After the undercard set up future matches, it’s time to get to some tournament action. Tonight’s show contains two first round matches, and they’ll be wildly different. Toru Yano has Bad Luck Fale, and Hirooki Goto has Taichi. Let’s waste no time, and see who punches forward into the second round!
New Japan Cup Match: Toru Yano vs. Bad Luck Fale
We don’t often see Bad Luck Fale in singles action, but when he’s in a tournament, he will often shatter brackets. He’s almost too big for someone like Toru Yano to mess with, but that hasn’t stopped Yano in the past. Yano has a 4-1 record over Fale, but Fale has beaten Yano in a past New Japan Cup.
After a ring introduction that gets bigger each and every time Yano hits the ring, Fale attacks him and rolls him up for a near fall. The KOPW 2021 trophy was shattered, and Yano was next. He’d expose a corner and slap Fale in the back of the head to try and anger him, before being run over with a shoulder tackle.
Yano slipped to the outside, where Fale threw more heavy blows and whipped Yano into the barricades, and was ready to take the countout win. Fale didn’t get the win this easily, as Yano broke the count at 19. Yano would be stomped again, but fight back to his feet and try to body slam Fale, to no success. Fale on the other hand got Yano up and down with ease, before a lazy pin got a two count.
Yano avoided Grenade Launcher, before sending Fale into the exploded corner, and failing another bodyslam. Fale hit two more and missed an elbow drop as Yano rolled outside. Yano would be taped to the ringpost by Fale, who wanted to take the countout win. Instead, Yano kicked him low and slipped around the post into the ring before 20, and won.
You get what you get with Toru Yano. Sometimes it’s the excellent strap match from last weekend, and sometimes it a short rather lifeless comedy romp like this. The finish had a unique twist, if nothing else. Match Rating: 2/5 (**)
Toru Yano now faces The Great-O-Khan on March 11th, who will likely not fall for his tricks quite as easily.
New Japan Cup Match: Hirooki Goto vs. Taichi
Hirooki Goto could be known as Mr. New Japan Cup, being a three time winner, with wins in 2009, 2010 and 2012. It’s been a while, but he could start a campaign to win a fourth starting with Taichi. These are two of the hardest hitters in all of NJPW, and they are even at 2-2 in singles matches. Taichi has never won, but last year eliminated both Hiroshi Tanahahsi & Kota Ibushi from the runnings.
Goto would apply a tight headlock, but Taichi went for the backdrop driver real quick, but instead just choked Goto down and kicked him to the outside. Taichi would whip Goto into the barricade, and drop him face first onto it. Goto would barely beat the 20 count, but come back in for more choking. Taichi was in firm control, and finally threw the first kick of the match.
Goto would throw some open hand strikes in response, before being choked and thrown to the floor. Taichi awoke Goto with this one, who choked him back and hit a big lariat. Goto hit the wheel kick into the corner followed by the running bulldog, getting a two count. Taichi went for the backdrop driver, but settled for a gamiguri.
He’d call for Axe Bomber, but Goto didn’t fall on Impact, and came back with a lariat of his own. They’d repeatedly run each other down, before both men took a knee after colliding at the same time. Taichi changed it up with another gamiguri, knocking Goto down and pulling his pants off.
Goto knew the thrust kick came next, and dodged but was nearly caught into a Stretch Plum. He’d nail the Ushigoroshi instead, followed up with the GTR for a two count. Taichi stopped another attempt and hit a chokeslam! He’s done just emulating his trainer, Toshiaki Kawada, and now is pulling out Akira Taue moves as well! Taichi is a one man Holy Demon Army!
Taichi nailed the backdrop driver, but only got a two count. He’d look for the powerbomb, and Goto failed to block, but was able to kick out. Goto would block the reverse piledriver, and look for a powerbomb of his own before being rocked with an elbow strike. Shoten-Kai would be pulled out of Goto’s bag of tricks, but he was unable to follow up with a pinfall attempt.
Goto fired the hard mid-kick to the chest of Taichi, who rolled back to his feet only to be dropped with a headbutt. Taichi came back with an attempt at the Black Mephisto, but Goto slipped out. A high kick to the head was followed by the Gedo Clutch, but Taichi only got a two count.
They’d crawl up to their feet, and Taichi was up first. The thrust kick was caught, and Goto hit GTW for the two count. GTR nailed once again, and this one was through. Hirooki Goto moves to the second round.
The slow start of this match makes it hard to recommend, but once they got going this match was excellent. Taichi & Goto are often hit or miss in big matches, but in the end this was a hit.Match Rating: 3.75/5 (*** 3/4)
Goto will now face the winner of Kazuchika Okada vs. Shingo Takagi, a match which happens tomorrow. Will he be able to keep his winning ways alive? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.