Tonight New Japan Pro Wrestling celebrates their 49th year as a company, with a big show like usual. We will see the start of the New Japan Cup with two first round matches, a clash between IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion El Desperado and IWGP Double Champion Kota Ibushi, and some multi-man tag team action. This post will be focused on those opening tags, while main event coverage can be found here.
Master Wato, Gabriel Kidd, Tomoaki Honma & Hirooki Goto vs Suzuki-Gun (DOUKI, Zack Sabre Jr., Minoru Suzuki & Taichi)
Kicking off the night is some preview action for the New Japan Cup. Kidd has Sabre, Goto has Taichi, and Honma has Suzuki in the first round, and they will mix it up here tonight. Add in DOUKI & Master Wato for good measure, and you have a solid opener on paper.
Suzuki-Gun started in usual fashion by attacking before the bell, with Suzuki focusing on Honma. Wato would come to the aid of his partner and cut Suzuki down to allow Honma to hit the Kokeshi. Kidd tagged in and looked bigger than ever, and traded blows with Suzuki before ZSJ took a cheap shot at him. Their first round match will not be one to miss, and they’d brawl on the outside.
Suzuki-Gun won out in the brawl and Kidd was thrown to Suzuki. DOUKI tagged in and got some of his anger about not being in the tournament out on the Young Lion. Kidd was trapped in a double ankle lock by Suzuki & ZSJ and yanked into the ring post crotch first. ZSJ tagged in to meet his future opponent, but Kidd went hold for hold with him.
Taichi & Goto took the ring, and DOUKI had Taichi suplexed onto him but Taichi came back with hard strikes and a Stretch Plum. Suzuki-Gun mauled Goto, and DOUKI locked in the ‘DOUKI-CHOKEY’ as Gino calls it on commentary. Goto got free, Wato dove in and took DOUKI out, and Goto hit Ushigoroshi into GTR for the win.
A basic opening eight man tag for NJPW, with lots of extra hype brought for the coming singles matches. Suzuki & Honma might be a sleeper hit if this one was any indication, as is Kidd vs. ZSJ. Nothing must see here, but it was fun. Match Rating: 2.5/5 (** 1/2)
Ryusuke Taguchi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toa Henare, David Finlay & Juice Robinson vs BULLET CLUB (Jay White, Taiji Ishimori, Chase Owens, KENTA & EVIL)
More preview action for the New Japan Cup, a common theme in these opening tags. Robinson has KENTA, Finlay has Owens, Henare has White, and EVIL & Tanahashi have first round byes allowing them to scout potential opponents here.
Henare started with White, promising some kiwi vs. kiwi violence to start. White won out with chops and stomps, and Henare was just outpaced to start out here. KENTA & Robinson matched up again, which was a planned Wrestle Kingdom match before Robinson got injured. Robinson dropped KENTA with the Russian Leg Sweep and hit a big senton.
CHAOS would break out as everyone not in Bullet Club stomped KENTA, and Tanahashi would be next when Bullet Club got him cornered. EVIL applied an abdominal stretch with the help of four others, before Ishimori lost control of the ace when he took a Dragon Screw. Finlay & Owens matched up, and Finlay dropped the self proclaimed Texas Heavyweight Champion with a big uppercut before taking a V-Trigger.
EVIL tagged in but took a neckbreaker, and Taguchi tagged in just to be dropped instantly with an STO by EVIL to end the match. Dick Togo & Gedo weren’t even needed today.
Ten man tag team matches with Bullet Club are always messy, and this was no exception. Lots of brawling and cheating, as they previewed three round one matches. The finish was out of nowhere, fitting given the difference in card position between EVIL & Taguchi. Match Rating: 2/5 (**)
CHAOS (SHO, Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada) vs Los Ingobernables De Japón (BUSHI, Shingo Takagi & SANADA)
The final undercard tag match previews the biggest first round matches of Okada vs. Takagi & Ishii vs. SANADA, two matches with Match of The Year potential. Add in BUSHI who’s riding high after a strong show this past weekend, and the always great SHO, and you have a nice way to cap off the undercard.
Shingo is a safe bet to win this whole tournament, as he was the MVP of NJPW in 2020. He’d get started in this match alongside Okada, with the crowd excited to see them lock up. Okada was able to win out with a boot to the face before tagging in Ishii, who demanded SANADA in the ring to get started on his first round opponent. SANADA picked up the pace and hit a dropkick on Ishii, before laying in some strikes.
SHO came in and took down SANADA, before BUSHI took him down with a running hurricanrana. Shingo & Ishii met in the ring and slugged it out, until BUSHI tripped Ishii allowing SANADA to blindside him with a low dropkick. SANADA went for Skull End but Ishii got the vertical suplex instead.
Okada & Shingo made their way back in, with Okada hitting the DDT for a two count. Shingo caught Okada with a lariat in the corner, before having Pumping Bomber caught into a Money Clip attempt. BUSHI & SHO became legal as this one broke down into a flurry of signature moves from everyone. SHO & BUSHI regained the ring as SHO hit a deadlift German and Shock Arrow for the win.
Easily the best match on the undercard here, with exciting action from start to finish. L.I.J are the best for these opening tag matches with their flawless chemistry, and CHAOS are a close second as shown here. Okada/Shingo & Ishii/SANADA will be excellent when we get there. Match Rating: 3.5/5 (*** 1/2)
Will Shingo Takagi win the 2021 New Japan Cup? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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