Tonight is the first proper night of New Japan Cup tournament action, though the first two matches took place on the 49th anniversary event last night. Jeff Cobb & Great O-Khan have moved forward, and this show begins with some tag team action, seeing Suzuki-Gun & Bullet Club scouting out their coming first round opponents.
Yuya Uemura, Gabriel Kidd & Tomoaki Honma vs. Suzuki-Gun (DOUKI, Zack Sabre Jr. & Minoru Suzuki)
Kicking off action is a usual sight. Suzuki-Gun meeting two young lions and a seasoned veteran. What’s different this time is Gabriel Kidd is on the cusp of graduation, and will face Zack Sabre Jr. in the first round of the New Japan Cup. Suzuki will meet with Honma as well, and both men have a chance to scout in this match.
This one was an instant brawl, as is the norm with Suzuki-Gun. Uemura held his ground in the ring to take on DOUKI, nailing a big dropkick before tagging in Honma. DOUKI couldn’t get a tag as Honma took out his tag options, and was hit with an elbow drop. Suzuki finally got his hands on Honma, and applied an armbar over the top rope before some heavy strikes on the outside.
DOUKI took advantage in the ring with a running double stomp, before tagging in ZSJ who worked over the next of Honma with a cravat and neck twist. Finally, Suzuki came in and we’d see him and Honma take each other’s best blows in the ring. Honma fell first, but absorbed the PK and hit a running headbutt back.
ZSJ & Kidd got into a fast paced technical wrestling sprawl, with Kidd getting the better of ZSJ and trying for that Double Underhook Suplex. Instead, ZSJ applied an armbar, and forced Kidd to crawl to the ropes. Kidd came back with a dropkick, before Uemura tagged in and Suzuki got him with the Gotch Style Piledriver for a quick end.
Honma & Suzuki made this one worth it with their exchange, showing the sheer toughness in the often more comedic Honma. Kidd & ZSJ also brought their own flair to this match, but Uemura & DOUKI could have stayed home. Match Rating: 2.5/5 (** 1/2)
Tiger Mask IV, David Finlay, YOSHI-HASHI & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. BULLET CLUB (Taiji Ishimori, Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL)
This eight man tag team match contains both men who earned first round byes, those being Hiroshi Tanahashi & EVIL. However, David Finlay has a date with Chase Owens, and YOSHI-HASHI with Yujiro Takahashi, and they can get some early damage tonight.
Tanahashi started up with Ishimori, applying a tight headlock and showing just how much power he had over Ishimori. However, Ishimori took him down and showed off his abs, much to the dismay of Tanahashi. YOSHI-HASHI & Takahashi squared off, trading blows in the middle of the ring before Takahashi fell and took a low dropkick.
BULLET CLUB would swarm and start a brawl on the outside, and Takahashi choked YOSHI-HASHI with his cane. Takahashi tagged in Owens, who dropped YOSHI-HASHI with a quick lariat before tagging EVIL. EVIL got a lot of help on an abdominal stretch chain, before Takahashi came back in. YOSHI-HASHI finally got a tag, bringing Finlay in, who would take down Owens with a backbreaker for a two count. Owens came back with a shining wizard, before tagging Ishimori in. Finlay hit a spinning back drop and tagged in Tiger Mask who dove into the ring before hitting a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker.
EVIL came in, hit the Fisherman Buster, avoided a Tiger Bomb, fought off a submission attempt. He’d get Dick Togo to choke Tiger Mask before applying the Scorpion Deathlock for the win.
An incredibly by the books eight man tag match for NJPW, but it is always nice seeing Tiger Mask in action. BULLET CLUB did their usual stuff, the baby faces showed fire, and Finlay & Owens showed what to expect from their coming match with the best exchange of the match. Match Rating: 2/5 (**)
Master Wato & TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) vs. The United Empire (Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay)
The United Empire has gotten this tournament off to a great start. Great-O-Khan got the upset win over Tetsuya Naito in the first round, while Jeff Cobb beat Satoshi Kojima. Tonight, Ospreay gets a shot at his first round opponent, and Cobb can rub his victory in the face of Kojima.
United Empire attacked their opponents as the bell rang, with Kojima being left in the ring with O-Khan. Kojima showed a lot of fight before taking a Mongolin Chop and being stomped by all three opponents. He’d send Ospreay over the top rope before hitting O-Khan & Cobb with DDT’s, and setting up the Machine Gun Chops in the corner.
O-Khan got the save from Ospreay, and went to work on the mat with Kojima, attacking that right arm that Kojima uses for the lariat. Cobb would tag in, and ensure Kojima stays put. Ospreay would take the Koji-Cutter, and finally tag Tenzan. Tenzan hit the Legally Not The Mongoilon Chop on Ospreay, before hitting the brainbuster.
Ospreay came back with a springboard forearm, but couldn’t get Stormbreaker, instead hitting the hook kick and being hit with a back body drop. Wato tagged in, dove into the arms of Cobb and had to avoid a German Suplex. He’d hit the gamiguri, and actually drop Cobb, and TenKoji help set up the diving uppercut.
Cobb countered a spinning kick into a bridging fallaway slam, but Kojima broke the pin up. Wato went for a swinging DDT, but Cobb proceeded to manhandle him, and somehow set up Tour of The Islands for the win.
This was already the best match on the undercard, but that finish from Jeff Cobb was incredible. He absolutely planted Master Wato in a unique way, and is looking excellent in this tournament. Match Rating: 3/5 (***)
Who will win the previewed New Japan Cup matches from this undercard tag team matches? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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