for Shingo to come back with a lariat. Shingo would hit some wrist clutch lariats before slamming Okada down and hitting an elbow drop off the top rope!
Shingo would run into a high flapjack from Okada, before getting into a strike exchange with him in the middle of the ring. Shingo fought off the Money Clip attempt and nailed a quick Noshigami. Okada came back with a dropkick and Tombstone Piledriver, before applying the Money Clip.
Shingo fought free and set up a superplex, coming down hard into the middle of the ring. He’d take too long getting into the pin however. Okada dodged a pumping bomber, rolled Shingo through with a backslide, and went for a Rainmaker, but Shingo countered and hit Made In Japan for a two count.
Last of The Dragon would be attempted, but Okada blocked and had to be swatted down with a lariat. Okada started the comeback with a dropkick, beforeMoney Clip was applied briefly. Okada hit the spinning tombstone and reapplied the hold in the middle of the ring. Shingo almost broke free before Okada hit the backbreaker and reapplied the hold.
He’d have a final burst of energy and got a foot on the rope. Okada hit a shotgun dropkick, but Shingo rolled back to his feet and hit the Pumping Bomber. Shingo didn’t keep Okada down, and was hit with a wrist-clutch lariat. Okada would maintain wrist control, but Shingo turned it around and hit Okada with his own finisher for a two count.
Shingo would nail a proper Pumping Bomber and set up Last of The Dragon, only for Okada to counter into a rollup for a two count. Okada would go for the tombstone piledriver, Shingo slipping out and hitting a backbreaker. Another pumping bomber nearly turned Okada inside out, but again he held on. Shingo failed to get Last of The Dragon, but dodged a Rainmaker. Shingo was able to plant Okada for the win.
This match didn’t have the usual slow start of an Okada match, due to Shingo dictating the pace. They were able to remain at a constantly high pace, only stopping during submission holds and double downs. The fact that Okada can manage a match like this while suffering from a major back injury is insane. It shows why he’s truly the best in the world. But on this night, Shingo was just a bit better. Match Rating: 4.75/5 (**** 3/4)
Shingo Takagi will now face Hirooki Goto in the next round. Will he be able to overcome the three time New Japan Cup winner? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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