It’s time for the undercard action on the fourth night of New Japan Cup action. The field is starting to thin, but some issues will continue to boil through in the undercard, and future matches are still being teased. The United Empire remain strong in this tournament, as do BULLET CLUB, who also control tonight’s undercard action.
Yuya Uemura, YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano vs. BULLET CLUB (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, & Bad Luck Fale)
Bad Luck Fale is usually a bracket buster in tournaments like this, but this time around he got Yano’d. He’ll look for revenge in this match, while Yujiro Takahashi will look to soften up YOSHI-HASHI before their match tomorrow evening. BULLET CLUB attacked before the bell, which is a certainty like how water is often wet
. Fale went to work on Yano, who dodged a body block in the corner and exposed a corner. Yano would slap Fale in the back of the head, and get rocked for his troubles. Uemura got a tag, but was no match for Fale or EVIL, with even Takahashi being able to maintain control.
He’d finally manage a tag after hitting a high elevation dropkick, bringing YOSHI-HASHI into the ring. YOSHI-HASHI hit Head-Hunter and applied the Butterfly Lock, but Fale was there to make the save, before taking out Yano on the outside. Takahashi hit a reverse DDT in the middle of the ring, before EVIL threw YOSHI-HASHI into the exposed corner. YOSHI-HASHI hit the rewind kick, before tagging Uemura who gave EVIL his best but would be tapped out with the Scorpion Deathlock after being turned inside out with a lariat.
A fairly standard opening tag match, with Uemura & EVIL being the stars of the show. The fire of a young lion contrasting the cold and sadistic EVIL is just a classic combo, but Uemura was too outclassed to make any near falls believable yet. Match Rating: 2.5/5 (** 1/2)
Gabriel Kidd, Tomoaki Honma & Satoshi Kojima vs. The United Empire (Will Ospreay, Great-O-Khan, & Jeff Cobb)
All three members of The United Empire are still in the tournament, while Kidd, Honma & Kojima all got knocked out in the first round. They might not be able to move forward in the tournament, but being able to knock off this dominant trio would be huge in it’s own right.
O-Khan would start alongside Honma, who showed some serious fight as he took on both O-Khan & Ospreay. Kojima helped him take down O-Khan, but he still missed the Kokeshi. Honma was taken to the corner of United Empire, and hit with headbutts from Cobb before Ospreay tagged in. A flying Kokeshi allowed Honma to tag in Kojima, who nailed Ospreay with a DDT. He’d be met by Cobb, but drop him with a cutter and tag in Kidd.
Kidd had an excellent showing against Zack Sabre Jr, but wasn’t much of a match for Jeff Cobb. He’d do his best to hold his own, and have help from Honma & Kojima, even managing a bodyslam. The United Empire however would isolate him, and allow Cobb to hit Spin-Cycle & Tour of The Islands for the finish.
The United Empire are becoming the smoothest operating trio you’ll find in an undercard tag team match, and their matches always breeze by. This was no exception, as they took the best their opponents had to offer, and gave it back double. Ospreay has been phoning it in, but Cobb has been stealing the show. Match Rating: 2.75/5 (** 3/4)
Toa Henare, David Finlay, Juice Robinson & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. BULLET CLUB (Gedo, Chase Owens, KENTA & Jay White)
David Finlay vs. Chase Owens & Toa Henare vs. Jay White are both getting ever closer, with just this match between them in their first round matches. KENTA remains in the running as well, and gets more damage on rival Juice Robinson as well tonight. Tanahashi will face the winner of White & Henare, so expect him to be watching them both closely.
White & Henare would start this one up, but White quickly tagged Gedo in to deal with his coming opponent. Henare swatted Gedo aside, but White attacked him from behind, only to be run down with a shoulder tackle. Tanahashi got a tag, and wrenched the arm of Gedo before tagging Finlay to drop a double axe handle on it. He’d do the same for Robinson, before Tanahashi got in and laid in forearm strikes.
White tripped Tanahashi up and pulled him to the outside, driving him into the barricade before sending him into the ring. KENTA had received a tag, and Tanahashi was getting isolated. He’d finally get some space after taking down Owens with a sling blade, and got a tag to Finlay. FinJuice would show their chemistry as they picked apart Owens with a backbreaker & elbow drop combo. Owens came back with a springboard backbreaker, allowing him to tage White.
White was met with Henare, who unloaded some heavy handed chops and a big running shoulder tackle. He’d counter blade buster with a suplex, before going for the exploder. White fought free but took a running Samoan Drop for a near fall. Henare took a cheap shot from Gedo, allowing White to hit a DDT and get a tag to Gedo. Gedo hit a superkick, but Henare got the Fisherman Driver for the win.
Henare feels likes he’s on the verge of a major breakthrough, with him consistently being a star in these undercard matches. His performances just keep getting better and better, with him looking incredible tonight. Owens & Finlay also got plenty of shine, and helped make this into a great little match. Match Rating: 3/5 (***)
Will Henare bring another first round upset to this tournament? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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