It’s time to get into the second round matches. We have Toru Yano taking on Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb taking on EVIL, and one last tag team match which will serve to preview the upcoming clash of Jay White & NEVER Openweight Champion, Hiroshi Tanahashi. Let’s waste no more time, and get right into it.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson & Toa Henare vs. Bullet Club (Jay White, KENTA & Chase Owens)
Hiroshi Tanahashi finally knows his first opponent of the tournament, Jay White after he beat Henare. Tanahashi got a first round bye due to being the current NEVER Openweight Champion. He has plenty of time to prepare for Switchblade once again, a man who knows just how to extinguish the fire of the ace.
White wants Tanahashi to lay down for him when the time comes, and allow him to beat Ibushi and bring NJPW back to a state of order. This will never happen, and Tanahashi instead will always fight like hell. They’d lock up hard, but Tanahashi allowed a clean break before grabbing an arm wringer. Henare got the tag and threw White around the ring, getting some revenge for his loss the night prior.
White would tag out to KENTA, who went right to work on Henare before sending him outside to be choked by White. BULLET CLUB would swarm Henare, who badly needed a tag as he has been picked apart and the bones are almost clean. Henare would fire up one last time with KENTA, hit the shoulder tackle and tag Robinson.
Robinson dropped KENTA with a facebuster, before some big jabs and a DDT. KENTA got the tornado hotshot and diving clothesline, before setting up Go To Sleep, but taking a big spinebuster instead. White & Tanahashi got tags, Tanahashi winning out with a flying forearm before hitting the somersault senton. Tanahashi would take Bladebuster, before blocking the Uranage attempt with a dragon screw.
Owens tagged in, this one broke down until Tanahashi nailed the dragon screw and set up the Texas Cloverleaf on the Texas Heavyweight Champion to force a submission! Maybe Tanahashi will unify the NEVER Openweight & Texas Heavyweight titles to become the first ever NEVER Openweight World Champion?
A fun opener. Tanahashi & White always have incredible chemistry, and everyone else played their roles perfectly in this one. Their coming match should be incredible, but his partners will need to wait until next year to try to get to second round matches themselves. Match Rating: 2.75/5 (** 3/4)
New Japan Cup Match: Toru Yano vs. Great O-Khan
Kicking off round two action is an odd one. There were two upsets in round one, with Yano beating Bad Luck Fale and Great O-Khan beating Tetsuya Naito. Now we have this first time matchup, as Yano looks to defeat The Dominator.
Yano grabbed a roll of sports tape, and O-Khan let him tape his hands together. O-Khan let him take the turnbuckle pads off as well, and still just remained calm. Yano swung the turnbuckle pad, but O-Khan dodged with ease and used his power to break the tape. O-Khan didn’t follow Yano outside, instead laying in the ring and luring Yano back into the ring.
Yano took the bait, ended up in a kneebar but got to the bottom rope. O-Khan ran him down with a shoulder tackle, grabbed a steel chair and again waited in the ring, and would get the KOPW2021 trophy, and threaten to smash it if Yano doesn’t come to the ring. This got Yano in, who had his hand crushed. O-Khan applied the Head & Arm Choke, but Yano just barely got the bottom rope.
O-Khan was getting overly confident, got thrown into the steel and hit with a belly to belly suplex from Yano. They’d trade forearm shots, Yano got the atomic drop before sending O-Khan into the steel. O-Khan nailed the bicycle kick, but Yano countered the Claw Slaw and O-Khan was sent to the outside. Yano tied him to the barricade by his long braid. He pulled out some scissors and cut his hair to get free. O-Khan was enraged with a pair of scissors, and nearly stabbed Yano, who hit a low blow and rolled him up to win the match and potentially save his life.
Something very different, with this being a more mental type of matchup. O-Khan knew Yano’s playbook, and used that knowledge to make Yano fight him straight up. He got cocky, Yano got into his head and showed his skills, before being shut down. This one exceeded expectations in terms of storytelling alone, and will push Great-O-Khan forward. Yano will be hoping to not meet O-Khan again soon after this. Match Rating: 3.5/5 (*** 1/2)
Toru Yano will now face the winner of Jeff Cobb vs. EVIL, and has Great-O-Khan looking for revenge. Not a great time to be Toru Yano as he advances to the Quarter Finals.
New Japan Cup Match: Jeff Cobb vs. EVIL
EVIL was able to go all the way in last year’s New Japan Cup, which is why he got a first round bye this time around. However break time’s up, and he’s not gonna have an easy go as he faces Jeff Cobb in the second round. Cobb has been an absolute force of nature since Wrestle Kingdom, turning into a favorite to win the whole tournament. EVIL meanwhile is 0-3 in singles matches in 2021.
These two would take their time locking up, and Togo ran a distraction to let EVIL take the early advantage. Cobb took EVIL outside, and Togo distracted again only to have EVIL thrown into him. EVIL would be thrown back into the ring and hit with a dropkick, before Cobb threw some forearms and a headbutt. Togo would grab the boot of Cobb as he hit the ropes, and allowed EVIL to nail a lariat and take control.
EVIL would drive Cobb into the barricade by the timekeepers table, sending poor Abe to the floor. He’d grab some chairs, put one around the neck of Cobb before whacking it with another chair. EVIL went to work on the leg of Cobb in the ring, before taking him back to the outside and throwing him back into the timekeepers table.
Cobb was in a rough way here, and EVIL went for the Fisherman Buster but fought free and looked for a suplex. EVIL would come back with a successful Fisherman Buster, and Togo exposed a corner. Cobb fought back with a belly to belly suplex, before hitting the deadlift superplex, taking EVIL from the apron to the ring. EVIL would narrowly avoid the running powerslam, but Cobb remained in control and hit a lariat into the standing moonsault; but met the knees of EVIL.
EVIL dashed in with a heavy lariat, before looking for the Scorpion Deathlock in the middle of the ring, The hold was applied, but Cobb pulled towards the ropes and forced the break. EVIL followed up with Darkness Falls, keeping the pressure on Cobb. The STO would be blocked, and Cobb was thrown to the exposed corner, but blocked and hit a charging EVIL with a thrust kick.
Cobb hit the running powerslam, and followed up with a hard chop. He’d go for a death valley bomb, but EVIL raked the eyes and shoved him to Togo to do some damage on the apron. Cobb fought him off, hit a release German Suplex on EVIL and hit another standing moonsault, getting a near fall. EVIL avoided the Tour of The Islands, but took the Spin-Cycle suplex, but EVIL took the referee down with him.
Cobb just kept the pressure on while Red Shoes Uno recovered, but Togo would attack from behind by choking him out. But Cobb fired up and took both Togo & EVIL out by powerslamming both men at once. Cobb roused the referee, and would be looking for a Tour of The Islands soon. First he hit the Gutwrench Powerbomb, but EVIL raked the eyes and hit a lariat when Cobb set up the finisher.
Cobb blocked the STO and hit a German Suplex, but next Tour of The Islands attempt saw him driven into the exposed corner. EVIL went for the lariat, Cobb dodged and EVIL crashed into the steel. Yujiro Takahashi left commentary, distracted the referee and EVIL hit a low blow into the STO to end this one.
When EVIL actually wrestles, he’s still great but even a match like this was a mess of poorly done manager spots with Dick Togo. Jeff Cobb is one of the best things in NJPW right now, but even he couldn’t make up for EVIL in this one. The wrong person won here, which always puts a damper on a match. Match Rating: 3.25/5 (*** 1/4)
Will EVIL keep his winning ways alive with Toru Yano on March 15th? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
SUBSCRIBE NOW: Get TheOvertimer’s Hottest Stories, Breaking News and Special Features in your email, CLICK HERE